Flektogon 35mm f/2.8 - one of the first wide-angle lenses for SLRs

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by jdm_von_weinberg, Aug 15, 2011.

  1. C.Z. Jena Flektogon 35mm f/2.8
    1950
    - semi-automatic Praktina FX mount (Type 1 - aluminum with semi-automatic lever)

    Kadlubek Nr. KWD2055

    6 elements, semi-automatic.
    It was available in a number of mounts, including Exakta, M42 (Contax S), and Praktina - KW's first SLR actually designed as a system ( my earlier post on the FX [1953!] at http://www.photo.net/classic-cameras-forum/00W2c1 and the IIA version [1958] at http://www.photo.net/classic-cameras-forum/00XG8k )
    There are a fair number of mentions of this lens on the www -
    The usual pictures at Flickr (e.g., http://www.flickr.com/photos/findonsa/sets/72157623755978977/ )
    There is a downloadable pdf review at www.hdrfoto.dk/reviews/CarlZeiss35mmF35_UK.pdf
    A review of a later (f/2.4) version of the lens:
    http://slrlensreview.com/web/carl-zeiss-slr-lenses-51/wide-angle-slr-lenses-93/396-carl-zeiss-jena-mc-flektogon-35mm-f24-m42-lens-review.html

    which said:
    "Overall, this lens can easily compete with Carl Zeiss Distagon (C/Y) T* 35mm f/2.8 for your attention and bucks."​
    At Wikipedia there is a nice discussion:http://camerapedia.wikia.com/wiki/Flektogon

    "first wide angle with short focal length and long back focal length"
    "an eastern product copied in the West" as the Distagon. (Copies of Zeiss lenses from the East by the West were fairly common, but unacknowledged.)​
    Here is my Flektogon on its Praktina FX (A)
    00ZBxe-389995584.jpg
     
  2. The Flektogon was first produced in 1950, and I cannot resolve the question whether the similar 1950 Angénieux 35mm f/2.5 RF R1 design was earlier or later. I have the Angénieux in Exakta mount. Here are the two lenses -- they are not identical, but are similar.
    00ZBxh-389995684.jpg
     
  3. I shot some pictures around town with the Praktina and the Flektogon on Walgreens ISO 200 film (almost certainly Fuji). This was not perhaps the best choice since the speed of the film meant that most of the sunlight pictures were roughly 1/200 at f/16 (the minimum aperture on this lens). While this takes care of the focusing problems of my old eyes, it also begins to threaten some diffraction. On the whole the images came out pretty well. Pretty much in line with the reviews linked to above, although this early version of the lens has less sophisticated lens coatings, etc. To make matters no better, I was struck by a sudden inspiration to shoot contre-jour, so what you see is what you get- I had no lens hood for this camera.

    Here is our National Guard Armory - the troops are in Asia. I've shot this in stereo before (e.g., http://www.photo.net/classic-cameras-forum/00YKGm ).
    00ZBxl-389995984.jpg
     
  4. One of the contre-jour images showing the nature of flare on the Flektogon f/2.8.
    00ZBxm-389996184.jpg
     
  5. Here is a diptych of grave markers.
    The left one shows where the Ratts are buried. Not sure if these are the Southern Ratts spoken of in song.
    On the right is the Ducobu maker, probably dating from some time after the first World War on stylistic grounds - I didn't see a date on the main marker itself. These are apparently no relation to L'Élève Ducobu ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L%27%C3%89l%C3%A8ve_Ducobu ) known to our French-speaking members. It is an unusual name for our little town, and one that does not persist in the community.
    00ZBxp-389997584.jpg
     
  6. The top picture below shows the path we all take.
    The bottom is yet another "Equivalence," but in the day's flavor, contre-jour.
    00ZBxr-389997784.jpg
     
  7. This lens holds up pretty well for its vintage, and it has retained rather high values in the old lens market in mounts like M42 and even Exakta. Praktina, on the other hand should be adaptable, but I have been unable to find any Praktina>EOS adapters. If you know of a source for such an adapter, post it here and the value of my lens will go up considerably. ;)

    It does better in the center than on the edges, but that's true enough even of the latest wide angle lenses. In its day, 35mm was the widest available lens for single lens reflex camera. The 28mm and even wider lenses were designed later that would clear the mirror -- but the Flektogon and the Angénieux were pioneers in bringing wide lens to SLRs.

