Carl Zeiss Contarex Biogon 21mm F/4.5

Ultra-wide angle prime lens • Pro • Film era • Discontinued

Production details

Announced:1958
Production type:Mass production
Production status: Discontinued
Original name:Carl Zeiss Biogon 1:4,5 f=21mm
System:Contarex (1958)

Features highlight

Extreme AoV
Non-retrofocus
Manual
8 blades
MF

Specification

Optical design
Focal length:21mm
Speed:F/4.5
Maximum format:35mm full frame
Mount and Flange focal distance:Contarex [46mm]
Diagonal angle of view:91.7°
Lens construction:8 elements - 5 groups
Non-retrofocus
Diaphragm mechanism
Diaphragm type:Manual
Aperture control:Aperture ring
Number of blades:8 (eight)
Focusing
Closest focusing distance:1m
Maximum magnification ratio:1:45 at the closest focusing distance
Focusing modes:Manual focus only
Manual focus control:Focusing ring
Physical characteristics
Weight:<No data>
Maximum diameter x Length:<No data>
Accessories
Filters:Bayonet-type 56mm
Lens hood:Bayonet-type 20.0710 (rectangular)
Teleconverters:Not available

*) Sources of data: Zeiss Ikon Contarex booklet (25 pages) ● Zeiss Ikon Contarex camera and accessories 35mm booklet (April 1960) ● Zeiss Ikon Contarex instructions for use ● Zeiss Ikon/Voigtlander. Photographer: from beginner to pro booklet.

**) Some basic information is missing in the specification as it was not provided by the manufacturer.

Compatibility

  • The lens was designed for use with 35mm film SLR cameras with the mirror locked in the up position.

Manufacturer description #1

The 21mm Biogon, first 90 degree wide-angle lens in the 35mm field, is a completely new design based on a unique formula. It offers excellent definition over the entire negative area at full aperture (f/4.5), is free of distortion and provides outstanding illumination near the edges, which is a major problem with any wide-angle design. The tremendous depth-of-field (3' 6'' to Infinity at f/4.5) makes it an excellent fixed-focus lens for instantaneous snapshots. It is also indispensable when photographing a large area at a comparatively short distance, for instance, charts, machines or testing equipment in small spaces. For the same reason photographers prefer the Biogon for architectural subjects and general indoor photography.

Manufacturer description #2

The super-wide-angle lens with the astounding angular field of 93 deg. The BIOGON is inserted into the CONTAREX after folding up the mirror and is used with a special viewfinder. Its great depth of field makes it possible to neglect distance measurement. Despite the enormous picture angle, the BIOGON excels in its extremely uniform illumination and sharp definition over the entire image field.

For the BIOGON f/4.5, 21 mm in conjunction with the lens hood, the screw-in filters S 49 should be used.

From the editor

This lens was first made for the Zeiss-Ikon Contax rangefinder cameras and it caused a big sensation when it was introduced at the Photokina 1954. Before this Biogon, it was considered that an extreme wide angle lens should have a maximum aperture of f/8 and a significant amount of distortion. Even by today's standards, the linearity of this lens is quite amazing.

Due to its symmetrical design with a rear element which almost touches the film, the mirror has to be moved up before mounting it and there is an external viewfinder which is fastened in the accessory shoe. Unlike most Contarex lenses, the Biogon has its own diaphragm setting ring.

The lens can only be used with the original Bullseye and the meterless Special. It would collide with the metering cell in later Contarex cameras.

Notes

  • The CONTAREX filters were supplied in a bayonet mount which made it possible to use the same B56 filters with all lenses from 21mm to 135mm. The front bayonet of the filters could be used to accommodate the lens hood, which was also provided with a bayonet mount.
  • Two lens hoods were available for the CONTAREX: the lens hood with the wide opening should be used for 21mm and 35mm lenses, the lens hood with the narrow opening was designed for the 50mm, 85mm and 135mm lenses.

Typical application

Class:

Slow full-frame ultra-wide angle prime lens • Professional model

Professional model

  • Combination of focal length and speed meets professional demands

Genres or subjects of photography (4):

Landscapes • Cityscapes • Buildings • Interiors

Recommended slowest shutter speed when shooting static subjects handheld:

1/25th of a second

Alternative in the Contarex system

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Copyright © 2012-2022 Evgenii Artemov. All rights reserved. Translation and/or reproduction of website materials in any form, including the Internet, is prohibited without the express written permission of the website owner.

