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Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar 50mm 1:2.8 - NEX-5N

Discussion in 'Adapted Lenses' started by Dioptrick, Apr 15, 2012.

  1. Dioptrick

    Dioptrick TalkEmount All-Pro

    Feb 4, 2012
    New Zealand
    I came across this East German Praktica FX3 (production period March 1958 to June 1959) at a local auction recently which has a CZJ Tessar 2.8/50 lens. It's condition was questionable and as far as I can gather the lens (my first taste of vintage Carl Zeiss) was a pretty common spec for this camera. I was willing to take a risk provided I could win the auction for a small price, which I did. Here's the camera after a bit of a clean-up.

    PrakticaFX3.

    But alas, time has taken it's toll on this sample. Although the body seems to be working fine, the lens (which was the reason for the purchase) was in poor shape and pretty much had it. The focusing barrel has seized and the lens elements have a fair amount of fungus growth (but not terribly bad). Seeing as I paid very little for it, I decided to use the specimen for 'lens repair' practice - even if I end up wrecking it.

    I'm glad to say that the exercise was successful, although I have to admit that I very well nearly destroyed the lens at one point. :p I'll post the details when I get more time... :)
     
  2. Phoenix

    Phoenix TalkEmount Top Veteran

    859
    Aug 25, 2011
    Melbourne, Australia
    Phoenix Gonzales
    That's quite a pity about the lens :(
     
  3. Dioptrick

    Dioptrick TalkEmount All-Pro

    Feb 4, 2012
    New Zealand
    Don't be... I think I've finally found the vintage lens I've been searching for!

    I could be wrong, but the impression I get from reading most collectors accounts is that they turn back to the early optics trying to find some sort of holy-grail, hoping to stumble upon something superior from the past. It's a valid reason and is as good as any, but this is not my interest regarding vintage lenses.

    I'm not looking for a perfect lens... been there, done that. I've been trying to find (and enjoying the journey immensely, btw :) ) a lens characteristic that takes perfectly good "BAD" pictures. Problem is, all the vintage lenses I've tried so far, are actually too darn good!

    Let me explain...

    After watching the movie 'Saving Private Ryan' countless times (lol), I have developed a strong appreciation of the efforts the producers have made to make this film look as authentic as possible. One of the things they have done was to use vintage lenses to shoot the movie. They did this deliberately because these lenses are prone to flaring, resulting in poor contrast and poor saturation. I dig it! They have used the authentic imperfections of the period's equipment in order to achieve a perfect rendition of a movie about WWII.

    images01.

    I too, would like to try and emulate what they have achieved... problem is, the vintage lenses I've found so far don't even come close to the S-P-R cinematic look and feel. Until now! Before I disassembled the Carl Zeiss Jena to clean the fungus, I did a test shot (after freeing up the focus barrel somewhat). This is what I got. Portrait (below right) is SOOC from my NEX-5N on plain Program Mode with no camera effects applied.

    images02.
     
  4. Phoenix

    Phoenix TalkEmount Top Veteran

    859
    Aug 25, 2011
    Melbourne, Australia
    Phoenix Gonzales
    They used vintage lenses to film Saving Private Ryan???

    Wow!! I seriously did not know that!! :eek: I always thought that they did such a good job with the cinematography of the movie by being able to capture the look of the era not only by the costumes and props but even by the way it was filmed.

    From your test shot, it looks like it's not too contrasty, I'll probably shoot with filters, or in sepia and b/w if I was going to shoot with this lens.
     
  5. TerminusBreak

    TerminusBreak TalkEmount Rookie

    22
    Feb 29, 2012
    Florida
    Tim
    I wonder if they did the same for Band of Brothers. I've always loved the cinematography of that series.
     
  6. Dioptrick

    Dioptrick TalkEmount All-Pro

    Feb 4, 2012
    New Zealand
    Bear in mind that initial test pic had fungus on the elements, so a prime example of this lens could very well produce a more 'usual' degree of contrast.


    Here's the lens in bits and pieces. The barrel at the bottom right is what gave me much grief. I didn't have lens specific oil/grease so I used synthetic motor oil. When that wasn't viscous enough I tried synthetic bicycle chain lube - big mistake! The fine threaded barrels seized moments after I screwed them together. Not sure why but I'm guessing the chain lube has some sort of detergent component that started to dissolve the anodized surface of the threads. I soaked them overnight in thin lanolin oil and with much difficulty was able to pry them off the following morning.

    Fungus01.


    Fungus02.
    The time tested Tessar combination... 4 elements in 3 groups.
    I only dismantled the lens to a point where I could access the glass elements and stayed well clear of the scarey looking 8-bladed aperture mechanism.


    Fungus03.

    It's hard to see from this pic, but a 50-50 solution of ammonia and hydrogen peroxide just melts the fungus away on contact. While I was in the process of removing the fungus and cleaning the optics, it suddenly dawned on me that it could very well be the fungus marred optics - and NOT the lens itself that had given me the effect I was after!! :eek:



    I've not had a chance to take test shots with the CZJ Tessar in the now "restored" condition, so I hope I didn't ruin what I like about it, by improving it too much... eeek! :(
     
  7. Phoenix

    Phoenix TalkEmount Top Veteran

    859
    Aug 25, 2011
    Melbourne, Australia
    Phoenix Gonzales
    LMAO!!! It's not everyday you hear "I hope I didn't ruin it by improving it too much," I now wanna see some examples from the lens with the "restored" condition.
     
  8. fotomachi

    fotomachi TalkEmount Regular

    46
    Mar 12, 2012
    .BE
    Poor fungus, I can hear it scream all over to Europe ;)

    I also like that kind of vintage look. Some good lenses that I found that have it are the Biometar (80 and 120mm in zebra) and also the Jupiter-8 (and 8M) in Kiev/Contax. Another one is the CZJ Sonnar 5cm f/2. I have an uncoated one from 1938, lacks contrast but sup-p-p-p-p-per-vintage.
     
  9. Dioptrick

    Dioptrick TalkEmount All-Pro

    Feb 4, 2012
    New Zealand
    I recall seeing the vintage lenses being explained in a 'movie-in-the-making' trailer of Saving Private Ryan, but I couldn't tell what sort they were as I'm not familiar with movie cameras. I'm assuming that they were lenses for 35mm film reel adapted to digital HD recorders. The only reference I could find in google was that they could be T1.1 Super Speed Super Baltars (Zeiss?) and that the optic coatings have been removed, so that light would flare and bounce inside the lens to reduce saturation and contrast.

    It's not likely that they used only one type of lens throughout the film, and it's probable that the footage has also been further enhanced by post processing. Band of Brothers is also a favourite of mine, but somehow I wouldn't be surprised if much of the vintage effect on that series was done through software.


    Haha, die fungus, die!! :eek:

    Thanks for your recommendations fotomachi :) I'll keep an eye out for those lenses. The uncoated 1938 Sonnar sounds exciting... sup-p-p-p-p-per-vintage!!
     
  10. madmaxmedia

    madmaxmedia TalkEmount Regular

    58
    Sep 30, 2011
    Los Angeles
    Was there a lot of fungus originally? I have a Minolta 50mm f/1.7 with some fungus on internal elements, but the lens is tack sharp at f/2 (I'm sure it's more prone to flare but haven't tested nor can I compare.) Probably you can get some flaring wide open with the cleaned lens anyway. ;)

    I may try to clean this one up as well, but I had always read that the little spiderweb lines left by fungus is usually permanent.
     
  11. Dioptrick

    Dioptrick TalkEmount All-Pro

    Feb 4, 2012
    New Zealand
    Yes, a fair amount of fungus but nowhere near the worst I've seen. The fungus on this one looked like creeping veins, possibly the same by what you mean by spiderweb. Yeah, this type can etch the glass surface but as it turned-out, mine didn't do that too much (some etching there, but I would really have to strain to spot traces of it). It's clear now and the important thing is that the growths have been halted.



    I did a quick test shot for sharpness after the cleaning and the photo below shows it's pretty decent and it looks like the OOF is a beaut too. Photo on the left is the full frame shot (hand-held 1/60sec at f5.6 ISO640 in a dim window-lit room)... close-up on the right is roughly a 50% crop of the OOC, showing my main focus point which is the threaded lug screw. The blue-ish colour on the chrome areas isn't CA, they are reflections of our blue window curtains. By the way, an outdoor test pic of this lens shows ZERO chromatic aberration even near the edges at f2.8!

    CZJTessar04.


    Sharpness and contrast now restored, I thought "oh no, what have I done?!!" But I did a quick check to see if it would still flare-up at wide open aperture, and yes I'm happy to say that it still does but with a lot less blur... phew! (I can hear Phoenix laughing all the way from OZ, lol!)

    I'll post more details and findings about this lens later.
     
  12. Phoenix

    Phoenix TalkEmount Top Veteran

    859
    Aug 25, 2011
    Melbourne, Australia
    Phoenix Gonzales
    That would be right LMAO!!!!:p

    Nice job on the restoration, it seems like a good piece of glass, I'm looking at the images closely and you're right, it's very resistant to CA even on the high contrast bits.
     
  13. madmaxmedia

    madmaxmedia TalkEmount Regular

    58
    Sep 30, 2011
    Los Angeles
    Sounds like you got the best of both worlds! I will give my Minolta a try then too, hopefully I can remove most of the fungus traces. Look forward to seeing more pics from yours!

    BTW- were your test shots in RAW or JPEG? The 5N seems to remove CA not only from the Sony lenses but from other lenses too- that's what people are reporting in using/testing the new Sigma lenses. I guess the most significant fault of those lenses is some CA, but they are removed by the 5N in JPEG's.
     
  14. Dioptrick

    Dioptrick TalkEmount All-Pro

    Feb 4, 2012
    New Zealand
    All the best on your Minolta lens. :)

    I always shoot in JPEG.

