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Recommend An Old Zeiss Lens
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 11, 2019 9:54 pm    Post subject: Recommend An Old Zeiss Lens Reply with quote

I don't need to be convinced that old Zeiss lenses are great. So far I've amassed an old silver Tessar 50/2.8, two old silver Biotar 58s, a slim Triotar 135 and a fat Triotar 135. They're all wonderful.

I know there are a lot of Zeiss fans on the forum, and I'm wondering whether there are any models you would particularly recommend. I don't rule out any price range, but I'm especially interested in lenses you think are underrated, underappreciated, and/or under-priced. Part of the reason I like the ones I already have is because, in retrospect, I'm amazed how little I paid for them.

Any focal length and any mount is acceptable, although I'm most comfortable with the most common ones (M42 and Exakta).

Hopefully a discussion of this topic will be helpful to more than just me. Thanks!


PostPosted: Fri Jan 11, 2019 11:26 pm    Post subject: Re: Recommend An Old Zeiss Lens Reply with quote

KEO wrote:
I don't need to be convinced that old Zeiss lenses are great. So far I've amassed an old silver Tessar 50/2.8, two old silver Biotar 58s, a slim Triotar 135 and a fat Triotar 135. They're all wonderful.

I know there are a lot of Zeiss fans on the forum, and I'm wondering whether there are any models you would particularly recommend. I don't rule out any price range, but I'm especially interested in lenses you think are underrated, underappreciated, and/or under-priced. Part of the reason I like the ones I already have is because, in retrospect, I'm amazed how little I paid for them.

Any focal length and any mount is acceptable, although I'm most comfortable with the most common ones (M42 and Exakta).

Hopefully a discussion of this topic will be helpful to more than just me. Thanks!


Currently I only use a 50 f/2.8 Tessar in M42, but I was inspired to acquire that some while ago based on my experiences with the fixed-mount Tessar in an old Contaflex I owned for a while.

As for "underrated, underappreciated, and/or under-priced" you might consider the Zeiss lenses produced for the bayonet-mount Praktica cameras. I've got a "P" ("Pancolor"?) 28mm f/2.8 coming in the post at the moment and I'm hoping it'll be as easy to modify to use on my Pentax as the similar-mount Pentacon lenses I already use. I was lucky to find a poorly-described item on eBay that sold for relatively little money. The 135mm "S" (Sonnar?) is also very popular but prices are usually just a little too "optimistic" for me ... I'm keeping my eyes open for another bargain.

Do note that some Zeiss-badged lenses in Praktica bayonet mount were actually produced in Japan, this may or may not affect your choice, they're usually clearly marked.

Other than those, if you're up for a little modification or use on bellows, the lenses fitted to the old Zeiss-Ikon "Nettar" and similar cameras can have a lot of "character". The 105mm (or thereabouts) from the 6x9cm folders can be easily removed, shutter and all, without damaging the camera, then mounted in a body-cap with a suitable hole in it for use on bellows.


PostPosted: Sat Jan 12, 2019 2:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

pancolar. I have 2 of the 50mm f2 an example of the 50mm 1.8 (these are still quite reasonable) and the 80mm 1.8 which is quita a bit more expensive but prices are very stable I have been watching ebay very closely on that one and the prices stay right around 600 for a couple of years now. I hear great things about the west German Zeiss contax lenses but have not gotten any. The new Zeiss lenses are absolutly fantastic but you pay a significant premium eg I had the Loxia 21mm 2.8 and its images are absolutely perfect but it is a 1000 dollars for a good used example and as it is a new lens prices will be going down on used lenses for a while. .


PostPosted: Sat Jan 12, 2019 6:39 am    Post subject: Re: Recommend An Old Zeiss Lens Reply with quote

KEO wrote:
I don't need to be convinced that old Zeiss lenses are great. So far I've amassed an old silver Tessar 50/2.8, two old silver Biotar 58s, a slim Triotar 135 and a fat Triotar 135. They're all wonderful.

I know there are a lot of Zeiss fans on the forum, and I'm wondering whether there are any models you would particularly recommend. I don't rule out any price range, but I'm especially interested in lenses you think are underrated, underappreciated, and/or under-priced. Part of the reason I like the ones I already have is because, in retrospect, I'm amazed how little I paid for them.

Any focal length and any mount is acceptable, although I'm most comfortable with the most common ones (M42 and Exakta).

Hopefully a discussion of this topic will be helpful to more than just me. Thanks!


