Rollei Planar 1.8 50 HFT – Carl Zeiss Planar 1.8 50
The Rollei Planar 50 1.8 (also branded Carl Zeiss Planar 1.8 50) is a 50mm prime lens that was manufactured between 1970 und 1995. Due to its long production run, it is widely available nowadays.
The Rollei Planar showcases the demise of German SLR manufacturing. Although the production of these lenses started in Germany, most lenses were manufactured in Singapore as the Voigtländer factory in Germany shut down in 1975 and the production was moved abroad. The Planar was the standard prime lens for the Voigtländer SL35 and SL 350 35mm cameras.
Rollei Planar 50 1.8 / Carl Zeiss Planar 1.8 50 Recommendation
- good build quality, especially the early models
- light & compact prime lens
- good contrast
- good colours
- excellent value for money
The Planar is a very nice prime lens. It is a very good 50mm prime all-rounder lens which comes in handy for portraiture as well as landscape photography. Much cheaper than most other well manufactured 50mm lenses, the Rollei offers similar optical results and build quality at a much cheaper price than standard Carl Zeiss lenses. In fact, if the lens was branded Carl Zeiss and not Rollei I am sure that it would be much more expensive. From a value for money point of view this lens is great.
The sharpness, even wide open is remarkable. Most lenses get soft at a certain point but the Planar performs steadily. The colours are cracking and the contrast is very good. I really enjoyed using this lens and was never disappointed by the results it produced.
The build quality is very good. Especially the earlier all metal construction really shows its Zeiss heritage. The later models did show signs of “let’s replace quality by plastic in order to save money” and it does show.
- minimum focusing distance could be better
- difficult to find proper adapters
- build quality on later models
The main disadvantage of the Rollei Planar is the QBM lens mount. It was only used on a few cameras and adapters can be really hard to find (although a wider range of QBM adapters was made available recently). I did find a copy of the Rollei Planar with a M42 mount but I believe this is exceptional. It actually might be a one of manufactured by a handy M42 amateur (in which case I would like to say thank you to whoever is responsible for changing the mount because it did save me a lot of trouble finding an adapter).
I did have the impression that the build quality of the Planar lenses did suffer with time. Later models feel a bit sluggish, especially with the plastic focusing ring. I also noticed that a lot of the old Planar lenses do suffer from stiff focusing. Obviously this is normal for old lenses but might have to do with the lubricant that was used by the manufacturer?
Finally, if you really want to be picky, you could say that the minimum focusing distance of 45cm is not amazing (compared to the Carl Zeiss Pancolar 50mm 1.8) and that the bokeh is maybe not the strong point of the lens. Then again no lens is perfect and for the modest price of the Rollei Planar you still get a super package.
Rollei Planar 50 1.8 / Carl Zeiss Planar 1.8 50 Versions
The Rollei Planar 50 1.8 lens was manufactured with a QBM Bajonett mount or with an M42 mount.
Different versions of the Rollei Planar 50 1.8 exist. Although the versions are mostly similar in optical performance, their branding differs due to the restructuring of the companies involved in the manufacturing process. The Rollei Planar 50 1.8 was based on a Carl Zeiss design and early models were sometimes branded Carl Zeiss.
The first version was branded Carl Zeiss, although these lenses were probably not manufactured by Carl Zeiss but by Voigtländer. These early types of the Planar also have an Automatic / Manual (A/M) switch to control the aperture settings.
Lenses manufactured after 1971 are branded Voigtländer and then Rollei (as Rollei took over the Voigtländer company). These lenses were then manufactured in Singapore.
HFT refers to the coating of the lens (all lenses, even the ones not branded HFT, are coated lenses). Lenses manufactured after 1976 have a rubber focusing ring.
- QBM mount
- M42 mount
- Weight: 185 gr
- Minimum Focusing Distance: 45cm
- Filter Mount: 49mm
- Made in Germany & Made in Singapore
- Aperture: 1.8 – 16
- 7 elements in 6 groups