Leica Sonnars old and new

BrianS

Super Moderator
Apr 3, 2013
124
Quality on the Sonnars tends to be more consistent than the J-3's. Some of the later J-3's- I parted out to use the front element to repair older lenses. My 1950 J-3 is the best I've ever seen, but it has all Zeiss made glass in it. The 1956 KMZ J-3 is very, very good- "within a hair". 1956 and 1957 ZOMZ- did not hit their stride, a lot of variation. From 1959, they hit their stride.
 

Mr_Flibble

Veteran
Aug 16, 2013
69
The Lowlands
Rick
Hmm, mine's a 1957 J-3. The only thing I've done to it is re-grease the focus helical with a little help from you a couple of years ago. I couldn't get the elements apart for cleaning. it's got some drying marks on the inside that causes a spot of glow in the center of the image in strong light.
 

BrianS

Super Moderator
Apr 3, 2013
124
The rear should come out easily, and the front ring comes out with a spanner. On the 1957 lenses, and 1956- I've seen fixtures out of spec. I've transplanted optics on the worst.
 

Paxnobiscum

Regular
Oct 10, 2013
8
Kopasker, Iceland
Petur Thorsteinsson
This informal portrait is from my first testing of a J-3, 1957, that I grabbed from a Zorki 6. I didn't expect it to work at all on my M8, but was pleasantly surprised when I checked the files. It hasn't been CLA'd or collimated, but would, without doubt, get better by a proper overhaul. I have since got some more J-3s, and the best one is a 1952 KMZ copy.


5427-M8-Jupiter-3-Big-smile by Count Basil, on Flickr
 

BrianS

Super Moderator
Apr 3, 2013
124
That 1957 looks good! I've handled at least 6 from that year, the year of my birth... Two were quite good, one focus mount was so shallow that a different optics module could not be screwed into it for proper focus- I had to remove the variable stand-off ring to make it work. So, more deviation until all the technicians and machinist got the knack of it is my speculation. Same with a 1956 ZOMZ- the optics needed some re-arranging.
 

asiafish

All-Pro
Aug 9, 2013
123
Bakersfield, CA
Andrew
It would appear that my C Sonnar was optimized for f/2.8 (apparently before Zeiss switched to f/1.5 optimization) while my J3 is (by request) optimized for f/1.5, where it is spot on.

With the Jupiter I see the point of focus moving steadily back as I stop down, still super close at f/2, but way off at f/2.8. Depth of field doesn't adequately compensate until f/5.6.

The C Sonnar is perfect at f/2.8, but front focuses badly wide-open. I can see why Zeiss chose the f/2.8 optimization, however, as from f/2.8 on down the lens is beautifully sharp at the point of focus, and only requires the "lean forward" trick at f/1.5 and f/2.

I've got the C Sonnar up for sale, but if I do decide to keep it I will probably send it out to be optimized, as what is the point of a Sonnar if not to shoot it wide-open?
 

BrianS

Super Moderator
Apr 3, 2013
124
I bought mine from Popflash, new. They had all of their C-Sonnars optimized for F1.5 for film. There is a slight difference- BUT I know your M Monochrom and Mine agree exactly on focus, and my C-Sonnar is perfect on my M Monochrom at F1.5.
 

asiafish

All-Pro
Aug 9, 2013
123
Bakersfield, CA
Andrew
I bought mine from Popflash, new. They had all of their C-Sonnars optimized for F1.5 for film. There is a slight difference- BUT I know your M Monochrom and Mine agree exactly on focus, and my C-Sonnar is perfect on my M Monochrom at F1.5.
Not willing to deal with the hassle of sending to Germany and back. If I keep it, can you optimize? Your work is amazing and if course, you know my camera.
 

BrianS

Super Moderator
Apr 3, 2013
124
Not willing to deal with the hassle of sending to Germany and back. If I keep it, can you optimize? Your work is amazing and if course, you know my camera.

I bought 5 Jupiter-3's to learn on, did it because there was no way the Russian optics could be as bad as people claimed. Took some trial and error to get them right.

With the C-Sonnar, Zeiss will adjust the Cam of the lens- non-trivial for a DIY fix. The "DIY" fix that is on the web is to move the rear optic. If it front-focuses as my Summarit 5cm F1.5 did the rear needs to be moved farther from the front.
 

asiafish

All-Pro
Aug 9, 2013
123
Bakersfield, CA
Andrew
Just sold the C Sonnar and decided to stick to the Jupiter 3 as my bokeh machine and the Summicron for general use. Almost doubled my money (I got it crazy cheap), so it was worth the experiment. IQ was close enough that its just more fun shooting with vintage glass and the lower contrast really works on the Monochrom.
 

asiafish

All-Pro
Aug 9, 2013
123
Bakersfield, CA
Andrew
Just got a gorgeous 1937 uncoated Carl Zeiss Jena Sonnar in the mail today (Thanks again Brian). Here it is next my other Brian Sweeney Special, the 1963 Zomz Jupiter 3.

Both images are (obviously) take at the same subject, the ever photogenic meter behind my office. I also tried to get the timing as close as possible, but seasonal differences affect the lighting. Finally, both on the same point of focus, same minimal post-processing (boost black point, mild vignette, some structure boost) and of course were captured with the same Leica M Monochrom at ISO 320.

Here is the Jupiter 3 first.

View attachment 6080
L9999880-Edit.jpg by Lawman1967, on Flickr


And now the Carl Zeiss Jena


L1001025-Edit.jpg by Lawman1967, on Flickr
 

Mr_Flibble

Veteran
Aug 16, 2013
69
The Lowlands
Rick
Just finished scanning some images taken with my freshly cleaned Contax mount 50 f/1.5 Sonnar last week. Not sure if you guys allow non-LTM versions here though ;)


Ruins of New Fort St.Andries, with some Agfa Superpan 200 film

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f/1.5 at 1/2 second.
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BrianS

Super Moderator
Apr 3, 2013
124
Just finished scaning some images taken with my freshly cleaned Contax mount 50 f/1.5 Sonnar last week....not sure if you guys allow non-LTM versions here though ;)


Ruins of New Fort St.Andries, with some Agfa Superpan 200 film
I'm thinking a new rule that all members must post images taken with all of their Sonnar lenses in every mount that they own is a good idea.
 

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