MC Sonnar 3,5 / 135 Carl Zeiss Jena DDR review

Many thanks to Alexander for the opportunity to review the MC Sonnar 3,5 / 135 Carl Zeiss Jena DDR lens. As an advertisement - this lens can be found on the contacts from the manual optics section.

MC Sonnar 3,5 / 135 Carl Zeiss Jena DDR review

MC Sonnar 3,5 / 135 Carl Zeiss Jena DDR review

TTX MC Sonnar 3,5 / 135 Carl Zeiss Jena DDR
Focal length: 135mm
Diaphragm: F / 3.5-f / 22
Number of aperture blades: 6 pieces
The weight: 430g
Front Filter Diameter: 49mm
MDF: 1m
Thread: M42

There are many lens modifications.

  1. CZ Sonnar T * 2,8 / 135 Contax / Yashica - the optical scheme is slightly different, the so-called Ernostar
  2. Sonnar 3,5 / 135 Carl Zeiss Jena DDR - older version, does not have MC, frame is made in zebra style.
  3. Carl Zeiss Jena Sonnar 4/135 - white case frame
  4. MC Sonnar 3,5 / 135 Carl Zeiss Jena DDR - version with MC, with built-in hood. This particular lens is presented in this review.
MC Sonnar 3,5 / 135 Carl Zeiss Jena DDR Lens Front View

View of the MC Sonnar 3,5 / 135 Carl Zeiss Jena DDR lens, front view with the hood down.

The lens uses the pre-war optical design Sonnar ('Sonnar' means 'Sunny' in German). The optical design is famous for its simplicity of execution, in this case, only 4 lenses in 3 groups, and excellent quality of the formed image. There are many modifications based on the Sonnar circuit that are used not only in Carl Zeiss lenses. Soviet lenses Jupiter brands also have a Carl Zeiss Sonnar scheme. For example, an almost complete copy of this MC Sonnar 3,5 / 135 Carl Zeiss Jena DDR is MS Jupiter-37A 135mm F3.5

Jupiter-37A CZJ Sonnar

Jupiter-37A (not MS version) with a hood, a KP-A \ N shank and a light filter and MS CZJ DDR Sonnar 135 / 3,5

The MC Sonnar 3,5 / 135 Carl Zeiss Jena DDR lens has a very nice focus. The focusing ring is metal, rotates almost 360 degrees, the minimum focusing distance is quite pleasant, and is only 1 meter. Focusing on the lens is very pleasant; when focusing, the trunk of the lens lengthens by approximately 3 cm, while the front lens does not rotate.

MC Sonnar 3,5 / 135 Carl Zeiss Jena DDR rear view

MC Sonnar 3,5 / 135 Carl Zeiss Jena DDR rear view. Visible M42 thread and diaphragm pusher

The lens has a red-white coloration of the depth of field indicators, aperture, and focus distance. GRIP indicated for F / 8, 16, 22. The aperture ring has only fixed values, on the lens you can find the 'M / A' aperture control switch. Aperture 'M' mode makes it easy to use the MC Sonnar 3,5 / 135 Carl Zeiss Jena DDR on modern digital cameras.

MC Sonnar 3,5 / 135 Carl Zeiss Jena DDR view on a modern camera

MC Sonnar 3,5 / 135 Carl Zeiss Jena DDR view on a modern camera

The assembly at the lens is excellent. This MC Sonnar 3,5 / 135 Carl Zeiss Jena DDR was manufactured a long time ago, but still works fine, and this is not only the merit of the Carl Zeiss Jena DDR inscription on the body, but the implementation of the simple and reliable mechanical part of the lens. This MC Sonnar 3,5 / 135 Carl Zeiss Jena DDR has integrated telescopic hood, which helps to avoid hares and a drop in contrast with strong sources of backlight.

Sample photo on MC Sonnar 135 3.5

Sample photo on MC Sonnar 135 3.5

Image quality

The lens is sharp at all aperture values, especially in the center. Aberrations are well corrected, good contrast and color reproduction. The lens normally tolerates backlight. The bokeh of the lens is quite good, the lack of distortion and the large focal length make this MC Sonnar 3,5 / 135 Carl Zeiss Jena DDR an excellent portrait lens. In general, image quality is on top.

