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Best affordable vintage zeiss / Conrad lenses
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 09, 2019 11:26 pm    Post subject: Best affordable vintage zeiss / Conrad lenses Reply with quote

I really like zeiss designed glass and love my adapted 32 distagon, my 50 ultron, and my contax 28-85 zoom. I have a roller sl26 zeiss set coming along with a printed adapter. What else might I be missing in vintage zeiss that's special?


PostPosted: Sun Nov 10, 2019 4:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Truly?

Stop obsessing.

Seriously.

Find what you like, and USE them.

Who cares if it's a Zeiss or a Pancolar or a Leitz, Leica, Angineux or anything else?

Snobs will tell you all about the differences, but what do YOU think?


PostPosted: Sun Nov 10, 2019 5:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A man can like what he wants.

But my 2 cents: the East German CZJ is nothing to sneeze at, easier to find (mostly) and works great. I don't think I've had a disappointment with any of it (although some of the really old stuff is obviously really old, and shouldn't be expected to perform like more modern equipment).


PostPosted: Sun Nov 10, 2019 6:48 am    Post subject: Re: Best affordable vintage zeiss / Conrad lenses Reply with quote

Gatorengineer64 wrote:
I really like zeiss designed glass and love my adapted 32 distagon, my 50 ultron, and my contax 28-85 zoom. I have a roller sl26 zeiss set coming along with a printed adapter. What else might I be missing in vintage zeiss that's special?


Interesting that you mention the Ultron which isn't designed by Zeiss. Actually that's a Voigtländer lens designed by A.W. Tronnier and marked only "Zeiss".


PostPosted: Sun Nov 10, 2019 9:23 am    Post subject: Re: Best affordable vintage zeiss / Conrad lenses Reply with quote

Gatorengineer64 wrote:
I really like zeiss designed glass and love my adapted 32 distagon, my 50 ultron, and my contax 28-85 zoom. I have a roller sl26 zeiss set coming along with a printed adapter. What else might I be missing in vintage zeiss that's special?


If anyone is collecting or accruing a selection of Zeiss lenses, the ubiquitous Tessar is a must have, in my mind. I currently own two or three and have sold on at least one, (fixed to a Contaflex), and have always been very happy with the results.

The later ones may have better coating, so may be more resistant to flare. As with a lot of the Russian/East German lenses, trying to find one that hasn't been mis-used or "tampered with" can be a challenge. My experience suggests a privately bought lens, still on it's original camera, is likely to be in good condition, if a little stiff from lack of use Wink

Good luck Wink


PostPosted: Sun Nov 10, 2019 10:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I prefer the pre-war or early post war Zeiss for its build quality and vintage feel. The MC primes from Jena or HFT/T* lens from Oberkochen are good too if you prefer modern style. Wink


PostPosted: Sun Nov 10, 2019 12:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the replies...i am not a zeiss snob, but I do like the rendering of many zeiss lenses and the mechanics. I have three sl23 tessars in the mail and hopefully the kit to get the lense out of the body to use them. Was mostly wondering if there was any other somewhat obscure and affordable zeiss stuff out there.

I have researched the contarex 50 f2 and that as an example has very mixed reviews and isn't cheap....


PostPosted: Sun Nov 10, 2019 2:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gatorengineer64 wrote:
Was mostly wondering if there was any other somewhat obscure and affordable zeiss stuff out there.


My 135mm f/4 Triotar wasn't expensive, (none of my lenses are!), the 15-blade aperture should give some pleasant effects under appropriate circumstances and wide open the triplet "bubble bokeh" effect is quite noticeable if conditions are right ... whether you like that or not is a personal opinion Wink

The 135mm f/3.5 Sonnar, albeit not obscure, is widely available in M42 mount and can also be found quite cheaply if you're prepared to live with a bit of worn paintwork or a dented filter thread. The built-in lens-hood makes a damaged thread much less of a problem than it might be otherwise!


