Jena 180mm f2.8 on Hasselblad 1000f

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by andyfalsetta, Jan 4, 2020.

  1. I just finished repairing this Jena 180mm 2.8 in a Hasselblad thread mount. What a challenge! The lens retaining rings each were frozen as was the secondary helicoid. When I got the lens it would not budge. The aperture would work fine but the focus was locked. The culprit was the secondary helicoid (very fine threads) but getting to it and freeing it prior to cleaning proved to be a bear.

    The old lubricants had turned into the equivalent of “thread locking compound”. I thought the threads would be damaged from constantly moving the rings clockwise and counter clockwise over and over and over again. But interestingly there was no damage to the threads each time I removed a ring other than some scratches to one ring, not the threads, when the lens wrench gave way. It took hours and hours to get this right and the only thing that worked was heat. Orsetto knows from a previous conversation that this has worked for me in the past. Don't underestimate the power of a hair dryer, welding gloves (the metal gets too hot to hold) and some naptha. I didn't have to resort to using the barbeque grill this time as I had to with a Contarex 135mm. This was a labor of love because it would be cost prohibitive for a tech to spend as much time as I had to. The end result is a dust free optics package and smooth focusing once again.

    I’m looking forward to a dry day so I can start using this “Bokeh Bomber” (18 aperture blades!). Here is a shot of it on my 1000f. 81724579_2604453029608623_7154835290824114176_o.jpg
  2. That ought to be the cat's meow! I had a 1600F but the short tele was a Kodak, another great lens by the way. I have a 180 Sonnar in a P6 mount and it is superb and works great with extension tubes.
    evan_dong|2 and andyfalsetta like this.
  3. I have this lens in P6 mount, which easily adapts to M42, Canon....
    It's astounding how good it is even on an APS-C format.

    Here's mine with a not-so-similar-as-I-had-expected Nikkor-P 180mm f/2.8

    peter_fowler and andyfalsetta like this.
  4. You're at it again?

    The barbecue incident didn't cool your ardor for Zeiss' atrocious helicoid designs? ;)

    Bravo! Your perseverance with these balky beauties continues to amaze and inspire me. Tho its sort of depressing to be reminded how often Zeiss would encase such impeccable glass in such awful mechanics. They improved as time went on, but even the fairly recent Hasselblad CF lenses are brought down by insultingly flimsy, irreplaceable plastic bits.
    andyfalsetta likes this.
  5. Isn't it so true Orsetto! Honestly though, if we could have interviewed the original engineers I don't think one of them would have envisioned their products being used 60 years later. Had the quality of lubricants been up to the level of engineering the Zeiss boys routinely performed at, we wouldn't be talking about it today. These devices were simply amazing then, and clearly impressive today. I feel blessed to be able to bring something like this lens back to its original splendor. I hadn't posted anything about the 1000f but that too was in the same useless condition when I got it; and right now, with nothing more than a cleaning, it is performing at the same level it was when new. I shudder to imagine what the world would be like if Victor Hasselblad had decided to build automobiles.
    peter_fowler likes this.
  6. I've dismantled enough of these, and personally I think the mechanics are fine, as impeccable as the glass. The issue is the grease.

    Grease is a mix of a solid and a liquid, a soap and an oil. When the oil evaporates, as all liquids will eventually, you are left with the solid, and very few solids are good lubricants - soaps are not one of them. Like all liquids in machinery, they are meant to be replaced periodically. Current greases can last a long time, certainly longer than the current crop of disposable equipment. You would not complain that a car from the 50's that failed had poor mechanics because the liquids (oil & grease) were never replaced in it's lifetime (I'm sure there are other reasons to complain about poor mechanics in a 50's automobile !).
    peter_fowler likes this.
  7. With some vintage camera issues (i.e. leaf shutters) this analogy applies, with others (i.e. most shutterless lenses) it varies greatly. While it is certainly true that its unrealistic to expect 50-70 year old camera gear to work perfectly, and the makers themselves never envisioned such a lifespan, in practical terms the gear has in fact lasted for 50-70 years and a surprisingly large percentage of it retains primary functionality without requiring (or ever having) deep service.

    "Not requiring deep service" is a very important quality these days when choosing among specific vintage lenses or systems: we no longer have the luxury of plentiful local repair experts in most countries, and DIY on some of this stuff (esp European origin) is more than most enthusiasts can handle. Existing professional repair specialists with dedicated knowledge of the arcane assembly practices employed by vintage Zeiss etc are retiring or passing away, and not being replaced by younger aspirants. The market for repairs is simply too small: one or two remaining specialists corner the repair market for each brand (i.e. Sherry Krauter and DAG for Leica), everyone flocks to them despite spiraling fees and endless waiting lists, any newcomers are effectively shut out. So service options are dwindling rapidly.

