Carl Zeiss Jena 135mm f3.5 Sin Reviews: Lenses
By ahriman/Angra (1,109)
on March 1, 2002 7:08:50 AM CST
It's a.....lens!Carl Zeiss Jena is what used to be the East German wing of Carl Zeiss before WWII and the subsequent division of Germany. The Dresden factory was taken over by the new communist government and renamed Carl Zeiss Jena. They produced lenses for Praktica and Exacta 35mm SLRs and the Pentacon 6 6x6 SLR, and had very close ties with Pentacon (the parent company of Praktica). Some of the lens designs that came out of Zeiss Jena were pants; the 29mm f2.8 had aberrations coming out of its ears and was virtually unuseable wider than f5.6, and the 50mm f2.8 Tessar, while pleasant enough, was never going to win any awards for sharpness. The gems, however, were the Flektogon wideangle design, and this 135mm f3.5 S - basically a Sonnar design, they couldn't use the name Sonnar as that was copyrighted by the West German Carl Zeiss, and simply designated the lens with an 'S' to denote the design.
It has glass in it and.....The lens itself is well made, mostly metal with a nice, tactile, rubbery focus grip. A metal sliding lenshood is built on to the front (although on my lens it is somewhat loose and rattles alarmingly....) and the aperture ring is solid and assured. Focussing on mine is a little tight at the closer ranges, and a wee bit tight compared to the Pentax Takumar lenses I have throughout the range, but is easy enough to focus. A good depth of field scale is provided, as is an infrared focus marker. The glass is multicoated, a major bonus for a classic lens design.
It does nice picturesPerformance of this lens is very, very good; for the unfeasibly low price (about £15-25 from a high street camera shop) it matches and indeed at wider apertures outperforms the equivalent Pentax SMC Takumar lens. It is very sharp, with a nice, slightly warm colour rendition that does marvels with Velvia. What really makes this lens special is that even its wide aperture performance is excellent, with only a slight falloff of sharpness towards the edges and a tad of sharpness loss at the centre. At f8 this lens truly rocks, showing the SMC Takumar a thing or two about resolving power and contrast.
It's really nice, and cheap as well.The build quality control in the DDR was not quite as variable as in the Ukranian Zenit factories, but even so there are good and bad examples of the Zeiss Jena lenses; mine is a good one, and for the price, its well worth seeing if the one you just passed over in the window of that high street shop is a good one as well! An excellent lens even without considering the low price; bringing the price into the equation makes the choice of whether to buy or not a real no-brainer!
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