Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
zeitz

Review of Leitz 800mm f/6.3 Telyt-S Lens

Recommended Posts

Advertisement (gone after registration)

The Leitz 800mm f/6.3 Telyt-S lens occasionally is discussed on this sub-forum. A notable discussion is in this string:

https://www.l-camera-forum.com/topic/169877-leitz-800mm-f63-telyt-s-arrived-today/#comments

This lens is enigmatic because it is both rare and has a unique optical design. I would like to add to the discussion and include comparative photos with two other 800mm lenses.  I'll use three postings because of length.

History and Technology – Luigi Bertolotti posted a letter from Leica Solms (27 May 1997) regarding lens in the posting string referenced above. The letter states that the lens was developed in 1968, it was introduced in 1972 for the Munich Olympics, serial numbers 2500651 to 2501000 (350 pieces) were assigned, 109 production lenses were made along with 8 to 10 prototypes, and the last lens was sold in 1994 with sn 2500891. All lenses were made to special order. The lens could be ordered with Leicaflex R or Visoflex V mounts (or both). Leitz says the lens is for reportage, sports, wild life and surveillance photography.

In the time period when this lens was developed, more exotic glass types were being developed. Leitz lens designers exploited these new glass types for the 800mm Telyt. Exotic glass offers high index of refraction and low dispersion. For reference on the incorporation of exotic glass in telephotos, Canon introduced its 300mm f/2.8 fluorite lens in 1974, Nikon introduced its 800mm f/8.0 ED (Extra-low Dispersion) lens in 1975, and Canon introduced its 800mm f5.6 UD (Ultra-low Dispersion) lens in 1979.

High magnification lenses date back to astronomers before photographers. The first advance over simple positive diopter magnifying lenses was the invention of the doublet achromat, patented by John Dollond in 1785. A singlet lens has limited sharpness because each wavelength of light focuses to a different point at the focal plane (dispersion). The result is called chromatic aberration (color fringing). The doublet achromat uses a cemented pair of positive and negative diopter lenses to focus two wavelengths to the same point; two glass types with different dispersion characteristics, usually crown and flint glass, are used. Chromatic aberration is substantially improved. Triplet achromats can focus three wavelengths to the same point; such a lens is called an apochromat. In a Steinheil or Hastings triplet achromat lens the three glass elements are cemented into one lens group. (The Cooke triplet leaves air spaces between the elements.) There are two major drawbacks to achromats. The physical length of an achromat is the same as the focal length, in contrast to true telephotos where the length of the lens is less than the focal length. Achromats also have field curvature resulting in soft edges on a flat focal plane.

Optical glass has two principal characteristics - the index of refraction and the dispersion. High index of refraction allows thinner lenses to produce the same bending angle of the light rays. Low dispersion keeps light of differing wavelengths focused closer together. The Leitz 800mm f/6.3 Telyt is cemented triplet achromat using exotic / special glass with high refraction and low dispersion. A triplet achromat with exotic glass can correct all five of the wavelength independent aberrations - coma, spherical, astigmatism, field curvature and distortion (barrel/pincushion).

In the 1920's Ludwig Bertele, first with Ernemann and then continuing with Zeiss, designed the Ernostar / Sonnar family of lenses. This design is amenable to true telephotos achieving compact size with high magnification. The design consists of a front optical group and a rear optical group. The 200mm Telyts and 400mm f/5.0 Telyt are in this family.  The 400mm & 560mm f/5.6 and f/6.8 Telyts are doublet achromats.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Lens Performance – To gauge the performance of the Leitz 800mm f/6.3 Telyt I compared it to two other 800mm lenses that used the alternative lens designs and were available at the roughly same time as the Leitz lens.

The first lens is the Canon 800mm f/8.0 S-Set lens sold for Canon rangefinders. Initially it had a built-in reflex housing and then used Canon's Mirror Box I and Mirror Box II reflex housings. The particular lens I listed as Model 2 in Canon's catalog and as Type 4 in Peter Kitchingman's categorization. The lens is a doublet achromat and was designed in about 1954. The Model 2 lens is bellows focused. The number produced is unknown. It was replaced by the Canon 800mm f/8.0 FL, a Sonnar derivative, in 1971 for their SLRs; it was not available for Canon's rangefinder cameras as Canon's last rangefinder camera had gone out of production in 1968.