PostPosted: Sun Nov 10, 2019 2:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't see particular reason for going after contarex lenses if you don't have the budget. I have a contarex 55/1.4 with some haze and scratch internally. The build quality is superb but optically it is similar to later Japanese 55/1.4s which based on its design.


PostPosted: Sun Nov 10, 2019 4:32 pm    Post subject: Re: Best affordable vintage zeiss / Conrad lenses Reply with quote

tb_a wrote:
Gatorengineer64 wrote:
I really like zeiss designed glass and love my adapted 32 distagon, my 50 ultron, and my contax 28-85 zoom. I have a roller sl26 zeiss set coming along with a printed adapter. What else might I be missing in vintage zeiss that's special?


Interesting that you mention the Ultron which isn't designed by Zeiss. Actually that's a Voigtländer lens designed by A.W. Tronnier and marked only "Zeiss".


Well the other way around exists as well of course. The Voigtländer Color Ultron 55mm 1.4 is basically the Contarex Planar 55mm 1.4 of the 60's. And not different from the Mamiya Sekor 55mm 1.4 versions. So for affordable "Zeiss" lenses those 55mm 1.4 versions should not be ignored.

http://forum.mflenses.com/west-german-voigtlander-color-ultron-14-55mm-rollei-qbm-t55895.html
http://www.klassik-cameras.de/RolleiflexSL35E.html


PostPosted: Sun Nov 10, 2019 11:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The 50mm F1.5 Sonnar of any vintage is worth getting. Most likely you will get a Contax mount lens, and need to get an adapter with a built in helical.


PostPosted: Mon Nov 11, 2019 5:55 am    Post subject: Re: Best affordable vintage zeiss / Conrad lenses Reply with quote

Gatorengineer64 wrote:
I really like zeiss designed glass and love my adapted 32 distagon, my 50 ultron, and my contax 28-85 zoom. I have a roller sl26 zeiss set coming along with a printed adapter. What else might I be missing in vintage zeiss that's special?

35/2.8 Flektogon
58/2 Biotar
80/2.8 Triotar
135/4 Sonnar


PostPosted: Mon Nov 11, 2019 9:59 am    Post subject: Re: Best affordable vintage zeiss / Conrad lenses Reply with quote

Lightshow wrote:
Gatorengineer64 wrote:
I really like zeiss designed glass and love my adapted 32 distagon, my 50 ultron, and my contax 28-85 zoom. I have a roller sl26 zeiss set coming along with a printed adapter. What else might I be missing in vintage zeiss that's special?

35/2.8 Flektogon
58/2 Biotar
80/2.8 Triotar
135/4 Sonnar


I absolutely understand the urge to collect some Zeiss gear, especially from the "classical" period (around 1930-1950). Also the many Zeiss lenses for the Contax/Yashica SLR system certainly are interesting. That said, you should not expect the Zeiss CY lenses to superior to a contemporary Minolta lens. And the old classical lenses - apart from the Sonnar 4/13.5 cm - are distinctively worse than most corresponding Can/Nik/Min/Oly/Pen lenses from the 1980s.

I would recommend the 4/13.5 cm Sonnar; the 2.8/35mm Flektogon or the 2/58mm Biogon however are not nearly as good as e. g. a Minolta MD 2.8/35mm [5/5] or a Minolta MD-III 2/50mm.

Stephan


PostPosted: Mon Nov 11, 2019 10:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Your asking for 'Best' but don't say at what, & refer to 'affordable' but don't indicate a budget or what affordable means to you...
One man's bargain is well outside another's budget.

You can occasionally pick up very cheap zeiss lenses, I've been lucky enough to grab a camera bag with 3 CZJ lenses & a film body for £10. The lenses in that bag were a Flektogon 35/2.4, a Tessar 50/2.8 & a Sonnar 135/3.5 all in respectable condition. Affordable by any stretch of the imagination, from the e-bay prices the 'best' of them is the Flektogon, but I doubt you'll find one for even 20x what it cost me. I wouldn't consider the price they sell for on e-bay to be affordable though it seems plenty of others do.