You can pick up Zeiss Biometars especially in P6 mount quite cheaply.
I have an 80mm and 120mm on ebay at the moment:

https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/183627550580

https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/173730508482

Happy to discount these for a forum member here

Happy snaps
Tom


PostPosted: Sat Jan 12, 2019 7:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Biometar 80mm is also available in Exakta-mount; with patience, also cheap. I really like mine Like 1 small


PostPosted: Sat Jan 12, 2019 9:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Carl Zeiss Jena lenses can be found for little actually, got a CZJ Sonnar electric 2.8/200 for just 150 not long ago on a fleamarket is superb condition in box. Pancolar are excellent lenses too (the 1.8/80mm is a pricey gem, but worth every penny). Then there are the ones with Praktina mount, quite overlooked still...

M42 and Exakta mount versions are of course the most looked after ones, hence come with higher prices...


PostPosted: Sat Jan 12, 2019 4:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

OH yeah. Flektogon. The 35mm 2.4 is resonable. The 20mm f4 is a bit more. All the CZJ lenses I have tried have been optically quite good. Fit and finish excellent as well. They do tend to suffer from stiffening helical grease though.


PostPosted: Sat Jan 12, 2019 8:29 pm    Post subject: Contax G1&2 Reply with quote

I have used the Contax G 90mm. Excellent acutance, and like the other G lenses, if not exacly cheap, sometimes less expensive than their siblings for other mounts and vintages. This is due to the high cost of the adapters. Even though the adapters are fiddly to fit, using one adapter for several lenses might make getting a set worthwhile.

Do, however, be aware that the wider ones, as opposed to the retrofocus constructions , may misbehave if matched with too much digital cover-glass.

p.


PostPosted: Sat Jan 12, 2019 8:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I love Carl Zeiss. Last year I found something of a holy grail, namely a CZJ Pancolar 50mm f/1.8. I already had a version with updated optics but didn't find it special. Then found an older one with 8 aperture blades and yellow glass. This one has 6/4 design that isolates close subjects really well. I plan on taking many pictures with it this year. If smooth bokeh is the most important thing there are better options. But this one is awesome for "pop" or whatever. I can back up that claim. A.t.m. topping my shortlist for normal lenses.

I also have a C/Y Planar 1.4/50 that lives up to the hype. I've taken a few photos of my dogs at f/1.4 where the difference between the blurry fore and background and the really sharp and thin plane of focus is striking. German version. Get the Japanese version if you want to avoid ninja star aperture shape and bokeh at low f#.

The last noteworthy lens in my possession is a Rollei Planar 1.8/50. Unique optical design, sharp, also good at subject isolation, and bokeh is very good if conditions and distances are just right. Generally not the smoothest bokeh.

Also in my collection: CZJ alu tessar 2.8/50, CZJ S 4/135, CZJ Sonnar 180mm 2.8 this one is good but it's a beast!
Practicar 50mm f/1.4, disappointingly weak performance.

Wanted list: C/Y Distagon 2.8/35, Flektogon 2.4/35, Rollei Sonnar 85mm 2.8. And sure Pancolar 80mm 1.8 for a good price.

I'm hoping that one of these 35mm's with be the one and only 35 for me. So far it's a MC Rokkor 35mm 2.8.


PostPosted: Sat Jan 12, 2019 8:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for all the suggestions, friends!

Biometar 80mm is certainly a lens I see praised by those who have them. Pancolars as well - the thought of a radioactive Zeiss lens is intriguing (since all my radioactive Japanese lenses are incredible Smile )

Praktica bayonet mount and Praktina are something I hadn't considered. I'll look into that. I had noticed lenses in those mounts seem to sell for less.

I'll have to check out the 180/2.8 Sonnar, since I'm fairly interested in obtaining a 180/2.8 Nikkor.

What about the 80mm Tessar? I think I read that people liked the Exakta version better than the M42 for some reason?

Flektogon is one I know little about, other than is seems very popular. I do have an old silver Mir-1, which I like a whole lot.

So the Contax Zeiss lenses are West German? I didn't know that.


PostPosted: Sat Jan 12, 2019 9:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I recently acquired CZJ Flektogon MC 20mm f2.8. I was literally been given this lens for free as it had some fungus beneath the front element. Of course it was easily cleaned completely. It's not a bad lens although initially I was little bit disappointed. Well at f2.8 it is not usable for objects located more than one meter from camera, but at f2.8 it is very good for macro stuff. It's a small and I like that. It can be sharp in the center but needs to be stopped down. For landscapes I stop it to f11 and corners are okayish.