The second lens is the Nikon 800mm f/8.0 Nikkor-P lens. It is a Ernostar / Sonnar design released in 1964; -P means five glass elements. Cooper and Abbott (Nikon's equivalent of Morgan and Lester) says this lens is an apochromat. The lens is part of a modular family; a single focusing mount can be used for 400mm f/4.5, 600mm f/5.6, 800mm f/8.0 and 1200mm f/11.0 lens heads. After 1424 were produced, the 800mm f/8.0 Nikkor-P lens was replaced in 1975 by the 800mm f/8.0 ED Nikkor (88 produced); then by the 800mm f/8.0 ED-IF Nikkor (1132 produced) with 9 elements in three (front, middle, rear) sections.

To test the lenses I used a lens test chart (43 x 56 cm). I used a Nikon D5 because it is the only digital camera I have that can mount all three lenses and has a electronic focus confirmation. An electronic shutter release cable was used. The D5 can be set to raise the mirror with a first shutter release and then trip the shutter with a second shutter release.

These lenses are hard to hold steady. The Canon and the Telyt have two tripod mounts; the Nikon has one tripod mount but is a more compact lens, being a true telephoto. I used two tripods for the lenses that have two mounts. The primary tripod was a Gitzo GT4552TS carbon fiber tripod. It is meant to hold the largest and heaviest telephoto lenses from Canon and Nikon. I used a Wimberley WH-200 gimbal head on the Gitzo tripod. The Wimberley head is impeccable. It moves easily, without sticking or play and allows perfect balance making the lens with camera seem weightless. The second tripod was a Bogen 3020 aluminum tripod with a ball head. The Bogen 3020 tripod can also hold substantial weight. As you might expect, using two tripods is a real challenge. It would not be usable for sports or wildlife.

The Canon lens has to be handled gingerly because of the bellows and the lens construction which has a thinly threaded joint in the middle of the lens which is prone to stripping. The Nikon lens is the most compact of the three and most solidly built. You can haul the thing around without concern. The biggest limitation of the Nikon lens is the focusing mount which is used for four different focal length lens heads. The longer the lens, the more focusing mount travel is needed to focus the lens.. The closest focusing distance that can be achieved for the 800mm lens is about 20 meters. In comparison the Telyt focuses to about 12 meters. To get the Nikkor to close-focus, I used an extension tube which caused vignetting. The cantilevered weight of the 800mm lens head also causes the to bind slightly.

The results are attached. In addition to showing the test chart itself, I superimposed the histogram for the test chart in the lower right. Color fringing can be seen in the histogram, and is particularly noticeable with the Canon lens. The tightness of the spikes is representative of the sharpness.

The clear optical winner is the Telyt. But if I had to make a living with an 800mm lens for sports and wildlife, I would use the Nikkor because it is easier of use.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In the Field – Test chart results are fine, but the lens has to be usable. The Telyt lens is heavy and bulky, but that is not the primary issue I experienced. Because the glass is entirely at the front of the lens and the camera is at the rear of the lens, the mass properties are like a barbell. The slightest disturbance causes to rotate significantly about the tripod mount. To complicate matters the lens' oscillations seem to match the fundamental vibration frequency of the Gitzo tripod's legs. At full leg extension the combination is marginally stable and will oscillate at the slightest touch. As a result I had to sit on the ground and use minimum extension of the tripod legs to keep the lens under control.

To find a good wildlife subject along with privacy I went to a county park near me that has a wild herd of elk. The temperature was about 0 degrees C, the sky was clear and the wind was calm. There was a slight ground fog. The rut was still underway so the park rules limit approaching the elk to 30 meters. That is OK with an 800mm lens. Wildlife know you are there and like to hide among the trees, and even then point their butts at you.

Once mounted on the Gitzo Wimberley combination, the lens is actually a pleasure to use. The image in the finder is bright. Focus on the ground glass is crisp. And the focusing on the lens is smooth and precise.

The attached elk photo is representative of the results. I used ISO 160 and f/6.3. The image was processed in Photoshop including the clarity, vibrance and brightness/contrast adjustments I almost always use.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here are some pictures from my 800 the fist is with a 280 for clearing the goal next with the 800 and last with an extender 2x APO

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Kind of setting I use

6500 m from my post to the sea

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When I attended the Leica School as a young lad in 1972, they had a prototype 800 Telyt in the classroom. Of course, I was really taken by such a large lens, being young and impressionable (16 years old!). I remember the Leica people putting ti on a tripod and pointing it out of the class room window at some buildings across town. We all took turns looking through the Leicaflex SL finder, amazed at what we saw in the finder. I do remember the image was easily disturbed at the slightest vibration. Our class room was in the old round Leitz Admin building which is now the Wetzlar Town Hall. I went back to visit with my tour group in 2018.

To take things to an even more absurd extreme, we attached a Leicina 8mm camera to the Telyt, which made it the equivalent of what super tele focal length I don't know. All I can remember is that if you even breathed while looking through it, the image oscillated like crazy! Made you kind of sea sick. 

Don't know why I couldn't talk my dad into buying one? :-)

Edited by derleicaman

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Advertisement (gone after registration)

That was a double8 Leicina? I believe the picture format herewith is 4x3mm. That means a crop factor of 8, so the focal length was 6400mm! Not bad for astronomy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 minutes ago, jankap said:

That was a double8 Leicina? I believe the picture format herewith is 4x3mm. That means a crop factor of 8, so the focal length was 6400mm! Not bad for astronomy.

That sounds about right from my recollection of what we thought the focal length would be. It was pretty amazing back in those days of purely optical focal lengths and film photography. Now with digital, its much easier to do. Back then, to a kid, bigger was always better but this was a bridge too far!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My Telyt 800, on a totally overmatched Leitz Tiltall. The thread of Telyt posts from 2012 -15, and the field experience described then and in above posts are most helpful toward getting the best stability.  I had used my Leicina Special Super 8, with bayonet mount on the 560 telyt, and had always heard that the magnificaiton from format change was in the 6.2-6.4 range. Unlike JC, I am 80 miles from the sea! I also have a Tewe 1000 f 6.3 Astragon, with Tewe reflex viewer and leica screw mount, need to get it out and try it too.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
26 minutes ago, alan mcfall said:

Tewe 1000 f 6.3 Astragon

The Tewe lens is a double achromat.  Astragon was a trademark used by Sterling-Howard, a New York retailer, in about 1955.  Tewe itself was founded in Berlin about 1947.  Tewe's lens lineup closely mirrored that of Astro-Berlin Fernbildlinse (doublet achromat) and Telastan (4 element in 4 group) lenses.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, derleicaman said:

When I attended the Leica School as a young lad in 1972, they had a prototype 800 Telyt in the classroom. Of course, I was really taken by such a large lens, being young and impressionable (16 years old!). I remember the Leica people putting ti on a tripod and pointing it out of the class room window at some buildings across town. We all took turns looking through the Leicaflex SL finder, amazed at what we saw in the finder. I do remember the image was easily disturbed at the slightest vibration. Our class room was in the old round Leitz Admin building which is now the Wetzlar Town Hall. I went back to visit with my tour group in 2018.

To take things to an even more absurd extreme, we attached a Leicina 8mm camera to the Telyt, which made it the equivalent of what super tele focal length I don't know. All I can remember is that if you even breathed while looking through it, the image oscillated like crazy! Made you kind of sea sick. 

Don't know why I couldn't talk my dad into buying one? 🙂

I was there in May 1973 and remember looking through that big lens on a tripod in the classroom.

i posted some pictures here

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Dunk's rig at the Leica Society AGM in Lincoln in 2015. The two tripod solution shown in the second photo is novel.

William

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, Pyrogallol said:

I was there in May 1973 and remember looking through that big lens on a tripod in the classroom.

i posted some pictures here

 

Wow, great photos in the link. Brings back a lot of memories. You had a big class, we only had seven in ours. Who was your instructor? Me in were Rudi Krauth and Wolfgang Neuner.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Looks like Wolfgang Neuner’s name on the certificate. Several of the students were young US servicemen.

Edited by Pyrogallol

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
22 hours ago, Pyrogallol said:

Looks like Wolfgang Neuner’s name on the certificate. Several of the students were young US servicemen.

Wow, this is very cool! I still have my packet from the School. You motivated me to dig mine out. I have a similar selection of prints with the negatives. I have both my diploma and my dad's. I was wrong about the date, it was actually August 23, 1973 on my diploma! Off by a year from what I thought and just a few months after yours. The date on yours looks like May 23? Ours were signed by both Rudi Krauth and Wolfgang Neuner. I'll have to put a similar montage together of mine and post it up.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...