View Full Version : Zeiss Jena DDR - Are they worth mounting in a Copal 3?

Edward (Halifax,NS)
1-Mar-2004, 08:46
There seem to be alot of East German CZJ tessars on the market lately. These are barrel lenses and many will fit into a Copal 3 shutter. The lenses are very inexpensive and seem to be in excellent condition, but even a use Copel 3 shutter is pricey. How sharp are these lenses and would it be worth picking one up for $50-100 and then trying to find a cheap Copal 3? The one I have my eye on is a 180mm f/4.5

Bob Fowler
1-Mar-2004, 09:21
How sure are you that the lens is a direct fit to a Copal 3? If it is a direct fit, I'd say dig up a used shutter and give it a go. I've had a couple of CZJ lenses that were quite nice - in particular, a 165mm f/4.5 Tessar comes to mind.

If the lens isn't a direct fit (and adapters would have to be machined), I think you'd be better off finding something else.

OK, now for the disclaimer... My CZJ lenses were older, pre-WWII uncoated optics that were in dial-set Compur shutters. They were of oddball sizes that didn't fit modern, flash-sync'd shutters. Regardless, they made nice images if care was taken to guard against flare.

Ted Harris
1-Mar-2004, 09:34
I have two Docter Apo Germinar lenses. Docter bought the Zeiss Jena works some 15 years ago and then sold it to Rodenstock. Both of these are excellent lenses, easily the equal of their Schneider or Rodenstock counterparts.

Be careful though in terms of the ability to mount them easily in shutter. Most of the late model Jena/Docter lenses came both mounted and unmounted and the unmounted versions may not be quite so simple to mount.

The expert on this is Arne Croell who will hopefully read this thread and chime in. Alternatively, see his comprehensive articles on these lenses in recent issues of View Camera.

To give you a benchmark a late model Jena or Docter 360 Apo Germinar lens in a Copal #3 shutter will generally bring $600 or more on the used market and when the last ones sold new a few years ago they were going for $1000.

Edward (Halifax,NS)
1-Mar-2004, 10:01
This is definately a post war lens; serial number 9757.


Ted Harris
1-Mar-2004, 10:10

If no one else jumps in with the detailed info from the View Camera article I will look it up later today. In the meantime you may want to email Arne ... arne.croell@inemet.tu-freiberg.de ... tht will get you a definitive answer. IMHO I am not usre it would be worth mounting a 180 mm unless you get a very good deal on a shutter. You should be able to find a plethora of fine Schneider, Rodenstock, Nikon and Fuji 180 f5.6 lenses already in shutter in the USD 450-475 price range. Be on the lookout for Caltar II-S MC (Schneider Symmar S MC) or Caltar II-N (Rodenstock Sironar N) lenses which are always a bit cheaper.

1-Mar-2004, 10:25
If Cupog is the seller I wouldn't count on it ending cheap. He usually gets fairly good prices. Once you add in the price of a new shutter won't you be pretty close to the price of a new lens in the 150-210mm range? Brand new lens. Brand new shutter. No worries about them fitting together.

Also aren't the real cheap Zeiss Jena lenses copier lenses with no apertures?

Edward (Halifax,NS)
1-Mar-2004, 10:32
It sounds like it won't be worth the hassle so I will stop bidding. Something else will come along later that won't be as disagreeable. Sometimes I just bid because I am bored.

Arne Croell
1-Mar-2004, 10:34
First, this is a very late model from the 1980's according to the serial number. The design is a comparatively new one, from 1948 ( a lot of the larger Tessars use the 1929 design). Anyway, its a good lens, and the coating, although single, should be good too given the late manufacturing date. However, this would be the first of the postwar barrel Tessars that I know of that would directly fit a shutter without some machining required. I have not personally seen the 180mm, but I have seen the 75, 135, 210, and 300mm f/4.5 in barrel, as well as the 210 and 250mm f/3.5 and the 135 and 210 f/6.3 in barrel, and NONE of them is a direct shutter fit, even those where shuttered versions existed in parallel (e.g. the 210mm f/6.3 was available in Compur 1, and the 210mm f/4.5 was available in Prestor 3 during GDR times and in Copal 3 from Docter Optic - the latter 2 are not interchangeable though). The best and cheapest bet may be to mount the barrel in front of a Copal 3, which would only require one adapter ring. I'd ask the seller if he can measure the threads for you, before buying.

