Carl Zeiss Jena Exakta Lenses  

Throughout the run of Exakta cameras, from the earliest VP Exaktas right up to the Exakta RTL's, the optical firm of Carl Zeiss Jena has been the major supplier of lenses to Ihagee. If you own an Exakta, it is most likely that you will have one of more CZJ lenses.

In 35mm Exakta mount, CZJ has produced fine lenses in focal lengths from 20mm to 500mm as well as two mirror lenses, a 500 and a 1000mm. CZJ also manufactured, microscopes, microscope lenses, telescopes and a diversity of special purpose optics. Their automatic diaphragm lenses in which I specialize, were produced in the 20mm to 180mm range, with several versions of most models.

In addition to the automatic lenses, I also have a number of interesting longer focal length preset lenses, several high speed lenses and other special purpose lenses whose focal lengths, complement the focal lengths available in the CZJ automatic diaphragm versions.

It should be noted that at various times in the history of Carl Zeiss Jena, due to import/export restrictions, etc., their lenses were sometimes marked Aus Jena or just plain Jena. I don't particularly differentiate these variations.

The Carl Zeiss Jena Automatics

Wide Angle Lenses

The CZJ automatic lenses in my collection, I have separated into three categories, the Wide Angles, the Normals and the Telephotos.

All of the wide angle lenses that were produced by CZJ bear the name "Flektogon", with one exception, the 40mm f4.5 manual Tessar. Automatic Flektogons were manufactured in three focal lengths 20mm, 25mm and 35mm.


The Ultra-Wide Flektogons

The 20mm f4.0 Auto Flektogon is the shortest focal length lens manufactured for the Exakta by a German lens maker (aftermarket Exakta mount Japanese lenses exist in shorter focal lengths). Cosmetic variations exist for each model, for example, the materials used on the focusing rings - leather,. black plastic with raised bumps or ribbed black and chrome like the two examples on the left. The second lens in this category is the 25mm f4.0 CZJ Auto Flektogon. Both lenses are very sharp!!!

The 35mm Flektogons

In the 35mm f2.8 Flektogon, four major varieties exist. The first variety is an aluminum body semi-automatic in which the lens diaphragm has to be cocked open with a lever to full aperture prior to each photograph. Upon pressing the plunger on the lens, the lens stopped down first and then the shutter was fired. The second and third versions were each black and chrome affairs, the latter of which had closer focusing capabilities. This model has often been called the "Macro-Flektogon". The fourth model, shown further below on this page, is an all black version. Versions 2, 3 and 4 were all fully automatic.  

Normal Lenses

Carl Zeiss Jena offered their semi-automatic 50mm lenses in two configurations, a 50mm f2.8 Auto Tessar and a 58mm f2.0 Auto Biotar. Each, like the first version 35mm Flektogon noted previously, needed the photographer to cock open the lens diaphragm to full open prior to releasing the shutter.

When the change was made to the later black and chrome models in 1961, the 50mm f2.8 Auto Tessar formula was retained and the lens cosmetics updated, however, the 58mm f2.0 Auto Biotar was phased out and replaced by a new formula, the legendary 50mm f2.0 Auto Pancolar.

As was the case with the Flektogons, several cosmetic varieties exist with the new Auto Tessars and Auto Pancolars. The 50 Auto Pancolar has always received superb marks for its optical performance. It is, undoubtedly, the most utilized Exakta optic.

As Zeiss normal lenses are as commonplace as rabbits in Australia, I only displayed a photo of several different variations of the 50mm f2.0 Pancolar.

Be advised also, that 50mm f2.0 Pancolor look-a-likes also exist most commonly named "Exaktar".



Telephoto Lenses

Some of my personal favorite lens choices are found in this category. Automatic lenses in this category include the following:


80mm f2.8 Auto Biometar

120mm f2.8 Auto Biometar

Both the 80 and 120mm Auto Biometars are basically converted lenses from medium format, redesigned to fit the Exakta 35mm camera. They are probably some of the scarcest automatic diaphragn lenses in Exakta mount from Carl Zeiss Jena.

I utilize the 80mm Biometar extensively for portrait photography. It is a fantastic lens and I highly recommend it.

Various versions of both lenses pictured exist.


135mm f4.0 Auto Sonnar (Aus Jena, left; Carl Zeiss Jena, right)

The 135mm Auto Sonnar is one of the most popular telephoto lenses made for the Exakta. Originally produced in polished aluminum as a preset lens, the 135 Auto Sonnar is an excellent performer and quite easy to find today on the used market.



180mm f.2.8 Auto Sonnar

The 180mm Auto Sonnar is actually a medium format lens that utilizes a Pentacon Six to Exakta auto adapter to enable its use on the Exakta 35mm SLR. It is a rather heavy optic, however, its weight is an asset rather than a liability in holding the camera/lens steady on or off a tripod. Its optical performance is excellent and its one of my favorite Exakta lenses!!!

I utilize 180mm Auto Sonnar extensively for wildlife photography. At least two cosmetically different versions of the 180mm Auto Sonnar lens exist.