Sample photo on MC Sonnar 3,5 / 135 Carl Zeiss Jena DDR

Sample photo on MC Sonnar 3,5 / 135 Carl Zeiss Jena DDR

Sample photos on MC Sonnar 3,5 / 135 Carl Zeiss Jena DDR

All sample photos in this review were made on Nikon D80 with adapter M42-Nikon without lens. Photos without processing, only reduced to 3MP and imprinted data from EXIF. On a cropped Nikon DX camera EGF lens becomes 202,5mm (135*1.5).

How to use on modern cameras

The Sonnar 3,5 / 135 Carl Zeiss Jena DDR has a very popular M42 lens mount thread. Almost all mounts have their own adapters. For example, for Nikon I used the M42-Nikon adapter, for more details on how to use old manual lenses with M42 thread on Nikon cameras, see Soviet lenses. For Canon owners there will be a useful article about old lenses at canon.

Sample photo on MC Sonnar 3,5 / 135 Carl Zeiss Jena DDR

Sample photo on MC Sonnar 3,5 / 135 Carl Zeiss Jena DDR

Personal experience

I really love Sonnaras, their bokeh, sharpness and contrast make for great shots. However, instead of this MC Sonnar 3,5 / 135 Carl Zeiss Jena DDR I use its analogue - the Olympic Jupiter-37A is not the MC version. If you choose a lens like this, then both Jupiter and Sonnar will be very good lenses. MC Sonnar 3,5 / 135 Carl Zeiss Jena DDR gives slightly better contrast than my Jupiter-37A due to the presence of Multi-Enlightenment.

Sample photo on MC Sonnar 3,5 / 135 Carl Zeiss Jena DDR

Sample photo on MC Sonnar 3,5 / 135 Carl Zeiss Jena DDR

Catalog of modern Carl Zeiss lenses can look at this link.

Comments on this post do not require registration. Anyone can leave a comment.


The MC Sonnar 3,5 / 135 Carl Zeiss Jena DDR is an excellent short tele prime lens with the legendary Sonnar optical design. The lens provides excellent image quality, in particular, a pleasant background blur, which makes it a good portrait lens.

Material prepared Arkady Shapoval. Please, if this material was useful to you, help my project. And don't forget that everyone can write your review for one or another photographic equipment.

Add a comment: R'RёS,R ° F "RёR№



Comments: 77, on the topic: MC Sonnar 3,5 / 135 review Carl Zeiss Jena DDR

  • anonym

    "Zonnar", if you pronounce it correctly in German. I used to shoot them before it was stolen. Dream lens, song! Such a lively, voluminous drawing! And although “Jupiter-37” was copied from Zeiss, “Zonnar” is noticeably more contrasting, and more anti-halo, and plastically more artistic. The only weak point in it is a few parts inside the diaphragm drive. Depending on the year of the bulge, instead of metal, inferior plastic. However, the Soviet artisans managed (as in my case) to replace a broken plastic part with a brass piece made entirely by hand.

    • anonym

      Good afternoon, my name is Irina. Recently acquired a Carl Zeiss Sonnar 13,5 cm 1: 4 lens. Everywhere I read that he had an M42 thread, but having acquired an adapter for Canon EOS I realized that the adapter is too big for the lens, so to speak. Do not tell me which adapter to use, I can send a photo of the lens and its thread. I will be very grateful if you help me figure it out, here is my mail

    • Siggi

      "Zonnar", if correctly pronounced in German.


      "Zeiss", if correctly pronounced in German.

  • R'RёS,R ° F "RёR№

    Please tell me, how will he feel on the Nikon D7000? How will you focus (manually or with a "screwdriver")? Do you need an adapter? And, in general, as a portrait lens on the D7000, will it be good?

    • Andrei

      An adapter is needed, the D7000 won't have infinity. A screwdriver won't help, it's purely manual. On my 500D with dandelion it confirms focus (but twirling my arms). On the D7000, the EF will be 202 mm, which is a bit too much in my opinion, and a lot of space for shooting indoors will be required :)

  • Oksana

    Could you please tell me this lens with a "jump rope"? If so, how will he feel with the M-42 to Nikon adapter? And how will an adapter be used for this "jump rope"? If the glass is without such a "jump rope", then the question is removed. And second: does he need the same adapter as on “Jupiter 37A” - KP-A / N? Or can you get by with a simple M-42 with a lens?