Of course for a wildlife or sports photographer the 135 is probably the best, though it will be too short for many of their subjects.


PostPosted: Mon Nov 11, 2019 10:27 am    Post subject: Re: Best affordable vintage zeiss / Conrad lenses Reply with quote

stevemark wrote:
I would recommend the 4/13.5 cm Sonnar; the 2.8/35mm Flektogon or the 2/58mm Biogon however are not nearly as good as e. g. a Minolta MD 2.8/35mm [5/5] or a Minolta MD-III 2/50mm.


That's absolutely right. Furthermore the Jupiter-11 (Russian copy of the Sonnar 135/4) may be a good alternative. I've compared my original Zeiss Sonnar with my 2 copies of the Jupiter-11 (M39/LTM and M39/Zenit) and couldn't dedect any differences, not even on 42MP FF.


PostPosted: Mon Nov 11, 2019 4:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interestingly, no one mentioned the probably two best CZJ lenses, M42 mount, the Flektogon 20mm F2.8 and the Sonnar 200mm F2.8. Maybe because these lenses do not fall into the "bargain" category?


PostPosted: Mon Nov 11, 2019 7:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Biotar 58 is my answer. They're fairly common and not expensive, especially if you bargain hunt.

I love my old slim 13.5cm Triotar too.


PostPosted: Mon Nov 11, 2019 8:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I really like my Contax Planar 50mm 1.4 and Rollei Planar 50mm 1.8, and last but not least Pancolar 50mm 1.8.


PostPosted: Tue Nov 12, 2019 10:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

DConvert wrote:
Your asking for 'Best' but don't say at what, & refer to 'affordable' but don't indicate a budget or what affordable means to you...
One man's bargain is well outside another's budget.

You can occasionally pick up very cheap zeiss lenses, I've been lucky enough to grab a camera bag with 3 CZJ lenses & a film body for £10. The lenses in that bag were a Flektogon 35/2.4, a Tessar 50/2.8 & a Sonnar 135/3.5 all in respectable condition. Affordable by any stretch of the imagination, from the e-bay prices the 'best' of them is the Flektogon, but I doubt you'll find one for even 20x what it cost me. I wouldn't consider the price they sell for on e-bay to be affordable though it seems plenty of others do.

Of course for a wildlife or sports photographer the 135 is probably the best, though it will be too short for many of their subjects.


If want Zeiss for the name read no further but if you’re interested in their qualities then you could always look at the Practicar PB versions. I have the 35mm Flek and it’s no different to the Zeiss named one, there is also 135mm f3.5 (not the f2.8 version), 20mm Flek and 50mm Pancolor in Practicar, the last two are not cheap but cheaper. Best avoid the other PB lenses though, they’re not great.


PostPosted: Tue Nov 12, 2019 1:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A Zeiss lens not easily mistaken for another - Biotar 75/1.5
Use on full frame for best results, and for portraits or centered subjects above all. The swirly bokeh is quite different from most alternatives, and the relatively wide angle vs other 80-90mm lenses in the category means that there is more of it.

The closest equivalent is the Russian Helios-40 85/1.5 but its not the same.

It is rather difficult to use effectively. Thats a very narrow DOF indeed.

Not for everyone nor is it good for most purposes though it is more than sharp enough if stopped down. But if you do that its no longer unique.

A worthy collection, aesthetically, would be the very flashy Exakta "zebra" or chromed/alu lenses from various makers of the late 1950's-early 1960's. They make an impressive shelf display, along with some Exakta bodies to set them off. The late Captain Jack had a tremendous collection of these. They are almost always also good lenses.


PostPosted: Tue Nov 12, 2019 2:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

noddywithoutbigears wrote:

If want Zeiss for the name read no further but if you’re interested in their qualities then you could always look at the Practicar PB versions. I have the 35mm Flek and it’s no different to the Zeiss named one, there is also 135mm f3.5 (not the f2.8 version), 20mm Flek and 50mm Pancolor in Practicar, the last two are not cheap but cheaper. Best avoid the other PB lenses though, they’re not great.