Flaring and direct shooting into sun is not the best despite the multi coating so I advise shooting in the sun when intensity is little bit less.

Mechanically it's a good lens I guess of course, much better than today's plastic lenses.

I still need to explore this lens once we have our colours back after the winter. I expect it to shine.

I found Photoshop correction profile for it which does great job although this lens doesn't have huge distortions at all.

Chromatic abberation exist even when stopped down but are easily removed in Photoshop. I used it on 36 Mpx sensor which poses problems even for some modern glass not to mention 30 years old lens.


PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2019 5:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Zeiss got split by the second world War as the soviets took entire factories to Kiev thus the many clones like Mir, helios etc and the zeiss factory in Jena continued. In the west the carl zeiss factories also continued but tech and culture diverged. The Zeiss company that partners with Sony and is a top tier optical company in the same realm with leica is that same company. World court lawsuits granted many of the trademarks (eg Planar, Sonnar, Tessar) to Zeiss which was in Oberkochen IIRC. The famous T star coating was developed by the west German company. Zeiss Jena was folded into the east German mega company Pentacon (along with Meyer Optic, another excellent source for delightful vintage manual focus lenses).


I think I got that mostly right. Klaus et al don't hesitate to correct any errors in my very short history.


PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2019 7:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

jamaeolus wrote:
Zeiss got split by the second world War as the soviets took entire factories to Kiev thus the many clones like Mir, helios etc and the zeiss factory in Jena continued. In the west the carl zeiss factories also continued but tech and culture diverged. The Zeiss company that partners with Sony and is a top tier optical company in the same realm with leica is that same company. World court lawsuits granted many of the trademarks (eg Planar, Sonnar, Tessar) to Zeiss which was in Oberkochen IIRC. The famous T star coating was developed by the west German company. Zeiss Jena was folded into the east German mega company Pentacon (along with Meyer Optic, another excellent source for delightful vintage manual focus lenses).


Well, Zeiss is a very mixed bag. I don't want to comment on the Eastern German story. However, the Western Germany production of photographic lenses ended more or less with the sale of Voigtlaender/Braunschweig to Rollei in the early 1970's (the so-called "Zeiss" Ultron for the Icarex was developed and made by Voigtländer in Braunschweig). Since then Zeiss/Oberkochen was more a design bureau than a lens producer. The Contax line of cameras and lenses have been produced by Yashica/Kyocera until 2005. The present line of "Zeiss" branded lenses is produced by Cosina/Japan and there is a design cooperation with Sony as well. To compare Zeiss with Leica is therefore rather difficult as Leica still produces their own lenses in their own plant in Wetzlar.


Last edited by tb_a on Sun Jan 13, 2019 8:42 am; edited 1 time in total


PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2019 8:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

jamaeolus wrote:
Zeiss got split by the second world War as the soviets took entire factories to Kiev thus the many clones like Mir, helios etc and the zeiss factory in Jena continued. In the west the carl zeiss factories also continued but tech and culture diverged. The Zeiss company that partners with Sony and is a top tier optical company in the same realm with leica is that same company. World court lawsuits granted many of the trademarks (eg Planar, Sonnar, Tessar) to Zeiss which was in Oberkochen IIRC. The famous T star coating was developed by the west German company. Zeiss Jena was folded into the east German mega company Pentacon (along with Meyer Optic, another excellent source for delightful vintage manual focus lenses).


I think I got that mostly right. Klaus et al don't hesitate to correct any errors in my very short history.


T* coating was developed during WWII at Zeiss in 1936, then being a war top secret development, not Zeiss (West)

This is a long and rather complicated history with lots of Zeiss people and its optics being deported err "liberated" to the USA as well as others to Russia. Zeiss Historical Society has a lot about that: https://www.facebook.com/groups/stevenkoves/ should anyone be interested. Als in wiki: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_Zeiss_AG#Corporate_history


PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2019 2:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I only recently got more into using MF lenses and it was thanks to a Zeiss Jena piece of glass that I did.

I found an early Tessar 50mm f/2.8 in a job lot of photographic equipment I got for literally nothing on eBay (including a mint original Trip 35.. Very Happy ), and though it has really stiff focusing andis impossible to use without using live view because of mirror strike; I was blown away by it. The contrast and tones are amazing, so that was it. The model I have is a pretty early Jena one in that it was still branded "Germany".