Late Model CZJ DDR Automatics

Carl Zeiss Jena produced several all black automatic lenses late in the production of Exaktas. These lenses, labeled Carl Zeiss Jena DDR are quite uncommon. Two examples from my collection are displayed below.

35mm f.2.8 Auto Flektogon (Macro)

50mm f2.8 Auto Tessar

The 35mm Auto Flektogon is displayed fully extended focusing as close as 0.18 meters. Both lenses have f-stops down to f/22 and have knurled focusing rings.



Legendary Carl Zeiss Jena Preset Lenses


The High Speed 75mm f1.5 Biotars

First introduced in 1939 in manual diaphragm configuration, the 75mm f1.5 Carl Zeiss Jena Biotar lens has become one of the most famous lenses of all time. Its large maximum aperture is just the ticket for available light photography and for many types of portrait photography. Its great for isolating a subject from a distracting background.

Originally produced in a heavy, chrome-plated brass mount, it was subsequently updated with a lighter aluminum mount in 1950 and a preset diaphragm. I have both an early (#2530980) Pre-WWII uncoated) and late model (#6089026) in my collection. They are both in exceptional condition and I highly prize each of them.



40mm f4.5 Tessar

The 40mm f4.5 Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar is an interesting optic in that it is extremely light in weight and bridges the gap between the wide angle Flektogons and the normal Biotars, Tessars and Pancolars.

It is quite uncommon.


80mm f2.8 Tessar (preset)

The 80/2.8 Tessar is the easiest to find portrait length lens from Carl Zeiss Jena.

Featuring a preset diaphragm, the 80 Tessar has f/stops from f/2.8 down to f/16 and focuses as close as 1 meter. As the front element is deeply reset, a lens shade is not a necessity.


80mm f2.8 Biometar (preset)

Substantially rarer than its automatic mount cousin, the 80mm f2.8 CZJ preset Biometar is rarely encountered. Externally, it looks very much like the more common 80mm Tessar, having the same polished aluminum finish. Its f-stops range from 2.8 to 16 and it focuses as close as 0.8 meters. Optically, the lens is a great performer.

The photograph on the left shows it with its proper CZJ lens cap.


8.5cm f2.0 Sonnar

The 85mm f2.0 Carl Zeiss Jena Sonnar is one of the rarer high speed, early Zeiss legendary optics. It has a manual diaphragm with f-stops from f2 to f16

It is estimated that less than 100 of these lenses were manufactured in 1937 for the Kine-Exakta. The 8.5cm f2 Sonnar is most frequently encountered in Contax rangefinder mount.



180mm f2.8 Sonnar

300mm f4.0 Sonnar

Two of the legendary optics from Carl Zeiss Jena are the 180mm f2.8 and the 300mm f4.0 Sonnar (preset) lenses. Both lenses were introduced in 1952 and can be found in two versions. The earliest versions (Olympia Sonnars) were chrome plated brass. Later versions were two piece affairs in which the lens can be separated from the Exakta focusing mount and be installed in the Contax Rangefinder Flektoscop reflex housing. The last preset model lenses were one piece lenses.

Both the 180 and the 300 mm Sonnars are heavy and have fully adjustable rotating tripod collar mounts. I have utilized both extensively over the years for wildlife photography.


500 f8.0 Fernobjektiv Lens

The 500mm f8.0 Fernobjektiv lens is the longest (non-mirror) lens in the the Carl Zeiss Jena line-up for the Exakta. It is a very long (2') lens with 2 elements. For years, they were seldom seen, however, over the past few years, a number of them have been made available on auction from Eastern European sellers. What I like about this lens is that it can be easily be broken down into two sections for easy transport.



Special Purpose Carl Zeiss Jena Lenses

50mm f2.8 Tessar (Macro)

The 50mm f2.8 Tessar "Sunken-mount" Macro Lens was designed exclusively for use on a bellows. It is deeply recessed lens for close-up photography.

It is a seldom-encountered lens.


60mm f4.0 UV-Objectiv Lens (Aus Jena)

One of the most uncommon lenses produced by Zeiss Jena was the 60mm f4 UV-Objectiv. It is a special purpose lens manufactured for photography under ultraviolet light.

The lens is composed of three rare-earth elements , and has a preset diaphragm with f/stops from f/4 to f/22.

The lens displayed appears to never have been used.




Pentacon Six Lenses on the Exakta

The Carl Zeiss Jena lenses, manufactured for the medium format Pentacon Six/Praktisix cameras, can be utilized on the Exakta Varex cameras via Pentacon to Exakta adapters that were manufactured in both automatic and manual versions. These lenses include the 50mm f4.0 Flektogon, the 65mm f2.8 Flektogon, the 80mm f2.8 Biometar, the 120mm f2.8 Biometar, the 180mm f2.8 Sonnar (displayed above) and the 300mm f4.0 Sonnar.

Displayed on the right is a 65mm f2.8 Flektogon in the Pentacon Six to Exakta Varex automatic mount with its' proper front cap.


Carl Zeiss Jena Lens Brochures

Displayed below and on the right are 2 uncommon Carl Zeiss Jena lens brochures detailing the lenses available for the Exakta and Exa cameras.



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