    Fortunately most lenses (that don't contain leaf shutters) are still perfectly operable despite not being lubed in decades. The focus feel may be a bit looser or firmer than optimal, but they can still be turned normally, because most lens designers used helicoid metals that would function with or without lube, and lube that didn't decay into glue three years after the lens left the factory. Ideally they should be cleaned and re-lubed, but for the amount of actual use an average film enthusiast would give them today, they can be safely used as-is with no fear of helicoid damage. The vast majority of Japanese-made lenses, dating back to the 1950s, fall into this group.

    OTOH, whether we like to admit it or not, our precious Zeiss made some ultimately-awful engineering choices thru the early 1970s. Sometimes their helicoid design and lube formula eventually proved an epic fail: the helicoids completely seized when the lube dried out, because the metals/thread pitch they chose weld in the absence of lube, yet Zeiss lube formula often disintegrated into superglue. Compounding this, you have Zeiss' occasional arrogance in assuming they had made perfect design choices that would never require service, which led them to permanently seal some cameras and lenses against routine servicing (or they thoughtlessly made things much harder to service than necessary). Insert pretty much anything Contarex or Exakta mount here, along with a good number of other products from both Oberkochen and Jena.

    Zeiss isn't alone, of course: other mfrs have made similar long-term errors in lens mechanical design. The difference is the Zeiss name and certain optic formula legends keep desirability, collectibility, and prices high, while "lesser" brands are viewed with utter contempt when the same issues arise. Mamiya released some incredible high-performance medium format glass over the years with the same hopeless helicoid/lube choices, but no one is going to extreme efforts to repair them because the "Mamiya" brand name (sadly) means nothing today. Even with the glorious Zeiss, there are virtually no professional service techs who would spend as much time and effort on unique repair attempts as andyfalsetta (or presumably tom_chow). If they did agree, the repair fee would be far beyond what the lens is worth.

    My point being, if you're gonna shop vintage Zeiss, you might wanna pass on any lens with focus ring issues. The fabled Olympia Sonnars, Biotars, Flektogons, etc, may be hard to find in good operating condition at any given moment, but its better to wait another month for better examples to become available than jump on one with issues. During the era these were made, construction could change batch to batch, and Zeiss is notorious for meaningless serial numbers that tell you nothing about provenance. A particular barrel might be fairly easy to service, or it might be a nightmare. If you have a choice, choose one with a well-functioning focus ring.
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2020
    andyfalsetta likes this.
  8. ^ Orsetto , where's the fun in that ?
    ps; Just don't screw up the helicoid's lead thread :( . That'll put a screw into the works ( sorry about the pun ) .
  9. Brilliant job on the lens, well done. I sold my 1930's Olympia Sonnar to a gentleman in Slovenia, who more or less begged it off me after seeing my posts about it some years earlier. Focusing was on the stiff side but still reasonably usable, and the aperture was fine. Here's the link:

    The Olympia Sonnar in Action

    andyfalsetta likes this.
  10. Hi @andyfalsetta I have the same lens but without the silver mount as you do and I’m looking for a mount so I can mount it on a mirrorless body but I’m unable to find any information as to what mount it is and what adapter I may need. Any help would be greatly appreciated
  11. Post a photo of the rear of your lens, thepaulbrown, so someone here can kelp you identify it and suggest an adapter. There is no way to tell what mount the lens has from the serial number or barrel design: Olympia Sonnar was most commonly available in M42 (Pentax Screw Thread), Exakta/Topcon bayonet, and Pentacon/Praktisix (6x6 medium format) breech lock. But these were often modified to fit many other cameras instead, so you could have almost any mount on yours. Once identified, you'd just need an adapter going from that mount to your mirrorless body mount.
  12. Hi Orsetto, yes after some research I learned this but to my disappointment I realise that whatever fitting mine originally had had been removed or lost so I’m trying to find a replacement. Here are some images:

    39C02C75-D250-4709-80C5-DCB39210F52F.jpeg 0E453751-524C-4F4F-9F7C-6BDC57064496.jpeg
    evan_dong|2 likes this.
  13. Sorry I can't help here. Keep searching for a donor lens to get your desired mount off of.
  14. Ahh, you meant your lens has NO mount on it at all! That's so very unusual it was easy to misunderstand: my apologies. I had no idea the rear mount on this version could simply screw right off and be replaced that easily: strangely, a significant point that has never come up in the discussions I've seen over the years.

