"Carl Zeiss Jena" vs. "ausJena"

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by arjun_mehra, Nov 17, 2007.

  1. I understand that some Zeiss lenses are marked "Carl Zeiss Jena,"
    others, "Jena," "ausJena," "C. Z. Jena," or something else that deletes
    the "Zeiss." This is, of course, due to a legal settlement concerning the
    division of Germany: only East-German lenses ended up allowed to use the
    name, "Zeiss." My question is, has anyone noticed a difference in quality -- of
    materials/workmanship or of results delivered by optics -- between like lenses
    of the two sorts. For example, has anyone noticed a consistent (not just
    between two random pieces) difference between West- and East-German 2/50
    Pancolars? Thanks.
  2. I don't think there was a W. German Pancolor [was it a Planar-type design?]. I think that other Zeiss Jena names not duplicated by Zeiss Oberkochen were Biometar and Flektogon [although I think Carl Zeiss IS using the Flektogon name now]. Both Zeisses used the Tessar and Sonnar names.

    I can't compare quality--while I have a number of Zeiss Jena P-6 mount lenses, the only Zeiss West lens I own is the Tessar on my Rollei 35.
  3. SCL


    I used to have both when I used an Exakta, and have to admit that I couldn't tell a difference between where the lens was made and the quality of its output.
  4. You meant to say, I think, that only the western company was allowed to use the Zeiss name. However, that generally applied only in the Western countries, as I understand it. Zeiss Jena was used right up to the end. I have a nice Jenaflex (perhaps pronounced genuflects in England?)made for the British market, and it has the label "Carl Zeiss Jena." However, the lens it came with was a "Pentacon Prakticar". There might be a slight difference in quality control, but the best lenses from the East were as good as anything else made at the same time.
  5. Robert, I've definitely seen Pancolars marked both "Carl Zeiss Jena" and "ausJena." That said, they also always read, "Pancolar," in full, unlike Biotars and Biometars, which, when they say simply "Jena" ("ausJena," whatever), often are marked, "B" and "Bm."

    JDM, I might have gotten it backwards, but I was under the impression that the East used "Zeiss" and the West ended up with "ausJena."
  6. Arjun, you do have it backwards. The city of Jena ended up in E. Germany and the Carl
    Zeiss name copyright ended up in the W. Germany branch of Zeiss. So eventually the E.
    German versions were called C.Z. or 'aus Jena' after they lost the copyright battle.

    More info here down the page under 'Major exacta lens makers"

  7. No difference in quality, maybe less flare on the Aus Jena because it has less white writing on the front!

  8. I too am curious to know how a West German Tessar on a Icarex TM would compare with the relatively common DDR M42 equivalents. I would guess the West German lens has a considerably better quality helicoid & barrel. One comment I read stated the West German Tessar on the Icarex was actually a Color-Skopar but even if that's true they still share a very similar optical formula. One other Tessar on a West German SLR, in this case a common one, is found on the Contaflex and they seem to be excellent lenses, especially later recomputed versions. I have tried out a few DDR M42 mount lenses on my Pentax *ist DS and the Tessar & Pancolar were quite good but not up to the standards of say a Pentax Super Takumar or Yashinon DX / DS normal focal length lens. That's comparing apples to oranges. A better comparison might be with a 55mm f2.8 Japanese M42 lens. (Cosina / Tomioka sourced?). Anyone have an affordable M42 Icarex TM Tessar to sell?
  9. It wasn't only Zeiss Jena that had to adopt another name for some markets. W.German Zeiss lenses were labeled Zeiss Opton rather than Carl Zeiss after production started in the immediate post WW II period while naming rights were being sorted out with Carl Zeiss Jena and those few W. German Zeiss lenses exported to the east bloc continued to bear the Zeiss Opton label. Opton BTW is one of those strange German acronyms for Optische Werk Oberkochen
  10. Later lenses are mostly better than the earlier lenses. The 'zebra' type early lenses are often gummed up due to the poor lubricants used. The later lenses are multicoated and have better resolution. Everything German is not good, some poor lenses came out of the East and West.
  11. Concerning just the Exakta system, my favorite variant of Zeiss auto. lenses is the leatherette–focusing-strip/aluminum–aperture-ring. Myself, I'm really not very fond of the "zebra" style. As for problems with tough focusing, it's been my experience that almost any auto. Zeiss lens you encounter will need some degree of re-lubrication: this might involve taking the thing totally apart to re-grease the helical, or just needle-dripping a few drops of kerosene into the mechanism.
  12. There is a bit more to the early pre-war history of the Zeiss company, name and copyright for the name.

