Carl Zeiss Contarex Planar 50mm F/2

Standard prime lens • Film era • Discontinued

Model history (2)

Carl Zeiss Contarex Planar 50mm F/2A6 - 40.3mB56 1957 
Carl Zeiss Contarex Blitz Planar 50mm F/2A6 - 40.38mB56 1965 

Features highlight

Fast
MF
CFD 0.3m
Auto
9 blades

Specification

Production details
Announced:1957
Production status: Discontinued
Original name:Carl Zeiss Planar 1:2 f=50mm
System:Contarex (1958)
Optical design
Focal length:50mm
Speed:F/2
Maximum format:35mm full frame
Mount and Flange focal distance:Contarex [46mm]
Diagonal angle of view:46.8°
Lens construction:6 elements - 4 groups
Focusing
Closest focusing distance:0.3m
Maximum magnification ratio:<No data>
Focusing modes:Manual focus only
Manual focus control:Focusing ring
Diaphragm mechanism
Diaphragm type:Automatic
Aperture control:None; the aperture is controlled from the camera
Number of blades:9 (nine)
Physical characteristics
Weight:<No data>
Maximum diameter x Length:<No data>
Accessories
Filters:Bayonet-type 56mm
Lens hood:Bayonet-type 20.0712 (rectangular)
Teleconverters:Not available

*) Sources of data: Zeiss Ikon Contarex booklet (PUB. 3421) ● Zeiss Ikon Contarex camera and accessories 35mm booklet (April 1960) ● Zeiss Ikon Contarex instructions for use.

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

Manufacturer description #1

The Contarex is equipped with some of the finest lenses as far as workmanship, material and performance are concerned and the fact that they are genuine Carl Zeiss lenses is your guarantee of complete satisfaction. The factory cuts and grinds these lenses from carefully selected glasses which are products of constant research in the optical field. All air-to-glass surfaces are hard coated (anti-reflection coating) for increased light transmission and greater image contrast. The lenses are carefully matched for color rendition. Precision mounts ensure perfect fitting; distance scales are calibrated in feet.

The built-in fully automatic pre-set diaphragm of 35 to 135mm lenses couples automatically to the exposure controls of the camera as soon as such a lens is fitted to the Contarex. The necessary connecting parts cannot interfere with the operation of the camera because they are placed inside the lens mount. The 21mm Biogon and 250mm Sonnar feature conventional, hand operated diaphragms without interlock; the 250mm Sonnar can be pre-set manually.

The Planar lens is based on a Carl Zeiss formula which dates back as far as the beginning of the century, and since that time it has undergone innumerable optical and mechanical improvements. Consequently the current f/2, 50mm Planar lens for the Contarex represents the ultimate in modern lens design.

Among other outstanding characteristics, the lens produces an exceptionally flat image with uniform and needle-sharp resolution over the entire field. The excellent correction of spherical and chromatic aberration and its proper rendering of contrasts, makes it a truly ideal standard lens for color and black-and-white photography. It focuses as close as 12" in its standard Contarex mount.

Manufacturer description #2

The standard lens (angular field of 44 deg.) of excellent optical properties and superb colour correction. This lens is most suitable for general use as well as for closeups, close-up magnifications and copying. The PLANAR can be focused down to 12 ins. (measured from the focal plane). When photographing very close subjects, the additional exposure necessary is provided automatically by the appropriately wider opening of the diaphragm, so that the automatic exposure control is effective down to 12 ins. without extra correction.

From the editor

Following over half a century of Planars on medium format cameras, this is the first 50mm Planar lens made for a 35mm camera.

The Zeiss Contarex lenses, manufactured for the Contarex line of cameras from 1958 to 1973, attained superstar status. These lenses are indeed a landmark in optical design: they had the best mechanical mounts ever seen on a 35mm camera, the lenses were quite big and the color balance was adjusted such that all lenses would give the same color rendition, a first in its day.

The size of the lens is one of the most important parameters for the optical quality. The Contarex lenses are proof of this statement. Every lens was optimized in performance without regard for the physical size and the designer allowed the lens to grow to its natural proportions. The result was a lens line of impressive performance for that time.

Most lenses focused more closely than the competition and Zeiss put an enormous effort in the optical performance giving the most attention to flatness of field and the reduction of astigmatism. This can be seen most clearly in the case of the Planar 50mm lens.

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:

Fast full-frame standard prime lens

Genres or subjects of photography (5):

Landscapes • Cityscapes • Buildings • Interiors • Portraits

Recommended slowest shutter speed when shooting static subjects handheld:

1/50th of a second

Alternatives in the Contarex system

///// Sorted by focal length and speed, in ascending order /////

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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.

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/2 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.