    That's all folks!
     
  8. Oh, by the way, if you want to search for this one, this is another name that often gets garbled - the most common misspelling is of course, "Flektagon". Now that I've put it in, maybe Google™ will find this for those who are spelling-challenged. ;)
    The spelling "waste-level" for a type of finder (available as an interchangeable option on the system Praktina) is felt appropriate by some, I know.
     
  9. Interesting discourse on a legendary wide-angle lens, JDM. It performs well, though you omitted the obligatory brick wall image... ;-). I'm surprised how well it does handle the direct light; "The One-way Path" demonstrates this capability nicely. Thanks for an informative post.
     
  10. Quite sharp, JDM, even stopped down to f16. I would never have guessed if you had not said it was at f16. This lens compares very well with more modern designs. Thanks for sharing.
     
  11. Actually, I did shoot some shots with higher speeds and a more open lens, but of course I neglected to keep a log -- I guessed I thought I could look at the EXIF data afterwards? The problem with speeds over 1/500 not necessarily being what they say they are, is no different than with any other camera of its day, which was why I stuck with the 'sunny 16' rule, although I did check with a Gossen SBC.
    I knew something was missing. There were few brick walls in my path today. :(
     
  12. Even though I have one of these labeled as Aus Jena (not C.Z.) I would have been keen to see your results in black and white. I found mine at a church sale in M42 mount.
     
  13. Tom, you were lucky. The M42 versions have a strong market from people adapting them to more modern cameras, using them for astronomy photography, and so on. The various names are usually contemporary and depend on where they are being exported to. Carl Zeiss Jena was the Warsaw Pact labeling up to the end, or close to it).
    Actually, B&W is just a few keystrokes away. :)
    00ZC2j-390091584.jpg
     
  14. I have one in M42 [late 1960s] and one in the Exakta mount [early, semi- automatic aluminium]. The M42 has all the coatings. Yet both produce excellent pictures in colour and B&W. I like the flare of the aperture polygon in your pictures. They seem very natural. More than the resolution aspect the Flektogons seem to render the sky and clouds beautifully, as your pictures demonstrate, giving a lot of depth to the picture. I want to see more of your pictures from these classics! Thanks sp.
     
  15. Very nice review JDM. I like the photo study.
    The only Flektogon I have is on my Pentacon 6, and it is indeed a miracle lens, sharper than the Russian MIR-26b
     
  16. I have the 50mm Flektogon on my P6 too. Got the 45mm Mir-26B first but it was very soft. The Flektogon, at least my copy, is much better than the Mir.
     
  17. I have one in exakta mount (zebra style) and it has a focusing helicoïd going down to 18cm. The remarquable fact about this is that when focusing down, the diaphragm automatically opens to compensate so that you need not correct exposure for reduced f/stop at shorter distances ; now this means also that at the shortest range, you cannot move the aperture ring under f/4.
    Paul
     
  18. Interesting history, thanks for that.
    I have one in Exakta mount, and it is a nice lens as you say.
     
  19. for the record, I realize that I did not spell out the reason for the problems with early SLR wide angle lenses: it was that the older RF wide angle lenses (like some of the Contax or Leica WA) extended waaay back into the space in front of the focal plane shutter. Of course, such lenses would not clear the folding mirror on the SLRs.
    Retro-focus (not unlike a telescope looked through the wrong way) allowed "short focal length and long back focal length" needed to keep the lens out of the mirror's way.
    00ZCZA-390539584.jpg
     

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