Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar 50mm f/2.8 and 80mm f/2.8T (Introduction)

In a previous post, where I introduce the Meyer-Optik Lydith 30mm lens, I also wrote how I got these old lenses. You can read about it here. In this part I am introducing the other two lenses.

Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar 50mm f/2.8

Tessar 50mm

Zeiss is well-known as manufacturer of high quality lenses and other optical equipment. The company has a long and turbulent history. Here I will only briefly explain why there were two Carl Zeiss companies. After the Second World War the Carl Zeiss AG was split and one part was moved from Jena to Oberkochen in West Germany. The remaining part stayed in Jena. Both parts started production again, but now in separated parts of Germany. The East German part was renamed into Carl Zeiss Jena and the West German part into Zeiss Oberkochen. After the reunification of Germany in 1990 both parts joined (more or less) to become Zeiss as we know it today.

The 50mm f/2.8 lens was introduced in 1951. Based on the serial number of this lens, it was made sometimes in the years 1961 or 1962. So this little beauty is probably around 54 years old. This lens design was very successful and different modifications of this lens were produced until 1990. A very prominent version is the so-called Zebra Version. The latest models were completely in black.

The lens is mall and super light. It is 4 cm long and has a diameter of 5 cm. It is made of metal, which looks like aluminum to me, and weighs only 93 g! The diaphragm has 8 blades. The f-stops range from 2.8 to 22. Minimum focusing distance is 60 cm, and the focus ring needs 270° to turn from closest to infinite focusing distance. This makes focusing very precise and easy. The front element does not rotate when focusing. On a camera with micro four thirds sensor this lens gives an angle of view similar to a 100 mm lens on a full-frame sensor. Here are a few photos I took with this lens.

Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar 80mm f/2.8T

Tessar 80mm (2)

The red T means that the lens has a coating, later versions were marked with MC. In West Germany coated lenses were marked with a V, and later with the word ‘Multicoating’. Based on the serial number this copy was built sometimes between 1952 and 1955. Similar to the 50 mm Tessar, the 80 mm version is also made of metal, very likely aluminium, but with 260 g it is heavier. The lens is 9 cm long and has a diameter of 6.5 cm. The diaphragm has 16 blades, making a circular aperture. The f-stops range from 2.8 to 16, and the aperture ring has no stops and no clicks. Minimum focusing distance is 1 m. And the focusing ring turns 270° making it very easy for precise focusing. On a micro four thirds camera the angle of view of this lens is similar to a 160mm lens on a 35mm full-frame sensor. Below are some example photos taken with this lens.

All example images are taken straight out of the camera. No post-processing was done, except adding the logo.


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