Carl Zeiss Jena Sonnar 5cm 1.5

Carl Zeiss Jena Sonnar 5cm 1.5

Focal Lenght: 50mm (5cm)
Max Apeture: 1.5
Lens Mount: Contax RF
Min. Focus: 0.9 mm (As all Contax RF lenses)
Filter Size: 40.5mm (or 42mm slip-on)
Weight: 200 grams~

LENS STORY

I got this lens by pure luck. Most people who love old lenses have one of these stories: they found a gem at a flea market. They bought a lens lot and apart from all the Revuenons and Domiplans a Flektogon shone brightly.

 

I have a habbit of checking local second hand websites at least once a day. Usually on my lunch break. Scrolling around ads, I saw a bunch of low quality pictures of broken down photography gear. Five pictures. Price for the whole lot was like 100 money (US, Eur, whatever immerses you in this story) On the last picture you could see a large, elongated lens. It looked very much like either a silver 135mm Jupiter or a Carl Zeiss 135mm f4 in Contax RF mount. That’s why it’s at that price, I thought. I messaged them anyway and asked how much the lens on the fifth picture costs. 

 

They said it was 5 money! I barely contained my excitement, but after a reality check, I figured I’d be broken, maybe even have broken glass elements. I didn’t think much of it and asked them to send it my way.

 

The lens arrived. The package – a lot smaller than it should’ve been. I opened it up and to my surprise what I saw looked a lot like a Jupiter 8. I took it out and saw the name ring.

CARL ZEISS JENA SONNAR 5cm 1.5 T

So many emotions in one moment. I was stumped, I didn’t know what to think or how to feel. It surely was a mistake! I called the seller and asked them if they sent the wrong thing. To my surprise they reacted as if they expected me to be angry! We talked it through, I said I expected another lens, but I’d be happy with this one and asked if they wanted to change the price. They didn’t. There was another lens, which they sent me pictures of as well. I ended up the buying the whole lot. That other lens? A Carl Zeiss Jena Sonnar 5cm f2 lens.

So what really happend? Well, it turns out what was on the picture was the two Sonnars stacked on top each other in their small metal cases. The sellers felt guilty for sending it to me, since they appeared broken, with the weird Contax/Kiev mount. 

 

HANDLING

The condition of my copy: There are cleaning marks, which you can see on the coating, there’s a small scratch on the front element. You can spot the occasional bubble in the glass elements. (It’s not unexpected, considering the age of the lens and how it was made!)  Other than that, no dents, the aperture is working(and I love how many blades it has!)

 

OPTICAL PERFORMANCE

This lens renders images in a magical way. The first pictures I took with it blew my mind and it continued to do so day after day, pic after pic.

Wide open – It works amazing for portraits, Skin appears  dreamy and warm. 

You don’t get ideal sharpness and there is veiling, but that adds to the magic. 

You get a lot of coma and vignetting.

Stop down to f2 and most of that is gone. (Although comma will stay by your side until at least f4) Colors get more punch and contrast and sharpness impoves by leaps and/or heaps. 

By 5.6 to 8 you get these calm and smooth colors that stand out, they’re like your childhood memories – too good to have been real. (layered metaphors YAY!)  

Performance stopped down really surprised me as usually if I like a lens wide open, I find it lacking when stopped down. (boring in most cases) 

The colors were so good, I didn’t have the heart to even touch the saturation or hue sliders in Lightroom. (or any of the others apart from Exposure for that matter). They’re rich and deep, they sing to me!

This lens is as close as I’ve been to having a picture exactly as I want it, straight out of camera.

FINAL THOUGHTS

I love this lens, the colors, the feel, the character it has. It’s perfect to my taste/eyes. 

It’s an expensive lens, so have a good think before getting one. Note that the adapter is clunky and a bit hard to find.(you can always make one yourself) Even with that in mind, I wouldn’t think twice about getting one.