35mm full frame

43.27 24 36
  • Dimensions: 36 × 24mm
  • Aspect ratio: 3:2
  • Diagonal: 43.27mm
  • Area: 864mm2

MF

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Image stabilizer

A technology used for reducing or even eliminating the effects of camera shake. Gyro sensors inside the lens detect camera shake and pass the data to a microcomputer. Then an image stabilization group of elements controlled by the microcomputer moves inside the lens and compensates camera shake in order to keep the image static on the imaging sensor or film.

The technology allows to increase the shutter speed by several stops and shoot handheld in such lighting conditions and at such focal lengths where without image stabilizer you have to use tripod, decrease the shutter speed and/or increase the ISO setting which can lead to blurry and noisy images.

Original name

Lens name as indicated on the lens barrel (usually on the front ring). With lenses from film era, may vary slightly from batch to batch.

Format

Format refers to the shape and size of film or image sensor.

35mm is the common name of the 36x24mm film format or image sensor format. It has an aspect ratio of 3:2, and a diagonal measurement of approximately 43mm. The name originates with the total width of the 135 film which was the primary medium of the format prior to the invention of the full frame digital SLR. Historically the 35mm format was sometimes called small format to distinguish it from the medium and large formats.

APS-C is an image sensor format approximately equivalent in size to the film negatives of 25.1x16.7mm with an aspect ratio of 3:2.

Medium format is a film format or image sensor format larger than 36x24mm (35mm) but smaller than 4x5in (large format).

Angle of view

Angle of view describes the angular extent of a given scene that is imaged by a camera. It is used interchangeably with the more general term field of view.

As the focal length changes, the angle of view also changes. The shorter the focal length (eg 18mm), the wider the angle of view. Conversely, the longer the focal length (eg 55mm), the smaller the angle of view.

A camera's angle of view depends not only on the lens, but also on the sensor. Imaging sensors are sometimes smaller than 35mm film frame, and this causes the lens to have a narrower angle of view than with 35mm film, by a certain factor for each sensor (called the crop factor).

This website does not use the angles of view provided by lens manufacturers, but calculates them automatically by the following formula: 114.6 * arctan (21.622 / CF * FL),

where:

CF – crop-factor of a sensor,
FL – focal length of a lens.

Mount

A lens mount is an interface — mechanical and often also electrical — between a camera body and a lens.

A lens mount may be a screw-threaded type, a bayonet-type, or a breech-lock type. Modern camera lens mounts are of the bayonet type, because the bayonet mechanism precisely aligns mechanical and electrical features between lens and body, unlike screw-threaded mounts.

Lens mounts of competing manufacturers (Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Sony etc.) are always incompatible. In addition to the mechanical and electrical interface variations, the flange focal distance can also be different.

The flange focal distance (FFD) is the distance from the mechanical rear end surface of the lens mount to the focal plane.

Lens construction

Lens construction – a specific arrangement of elements and groups that make up the optical design, including type and size of elements, type of used materials etc.

Element - an individual piece of glass which makes up one component of a photographic lens. Photographic lenses are nearly always built up of multiple such elements.

Group – a cemented together pieces of glass which form a single unit or an individual piece of glass. The advantage is that there is no glass-air surfaces between cemented together pieces of glass, which reduces reflections.

Focal length

The focal length is the factor that determines the size of the image reproduced on the focal plane, picture angle which covers the area of the subject to be photographed, depth of field, etc.

Speed

The largest opening or stop at which a lens can be used is referred to as the speed of the lens. The larger the maximum aperture is, the faster the lens is considered to be. Lenses that offer a large maximum aperture are commonly referred to as fast lenses, and lenses with smaller maximum aperture are regarded as slow.

In low-light situations, having a wider maximum aperture means that you can shoot at a faster shutter speed or work at a lower ISO, or both.

Non-retrofocus lens

The lens was designed for use with 35mm film SLR cameras with the mirror locked in the up position. The lens extended into the SLR's mirror box when mounted. Mirror lock-up must be activated prior to mounting the lens; otherwise its rearmost element would be in the way as the mirror flipped up and down during exposure. A separate optical viewfinder had to be mounted on the accessory shoe to confirm angle of view, because when the mirror is in the up and locked position, the subject is no longer visible through the viewfinder.

