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90mm Elmar - Differences?

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I recently found a collapsible version of the old f4/90mm Elmar which seemed to be in good condition and had a fair price. With serial no. 13106xx it should be made in 1955.


I also have an older rigid version of the lens no. 9620xx from 1952. The optical condition of both lenses seemed about equal to me - both not ideal but no haze etc.


Just out of whim I compared them today - and was quite surprised to find considerable differences which you might percieve on different lenses but not on different versions of the same optical design.


Here are some examples:


Center crop at f/4 - first the older rigid version, than the collapsible:





The older rigid version is much contrastier and shows more sharpness. Different focussing may have some slight influence, but for each version I used focus bracketing and choose the best example. Capture One indicates that for the rigid version I used f/4, but f/4.8 for the collapsible - both lenses were fully opened in reality.


What is even more striking is the difference in distortion: the vertikal "pillars" of the brick-wall seem to be much narrrower on the example of the collapsible than on rigid example. Distance was exactly the same, picture size is 960x640 for the rigid, and 960x641 for the collapsibe. Either the rigid has considable barrel-distortion, or the collapsible shows opposite distortion. I think the latter is true.


Now crops of the upper right corner from the same photos as before:








The rigid is still much contrastier - but it shows the results of an optical fault, which I am not sure about what exactly it is: double lines - astigmatism? Even if the example of the collapsibe is not sharp at all, it shows much less of this.


So my question is: did anyone else notice those differences between both versions of the 90mm Elmar? Or does anyone know if there was a redesign of the lens for the collapsible version?

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I have a rigid 9cm Elmar no. 7193xx from 1949. I think both versions you mentioned have the same four element optics. The design goes back to the early 1930s. Leica started coating their lenses in 1946 I think. Starting in 1963 or 64 there was a three element version made. I have never read of any other differences between your two lenses optically. I like my lens very much as it produces very subtle gray tones in the right light. Other times I find the lens too contrasts and is prone to flare. I like to use it when I photograph older women.

Mr. B

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If I remember correctly, the aperture is located right after the first lens element (looking into the front of the lens) in the collapsible version, whereas it is located between the second and the third element in the rigid version. Whether that accounts for the differences you have noticed is an open question.


Also, your copy of the collapsible Elmar may have been opened, e.g. for service purposes, and reassembled incorrectly, after all it is an old lens and you never know what happened to it during all these years.





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