Since then I've accrued a Sonnar 135mm f/3.5; a "zebra" Tessar 50mm f/2.8; and a stiff 70s Pancolar 50mm f/1.8

Out of all of them, I'd have to say its a close thing between the Pancolar 50 and the Sonnar 135. Both have quite amazing contrast, which I've found with the Zeiss Jena glass I have and shooting in B&W it makes for great shots.

The 135 f/3.5 is about half the price of the f/2.8 version as far as I can see and tbh, when something is this sharp, I'm not too fussed about upgrading in a hurry.

The Sonnar 135mm f/3.5 at f/8-ish



So in comparison, the pancolar at f/22 (I think.) at night;



The Pancolar was probably about twice the price of the Sonnar but I think they both really old their own.

Both I'd highly recommend.

(I'm now waiting to see if an old Praktica SLR I've just bought off ebay for peanuts has another Pancolar 50 on it.. Very Happy )


PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2019 2:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"T*" (T Star) coating is used to indicate Multicoated Optics, came along much later than the "T" designation. The Sonnar-C 50/1.5 has a T* marking.

The first batch of coated lenses in 1936 were not marked. I believe the "T" mark ("T"ransparent) was used ~1938. My 1936 coated 5cm F1.5 Sonnar is not marked, the 1938 5cm F1.5 Sonnar is marked "T".


PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2019 3:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

fiftyonepointsix wrote:
"T*" (T Star) coating is used to indicate Multicoated Optics, came along much later than the "T" designation. The Sonnar-C 50/1.5 has a T* marking.

The first batch of coated lenses in 1936 were not marked. I believe the "T" mark ("T"ransparent) was used ~1938. My 1936 coated 5cm F1.5 Sonnar is not marked, the 1938 5cm F1.5 Sonnar is marked "T".


That's right, the "T*" was invented apprx. 1972 by Zeiss/Oberkochen and was a major step forward compared to the "T" coating.

I'm not too sure whether they have produced coated and uncoated lenses in parallel in the late 1930's. I've got a Triotar 13.5 cm made 1939 without "T" and a Sonnar 13.5 cm made 1941 with "T" designation, but the glass color looks identically. Maybe the Triotar is coated as well. Both are prone to flare hence I don't use them without hood anyway.

My only post-war lens is the 5 cm F3.5 Tessar built 1949.

Some later CZJ models went all to the waste bin due to the well known stuck aperture and stiff focusing issues. I don't know when they introduced this type of grease which obviously was the cause of this malfunctions.


PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2019 4:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Zeiss did make coated and uncoated lenses of the same type, at the same time. I have two Sonnars from the same batch, one coated and the other is uncoated. Identical in every other way. I have "T" coated Sonnars that are marked "only" to F11 on the aperture ring, but actually stop down a little bit more- probably F16. The early coated lenses are made in the same heavy mount as the originals. By 1941, a lighter alloy was used, lenses are "T" coated, and all 5cm F1.5 Sonnars are marked to F22.

To me, the 5cm F1.5 Sonnar is THE Zeiss lens to get. But- it will not focus correctly with an SLR. You can use Mirrorless, Contax or Leica rangefinder, or an FSU Zorki (Thread mount) or Kiev (Contax mount).

I very rarely throw any lens away these days, regretted when I used to. I've always found a way to revive a lens or part it out to make something interesting.

This 1934 5cm F1.5 Sonnar, converted to Leica Mount, cost me all of $90. The Contax RF lens, bought off Ebay- completely opaque. Cleaned up well. The Jupiter-3 focus mount, made from left over parts of three lenses.

Manassas Christmastime by fiftyonepointsix, on Flickr

Wide-open, on the M9.


PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2019 4:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The colour from 80/1.8, my favourite CZJ lens, is different from the other MC lens like 35/3.4, 50/1.8 and 135/3.5. Don't forget the Sonnar 85/2.0 (or early Jupiter-9) which is a excellent lens for portraits.


PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2019 5:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

fiftyonepointsix wrote:
I very rarely throw any lens away these days, regretted when I used to. I've always found a way to revive a lens or part it out to make something interesting.


Well, I'm not able to CLA a lens myself and it would be too costly to have it repaired somewhere else. These GDR produced lenses have been extremly cheap some time ago and I don't buy them any longer anyway.


fiftyonepointsix wrote:
This 1934 5cm F1.5 Sonnar, converted to Leica Mount, cost me all of $90. The Contax RF lens, bought off Ebay- completely opaque. Cleaned up well. The Jupiter-3 focus mount, made from left over parts of three lenses.