Edward (Halifax,NS)
1-Mar-2004, 10:47
Thankyou for the input Arne. Apparently the 180mm was available in a Copal 3 or a barrel and it seems the two are NOT interchangable. The rear thread is 46mm so it should be possible to mount the lens in front of a Copal 3 with an adapter ring. I think I will hold out for a 210mm G-Claron. :)

Arne Croell
1-Mar-2004, 10:58
Edward, yes, all of the late f/4.5 Tessars were available in Copals (size 1 up to 135mm, size 3 from 180 to 360mm - for the 300 and 360mm the maximum aperture was reduced by the shutter though) but ONLY from Docter Optic, after the German reunification, never from Zeiss Jena. Jena had a few Tessars in shutter in the 1950's and 1960's. They are compatible only if they came in Compur. The GDR-made Prestor shutters had different cell spacings and partially different threads, even though the shutter numbers were the same (I found that out the hard way). And the barrel versions always have a very different mount, even from Docter Optic. The same holds for the Apo-Germinars, btw.

Kerry L. Thalmann
1-Mar-2004, 11:02
These barrel mounted Zeiss Tessars only really make economic sense when used with a behind the lens shutter. As they require Copal No. 3 shutters, to mount them in individual shutters would be cost prohibitive. If you happen to own a Sinar behind the lens shutter, the barrel mounted Zeiss Tessars are a great way to get several focal lengths at a very reasonable price. If you don't need fast shutters speeds, a Packard shutter (or a felt hat/lens cap) is another option. Also, Mentor made a behind the lens shutter for using these lenses with their large format cameras. These are a bit hard to find, unless you buy a Mentor camera with one installed, and I seem to recall they had a non-standard shutter speed progression that had a big gap in the middle.

As for the lenses themselves, later single coated models from the 1980s and 1990s should be quite good. I own a couple of the Docter Tessars from the 1990s that came in factory mounted Copal No. 3 shutters and can confirm that the performance is quite good. At least as good as any other modern single coated Tessar (late Schneider Xenar, Commercial Ektar, Fujinon L, etc.).


Arne Croell
1-Mar-2004, 11:10
Another caveat with respect Kerry's comment, be aware that the Mentor cameras he mentions did not use the standardized "western" sheet film holders, but their own version. Maybe they were derived from some prewar design, when many different film and plate holder designs existed. Not impossible to adapt the back for modern holders (I've seen it done), but still work and something to take into account.

Edward (Halifax,NS)
1-Mar-2004, 11:17
Nick, I looked at the recently ended auctions and there was a 210mm f/4.5 in mint condition that went for about $60 and a 180mm in identical condition that had a minimum bid of $100 that did not sell. All of the lenses had aperture dials.

Kerry L. Thalmann
1-Mar-2004, 11:53
We're drifting a bit off topic, but WRT to the Mentor cameras, in addition to the non-standard film holders, there were also at least two distinctly different models of these cameras. One is a monorail with the behind the lens shutter I mentioned previously. The other is more of a press type camera with a drop bed and a focal plane shutter. Similar to the old Speed Graphics, but without the range finder. The most common size seems to be 13x18cm (similar to 5x7). As Arne mentioned the holders are non-standard. So, if you buy one of these, make sure it comes with plenty of holders. 13x18cm film is available from a number of sources.

A better option, if you really want to use these barrel mounted Tessars, would be to pick up a used Sinar shutter and adapt it to the front standard of your camera (if you don't own a Sinar or Horseman monorail). The Sinar shutters are well made, offer a wider range of shutter speeds, and are plentiful on the used market at reasonable prices (compared to individual Copal No. 3 shutters). Used Sinar cameras (F, F1, Norma, and Alpina) and Horseman monorails are also plentiful and affordable on the used market. I believe the new Badger Brand M1 monorail accepts Sinar lensboards and may also be compatible with the Sinar shutters.


Arne Croell
1-Mar-2004, 12:06
Kerry, can I add some more confusion? ;-) There was a third Mentor model, an SLR with a focal plane shutter not unlike the Graflex. It was not a copy of the Graflex, it was based on a prewar model from the same company (Goltz&Breutmann), and the shutter and other features are different. Those SLR's were made in at least the 9x12 and 10x15 cm sizes. The monorails were available in at least 9x12cm, 13x18cm (most common, you are right), and 18x24cm. Not sure about the sizes for the technical camera, it may have been only 13x18cm.

