Schneider-Kreuznach Curtagon electric 2.8 35
The Schneider-Kreuznach Curtagon electric 2.8 35 is a superb wide-angle prime lens. It was manufactured during the 1970ies in West Germany by the very reputable Schneider-Kreuznach company (which is one of the few classic German optics manufacturers which is still around today). Please note that this article is about the Curtagon electric lens, there are a lot of Schneider lenses which are branded as Curtagon (including, Titlt-shift lenses and CCTV lenses), these are not included in this article.
The Curtagon electric is a bit of a mystery to me as I have barely found any information on it. Although not as well known as the Carl Zeiss Jena Flektogon 2.4 35mm (which is in many ways very similar to the Curtagon electric), the Schneider-Kreuznach lens is a really remarkable lens. If there is a classic 35mm lens which is in a league with the Flektogon, it is the Curtagon electric.
- excellent build quality, feels very solid
- very sharp
- good bokeh
- incredible close focus of only 30cm
The Schneider-Kreuznach Curtagon electric is a very impressive 35mm prime lens. The ergonomics and built quality are simply superb. A lot of attention for detail went into the design. The rifled focusing and aperture rings feel great and are placed exactly where you want them. The inside of the lens has little white dots, which looks pretty funky (not sure if that improves image quality). The lens is coated.
The image quality is really, really sharp. I would even say that it is sharper than the Carl Zeiss Flektogon. Another advantage over the Flektogon is the minimum focusing distance. I never thought I would say this but the 33cm of the Flektogon have just been beaten by the incredible minimum focusing distance of only 30cm of the Curtagon. If you are into macro photography you will absolutely adore this lens. The bokeh is also pretty good. But even for street photography or for portraiture the lens is great. Distortion is not really an issue with the Curtagon. When I used the lens the shots turned out rather atmospheric – the vignetting giving it a certain vintage look.
All in all this is an incredibly solid 35mm prime lens across the board. If you have the opportunity to get one you should really go for it. But, as always, there are some drawbacks!
- no infinity focus on Canon EOS – will hit the mirror
- lack of contrast
- rare and difficult to find
In terms of image quality the Curtagon is very good but I did notice two things. First of all there is definitely some vignetting going on. The corners turn out darker – that can be a great effect but if you are not into that you might get annoyed by the results. The lack of contrast will also oblige you to spend a bit of time with post-processing your images, as these can turn out pretty flat. If you want to be picky you could even argue that at f2.8 it is not as fast as the 2.4 35 Flektogon.
A big let down (but that is not really the fault of Schneider-Kreuznach) is that infinity focus will not work on most SLRs (it hit the mirror of my Canon EOS).
Finally the Curtagon electric is not that easy to find. The Flektogon seems to be much more common.
Schneider-Kreuznach Curtagon electric 2.8 35 Versions
The lens has an all black finish. Markings are in white and green. There is a Auto / Manual aperture setting switch.
- Weight: 215 gr
- Minimum Focusing Distance: 30cm (!!)
- Filter Mount: 49mm
- Made in West Germany
- Aperture: 2.8 – 22
- 6 elements in 5 groups
- Aperture blades: 6