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Carl Zeiss Jena 50mm 1.8 Pancolar MC Review RSS Feed

Carl Zeiss Jena 50mm 1.8 Pancolar MC

Reviews Views Date of last review
13 164,865 Sun August 27, 2017
Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
100% of reviewers $92.00 9.36
Carl Zeiss Jena 50mm 1.8 Pancolar MC

Very good lens! It is very sharp in the center from 1.8 and unlike the pentax M lenses with softer edges to 4.0. But the great thing in this lens is the rendering, colors and contrast. From 2.8 it is almost perfect in everything. The bokeh is It's main plus, It is very smooth and rounded in the edges - perfect for portraits. It is very easy to focus with this lens because of the center sharpness. The mechanics are good, not as good as the M-series but not bad as in the Pentacons. The bad thing is that like the pentacons and almost every east German lens from this ages the lubricant is very bad and if it is not relubed the lens is probably stuck.

MC Pancolar 1.8/50 MC
The MC series is from around 1960
View angle on 35mm: 46
APS-C: 75mm
Optics: 6 elements in 5 groups
Apertures: 1.8 to 22
Blades: 6 curved
Min. focus dist.: 0.35m
Filter: 49mm
Dimensions: 58mm x60mm

Kuuans big standard (40-60mm) lens test.
Mount Type: M42 Screwmount
Price History:

Add Review of Carl Zeiss Jena 50mm 1.8 Pancolar MC
Sort Reviews by: Date | Author | Rating | Recommendation | Likes (Descending) Showing Reviews 1-13 of 13
New Member

Registered: August, 2017
Posts: 5
Lens Review Date: August 27, 2017 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $40.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Price/Performance
Cons: Build Quality
Sharpness: 7    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 8    Handling: 6    Value: 5    Camera Used: K3II   

Its not easy to rate this lens. In comparison to modern lenses its performance is o.k. but not outstanding. With view to the price, it is! I own the zebra version. Its the older one. As i tried it at 1.8 I thought it was damaged or something. It was awefull soft. Not only at the edges. Nearly not useable. The focusing ring runs badly. But thats not the point.
Then i stopped down to 3.2 and 4.0... ta da...absolutely sharp with nice colors and contrast. Even for long distance shots. For this price and its age its a great result. Maybe the newer versions of that lens performs better wide open. Anyway for 40,-$ its a clear recommendation.
New Member

Registered: March, 2016
Posts: 1
Lens Review Date: July 6, 2016 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $70.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharp, Contrast, Best Colour and bokeh, Handling
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    Camera Used: NEX-5   

My version of this lens is like a new. Photos is amazing, at 1.8 sharp is good, colour and bokeh is best.
Junior Member

Registered: January, 2016
Location: Warsaw
Posts: 32

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: January 5, 2016 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharpness, colors
Cons: Mechanic...
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    Camera Used: K-3   

I have a non-electric version. My copy is a lens which using a my grandpa, who are a photographer.

In my opinion this lenses have a typically a CZJ problem with oiled diaphragm, but cleaning is a easy.

Small problem with aberrations, but a sharpness and "Zeiss" colors rewards aberrations and other problems.

Edit. Now I have a second red MC electric like a new from box. This copy and problem with aberrations ? Good joke Now I can correct rate.
Junior Member

Registered: August, 2014
Posts: 43
Lens Review Date: November 7, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $109.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharp portrait
Cons: coma abberation in wide field astrophotography
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 10    Value: 10   

PTK52580.jpg by stanzhou2013, on Flickr

PTK52582.jpg by stanzhou2013, on Flickr
Veteran Member

Registered: July, 2014
Location: Paris
Posts: 1,931
Lens Review Date: November 2, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: N/A 

Pros: great all around lens
Cons: hard to find

nice lens, I tried once and hunting on ebay for this legendary lens
New Member

Registered: November, 2013
Posts: 9
Lens Review Date: September 2, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $45.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: stopped down at f4-5,6 very sharp
Cons: only wide open a few weak
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    Camera Used: spotmatic,k-x,k-5,k200,k1oo,ist ds,sfx etc.   

there are two types on the market, an older 6/4 and a newer 6/5 construction. the striped look has the better construction, but is wide open a few weak. the newer construction has higher contrast, but few CA's in the corners wide open.

Both are phantastic lenses, similar to Pentax 1,7/50 and 1,8/55. Pentax's SMC coating is still better for contrast rendition and not so weak wide open,naturally.