  • Alexander

    Thanks for the review. Informative. Recently acquired a subject and checked. What can I say, I just did not expect such a picture:) The color rendering is at a height, good contrast, sharpness and better (Zenitar 50/2, for example), it’s hard to focus exactly, in a word: a very correct device for straightening hands. Installed on Sony SLT37.

  • Alexander

    Yes, even my copy does not have such a mechanism for controlling the aperture - in the place where the M / A mode switch on my subject is the lever, which, when pressed, closes the diaphragm to the value set by the ring, then the spring returns it to its place. The convenience is incredible. Focus on fully open, at the moment of taking a picture - cover with one movement of your finger :)

  • Slam

    Tell me except Soviet Jupiter, none of the foreign brands (except Zeiss, of course) in their 135 / 2.8 did not use the Sonnar scheme?

  • Vladimir

    Arkady, please tell me, what will be sharper, MC Sonnar 3,5 / 135 Carl Zeiss Jena DDR or our Jupiter 37? I still can’t decide on a purchase, thank you for earlier.

  • a guest

    Completely different lenses. Just in tune with 3,5 / 135. CZ- sharper and softer bokeh, peculiar. Jupiter is less sharp, but hard bokeh with a character resembling brush strokes, male portraiture, definitely. Who likes that. I have both that and that, and each in its own way, only I am not Arkady, sorry for my personal opinion.

  • Alexey

    Maybe someone needs one? The condition is excellent! I will send by mail in Russia. Write

  • French

  • Kostya

    Tell me, how is the situation with backlighting?

  • Gennady

    I will sell the same. Can be shipped by mail

    • R'RёS,R ° F "RёR№

      I will buy your lens. In what condition is it? How much do you sell?

  • Sergei

    There is Jupiter-37A and CARL ZEISS JENA DDR Sonnar 135 mm f / 3.5. The price in both is almost the same. Please advise what to buy for canon 60D?

    • Mr.G

      For Canon, Zeiss is definitely! - excellent glass, especially at full frame, the picture is excellent, the bokeh is very beautiful.

      • Balamut

        But somehow I was not inspired, it’s some kind of soap. it will be necessary to test on the new carcass 70D.
        but Flektogon is very good ...

        Grandfather brought from Germany, he served in the GSVG from the 60s.

  • Sergei

    It can be transferred to Nikon (Sonnar135 / 3,5MC) without any special problems (like Sonnar 200 / 2,8MC) - no need to sharpen / saw / chicken! You will have to disassemble it from the rear (do not touch the lens unit!) And, having removed the guides, untwist and lead the multi-lead thread of the helicoid / focuser into the next turn. I don’t remember for sure now clockwise or counterclockwise, in my opinion "PO" to turn to a new thread. Reassemble carefully - note that if previously the rear hood (with annular cone notches) did not extend beyond the thread of the shank approx. 1,5mm (by eye!) - now it protrudes about the same amount from there. We wind up the Chinese thin adapter and ya-la! Infinity appears, because The lens unit moves closer to the film / matrix! On the chrome adapter, I had a barely noticeable infinity shortfall - approx. up to 100m. If you carefully cut with a flat file the intermediate ring-protrusion on the shank - a belt 0,3-0,5 mm thick and about 4 mm wide (by eye!) Between the M42 thread and the main plane, then on the chrome-plated one completely focusing to infinity appears.

    • Peter

      I would advise only “experienced stuntmen” to perform such an operation. I tried to do so. He unscrewed the helicoid, and then spent a long time figuring out which loop to turn it into. While I picked it up, all the grease remained on my hands. I had to clean and relubricate. Lubricated with silicone grease PMS-200, put it in excess. I still had to deal with excess lubricant. In the end, the victory remained with me, but it took three evenings. Then I wondered why all this was needed, if infinity is not so necessary for a portrait lens? Before this procedure, he was already focusing somewhere up to 30 meters ...
      The second time I would not have done all this, but I screwed the adapter, installed it on the camera and was happy!

    • Amateur photographer_

      Nothing at all! To enter in about, Act and kill all the factories. Well і підхід!