Have you ever compared your original with the Jupiter-3 clone?

I've recently compared my original 1941 Sonnar 13.5 cm lens with a later Jupiter-11 clone and I wasn't really able to dedect any differences, not even on my 42MP Sony A7R II in extreme pixel peeping mode. Therefore I rather prefer to use the more reliable Russian clones to avoid the mentioned troubles.


PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2019 8:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Either of the 80/2.8's are well worth getting.
Biometar 80mm f2.8 more money, slightly better IQ than the Tessar.
Tessar 80mm f2.8 not as expensive, still very good IQ. I quite like mine.
Sonnar 135mm f4, there's a reason Sonnar's are loved.


PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2019 8:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

https://cameraderie.org/threads/jupiter-3-5cm-f1-5-various-manufacturers.37715/

https://cameraderie.org/threads/jupiter-3-plus-compared-with-three-rare-sonnar-lenses.39055/

https://cameraderie.org/threads/jupiter-3-and-1943-carl-zeiss-jena-5cm-f1-5-sonnar-t.39053/

I've done many comparisons between Sonnars and Jupiter-3's. There is a lot of deviation in the performance of the Jupiter-3 from the variois manufacturers and production period. The very first Jupiter-3's were Zeiss Sonnars, I have two 1950 J-3's with Zeiss optics and serial numbers in them, and a 1949 ZK Sonnar. I went through 10 Valdai J-3's to get a good one, and even it- improved performance by putting in an older front element. The KMZ J-3's from 1953 through 1956 are the best. Earlier ones usually need some adjustments: I changed the element spacing in the two 1950 J-3's to get good focus across range. When bought: perfect glass, they were unusable.

I learned how to repair lenses and cameras by taking them apart instead of throwing away. Figured I could not make them any worse.

https://cameraderie.org/threads/tales-from-the-greasy-side-miscellaneous-notes-on-the-jupiter-3.39373/

The Russian lenses, and German lenses made just after WW-II, can be real cans-of-worms. OR box of chocolate? You never know what you are going to get when opening one up, or what will jump put at you.

I have a J-11 in Contax mount that was "special Issue", in green that is very sharp. I suspect it was made for the military.

The 1937 13.5cm F4 Sonnar was better than the 1970 J-11, after putting the Zeiss into the J-11 focus mount and calibrating for Leica.

https://cameraderie.org/threads/carl-zeiss-jena-13-5cm-f4-sonnar-uncoated.39361/

I have a 1957 KMZ J-11 coming in, will do a comparison.


PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2019 8:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

fiftyonepointsix wrote:
I went through 10 Valdai J-3's to get a good one, and even it- improved performance by putting in an older front element. The KMZ J-3's from 1953 through 1956 are the best. Earlier ones usually need some adjustments: I changed the element spacing in the two 1950 J-3's to get good focus across range. When bought: perfect glass, they were unusable.

I learned how to repair lenses and cameras by taking them apart instead of throwing away. Figured I could not make them any worse.


OK, thanks for info. Actually my old KMZ J-3 is the only one with troubles as it doesn't focus correctly at infinity. Is it difficult to cure that?


PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2019 9:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If the focus is spot-on used close-up and wide-open, but the focus at infinity is too close: it means the focal length is on the higher side of the tolerance. To correct: the rear triplet can be moved in closer to the front section, then the reduced focal-length lens must be re-shimmed.

So- some careful measurements at minimum focus at F1.5 and at infinity will help.

Instructions in PDF here that explain the problem and how to correct:

https://jasonhowe.blog/50mm-jupiter-3-f1-5-information

These two specifically:

http://static1.squarespace.com/static/5baa8b54a9ab95602839e52f/5bab8361ee97cc8dac6f07a0/5bab8357ee97cc8dac6efd1a/1537966935427/Jupiter-3-Shimming-Instructions.pdf?format=original

http://static1.squarespace.com/static/5baa8b54a9ab95602839e52f/5bab8361ee97cc8dac6f07a0/5bab8357ee97cc8dac6efd18/1537966935425/Jupiter-3-Focal-Length-Adjustment.pdf?format=original


PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2019 9:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Many thanks for your help. I'll see if I can manage that. Wink
BTW, short to medium distance it performs rather excellently.