But for portrait or nature shooting this lens is very precious and useful.
New Member

Registered: October, 2012
Location: Pamulang, Tangerang
Posts: 1
Lens Review Date: June 1, 2013 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $150.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Excellent center performer at wide open, handling
Cons: Weak aperture detent, sluggish focus thread

My copy is red MC version, compare to white MC and older pancolar aus jena/zebra version, red & magenta color repro seem to be better at same color setting. Like other primes, center area is excellent even in wide open at normal portrait range, border are good enough, well CA controlled, full frame-able (tested on 5DII) and good IQ on it. And good close-up performer too. I just tested on K-5 IIs and found everything is nice, a must have if you're a collector/manual shooter. I don't recommend for daily use since it's aperture and focus thread are easily stuck/bit loosen, most CZJ need to lubricated. Other than, it's one of the best MF prime. Sample taken at f2.
New Member

Registered: March, 2013
Posts: 2
Lens Review Date: March 27, 2013 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $120.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Centre sharpness, Bokeh, Great for portraits
Cons: Not the smoothest focussing

Pure and simple - this lens really is a keeper.

Of the many lenses I've owned this is the "go to" for portraits. As others have said, it's centre sharpness is impeccable, and gives a lovely effect on portraits as the edges drop off. Once stopped down from f/4.0 onwards, the edges improve drastically.

Though the optics are multi coated (even on the old zebra version I own), a hood will improve contrast and reduce flare when shooting outdoors.

The only minus regarding this lens is the focussing; don't expect takumar-esque smoothness. The lubricant they used wasn't the greatest, but so long as it's not stored for long periods of time without use it will remain perfectly functional. Despite this, it's a very slight trade off for the amazing strengths it has

@ f/1.8


New Member

Registered: July, 2012
Location: Prague
Posts: 7
Lens Review Date: February 12, 2013 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: N/A 

Pros: Great, no, just fascinate quality of picture!
Cons: Just one... it is becoming dark in viewfinder, when you change apperture to f2,8, f4, f8... especially in bad light conditions. Beacause it's manual lens.

I'm fond of this lens and I don't have any words to describe my position It is really superior. I have two Zeiss Pancolar lenses, but I haven't been using enough the second yet.
To speak about technical parametres is big stuff! It's quite enough for all.
One my Pancolar has great easy focusing with big light viewfinder K-5, the second one do it harder. And it's very cheap. I've already had Pentax SMC A50/1.7, but ot had back or front focusing.

New Member

Registered: September, 2012
Location: Belo Horizonte
Posts: 17
Lens Review Date: October 19, 2012 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $100.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Very Sharp, Good contrast, Great colors, the name says everything is a zeiss
Cons: Nooooooo

one of the best lenses that already used, very sharp even open, optimal quality construction, very light, very good bokeh, an awesome piece of vidro.e still has a minimum focus of 35cm. I recommend below photo taken with her.
New Member

Registered: March, 2012
Posts: 22
Lens Review Date: July 26, 2012 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $109.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Rendition, Close-up ability, Bokeh, Sharpness
Cons: Non

Great lens, I'm really impressed!! Recently I got Electric version in excellent condition (one in the middle) M42 mount. I love the colours rendition, it has kind of Baroque quality. I had in my early days Nikkor ais 50mm f1.2 witch is an outstanding lens but I like this one more.
First time when I saw the photo's from this lens, I knew it, that's the one I want! If you can find a good copy of this lens go for it!
Highly recommended!! I'm using the lens on Pentax K5 with Katz Eye and Optibrite. I haven't noticed any distortion and there is a little bit green fringing.

At f1.8 not so sharp, f2.8 sharp and above it's razor sharp.

I rate it 9.5, if the build quality was same as the Pentax K lens, it would be a perfect lens.

Registered: April, 2011
Location: Lost in translation ...
Posts: 18,039
Lens Review Date: April 26, 2012 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: Sharp enough wide open, light, bokeh
Cons: Needs to be re-lubed, stop downs to get total sharpness


I just snapped up an "aus JENA" version of this lens and it resembles the lens on the far right of the three lenses pictured above. (see more photos below)

From what I have read on the net, the "aus Jena" was an export version of this lens, thus the different labeling from "Carl Zeiss Jena", etc.

I purchased it with a broken "Praktica LTL 3" body at my local thrift store for very, very little ... thus I am not going the enter a purchase price in the database.

Overall, I am quite happy with the tests that I have done so far and I await to test further ... and I will post samples later.

Salut et bon courage, John le Frog

Senior Member

Registered: January, 2011
Posts: 258

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: May 23, 2011 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $85.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Light, bokeh, sharp enough wide open
Cons: MF, build quality not like west Germany zeiss, soft in corners to 4.0

In short time it have become my favourite 50mm. I love it because of the bokeh and colors.


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