    I'm afraid you're kinda stuck with a useless lens, then: no path to getting a new mount would be economically practical. You'd either need a specialist like SK Grimes to recreate a mount for you ($$$$), or find a donor lens whose mount you could harvest (at least $250). I suppose you could look for a damaged, broken copy with scratched glass or seized frozen focus ring, but thats still gonna run at least $150 and you again get stuck with a useless leftover lens. In the end it comes down to the working condition of your present mount-less lens: if the glass, focus helix and aperture mechanism are all flawless, it may be worth the expense to find a mount to complete it. If your lens has any issues, its probably better to replace it altogether. If you do that, aim for one of the three most common mounts (M42, Exakta, Pentacon) easily adapted to mirrorless.

    Every once in a great while, you may find a mount by itself, such as this one now on eBay. The difficulty is knowing which version of Olympia Sonnar the mount was made to fit: i.e. this listing looks like it might fit yours, but without a definitive photo of the entire lens you're flying blind.
  15. Yes I did see this one on eBay but not sure it would be the right fit. As the lens is smooth and the glass pristine, I think I may just take a punt on that mount and if not I’ll hold on to the lens and keep searching the web. Thanks for your input Orsetto
  16. That seller gives some indication of specializing in photo gear, so should be responsive to questions. Might be a good idea to see if they'll measure the diameter of the wider (lens barrel) side, and depth of the thread band. If it seems to match yours, it would probably work. Perhaps also send them the photos you posted here.

    Upon further research at other sites dedicated to this lens series, it does appear Zeiss was in the habit of making detachable mounts for most versions of 180 and 300 tele (learned something new today). Yours is an early postwar, which apparently set the spec for most later barrel thread variants. So chances are decent that a mount sold by a reasonably competent photo dealer should match. If this one does, it would be ideal, as the Pentacon mount is desirable for its adaptability (fits directly on several popular Eastern Bloc medium format film cameras, and easily adapted from that mount to smaller format cameras).

    A good source of tips on mounts for sale would be rangefinder-oriented forums: I found several posts from owners with spare mounts offering them to those in need (expired offers, unfortunately). At some point in the past these mounts were in greater circulation, so they do exist: back in the days of film before dealers stocked hundreds of mount adapters for Canon EOS and mirrorless, a subset of photographers occasionally needed them to switch between rangefinder/slr and medium format use. Good luck!
  17. I'm interested in the 180mm Sonnar to convert for my Rollei SL66, which has a focal plane shutter. I have a blank lens mount. (I had one drilled and tapped for an Imagon by Grimes and it was very successful).

    I see some of the Sonnars for sale, with various mounts. Could someone suggest which one would make the neatest conversion to a custom drilled and tapped spare mount? Would back focus dimensions have to be considered for infinity focus (although I'd be using it primarily for portraits).
  18. The page actually list the 180mm Sonnar f/2.8 (along with the 120mm and 300mm) as being available for the SL66.


    Although these lenses were custom adapted, it does show that it is doable.
  19. Thanks Tom. I was aware of the lens being listed but have never seen one offered for sale.

    Does anyone know if the basic lens, before a specific mount is attached, is the same in all cases? If so, I could acquire any version, remove the mount (e.g.Pentacon) and proceed with having my blank Rollei lens mount drilled, maybe tapped etc.
  20. The wording and slick photos of the lens shown on that SL66 enthusiast page can be a bit misleading and confusing. Glanced at quickly, they seem to imply this was a standard "third-party" version of the 180mm offered by Carl Zeiss Jena independently of Rollei. That isn't the case: the lens shown is an ordinary late-model CZJ 180 Sonnar made in Pentacon 6x6 SLR mount that has been "hacked" to cooperate with the freakish 102mm flange focal distance of the SL66 (vs the standard 74mm of Pentacon and most other 6x6 SLRs).

    I believe that hack consisted of unscrewing the Pentacon mount from the lens, leaving a "short barrel" lens head ala thepaulbrown's pics above, and replacing the native Pentacon mount with a custom Rolleflex SL66 mount made by the Zoerk specialty firm. The modern rubber-focus-ring multicoated version of 180mm f/2.8 Sonnar in Pentacon mount shown with this SL66 modification is fairly common and available (vs the collectible older all silver/all black or "zebra" metal focus ring versions). If Zoerk still offers the SL66 mount as a custom-order item, cost might be upwards of $400 (USD).
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2021

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