Carl Zeiss Jena 1Q Pancolar 2/50, adapted for Nikon. Radozhiva Reader Review

Review Carl Zeiss Jena 1Q Pancolar 2/50 specifically for Radozhiva prepared Rodion Eshmakov.

View of the converted CZJ Pancolar 50/2 with an AI-EOS adapter.

View of the converted CZJ Pancolar 50/2 with an AI-EOS adapter.

For the lens provided free of charge, I thank Varlamov Artyom.

Carl Zeiss Jena Pancolar 1Q 2/50 (CZJ Pancolar 50/2) - a standard lens for small format SLR cameras, produced in the early 1960s in East Germany. The “1Q” marking (“Die erste qualität”), which did not exist for very long, can be considered as one of the first marketing techniques and distinguished the line of optics from Jena among competitors. The review presents a copy released in the 1960s, converted to a Nikon F mount.


Optical design - 6 lenses in 4 groups, such as "planar", diagram drawing;
Focal length - 50 mm;
Relative hole - F / 2;
The diaphragm is six-petalled, F / 2-F / 22 with clicks on the half-stops, “jumping” (the alteration did not preserve this mechanism);
The minimum focusing distance is 0.5 m;
Filter thread - 49 mm.

Historical background

The creation of a full-time high-aperture lens for a small-format SLR camera was not an easy task for opticians in the 1950s: previous designs did not allow reaching a focal length of 50 mm with a back segment of at least 37 mm (75% of the focal length). It is in this regard that the famous full-time CZJ Biotar for SLR cameras (and its descendant, Helios-44) had a “strange” focal length of 58 mm.

From the beginning of the 50s, engineers at Carl Zeiss Jena tried to recalculate the Biotar circuit, and by 1954 the Biotar 50/2, the standard lens of small-format SLR cameras Praktina IIa, was released (in the USSR, such a lens was Helios-65). About 100 lenses were produced in 1956/1957. Then Biotar 50/2 was renamed in production during Flexon 50/2 (patent from 1956 16.756, GDR), and since 1959 the lens was named Pancolar, apparently emphasizing the suitability for color photographic materials. In 1960, in order to improve the correction of field aberrations, the lens was again recalculated with the same name as Pancolar 2/50.

Unlike the previous Biotar 58/2, in Pancolar 50/2 all three of the first lenses have the shape of a meniscus facing the subject. It is this feature that made it possible to achieve a larger posterior segment. In addition, it is surprising that only three grades of glass are used in the lens: one for all 4 positive lenses and two different for two negative ones. Further development of the lens is associated with the expansion of the palette of used glasses (thorium Pancolar 50 / 1.8), splitting the glued components and improving the enlightenment of optics (MC Pancolar 50 / 1.8).

Historical source here.

Design features

CZJ Pancolar 2/50 is not much different from hundreds of similar fifty dollars, although there are elements of CZJ's corporate identity, for example, the color scheme of the case (black, silver, orange). Note that the focus ring is finished with a black leather insert, and the distance scale is duplicated in feet. There is also a depth of field scale with a mark for shooting in the infrared range. There are other options for this lens with a different body design. It's funny that one of the versions is usually called “Star Wars” for the characteristic “promising” look of the IPIG scale, reminiscent of those very yellow credits at the beginning of the film.

Appearance of CZJ Pancolar 50/2.

Appearance of CZJ Pancolar 50/2.

The lens aperture has a total of 6 rounded brilliant petals. Reducing the number of blades is necessary to increase the reliability and speed of the automatic ("jumping") diaphragm.

Pancolar 50/2 aperture front view.

Pancolar 50/2 aperture front view.

During the alteration of the lens by the previous owner, the diaphragm was transferred to fully manual control. The rear view shows how much space was allotted in the lens for the mechanics of the “skipping rope”.

The rear lens block in the middle of the void in the converted lens.

The rear lens block in the middle of the void in the converted lens.

Unlike Helios-44 lenses, the Pancolar 50/2 rear lens does not protrude beyond the plane of the EF mount - the lens does not catch the mirror of full-frame cameras.

The rear lens does not protrude when focusing on infinity.

The rear lens does not protrude when focusing on infinity.

When focusing, the lens unit extends as a whole, without rotating, about a centimeter. The focus ring rotates ~ 270 °.

Lens when focusing on infinity.

Lens when focusing on MDF.

Lens when focusing on MDF.

It should be borne in mind that despite the apparent simplicity of the design, the Pancolar 50/2, like many other GDR lenses, is in fact very complicated. I was very glad that I did not have to understand the principles of the jumping diaphragm during disassembly-assembly of the lens, but even the design of the lens unit was not trivial: I had to disassemble the half-lens to clean the optics. Soviet Helios-44 have a much more rational design with fewer weak points.

Optical properties

The front lens of my specimen has multiple damage due to inaccurate wiping. For this reason, this lens will produce underestimated image quality compared to a well-preserved specimen, especially in terms of overall contrast and resistance to backlight.

