Overview of all Zeiss Sonnar 5cm f/1.5 aka 50mm f/1.5 versions


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12:54 PM
Jul 24, 2022
Some of you guys might know it already. I'm working on an overview of all Sonnar 5cm f/1,5 versions. It is not finished yet. But I think it could be valuable for some of you to publish it anyway.

There are already 2 posts there about the Sonnar 5cm f/1,5 and Ludwig Bertele that invented it.

Photos are missing and will be coming soon. Some of the technical specs are missing but I want to redo the measurings again before posting them all. I will update the posts on this blog as I finish the documentation. So you should be coming back for more Sonnar stuff.

I can give a quick roadmap too.
  1. images of lenses
  2. full spec sheet
  3. serial numbers
  4. Trivia
  5. Zeiss History 1800-Today
Comments are welcome. :)
Wow this is a very impressive knowledge base. Interesting read (for those who have reach peak geekiness), there is some cool information in there. I was not aware of the brass post war CZJ 5cm (you call it v4b ZE CR arrs) which is now definitively on my shopping list... Great effort putting all this together.
Thank you. It was and is a huge amount of work. I underestimated this task and stumbled into a rabbit hole that led to a maze of rabbit holes. 😅

I started 2021 with collecting some information, some serials, some specs. I'm writing now for over 6 month. The amount of things I do not know is huge. So I do a lot of research before putting it to paper. But I'm far away from knowing everything yet. I might know some stuff even Brian, Skyllaney or Marco Cavina do not know but it is not much. But I will share as much as possible. The goal is to bundle all information possible about the Sonnar 5cm to provide a solid knowledge base for future users.

I added the first images of Sonnar lenses. Added samples of the very first Sonnar 5cm f/1,5 kindly provided by @titrisol. More will come.

I struggle a bit with blogger. It is not a very good choice if you want to use a lot of images in articles. And people might not even notice what articles are already on the blog. So here is a page with links to the Sonnar version overview and historical background of this lens.

I may add, this is not an overview over all different variations of Sonnar 5cm lenses. I will not add prototypes, "transition" lenses, custom modifications, fake lenses, spare parts lenses and Monday production examples. 😄 The scope is on official lens models made by Zeiss. I could not find a complete or correct overview online. But to give credits to other online resources...
  • PacificRims Sonnar 5cm f/1,5 and Sonnar 5cm f/2 overview is one of the first overviews that pop up on every search and provides some samples and a lot of valuable information about the Sonnar 5cm and its variations. It inspired me to create an overview with pictures and technical specification of all variations.
  • Oldlens.com has a pretty complete overview of the Sonnar 5cm f/1,5. Unfortunately it is a Japanese site and the overview has some errors like there are f2 Sonnars mixed in and he got confused by the Zeiss serial numbers.
  • Sovietcams.com have overview pages for Jupiter 3 and 8 Contax and L39 lenses.
I hope my overview can be a help for newcomers, users and collectors. :)
I got a quick peak- and looks amazing. As I get more time, will go over it in a more relaxed fashion.

Just been crazy busy, in between "retiring" and coming back as a consultant.
You've put so much work in all this. I just hope Google won't wake up one day and pull the plug for blogspot.
The highest SN for the KMZ Jupiter-3 that I own is 5604076, a version 2 in LTM. The earliest ZOMZ is 5600256.
The latest KMZ V1 I have is 5600311, uses Schott glass. The KMZ v1 and v2 have overlapping serial numbers, I have two 1955 KMZ v2 lenses.
The v1- has superior performance. The v2- on par with the ZOMZ.
Updated the overview over the last weeks.
  • all lenses (that where planed) have images. You can compare different lenses by their shape, engravings, size on camera...
    • images of aperture blades are still missing but will come
  • the full spec sheet of all versions (so far) with measurements (weight, total length, max diameter, distance front to locking pin, distance front to mount, height of grip ring, measured infinity) is online
The sheet is a compilation. I own some lenses several times. For others I got measurements from owners. I noticed quit a high amount of differences in the measured numbers. CZJ was not able to manufacture their lenses to a high tolerance by hand. Even infinity distance varies dramatic. I had hopes that different optics show different infinity distances but it can not be seen with such a high amount of variation within batches.

Still there is a lot of data missing in the sheet and overview. Especially the Contarex and Arri versions are missing. There are even holes in the West and East German Sonnar lists. So please if you find odd numbers with the Sonnar lens you own or have a missing one then be so kind to share the numbers with me so I can update the sheet further.
Went all in this time. I uploaded 2 massive excel sheets to visualize the production history of the Sonnar 5cm f/1,5.

At the bottom of the page you will find the links to
  • full list of all known production batches of the Sonnar 50 F/1,5. Some people might know this list from the Fabrikationsbuch but I did my best to improve it with the latest serials and available information.
  • all of my collected serials of the Sonnar 50 F/1,5 from the last 3 years. It shows you how messy the Sonnar production really was like nothing else. All other overviews only show only a summary. It helps a lot to understand the history of this lens.
Let me add that I appreciate any help in my quest. So if you own some Sonnar 1,5 lenses than please share the serial with me. Better share teh weight or anything unusual. For so many production batches examples are missing or rare. For some models I still have no data f.e. Arri or Contaflex Sonnars. Or if you can share the CZJ serial of Jupiter lenses that would be really help lifting the curtain of historical events.

Thank you and enjoy.
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Thank you @Sonnar Brian ! I know it is risky to share all of this with the public but I hope that it will help to bring the discussion and knowledge about the Sonnar history a step further. Most people reference their lens by the first pat of the serial number (f.e. 2.724.xxx). I look more at the production batch to see where it belongs and if it is in order with the other Sonnars surrounding it. So it is more like "Oh, this is batch 58! So it belong to those Sonnars that where still finished in Jena before the Soviets took the entire lens batch to KMZ to build the first Jupiter-3's." Especially when it comes to the war-time and post-war production a lot lies still in the shadows but the list shines a little bit of light on this era. And it is still far from meaningful complete. There are still a lot of batches where I have seen no example. Could be that they ended as Jupiters or it might that I missed them.

I still have a lot to write and investigate. Just a short teaser. I have a similar list of Sonnar 5cm f/2. No 8,5cm, no 13,5cm, no 30cm or 18cm. The 5cm is keeping me busy for the moment. 😄
Two of my 1950 Jupiter-3s, and the highest SN KMZ J-3 v1 that I own.RIMG0033.JPGRIMG0034.JPG1950_J3_ZEISS_SN_2861413.jpgearly_and_late_KMZ_J3.jpgkmz_j3_1950_1.jpg
This one had sewing thread around the threads to keep it in the mount. It could not be focused at any distance, was too short of a focal length. I modified it and converted to LTM.
I am totally naïve on this subject, why is the lens serial number such a secret that only the first three digits are shared??
And my 1949 ZK lens,

EDIT! @Räuber is correct, as posted below. I mixed up the inner parts of a different lens that I worked on, but do not own.
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