Closest focusing distance

The minimum distance from the focal plane (film or sensor) to the subject where the lens is still able to focus.

Closest working distance

The distance from the front edge of the lens to the subject at the maximum magnification.

Magnification ratio

Determines how large the subject will appear in the final image. For example, a magnification ratio of 1:1 means that the image of the subject formed on the film or sensor will be the same size as the subject in real life. For this reason, a 1:1 ratio is often called "life-size".

Manual diaphragm

The diaphragm must be stopped down manually by rotating the detent aperture ring.

Preset diaphragm

The lens has two rings, one is for pre-setting, while the other is for normal diaphragm adjustment. The first ring must be set at the desired aperture, the second ring then should be fully opened for focusing, and turned back for stop down to the pre-set value.

Semi-automatic diaphragm

The lens features spring mechanism in the diaphragm, triggered by the shutter release, which stops down the diaphragm to the pre-set value. The spring needs to be reset manually after each exposure to re-open diaphragm to its maximum value.

Automatic diaphragm

The camera automatically closes the diaphragm down during the shutter operation. On completion of the exposure, the diaphragm re-opens to its maximum value.

Fixed diaphragm

The aperture setting is fixed at F/4.5 on this lens, and cannot be adjusted.

Number of blades

As a general rule, the more blades that are used to create the aperture opening in the lens, the rounder the out-of-focus highlights will be.

Some lenses are designed with curved diaphragm blades, so the roundness of the aperture comes not from the number of blades, but from their shape. However, the fewer blades the diaphragm has, the more difficult it is to form a circle, regardless of rounded edges.

At maximum aperture, the opening will be circular regardless of the number of blades.

Weight

Excluding case or pouch, caps and other detachable accessories (lens hood, close-up adapter, tripod adapter etc.).

Maximum diameter x Length

Excluding case or pouch, caps and other detachable accessories (lens hood, close-up adapter, tripod adapter etc.).

For lenses with collapsible design, the length is indicated for the working (retracted) state.

Weather sealing

A rubber material which is inserted in between each externally exposed part (manual focus and zoom rings, buttons, switch panels etc.) to ensure it is properly sealed against dust and moisture.

Lenses that accept front mounted filters typically do not have gaskets behind the filter mount. It is recommended to use a filter for complete weather resistance when desired.

Fluorine coating

Helps keep lenses clean by reducing the possibility of dust and dirt adhering to the lens and by facilitating cleaning should the need arise. Applied to the outer surface of the front and/or rear lens elements over multi-coatings.

Filters

Lens filters are accessories that can protect lenses from dirt and damage, enhance colors, minimize glare and reflections, and add creative effects to images.

Lens hood

A lens hood or lens shade is a device used on the end of a lens to block the sun or other light source in order to prevent glare and lens flare. Flare occurs when stray light strikes the front element of a lens and then bounces around within the lens. This stray light often comes from very bright light sources, such as the sun, bright studio lights, or a bright white background.

The geometry of the lens hood can vary from a plain cylindrical or conical section to a more complex shape, sometimes called a petal, tulip, or flower hood. This allows the lens hood to block stray light with the higher portions of the lens hood, while allowing more light into the corners of the image through the lowered portions of the hood.

Lens hoods are more prominent in long focus lenses because they have a smaller viewing angle than that of wide-angle lenses. For wide angle lenses, the length of the hood cannot be as long as those for telephoto lenses, as a longer hood would enter the wider field of view of the lens.

Lens hoods are often designed to fit onto the matching lens facing either forward, for normal use, or backwards, so that the hood may be stored with the lens without occupying much additional space. In addition, lens hoods can offer some degree of physical protection for the lens due to the hood extending farther than the lens itself.

Teleconverters

Teleconverters increase the effective focal length of lenses. They also usually maintain the closest focusing distance of lenses, thus increasing the magnification significantly. A lens combined with a teleconverter is normally smaller, lighter and cheaper than a "direct" telephoto lens of the same focal length and speed.

Teleconverters are a convenient way of enhancing telephoto capability, but it comes at a cost − reduced maximum aperture. Also, since teleconverters magnify every detail in the image, they logically also magnify residual aberrations of the lens.

Lens caps

Scratched lens surfaces can spoil the definition and contrast of even the finest lenses. Lens covers are the best and most inexpensive protection available against dust, moisture and abrasion. Safeguard lens elements - both front and rear - whenever the lens is not in use.