    That's what I thought too (because I have CA auto correction on) however when I did test shots with my Industar-61 I got very noticeable CA at the edges, so I assumed that the built-in CA correction software only applies to native SEL lenses. I'll make some comparative tests with the CA correction off and see what happens.
     
  15. Dioptrick

    Dioptrick TalkEmount All-Pro

    Feb 4, 2012
    New Zealand
    Yep, my initial assumption seems to be correct... the 5N's CA correction software doesn't work with adapted MF lenses. Whether CA correction was switched on or off, I still got the same results. Maybe the firmware works with the Sigma because all the electrical contacts at the mount are connected?

    Anyway, here's a comparison between the Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar on the left, and the Industar-61 (which I believe is a Tessar copy) on the right. Both were taken at f2.8 to show their worst behaviour. These are 200% crops of a very tiny area at infinity near the top left corner of the image.

    CAtest.

    The flarey, low contrast, low saturation of the Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar when wide open is the 'cinematic' effect I've been looking for. It actually sharpens and darkens up quite a bit when stopped down, so yeah... looks like I've got the best of both worlds if I handle it correctly.

    I'll take proper subject photos later when I find the time.
     
  16. Dioptrick

    Dioptrick TalkEmount All-Pro

    Feb 4, 2012
    New Zealand
    Did someone say Steam Punk?

    It seems the Carl Zeiss Jena 50mm f2.8 Tessar lens was produced for so many various camera mounts (Exacta, Werra, Pentina, Pentacon). The Praktica FX3 version has an M42 screw mount. This Praktica version has a quirky semi-automatic aperture mechanism that had me baffled at first, which made me think the aperture ring was busted. The aperture ring has to be pulled (towards the camera body) before the setting can be changed. When mounted on the FX3, the aperture ring also has to be turned clockwise to "cock" the spring-loaded aperture in the full-open position so that a bright image can be seen on the focusing screen (without a pentaprism). The 'waist-finder' is similar to those on 'twin-lens-reflex' cameras where the image is right side up but goes the opposite way when turned from side to side.

    PrakticaFX301.

    When the shutter is depressed, a small lever at the back of the lens releases the aperture-lock so that it stops-down just before the picture is taken - but it stays there. You have to cock it again so that you can focus for the next frame - which is vital if you've chosen small (dark) f-stops.

    This makes better sense once you take into account the semi-automatic nature of the FX3 mirror mechanism. After a picture has been taken, the mirror stays up too so the finder is blocked. When you wind-on the film advance knob (which also resets the shutter mechanism) the spring-loaded mirror is brought back down again so you can see through the viewfinder. Think of it as a semi-automatic, single-shot, bolt-action rifle, lol! The waist-finder also has a pop-out magnifying glass for critical focusing, but it can also be converted into a glassless frontal range-finder. It's very very steam-punkish and reminds me of some sort of vintage bombsight device. :eek:

    PrakticaFX302.

    Thankfully, once mounted on a NEX, the CZJ Tessar loses it's steam-punkishness and the tedious semi-automatic aperture mechanism is cancelled-out - but I still have to pull back the aperture ring in order to change f-stop settings. I actually like the fact that I can't accidentally flick an aperture setting, the downside of course is that I can't change f-stops quickly either.

    CZJTessar03.

    The lens on it's own weighs 182 grams without front and rear caps, has an OD of 59mm and is 48mm long. I've seen shorter black body versions of this lens with only 5 aperture blades but this Praktica version has 8 blades. I've also seen 1Q silver versions similar to this with a red "T" that has 12 aperture blades. What I really like about this vintage lens is it's minimum focusing distance of only 1.5 feet (half a meter) - making moderate macro shots possible, something that my other vintage lenses can't do (mostly from rangefinders so minimum focusing distance is quite long at about a metre). The multi-coating shows up as purple at certain angles.

    CZJTessar02.

    Hoping to be able to take some sample pics soon...
     
  17. Phoenix

    Phoenix TalkEmount Top Veteran

    859
    Aug 25, 2011
    Melbourne, Australia
    Phoenix Gonzales
    Hehehe, It actually looks handsome in the brushed stainless look and I had to pause and mentally visualise your description regarding it's operation, it kinda sounds and looks like a SLR lens with the optics of an RF lens, mounted like a DSLR lens but is operated like a TLR with it's waist finder and now attached to a mirrorless (try saying that 5 times twice as fast :p)
     
  18. Dioptrick

    Dioptrick TalkEmount All-Pro

    Feb 4, 2012
    New Zealand
    OK then...

    ... s t e a m - n e x i f i e d - a - p u n k e d ! (x5) :p
     
  19. Phoenix

    Phoenix TalkEmount Top Veteran

    859
    Aug 25, 2011
    Melbourne, Australia
    Phoenix Gonzales
    :p
     
  20. pictogramax

    pictogramax TalkEmount Regular

    56
    Apr 16, 2012
    Belgrade, Serbia
    Dioptrick, I just love your detailed (and beautifully photographed) reviews. Very instructive and useful. Looking forward for sample results with this combo.