Thursday, June 3, 2010

A Day with the Schneider-Kreuznach Edixa-Xenar 50mm f2.8

Last time I wrote about the widely available, but not very reliable Domiplan, I felt that the Domiplan was a workable, if not stellar lens. After I wrote that, I realized that I have quite a few lenses with the Tessar design. The Domiplan being one, the pancake Carl Zeiss Tessar 45mm f2.8 is another, and today I took out the Schneider-Kreuznach Edixa-Xenar 50mm f2.8. I literally used it in the morning, afternoon, and the evening.

The Edixa-Xenar is at the other end of the scale compared to the Domiplan. I don't know if all of them are like that, but my copy has a stepless aperture ring. It's a very well made lens with multi-coated elements in M42 mount. The Domiplan was made in East Germany, and this one made in West Germany. The workmanship is immediately apparent when you look at them side by side.

I am loving this lens. I don't know why I didn't use it more before, possibly because it's a slow lens for a 50mm. It indeed looks unimpressive, but it's optically amazing, for an old lens. On the Digital Rebel 550D, there are no blurry corners. It's sharp in the center as well as the "edges" on non-full frame. What wowed me, like the Schneider DKL lenses, is the colour. This lens produces very saturated colours compared to other lenses. Sometimes the red looks overpowering.

The Edixa-Xenar 50mm f2.8 shows its best strength in overcast lighting. Many lenses will produce dull looking images in dull looking weather, but this one make beautiful colours pop. I am especially taken by its exquisite bokeh. This lens can render very nice out of focus areas, and it handles blown highlights with nice gradual roll-off, instead of dead white.

I think I over-paid for this lens, but the M42 mount is not very common with Schneider lenses, so I bought it. Who knows, it might actually appreciate in value!

White Rose. Walked out the door this morning and see the neighbour's beautiful rose. Embiggen.

On my way to work. Downtown Toronto from the Don Bridge on Queen. Embiggen.

Went out at lunch time and enjoyed some wonderful music and performance. Larger.

This bee was exhausted after some activities with another bee. Larger Picture.

Bokeh -- Reminds me of the Leica-R 90mm f2.8 2-CAM that I had long ago.

Evening shoot near Moss Park. My kids had swimming, and I stayed out and shot pictures. Larger.

Saw roses everywhere today. Love this pink variety. Very nice.


  1. Very nice job...of note, the Domiplan is a 3 element design, fairly primitive, the Tessar is a 4 element desgin, and the 50/2.8 Xenars are fairly unique 5 element 'tessar' can tell it's NOT a tessar by the nice 'non-nervous' bokeh...a fabulous and underrated lens for sure. Thanks for the samples!

  2. @Enugene: thanks for the information. Very much appreciate it.

  3. After reading this blog I bought a beautiful example of the Schneider-Kreuznach Edixa-Xenar 50mm f2.8. To my disappointment the lens, when focused over 3-4 meters, goes to deep into the camerahouse and interfere with the moving mirror.
    I try to use the lens with Canon 5D ("Mark I").

  4. Note: The reason why Schneider-Kreuznach Edixa-Xenar 50mm f2.8 interfere with the mirror on Canon 5D is of course that the mirror is larger than on Canon Digital Rebel 550D.

  5. Yong,

    The Schneider-Kreuznach Edixa-Xenar 50mm f2.8 is a 100% Tessar clone as I own a Schneider brochure of the lens with the lens diagram!!!
    You confuse the later m42 xenars with the early rangefinder, folder and TLR Xenars ;)

  6. Thanks for sharing! one friend give me this lens, tomorrow is the testing day!! ( i need the adpter lol)

  7. I am using the Canon 5d3 for this lens, but when i use F5.6, it will hit the mirror inside. anyone hast the same issue like me?

    1. usually aperture value does not affect the distance between the mirror and the rear elements of the lens, but I am not surprised that, just like the 5D, 5D II, the 5D III has mirror clearance issues on many lenses.

    2. Would the lens also hit the mirror of a sony dslr?
      I'm thinking about buying this lens for my sony alpha 58.

    3. Sorry never used the lens on the Alpha 58.

  8. Thanks for convincing me. I got it today. Great lens! Works great with a Lens Turbo II, almost full frame. Pretty sharp already wide open.

  9. Interesting lens and some lovely photos!