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  1. #1
    JosBurke's Avatar
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    A new old toy for my M5--Fleabay again

    Ebay item #220055172839 ZEISS SONNAR f1.5 50mm for LEICA SCREW CAMERAS .I got this as new toy for my M5 and M2 and was wondering if I got a good buy (man that's cheap in my opinion but why so cheap I wonder) or is this lens a dog---I've received the lens and the glass and coating are fabulous and the lens barrel looks much better in person--smooth iris---a very nice lens. I just shot a roll (itchy I guess ) of Fuji Neopan 400 and am yet to process !! Anyone have any experience with this Zeiss Sonnar ?--much cheaper than a Summilux (that I do have) but I'm curious as to how it'll compare against the Summilux 50 1.4 !!
    Joseph Burke

  2. #2
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    Well, other than the physical condition of the lens (scratches, mold, general appearance etc.) - I think a couple of factors should be considered in figuring if you got a good deal.

    Is this a pre-WWII lens? If so, it definitely isn't coated - which may or may not be a "plus" depending on your POV.

    Is this a post-WWII lens? If so was it made by Zeiss in West Germany (i.e. Oberkochen) or East Germany (Jena)? Even though the former was the "new" operations (and the latter the original company's first location) - Oberkochen lenses are considered superior to the eastern ones from Jena. Note: the Company's operations today remains headquartered in Oberkochen long after German reunification.

    Other RF'ers here with a lot more knowledge (BTW: you're touching on "religious issues" here ) can probably better opine - but, FWIW, these are my $0.02

  3. #3

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    In general, West German Zeiss did not produce any lenses for the Leica (with the exception of the Hologon) until its recent foray into the M mount.

    Any Leica mount lens that you find is most likely either wartime production, East German or a custom adaption of an existing lens.

    Regarding this particular lens, this looks like it is in a light alloy (aluminum) mount, which would either make it wartime or East German. Further inspection shows it to be a Carl Zeiss Jena T lens, which means that it is coated and presumably of East German origin.

    I can't see the serial number, which would help to provide a date for the lens.

    If possible, try to check the collimation of the lens. That is most important when it comes to any Zeiss Jena lens that has been adapted (custom or otherwise) to a Leica mount.

    Not taking away from the Sonnar, it's a very good lens, but I don't think you should expect a 50-year-old lens to compare with a modern-day lens costing thousands of dollars, especially when it comes to the "bokeh" conversation.

    You will get great photos, and the Sonnar has its own nice characteristics. It's considered by many to be one of the great 50mm lenses of all time. But don't compare it head-to-head with a Summilux, because it's not a Summilux. Regardless, I think you'll be quite pleased with it.

  4. #4
    Mike Kovacs's Avatar
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    The photos are too poor to comment on the authenticity of this lens. It is my understanding that Zeiss only built LTM lenses immediately prior and during WWII. Thus, the serial number should be less than 3,000,000. Commas for the decimals is consistent with German convention. One often see decimals in fakes derived from Soviet lenses.

    The red T indicates this is a coated lens. Zeiss had been T coating lenses since 1936 and there are many wartime vintage Contax mount lenses out there with coating.

    As far as the performance - the Sonnar 50/1.5 was the gold standard high speed 50mm lens until the Summilux came out. Leica had no superior high speed offering prior to that point. Remember this is a 1930's design lens - all of mine, both prewar (my earliest 1936 uncoated) to the last "Carl Zeiss" Sonnar 50/1.5 in Contax mount are great lenses.
    If it says Zeiss or Rollei, the answer is YES!
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  5. #5
    JosBurke's Avatar
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    T* so yes coated and in 39mm LTM mount and I am using an adapter--the glass itself looks terrific and the Serial is 2,725,030-I'll post some updated, hopefully better images!!
    Joseph Burke

  6. #6
    Mike Kovacs's Avatar
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    1941 production - probably close to the last before they had to stop in 1942.
    If it says Zeiss or Rollei, the answer is YES!
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