1-Mar-2004, 12:49
Just surf over to the Badger website and look at something like the Nikon 200m or the w 180mm. If you're stuck buying a new #3 shutter the shutter alone isn't much less then one of those Nikon lenses. Add $50 or more for the lens. Any work to get it mounted. Shipping for both the lens and the shutter. How about filter threads? So unless you can find a used shutter for cheap it's going to cost more then just buying a new lens. Even if you could get a cheap shutter the total price won't be a lot less then a brand new lens. Personally I'd be happier with the new lens then risking a used shutter. Now if the shutter is free that's a different story. My G-claron 150mm went into a "free" shutter so it was just the cost of the lens. $50 for the lens sounds cheap but the need for that #3 -(

Kerry mentions not going with a #3. Packard. Hat. Those are things that IMHO make sense with the barrel lenses.

The completed auctions you mentioned was the seller Cupog?

Kerry L. Thalmann
1-Mar-2004, 12:54

Yes, you are right (of course). I do recall seeing pictures of the Mentor SLRs, but have never seen on in person. ARCA-SWISS also made SLRS in the 4x5 and 2 1/4 x 3 1/4 sizes back in the 1960s and 1970s.

If anyone is interested, in what some of these Mentor cameras look like (I'm not recommending them to anyone in particular as they are heavy and take non-standard film holders), there is currently an 18x24 monorail and a 13x18 drop bed model listed on the German Bay site. I won't bother posting direct links as they will expire once the auctions conclude. Just go to the German eBay large format section and do a search on Mentor.


Ernest Purdum
1-Mar-2004, 18:33
Besides the Copal 3, there are several other shutters available which are large enough to take a front-mounted Tessar type of fairly long focal length. These are often available for very much less than the Copal. Amongst these are the larger (sizes 4 and 5) Compounds, Wollensaks and Ilexes, though only a few of these have flash synch. One shutter which was made just for this purpose is the Japanese Shanel 5 A. It has a funny name, but is a very useful shutter. It comes with adapter rings intended for Fuji Tessar types, but they are the same size as many other lenses, so you might not even have to get an adapter made. These shutters were apparently later made in China, but I am sorry that I don't remember the name of the Chinese versions. The Russians made a weird shutter for their FKD cameras. It is not self-capping, meaning that the blades open when you cock it, so you have to be careful not to pull the darkslide too early.

There are, of course, roller-blind shutters for rear-mounting which are a lot earlier than the Mentor. Early enough in most instances that the blinds need replacing. Thjis isn't very difficult once you have located a souce for the material, but when finished you still hasve a very limited shutter with no flash synch.

Burke & James gave the shutter opening sizes of the more common types as follows: (They are shown in dimensions of a weird system based on the size of an English king's foot in the year 1374, or some such nonsense. Multiply by 25.4 to get approximate metric dimensions).

Compound 4 2 5/8", Compound 5 3 1/4", Alphax 4 2 27/64", Universal and Acme 4 2 5/16", Universal 5 can be either 2 15/16" or 3". Alphax 5 2 15/16".

Caveats. Apparently all the makers supplied shutters with dimensions differing from their usual standards. For front-mounting, those that have diaphragms should be subjected to irisectomy or have the diaphragm blocked open. In some instances, the size of the diaphragm opening would be significant as to whether or not there would be vignetting.

Edward (Halifax,NS)
3-Mar-2004, 05:47
You all have been tremendously helpful and I thank you. Arne, I searched though my collection of View Camera magazines and found your article on Zeiss optics. It was useful as well. I have been outbid on the lens and am 90% sure I won't bid again. It is tempting because most of my shots are in the 1-10 second range and new Packard shutters are inexpensive plus there is a mystique about Zeiss lenses.

3-Mar-2004, 06:56
If you're times are in the 1 to 10 second range you don't even need a packard. If you want to just get a Zeiss lens then look for the APO Tessars. They aren't very expensive but are slow at F/9.0.

Edward (Halifax,NS)
8-Mar-2004, 09:04
Nick, you were right about Cupog's auctions. His lenses seem to go for 3 times what other sellers are getting for the same lens. I will just avoid him in the future.

8-Mar-2004, 10:30
Cupog is a good seller. Problem is many people know it now. When he sold me a Flexaret the price was little more then some of the other sellers but his shipping was lower. Total cost ended up about the same. But he also CLA the camera.