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Zeiss Opton/Sonnar 50

Dan Chang , Apr 13, 2005; 06:12 a.m.

I have recently seen Zeiss Opton and Sonnar 50/1.5 (both T* coated and West German)for Contax IIa in the shop, and am wondering any experienced user found whether one is superior to the other? I know Opton is the ealier make but does it have higher regard or value than the later Sonnar even if the optics are the same? how about the 50/2 sonnars, are they as good as their 50/1.5 siblings? I am having a hard time choosing between the two and need some advise, thanks in advance.


Christopher Chen , Apr 13, 2005; 07:35 a.m.

(1) Zeiss-Opton v. Carl Zeiss 50/1.5 Sonnar: I have both & they're of equivalent optical quality. Some prefer the later Carl Zeiss because they're supposed to have been made w/better quality control, as the Zeiss-Opton were manufactured when the assembly line in Oberkochen was new. On the other side, some prefer the earlier Zeiss-Opton because the Carl Zeiss are more susceptible to separation (I believe they switched to an "improved" adhesive that has proven to be less durable).

(2) 50/1.5 v. 50/2: Both are excellent lenses. IME, the 50/2 is just as good as the 50/1.5 @ f/2, even though the 50/1.5 should theoretically be a bit better. The 50/1.5 is easier to find, @ least in the U.S., so I would lean to the 50/1.5 for that reason alone & get the extra speed (there is no significant size/weight penalty).

I recommend posting your query on the Zeiss Ikon Collectors Group on Yahoo (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ZICG/), where many of the hardcore Zeiss Ikon collectors & users gather.

Christopher Chen , Apr 13, 2005; 07:37 a.m.

BTW, these lenses are all "T" single-coated, not "T*" multi-coated.

Mike Kovacs , Apr 13, 2005; 10:06 a.m.

I don't own a postwar 50/2 but the prewar 50/2 collapsible I have is every bit as good as my West German "Carl Zeiss" 50/1.5, coating aside.

If I had to own one Sonnar, it would be any of the West German 50/1.5 lenses. According to one noted Contax repairman, the Opton Sonnars often have an improperly assembled lens group. Give it a shake and listen for any rattles. My "Carl Zeiss" was indeed separated and I posted about a clever way to repair it suggested by a veteran repairman.

Look closely at the oil tank for me - Carl Zeiss Sonnar 50/1.5, Ilford HP5+, HC110 Dil. D.

huw finney , Apr 13, 2005; 12:06 p.m.

Mike, what is the repair??

Aren't Hondas all wet sump?

Mike Kovacs , Apr 13, 2005; 01:03 p.m.

Fill in the edge separation with the lightest, clearest oil you can find. Capillary action keeps it there...5 months and counting. Always nice to put a $20 paperweight back into service :)

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