Pancolar 50/2 has high sharpness in the center of the frame (at least not worse than that of a good Helios-44), but the resolution very quickly and strongly decreases to the edges due to field aberrations (coma). Apparently, this is a drawback of most lenses of the 50-60s with an enlarged rear segment - sharp edges are sacrificed to the rear segment.

When aperture is from F / 2 to F / 2.8, the hole retains a circular shape - this significantly increases the sharpness of the lens in the center (mainly reduces spherical aberration) and increases the depth of field while maintaining a pleasant bokeh. With further closing of the diaphragm, rounded nuts appear. The best image quality is achieved with an aperture of ~ F / 8 (field aberrations are also leveled).

Compared to Helios-44, Pancolar 50/2 are more pronounced chromatic aberrationand spherical ones are weaker. Therefore, the picture is quite different for these two lenses.

Below are paired photographs on Helios-44 and Pankolar 50/2 with equal apertures.

In my opinion, Helios reproduces color better, although this may be due to damage to Pankolar's optics. Helios bokeh is much more loaded in the center of the frame, but simpler than that of Pankolar, along the edge. The "limonchiki" in bokeh differ in both lenses in both shape and brightness distribution. Judging by the bokeh, the Pancolar 50/2 vignetting is more pronounced than that of Helios-44.

More sample photos on Carl Zeiss Jena 1Q Pancolar 2/50 and Canon 600D below (development from RAW to Canon DPP).


Pancolar 50/2 - a sample of fifty dollars with a rather interesting, but technically weak picture. The lens has far from the most successful construct, which must be taken into account when acquiring an instance requiring maintenance. Due to the relative rarity, the price of a lens usually does not match its optical quality; an amateur should first pay attention to the newer and more perfect class 50 / 1.8 optics.

You will find more reviews from readers of Radozhiva here.

Add a comment:



Comments: 15, on the topic: Carl Zeiss Jena 1Q Pancolar 2/50, adapted for Nikon. Radozhiva Reader Review

  • Arkady Shapoval

    Rodion was seriously engaged in reviews. Let me remind you that he collects on Sony a7 to create more interesting reviews with testing and adapting optics to a full frame. Details here.

  • zengarden

    GDR optics had clear advantages in terms of availability and price. But, unfortunately, the quality did not shine, in comparison with the "real" Zeiss. Well, Soviet models like Helios-80x were more technological and much more interesting in design. By the way, the G-44 mentioned in the review - which one is the early white one, as I understand it?
    In general, I really like Rodion's approach to writing reviews / tests - detailed, detailed; and how much work was left "behind the scenes" (disassemble, repair, clean, and then ASSEMBLE again - I got a maximum of 1-3 first stkpeni ...). So my honor and respect! 👍

    • Rodion

      Helios-44 - from my "chamber of measures and weights", early thirteen-petal, but with MC lenses. Here was his review too.

      • Rodion

        * thirteen petal

    • Rodion

      Thank you for your help with Sonya!

  • R2D2

    A good overview, but why so many flowers of leaves and other nonsense, well, it would be better for the girl to take more pictures. Who is interested in these photos? - to anyone.

    • B. R. P.

      You won’t please everyone. You are not interested in leaf flowers, but someone, for these photos, evaluates the bokeh intensity, for example. And there are such scary people who are not even interested in girls.

    • anonym

      Not everyone loves girls, one Nikon fanboy loves palm trees and chubby kids, as well as his weather station

    • zengarden

      There are photos for comparison with the G-44.
      Yes, and taking hedgehogs in your arms, and even more so to hug them, is a bad idea, they are active carriers of all kinds of parasites (ticks, fleas, etc.) and diseases. Zoologists even have such a method: how many ticks a hedgehog collects on itself per hour ("hourly").

      • Rodion

        This is a home hedgehog) You can not worry about the girl - they received plenty of photos for better optics.

        • Girl with a hedgehog

          I confirm every word) Hedgehog home and with all the necessary vaccinations. Photos are much more than laid out.

    • Michael

      I, for example, are interested

  • Victor

    I have nothing against Rodion's hobby. The only thing that confuses, some things that do not have any practical application - first of all, here is the given alteration of the Pancolar fifty-kopeck piece for Nikon F mount. The question is WHY? Is it just to carry out testing without having a threaded camera at hand? After all, it’s a no brainer that the BEUshny, old, white Nikkorian poltoss, now worth ridiculous money, will be many times better than any GDR Tessar-Pankolar.

    • anonym

      Did Rodion already get it redone, or didn't you read it? Here is the history of this line and its capabilities, this review, IMHO, is 100 times more interesting than any Nikon poltos with 1.8.

    • Dim

      Perhaps someone is tired of drawing new lenses? And he has both, and the tenth. It's like eating all the time in the same good restaurant, at first it is convenient and tasty, and then the food turns to ashes on the lips :-) I want something in a different way. To me, even the pictures of my wife on a hundred square meters began to seem interesting for their "poor quality"

Add a comment

Copyright © Blog author - Photographer in Kiev Arkady Shapoval. 2009-2022

Russian-version of this article

Versión en español de este artículo