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  1. #1

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    CZJ lenses, anything special?

    I've been thinking about trying a P6 because I've read that the CZJ lenses were sharper in the center than the western Zeiss lenses. Anyone else observe this? I'm most interested in the 80mm f2.8 Biometar and care most about center sharpness and bokeh, especially wide-open.

  2. #2
    David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    I doubt that one could make any such generalization, since there are so many different Zeiss lens designs of different periods on both sides of the border.

    I had four lenses (50/80/200/300, if I recall) when I had a Pentacon 6 in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and the most interesting was the 50mm Flektagon.
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  3. #3
    Ian Grant's Avatar
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    I've used the 50mm Flektagon and Bronica Zenzanon (actually a CZJ Biometer) as well as Nikkor and Komura lens and the Carl Zeiss Jena lenses were just vas good.

    Where all the CZJ post war lenses are let down is the quality of their focus mechanishs and the cheap natsy lubrican that dries out, or gives unsmooth travel, sometimes the aperture stop down systems are poor as well. Bronica had their own focus mount.

    I use a 1950's CZJ LF Tessar lens and it's equal to late production Xenar's and nearly a stop faster.

    Ian

  4. #4
    David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Grant View Post
    Where all the CZJ post war lenses are let down is the quality of their focus mechanishs and the cheap natsy lubrican that dries out, or gives unsmooth travel, sometimes the aperture stop down systems are poor as well.

    Ian
    As I recall, the 300mm that I had was flaky in this way. I remember taking the whole system to Ken Hansen where I traded it for credit toward a lighting system, and seeing the guy behind the counter wince when he felt that sandy sensation in the helical.
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  5. #5

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    It is really difficult to generalize. Some of the designs were the same, but after WW2 the Zeiss Jena production facilities were decimated by the Russians. The Western company had to start from scratch. Both companies had optics made in other factories in both the GDR and West Germany. In the early period after WW2 Carl Zeiss lenses from west Germany were not necessarily made by Carl Zeiss. Much later on the 'Jena' label became something of a trademark that was stuck onto things that were not necessarily made in Carl Zeiss Jena. Similarly, some optics from CZ west Germany were made... 'elsewhere'.

    Bottom line is all CZ optics are good designs, usually they had good quality control. West Germany quality control was usually better than the later period in the GDR, but you pay for it. But even GDR QC was usually much better than the Ukranian or Russian lenses.

    As for grease... the communists seem to have a problem with lubricants! My Sonnar was a bit loose and sloppy. I sent it to a German technician for servicing and it came back silky smooth and tight.
    Steve

  6. #6
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    CZJ 180mm 2.8

    I have not used the 50 or the 80 but I do use the CZJ Sonnar 180mm 2.8 on my Pentax 645Nii with an adaptor and I absolutely love it. Based on a few non-scientific comparison photos between my SMC Pentax A 645 150mm f3.5 and the CZJ 180mm 2.8 Sonnar the 180mm wins in image quality while the 150mm wins in ease of use. The CZJ 180 is one huge chunk of glass and metal. It is the only lens I use on my 645Nii where I am glad that there is a tripod mount on the lens. On the flip side, the A 150mm is a very nice, tidy little lens and is very easy to pack around and use. If I am hiking then I will definitely pick the A 150.

    Here are a couple similar shots. Both shots taken with the Pentax 645Nii within about an hour of each other, similar light. Tripod mounted, manual focus. Used Kodak Portra 400VC set to F6.7 @ 1/1000 seconds. No shutter release cable, no timer, no mirror lockup. Developed in same batch with Rollei kit at standard timings.

    SMC Pentax A 45 150mm
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Carl Zeiss Jena 180mm Sonnar
    Click image for larger version. 

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    They are very close. To me the Pentax image seems a bit warmer while the CZJ image is a bit cooler. I think the CZJ image is a tad sharper but I am a long way from an expert on this. You should also keep in mind that individual copies of the same lens can vary a bit so this result may not necessarily be representative of anyone else's experience.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pioneer View Post

    ...... "a bit warmer" .....
    Quite a lot warmer it seems to me. The two shots look like different photos.

  8. #8
    Klainmeister's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by steven_e007 View Post
    As for grease... the communists seem to have a problem with lubricants! [W]as a bit loose and sloppy. I [w]ent to a German technician for servicing and came back silky smooth and tight.
    I'd say!
    K.S. Klain

  9. #9
    Ian Grant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by David A. Goldfarb View Post
    As I recall, the 300mm that I had was flaky in this way. I remember taking the whole system to Ken Hansen where I traded it for credit toward a lighting system, and seeing the guy behind the counter wince when he felt that sandy sensation in the helical.
    I had this problem with a Pancolor on my Prakticamat (the fisrt camera sold with TTL metering) nad have similar issues with another Pancolor and a Flektagon & Sonnar all Exacta mount. Meyer lense I bought never seemed to suffer as badly.

    My first Pancolor never stopped down consistently to the correct aperture by the early 1960's quality control was poor.

    Ian

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Grant View Post
    I had this problem with a Pancolor on my Prakticamat (the fisrt camera sold with TTL metering) nad have similar issues with another Pancolor and a Flektagon & Sonnar all Exacta mount. Meyer lense I bought never seemed to suffer as badly.

    My first Pancolor never stopped down consistently to the correct aperture by the early 1960's quality control was poor.

    Ian
    The first camera I ever bought was a used Praktica LTL with CZJ Pancolor 50/1.8. That developed sticky aperture blades at some point in the late 90s/early 00s when I wasn't doing much photography and it spent most of its time in a box on top of the wardrobe.

    Earlier this year I finally plucked up courage, found some instructions online, dismantled the lens and gently cleaned the blades with IPA and cotton buds. Working perfectly now, and having gained a little confidence working on a low value lens I moved on to my P6-mount CZJ 120/2.8 Biometar that suffered from the same problem. Happy to relate that is now fixed too and once again in use.

    Ian

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