Contax IIa 50mm f1.5 vs f2.0

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by robert_ante, Nov 17, 2021.

  1. For a long time I’ve been using my Contax with a coated Sonnar 1.5 lens. I was thinking about acquiring a Sonnar f2.0 lens. However, the commentary available is somewhat contradictory as to any differences between these two lenses with regard to final actual results. I would like to hear the opinions from folks who have had actual experiences with these lenses.
  2. AJG


    I own and have used both--I haven't found much difference in performance between them, both of my samples are excellent. The pre war versions can be different since the f/2 version has fairly soft glass for the front element while the f/1.5 has harder glass and is thus less likely to be scratched to the point of effecting optical quality. 80+ years on from when they were made the pre war uncoated f/2 version is more likely to be problematic.
  3. 6 years ago I bought a IIa and post-war Carl Zeiss 50mm f2 that had been fully restored by Henry Scherer. The outfit looked (and still does today) unused. Beautiful piece of glass and ultra sharp.

    Assuming they are both in good condition I can’t imagine there’s that much of a difference comparing an f2 and f1.5 from the same generation. I do think the post-war “Carl Zeiss” lenses are the ones to grab. I have a 21/4.5 Biogon, 85mm f2 and 135mm f4 West German Sonnars to go with that 50.

    What I’d really like to find is one of the Amadeo Contax to Leica M adapters to try those lenses on my digital M262.
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2021
  4. Here you go:

    Amedeo Lens Adapter Leica M Nikon Rangefinder
  5. Thank you AJG and Greg M. Will not add an f2 to my Contax arsenal. Have postwar 1.5;sonnar and Zeiss 35mm, and a Nikon 85 marked c for Contax. I assume that the 85 is a Sonnar design.
    Thanks again. Will spend money saved on other vices.
  6. AJG


    I've acquired the Nikon 85 f/2 fairly recently and find it comparable to the Zeiss Opton 85 f/2. I prefer the slightly smaller size of the Nikon and click stops are certainly more convenient than the non clicked f/stop setting on the Zeiss lenses.
  7. Hi Bob. I’ve watched Gandy’s site off and on, figuring he was never going to get another batch of those. Wouldn’t you know some came (and went!) last month. Guess I’ve got to pre-order and hope another batch comes in somewhere down the road.
  8. I find the 5cm F1.5 Sonnars to be better than their F2 counterparts. The optics evolved, the four major categories would be
    pre-war 5cm F1.5 and F2;
    Wartime 5cm F1.5 and F2
    Post-War Carl Zeiss Jena 5cm F1.5 and F2
    West-German 50mm F1.5 and F2.
  9. Brian, where does the Carl Zeiss f2 50 that was the standard lens on the "No Name Kiev" Contax copy fit into the above list? I've rarely used it as I was able to acquire a pristine f1.4 Nikkor s-c 50 that seems to work well on the Kiev. The Kiev is an interesting cold war relic that is very loose and rough in operation, but its focus is easy and accurate with both the Zeiss and Nikon lenses.
  10. These two images are of my West German 50mm f2 Sonnar on the Black Dial Contax IIa. Unlike pre-war versions, post-war West German 50mm f2 Sonnars are rigid (non-collapsible) lenses.

    Initial West German Zeiss lenses for the Contax "a" models were marked "Opton", From 1954 and later, West German Contax lenses were made in the new Zeiss Oberkochen lens factory and marked "Carl Zeiss". None of the two post-war West German-made lenses are marked with "Jena". Any post-WWII lens marked "Jena" is going to be East German.


    Last edited: Nov 28, 2021
  11. The results I see today are probably as much, if not more affected by the "less than optimal" negative to digital image transformation from scanning as any optical challenge the lens itself presents. Hence, I'm getting on the waiting list for the next batch of Amadeo adaptors to start trying them on my M262.
  12. > Carl Zeiss f2 50 that was the standard lens on the "No Name Kiev" Contax copy fit into the above list?

    Just saw this- been crazy busy.

    The 50mm F2 Carl Zeiss is a West German lens- I know Pacific Rim shows this lens on their "noName" camera, but think this is a mismatch. I would expect a post war 5cm F2 Carl Zeiss Jena lens, SN (probably) around 3million and higher to be on a Russian/East German camera. This lens is bigger than the pre-war 5cm F2 Sonnar. I have not taken one apart to compare the glass.
  13. The delivered lens on the "no name" Kiev is marked: Sonnar 1:2 f=50mm Carl Zeiss Nr 1726750 on the black front element lens mount locking ring. The bright chrome lens body f stop range is f2-f22 with no full or half click stops. It appears to be nicely finished with "Made in Germany" very lightly engraved on the bottom edge of the lens mount. The f stop ring is very tight with no slop but moves smoothy through about 90 degrees from f2 to f22. I have only used the lens once over the years as no hood came with the camera and I have a Contax mount f1.4 Nikkor 50 mm with hood that I prefer. My serial number appears to be less than 1100 earlier than your posted example.
  14. Steve Gandy/Cameraquest JUST received a new supply of Contax RF to Leica M Amadeo adapters and one’s now on the way to me to start using my 50mm f2, 85mm f2 and 135mm f4 Sonnars on (primarily) my M262 and maybe some on an M4 too.

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