    Carl Zeiss Jena was continued in East Germany with the same name as before. Zeiss Opton was a company established by former CZJ people at the former Zeiss-Ikon plant at Oberkochen.

    The name and copyright dispute went on for several years, and Zeiss-West (there have been several modifications of the structure of this company and its name) won the legal issues in some countries (including West-Germany) and lost it in some others. Anyhow, all Zeiss lenses made in Jena were no longer entitled to bear the Zeiss name after the eastern guys lost the trial in West Germany. I have heard of some CZJ lenses having a thin sheet metal ring covering the original CZJ engraving.

    Also, CZJ was no longer entitled to use the pre-war Zeiss lens designators in many countries. So they decided to use some acronyms and the designator "aus Jena" (from Jena) for exports to these countries. Of course they could use new designators such as Pancolar everywhere as there was no west german counterpart.

    The Prakticar lenses found on many east german cameras are a completely different story. They were designed and originally made by Meyer-Goerlitz and had designators from that company until Meyer was merged into the Pentacon company. After that all these lenses were re-named Prakticar. Usually they were sold as a low-cost alternative to the CZJ (or "aus Jena") lenses on the Praktica cameras. Some very late Prakticar zoom lenses were of far-east origin.
  13. I have one of those zebra lenses M42 from the 70s and remember it made crisp pictures with good colour rendition.
  14. Hi,

    I've got various Exacta mount and one M42 lens and they all are a mix
    of good and bad.. The one Zebra Tessar is beautiful, but is broken
    it won't close down ..it's always wide open! The Pancolar is indeed
    very sharp and delivers a wonderful bokeh but is stiff.
    The M42 Tessar from the 50s is a good performer but impossible to
    turn the focus..needs to be disassembled. The 35mm Flektagon (zebra?)
    hazed on the rear element, the 120mm Biometar (also stiff) should be an auto-diaghram, but I need to reset it after each exposure. ie it stops down when the shutter trips but doesn't reset.
    A few posts down is a reference to marking for quality control ...
    at least they weree doing something...I wonder if the Soviets had
    a system in place.
  15. I wonder why the Pancolar eventually went from 2/50 to 1.8/50. Would the extra 1/3 stop really make such a difference?
  16. All the Exakta mount Pancolars I'm familiar with were f2 whereas M42 screw mount equivalent was f1.8. Maybe the narrower throat of the Exakta mount had an impact? In some casees to get fast equivalent lenses in Exakta / Topcon RE mounts, the designers appear to have used much larger front elements? For example, the Topcon 58mm f1.4 is one huge lens. Let me know if these observations are incorrect. Always exceptions I suppose.
  17. Pancolar 2/50 (also sold as Flexon) is a 6 elements in 4 groups double gauss construction. Pancolar 1,8/50 is on the other hand 6 elements in 5 groups. Still a double gauss, though.
    The difference doesn't have anything with Exakta bayonet diameter, the 1,8/50 is simply a newer design. After all, it was available in Exakta RTL mount (same diameter, built-in diaphragm control)

    Best regards,

  18. I guess the true/genuine Exaktas died out before they could be blessed with the 'modern f1.8 Pancolar'. Not too familiar with Exakta mount on Pentacon RTL1000; will that f1.8 Pancolar retrofit on a true Exakta camera? I Google searched for 50mm f1.8 Exakta / RTL1000 Pancolar lens and only found a few scant references (a photo or two on the RTL1000, no block diagram, no details). Maybe it's a very rare & pricey lens?

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