Leica What is the provenance of this "Sonnar" (Leica-Sonnar 58mm)

Woodallp

Rookie
Apr 2, 2019
4
Hi,
I'm sure this is one for Brian; I'm just wondering what the provenance of this clearly fake lens on EBAY at the moment (401817586358); the Leica - Sonnar 5.8cm f1.5.

I found a few threads in other forums but non seemed conclusive. Does anyone recognise the bits?

Phil
 

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TraamisVOS

Hall of Famer
Nov 29, 2010
124
Melbourne, Australia
For us less tech inclined folks... what makes it obvious as a fake?🤔
I'm far from being an expert on this. But my layman's perspective tells me that "sonnar" is a Zeiss term, not Leica. Also the zone-focusing numbers and the graphics(?) on the lens looks ... 'fake'. I don't know why it looks fake, but to me it does. Also, the metal chrome doesn't look genuine too. Again, I don't know why it doesn't look genuine to my layman's eyes but it does.
 

BrianS

Super Moderator
Apr 3, 2013
124
There are a lot of stories behind the 5.8cm F1.5 Sonnar- including they were manufactured for use in gunsights and left over optics were converted to Leica mount after the war.

My take- lots of spare parts from Zeiss were taken back to the USSR as war reparations, and lots stayed with Zeiss. The factories were in shambles in both countries. In Russia, many lenses were assembled as production of the Jupiter series ramped up. In Germany, many one-offs and hacked together lenses were made and sold to occupying forces. I've seen several Sonnars "hacked" together from whatever was available. Not fakes, as to "fake something" there has to be a regular production of the lens. "Hacked Together" while the factory was in shambles, using whatever parts and tools available- that's my explanation. My "Hacked Together" Sonnar was sent to me for repair. The middle triplet was unfinished- meaning half the front surface was not properly polished. I replaced it, performed beautifully. The Mount: ROUGH, UNEVEN- lots of filing. Was it a fake? Not in my book, more a one-off assembled out of unfinished parts by Zeiss factory worker trying to survive. I traded one of my converted pre-war Sonnars for the lens, as it interested me and I needed lots of time to make it work.
 

Kevin

Code Monkey 🐒
Nov 3, 2018
104
Pennsylvania, USA
Here's a direct link to the eBay listing for those curious...


The sellers location of the Czech Republic potentially adds to the theory of these lenses coming out of the shambles of post WWII USSR.
 

Woodallp

Rookie
Apr 2, 2019
4
For us less tech inclined folks... what makes it obvious as a fake?🤔
Sorry to come back late on my own question. I used "Fake" in the sense that the "branding" itself is not consistent with a known "legitimate" product in that:

i) Use of Leica and Sonnar together, when Sonnar is a Zeiss product (though it should be said that Leica have worked with other lens manufacturers)
ii) Use of the name Leica, when older "Leica" lenses were marked Leitz (I can't remember when lenses started being branded Leica but it is quite late)
iii) The unusual 58mm focal length which isn't the norm for an f1.5 Sonnar

As Brian has said before, some of his wonderful creations will likely cause confusion with collectors in the future.

In searching around I have seen this same lens without the "Leica" branding but with a close serial number.

I suppose at the end of the day, all lenses are "real" as long as they pass light, but the story of the branding on this one may be lost in time. Though the existance of multiple stories around the 58mm length sounds intriguing.

Thanks for your thoughts.
 

BrianS

Super Moderator
Apr 3, 2013
124
Many of these lenses seemed to be "one- offs", irregular production. With that in mind, marking a Sonnar lens "Leica Sonnar" could have meant it was for a Leica. Amedeo adapters are marked "Contax-Leica" and "Nikon-Leica". The markings on the lens- "Leica Sonnar" might be that the indexed cam is set for Leica, rather than the Russian standard.
 

Woodallp

Rookie
Apr 2, 2019
4
Good point, thanks Brian. It's so much easier to assume that such markings are made to decieve rather than to inform. when in fact this lens is probably just stating what it is.
 

BrianS

Super Moderator
Apr 3, 2013
124
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Five "One-Offs" that I worked on over 10 years ago, including the one on the left that was marked "5cm" but was actually closer to a 58mm lens.

The second from the right: did not have a distance scale engraved in the focus ring. None of them worked properly, some were glued into place. All- usable after improvising some fix, including polishing down the RF cam on the one glued into place.

One of them had the proper SN stamped into the interior of the focus mount.

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Woodallp

Rookie
Apr 2, 2019
4

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