Pentacon Carl Zeiss Jena lenses: the Sonnar 2.8/180

Carl Zeiss Jena Sonnar 180/2.8
Carl Zeiss Sonnar: a class apart

Using lenses on a big Pentacon SIX medium format means the lenses come huge as well. The most legendary lens is the Sonnar 2.8/180mm, based upon it’s original design for the 1936 Olympics. Over the years, the lens got updated many times and finally got scaled up to the 6×6 medium format coverage. The lens is crisp sharp from wide open and easily covers up to 6×9 and that is noticeable as you hold a lot of glass in your hands. 1350 grams is the total weight. A body builder.

Carl Zeiss Jena Sonnar 180/2.8
The Sonnar weights 1.350 gram and has a full metal jacket. In pentacon and m42 mount.

180 mm for medium format means a 100 mm focal range and it is performs outstanding for use with portraits. This ‘zebra’ version dates back to the late sixties and has no coating at all. It allows for charming light effects and it produces one of the best known bokeh’s of all lenses. Due to it’s very fast aperture of 2.8 it delivers very good results in sharpness and contrast, even under less favourable light conditions.

Carl Zeiss Jena Sonnar 180/2.8
The Bokeh monster, considered the best Pentacon SIX lens ever made.

The Sonnar is built as a rock, but it’s rings operate smoothly. Long focus throw and it has due to the weight it’s own tripod connection attached to an adjustable ring. it works with a pre-set aperture mode on the Pentacon SIX, meaning the camera will use the preset upon shutter release. It comes with a metal hood (86 mm filter threat). My version has 7 aperture blades but older versions even come with 18. Smallest aperture by the way is 32!

Carl Zeiss Jena Sonnar 180/2.8
The Carl Zeiss Jena Sonnar has a long range of apertures, 2.8-32.

You can use the Sonnar on any digital DSLR with the special P6 adapters for Sony, Canon, Micro four thirds and so on. I really like to use the lens on both analog as digital camera’s. It is not an easy lens to carry around, but it performs superb. The colors render beautiful and the bokeh is creamy. But above all it is sharp, sharp. On ebay you find the lens for Pentacon SIX (but becoming rare) and M42 mounts. Prices vary according to the model. Zach Horton names this lens on his site ‘World Class’ and has a really good review available.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *