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Near mint! 1937 Carl-Zeiss Jena  1.5/5cm (50mm) Sonnar Lens for Contax II & III Rangefinder cameras

Carl Zeiss Jena

Near mint! 1937 Carl-Zeiss Jena 1.5/5cm (50mm) Sonnar Lens for Contax II & III Rangefinder cameras

$ 385.00 USD

The f1.5/50mm Carl Zeiss Sonnar is a popular lens and is recognized around the world as a masterpiece of design. Originally designed for the Contax rangefinder cameras, it was always an expensive and highly coveted lens. It was especially sought after by photojournalists during WWII because it was by far the fastest and sharpest lens available at any price. After the war its optical design influenced countless copies and variations and helped launch new companies such as Nikon and Canon to greatness. 


But its greatness is not simply defined by history or speed, or resolution. What artists and photographers love about the lens is it’s beautiful rendition. It’s something the Japanese refer to as bokeh. Simply said, this lens has a lovely rounded bokeh. Open up the lens or narrow the depth of field by getting closer and the focus rolls on and off very smoothly.


The serial number on this lens, 2076060, indicates that it was produced by Zeiss in Germany in 1937. It was intended for use on the Contax II & III cameras however it functions correctly on the earlier Contax I and the later postwar Contax IIa & IIIa cameras.


The lens is in near mint condition. The aperture blades adjust smoothly with just the usual touch of oil on them. (Normal for these lenses. The blades on a rangefinder camera don’t need to move instantly as they do in an SLR.) The glass looks virtually like new. There are no scratches, no cleaning marks. There are no separated elements or other problems and it’s capable of producing lovely photos with modern color and B&W films.


All in all, a wonderful lens with an exceptionally fine rendering. Perfect for an artist or a photographer with a historical interest. 




Recently this lens has been reissued by Zeiss and is now referred to as the “Zeiss C Sonnar 1,5/50 ZM”. The “C” referring to Contax design and the “ZM” for Zeiss-Leica M mount and sell for about $1035 / 930 euro.

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