Do not forget the Practicar 80. Wink


PostPosted: Tue Nov 12, 2019 3:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Out of the DDR Zeiss lenses I'd definitely recommend the Flektogon 35mm f/2.8, it's a fantastic lens and can be had a for a reasonably sensible price compared to the f/2.4 version. Also on a crop sensor it has the benefit of a 50mm focal length equivalent (approximately).. As others have said the Prakticar versions are worth checking out. Just beware as some of the last gen Pentacon models were branded CZJ such as the 29mm f/2.8 (m42) and there's also a CZJ 50mm f/1.8 P in PB mount which is a weird one as its not identical to the Pentacon version. Performance wise it's a bit soft wide open but sharpens up at higher f/stops, however the colours are OTT in terms of saturation. In context, my theory is the CZJ brand was being positioned as the main brand post collapse of East Germany but with Pentacon effectively folding it never really transpired.

I'd also give a +1 to recommending the Flektogon 20mm f/4, again its cheaper than the faster more modern version but still very capable in its own right. My only issue with it being its a swine to focus given the focal length scale, it was a nightmare on my A6000 but a lot easier to use ony EOS and XH-1.

Though not Zeiss, some of the earlier Meyer Optik lenses I'd definitely recommend I.e the Primotar 35mm and 50mm lenses. The 100mm f/2.8 Orestor id definitely recommend but it's one worth looking for a sensible price for esp since its a "bokeh craze" lens as such. . A lot of the Meyer lenses became Pentacon with the formation of the VEB, so early Pentacon models can be virtually identical to the Meyer versions if it's the first generation versiom, though some are different; for example the 100m f/2.8 Meyer version is something like 13 aperture blades, whereas the first Pentacon model is six.

IME the Exakta mount versions of these lenses are cheaper than the M42 versions, quite why I don't know given its really just a case of using a different adapter.. 🤔


PostPosted: Tue Nov 12, 2019 5:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

M42 is more rare than Exakta. Moreover, M42 can be adapted to EF with cheap adapter without any issues.


PostPosted: Tue Nov 12, 2019 5:39 pm    Post subject: Re: Best affordable vintage zeiss / Conrad lenses Reply with quote

stevemark wrote:
Lightshow wrote:
Gatorengineer64 wrote:
I really like zeiss designed glass and love my adapted 32 distagon, my 50 ultron, and my contax 28-85 zoom. I have a roller sl26 zeiss set coming along with a printed adapter. What else might I be missing in vintage zeiss that's special?

35/2.8 Flektogon
58/2 Biotar
80/2.8 Triotar
135/4 Sonnar


I absolutely understand the urge to collect some Zeiss gear, especially from the "classical" period (around 1930-1950). Also the many Zeiss lenses for the Contax/Yashica SLR system certainly are interesting. That said, you should not expect the Zeiss CY lenses to superior to a contemporary Minolta lens. And the old classical lenses - apart from the Sonnar 4/13.5 cm - are distinctively worse than most corresponding Can/Nik/Min/Oly/Pen lenses from the 1980s.

I would recommend the 4/13.5 cm Sonnar; the 2.8/35mm Flektogon or the 2/58mm Biogon however are not nearly as good as e. g. a Minolta MD 2.8/35mm [5/5] or a Minolta MD-III 2/50mm.

Stephan

The OP didn't ask for the best lenses.


PostPosted: Tue Nov 12, 2019 5:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Re Exakta mounts - Depends on what mount you need to adapt to.
For mirrorless it doesn't really matter. If you have a Sony A7 or something like that the adapters all work.
But for Canon or Pentax DSLR it does, the Canon Exakta adapters are often troublesome as the available back focus to use for adapter mechanics is quite tight, and there are no commercial Exakta adapters for Pentax. Canon users in particular make up a big part of the market.

Nikon DSLR users of course are out of luck entirely.