      • Peter

        The entire lens block moves there, so in principle, nothing can go astray (except for the focus scale). If you have enough patience and not lose the details, then everything will work out. Of course, it is better to entrust this work to professionals, but where can you find them for the right price.
        The lens has been very pleasing for half a year. Jupiter-37, which was used before, will go “into people”.

  • pavlin


  • Novel

    I can offer this in perfect condition. With a tube, both covers and documents. Bought to play around. I have Nikon, in order to get infinity it was necessary to “saw”, it became a pity to disfigure such a rarity. There is an adapter ring M42 without a lens, at which the focusing distance will be somewhere around 10 meters. For kenon, there will immediately be infinity. An adapter for kenon or nikon as a gift.) Write to the mail I'm from kiev.

  • Jirka

    Good afternoon! Tell me, please, how he will feel with Sony NEX5, a transition for Sony M42? What actions should be done? Thanks in advance!

  • Paul

    Well, they tested the portrait, but they didn’t remove the portrait!

    • amateur photographer_

      And the portrait will not fit in with Sonnar 135 / 3.5 - that is what the M42 is. I can only fit the Nikon iogo through the adapter 42 / H. So on, the active can focus on the height not more than 1 meter. That is why the value of such about, ktiviv (M42), for the most part, is not obvious. In addition, the GDR's optics for the sake of its quality is not rushing through the radians. Crumbs to chew and filthy trimє controve light.

      • American Dad

        amateur photographer_, why write nonsense? Or did the light converge on Nikon like a wedge? The quality is high in comparison with the Soviet ones, I have Electric with MC, one of the last. The quality of the pictures is excellent - sharp, but without jingling sharpness, the bokeh is very decent and nothing yellows - the color reproduction is natural.

        • R'RёS,R ° F "RёR№

          Tell me, how does your “electrician” version differ from the version described in this article? Thanks for attention!

          • American Dad

            The presence of contacts that transmit information about the installed aperture, inside is a conventional potentiometer.

  • Amateur photographer_

    American Dad - “Nonsense, why write?”? For the optical parameters of the GDRіvska optics are not far from sovetskoy. Those who see ONE good NDRіvsky about, active - do not mean, but everything that was released in the NDR since 1945 is a supertechnique. Compare the performance of light transmission, aberration and distortion of the Japanese and German optics of the 1960s ... 1980s rocky, then I will sell with you.

    • American Dad

      But what to talk about with you, if you have nothing except Nikon - since you can't shoot with Nikon, everything is the end of the world and the optics are useless.
      Yes, and there are enough good GDR lenses, the same Japanese did not always make excellent optics, there were frank failures.

  • Amateur photographer_

    НДРівська optics of the Boole is insured for the non-sensitive one. Tom Pislya 1991 Roku Won Wonderful Scenes.

  • anonym

    take it you will not regret it. but the crop is 200mm. it’s far away to retreat, but the colors and sharpness will justify everything.

  • Vladimir

    Good afternoon, Arkady, it is possible to buy this lens or its other version, 135 f2,8 which is enlightened t *, both lenses were in your review, please tell me, is it worth overpaying for 2,8 or buying a 3,5 version? the difference is 5 thousand, but at 2,8 the mount has already been redone for Nikon, here I am sitting tormented.
    It is also possible to take Nikon 105 2,5 aisversion. For the price of 135, 3,5. It is interesting to know an opinion on the quality of the picture, I liked all three lenses, but I can’t understand if the overpayment of this money is worth, in your opinion, thanks in advance!

    • B. R. P.

      With enlightenment, T * is the “same” Zeiss that Karl. Questions are unnecessary here.

  • Misha

    and how much does this model cost?

  • kc

    Will there be infinity on nikon5200?

    • Ivanov

      Are you too lazy to scroll just a few posts up?

  • Sergei

    I’ve been using this lens for a little over a year now. Originally bought to try it. It was a little uncomfortable due to lack of auto focus. But when I learned to use it and focus manually, all these inconveniences went by the wayside. He is surprisingly sharp. Just super sharp. It gives an amazing palette depending on different types of lighting. Today it has become my primary lens on the Canon 1100D. I rarely use Kitov at all, only if there are some on-duty photos. For pleasure, only Carl Zeiss and WORLD 1B.

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