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Zeiss Pancolar 50mm 1.8 Zebra won't form an image
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 30, 2019 4:13 pm    Post subject: Zeiss Pancolar 50mm 1.8 Zebra won't form an image Reply with quote

Hi everyone. I received a Zeiss Pancolar 50mm 1.8 Zebra today. It was sold to me on ebay as spares repairs because of a small fungus spot and stiff focus. These are both things I can fix. I mounted it on my Cosina CSR M42 Mount camera only to find it won't form an image at all. Neither infinity or very close up, the viewfinder just remains blurry.

When I look through the rear of the lens it seems to have strong barrel distortion. It almost looks like an element has been placed in backwards. I've had both optical blocks out and they seem intact and in the correct alignment according to the block diagram. I've stopped the lens down to f22 and I can make objects out unlike at wide open.

I'm really at a loss as to what's wrong here and would appreciate any advice.


PostPosted: Sat Nov 30, 2019 7:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Welcome Jonk

Getting partial image stopped down may indicate lens is mounted wrong distance from camera by adapter. Are these partial images close or infinity? If close may be too thick adapter. Maybe try handhold lens in front of camera without adapter move closer can focus.


PostPosted: Sat Nov 30, 2019 7:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for your reply visualopsins. This is one of the strangest things I've encountered when dealing with old lenses. I've got the lens mounted on a native m42 camera so no adapter is involved.

At f22 the image doesn't really change when racking from close focus to infinity. I've tried free lensing the lens away from the camera to counteract the lens possibly being focused past infinity but nothing changes. The level of blurriness when wide open is similar to what you get with no lens attached.

I've also tried free lensing the lens to a mirrorless camera to see if moving it closer would help but still no image was formed.

The lens is a late model zebra in case you are wondering.


Last edited by Jonk on Mon Dec 02, 2019 12:06 am; edited 1 time in total


PostPosted: Sat Nov 30, 2019 10:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Looks like I'm going to have to send the lens back. Looking at Pancolar sold listings I found that the seller sold this exact lens to someone a few weeks ago. I'm assuming the person it was sold to wasn't too happy and returned it.

I've taken apart the rear optical block to discover that the middle element is missing so mystery solved. I originally thought the rear had a cemented doublet in it. It's a shame as the lens has a good working aperture mechanism / AM switch and no play at all in its construction.


PostPosted: Sun Dec 01, 2019 9:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jonk wrote:
Looks like I'm going to have to send the lens back. Looking at Pancolar sold listings I found that the seller sold this exact lens to someone a few weeks ago. I'm assuming the person it was sold to wasn't too happy and returned it.

I've taken apart the rear optical block to discover that the middle element is missing so mystery solved. I originally thought the rear had a cemented doublet in it. It's a shame as the lens has a good working aperture mechanism / AM switch and no play at all in its construction.



I'd say bad luck, but of course it wasn't bad luck, you were stiffed by a con merchant.

I hope you can comment on your experience, so the next potential victim can read it in the sellers feedback. You should be able to go into purchase history, find the item and comment there.


PostPosted: Mon Dec 02, 2019 12:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Actually, I don't believe the seller is at fault here. After I explained the situation the seller gave me a partial refund.

The seller has 100% feedback and over 1000 photography related sales. I doubt they would tarnish their reputation over a lens that in good condition is worth less than £100 and not all that rare.

I personally think the previous buyer tried to clean the fungus spot from the lens and managed to chip the element during the extraction process.

If anyone in the UK has a spare Pancolar rear optical block or just the rear middle element they'd like to sell me I'd love to hear from them.


PostPosted: Wed Dec 04, 2019 12:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have a later version that needs the aperture blades reassembling - I think there are bits missing - and putting back together, and a complete one in very good condition for £70 - again a later version than the zebra.

I don't know if the lens units would fit the zebra body, or if a working lens could be made from the two lenses.


PostPosted: Wed Dec 04, 2019 12:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Lloydy

I haven't extracted the aperture unit from my lens. The rear optical block on your lens looks identical to mine. I'm currently trying to complete a transaction with someone who has a spare rear optical block.


PostPosted: Wed Dec 04, 2019 4:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's your best option, I'm kinda looking for an aperture block or badly fungused lens because this lens was mint before someone took it to pieces, and lost most of the aperture linkage. Rolling Eyes


PostPosted: Thu Dec 05, 2019 12:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There's currently an auction on Ebay for an MC Pancolar 50mm 1.8 with a camera that should meet your needs. The item is a relisting. https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Vintage-Praktica-MTL3-SLR-Film-Camera-Pancolar-Lens-1-8-50-JENA-DDR/254443322131

It was auctioned off last week and finished at £47 but the buyer must have returned it as the new item description now mentions fungus and a missing mount screw.


PostPosted: Fri Dec 06, 2019 1:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I managed to get a replacement rear optical block from an eBay seller who services lenses. The block was from an Aus Jena Pancolar where the entire rear block would have been held in by a retaining ring rather than being screwed in.

On closer inspection, it turns out that my lens was not only missing the middle element but also it's retaining ring. I'm very lucky that the retaining ring from the spare lens not only screwed-in but was also the correct height.

After transplanting the optics to my lens I now have a Pancolar that works. The lens performs very well from wide open with no visible decentering or field tilt. I managed to get a working Pancolar for £46 in the end which is reasonable according to eBay.

I'm pretty hacked off with whoever pinched the parts from my lens originally. Getting this lens working has taken a lot of time and receiving it broken basically ruined last weekend.