The Pentacon Six System
Lens Data Summary
Hartblei 45mm shift-only lens test
The Hartblei 45mm f/3.5 shift lens
It is reported that the 45mm and 65mm Hartblei shift lenses use the optical elements of the Arsenal Mir-26B and Mir-38B, respectively. Hartblei adds an excellent multi-coating that looks far superior to that on the original Arsenal lenses.
|One of the best ways to
test a lens in real-life situations is to take it on a
trip and leave behind any lens with the same focal
length at one would normally take. This
is what I did for a visit to Germany in September
2016. I left behind my normal wide-angle lens, the
45mm Mir 69 (see it here),
and instead took the Hartblei 45mm shift lens. How
did I get on? How did the lens perform? Here
is my report.
I did consider taking the “Wiese Technoplan-T” 45mm shift and tilt down (only) lens, which is illustrated here. This appears to be a rebadged version of the Hartblei shift and tilt down lens. However, the lens was going to travel in my backpack, and I was worried that – even protected in its soft pouch – in the crush of luggage in the overhead locker in the aeroplane, the spindle that controls the tilt could be damaged, so I took the shift-only lens (illustrated above) instead. For architecture, which was my intended subject on this trip, shift is important, and tilt is rarely needed.
The following picture will remind you of the shape of the three Hartblei 45mm shift and shift/tilt lenses.
Visitors to this website will probably recall that all
three of these lenses (and the Arsenal equivalent of the
shift-only version) will shift up to a maximum of 12mm, but
that users are advised not to shift the lenses more
than 10mm if shooting on the full 6×6 format,
which I was of course doing, on my usual Pentacon Six
It is important to remind readers
that “6×6” is only the nominal frame
size. This designation was made popular in the
1930s and continues in use up to the present day.
However, no “6×6” camera from any manufacturer
actually delivers a usable image that is 6
centimetres wide by 6 centimetres high.
Hasselblad specified the frame size for its “6×6”
cameras as being 54mm wide × 54mm high. The film
gate in the Pentacon Six that I took with me (and no
doubt all other Pentacon Sixes!) is approximately
55.43mm wide and 55.39mm high. However, as the
film is set back from the gate, pressed on the guide
rails above and below it, and since the image-forming
rays spread out from the lens to the film, the actual
image on the film is in fact fractionally larger than
the camera’s film gate itself, being approximately
55.5mm wide and 55.5mm high. The very edges of this
frame will not be printed in any enlarger with a
nominally “6×6” gate, nor will they be visible if a
reversal film is used and mounted in standard Medium
Format slide mounts.
To start with, let us compare the non-shifted and shifted results with this lens.
A street in Leipzig
Both of these pictures were taken with the Hartblei 45mm shift-only lens on a Pentacon Six, using Fuji PRO400H film. Exposure for both was 1/500 sec at f/11, hand-held.
Alignment of the camera is clearly
wrong with both of these photographs. I aligned
the camera carefully with the side of the building in
the foreground on the right-hand edge of the frame, so
that feature and the buiding in the distance behind it
are parallel to the right-hand edge of the frame.
I should instead have made
sure that the centre of the image was parallel
with the sides of the frame (i.e., truly
vertical). That way, keystoning would
have been less obvious, whereas in these images it is
quite pronounced on the opposite (left-hand) side of
each image. Here I also ignored three other basic
principles of architectural photography:
So, if we disregard these errors,
we observe that when the lens is not shifted up, a lot
of the paved street surface is seen and the top of the
main building is cut off. With the lens shifted up
the maximum amount recommended for 6×6 cameras, a lot of
the unwanted street surface is eliminated, and the top
of the building is included within the frame.
However, even with a wide-angle lens and essentially
full shift, it has still been necessary
to tilt the camera up a little in order to include the
top of the building and any such tilt becomes extremely
obvious when a wide-angle lens is used.
Lutherstadt Wittenberg Pentacon Six with 45mm Hartblei shift only lens and Fuji PRO400H film
We will look at three further
pictures from “Luther city Wittenberg”, which in 2016
was preparing for the 500th anniversary of the
Reformation in 2017. All three are cropped out of
the full frame.
We go to the
famous, historic, university city of Halle for the
next shot. Halle now calls itself “Händelstadt
Halle”, in honour of its famous son Georg Friedrich
Händel, known in English as “Handel”, the composer of
the music for the world-famous “Handel’s
Messiah”. (We also note in passing, however,
that Halle University now styles itself
This is a
“grab shot” of the tourist information office and the
first picture shows the whole of the frame.
Again, I am shooting with Fuji PRO400H. Here I
shifted up by just 6mm to reduce the intrusion into
the shot of the parked bicycles – a common feature of
German cities! The exposure was 1/250 sec at
We will end this review of the Hartblei 45mm shift-only lens with three more pictures, this time from the city of Leipzig, which is in eastern Germany. Again, we are shooting with Fuji PRO400H – we should have had more confidence that the fine weather was going to last, and have loaded the 160 film!
I enjoyed taking this lens with me
on my trip to Germany, and when, on my next trip, I took
the much smaller Mir-69 non-shift lens, I really missed
the shift function. I found that metering with
this lens was fast, using my usual, stop-down metering
I found this very fast and easy to
operate – although perhaps I should sometimes have taken
a little more time composing some images more carefully!
If you are working through the lens data
section, to go on to the next section, the Hartblei 150mm lens,
If you are working through the lens tests
section, to go to the next section, further advantages of
shift lenses, click here.
Back to beginning of the Lens Data section
© TRA 17 August 2017, New links added October