Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar 1: 2,8 f = 7,5cm (1938). Review of the adapted lens from Rodion Eshmakov

Material by Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar 1: 2,8 f = 7,5cm specially for Radozhiva prepared Rodion Eshmakov (subscribe to Instagram!)

Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar 1: 2,8 f = 7,5cm (1938)

Pre-war projection lens unit was installed in the housing Industar-29... Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar 1: 2,8 f = 7,5cm (1938)

Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar 75 / 2.8 is a rather rare medium-format lens, which was apparently produced for a very short time in the late 30s: it was replaced almost immediately Tessar 80 / 2.8... A brief history of the development of Tessar lenses is given here и here.

This short article presents a technical (projection) version of the Tessar 75 / 2.8 lens, manufactured in 1938, adapted for use with modern small format cameras.


Optical design - 4 elements in 3 groups ("Tessar");
Focal length - 75 mm;
Aperture ratio - 1: 2,8;
Frame format - 6x6 cm;
Features - a projection lens, does not have a focusing mechanism and aperture.

Lens construction and adaptation

Carl Zeiss Tessar 75 / 2.8 is made in the form of a compact brass lens unit without a diaphragm and focusing devices. Lenses from 1939 (for example, the Tessar 80 / 2.8) were already made in an aluminum housing. Interestingly, the front and rear lens units have their own numbers. The objective lenses are not anti-reflective.

The rear focal length of the lens is only ~ 60mm, which makes it difficult to adapt to medium format. But the lens unit fits well into the beautiful body of a mediocre Soviet lens. Industar-29, acquiring a lens (but effectively working) diaphragm and focusing mechanism. The lens unit was mounted using the standard Industar-29 adapter ring for 40.5 mm filters. An M29 threaded shank was made to the Industar-42 body.

The generous back section and compact body make this rare lens an easy upgrade to a modern camera. On the other hand, if you want to place the aperture properly - between 2 and 3 lenses - the lens unit of the lens will need to be made from scratch. Fortunately, the use of a lens iris is acceptable in this case.

Optical properties

The well-known Sergei Elizarov spoke warmly about this lens as a successful soft portrait lens (whose website, unfortunately, is only available in the web archives). And for good reason: just like the old Tessar 80 / 2.8, this lens is distinguished by its rare ability to reproduce fine details with low contour sharpness ("glow" of the contours). At an open aperture, the soft effect is quite pronounced, which makes it possible to effectively use the lens only in soft lighting (cloudy weather). With f / 4, the soft effect goes away - and there are no complaints about sharpness even on a sunny day. Good field-of-view sharpness is achieved at ~ F / 8 apertures.

Unlike the later Tessar 80 / 2.8 (1949), this lens has significantly less vignetting. Noticeable bokeh twisting is present at f / 4 due to the effects of field aberrations (coma and astigmatism). Due to the presence of pronounced spherical aberration, the focal discs have a bright edging (the effect of "bubbles" in the bokeh).

Since Tessar 75 / 2.8 does not have an antireflection coating, its transmission spectrum (i.e. color rendition) is almost neutral (correct color rendition). But a lot of light scatter leads to a dulling of all colors due to veiling - this sometimes needs to be corrected during image processing. A hood helps to neutralize light scattering - even simply covering the lens with your hand from the light, you can greatly improve the contrast of the image.

The lens is designed for medium format cameras, so even in this version it works great with shift adapters. For example, my full-frame Sony A7s with a Fotodiox Shift EOS-NEX adapter can take photos with an aspect ratio of 2.33: 1 ("56x24 mm") or 4: 5 ("36x45 mm"). It is possible that the lens will show itself quite well with speed boosters.

Below are sample photos on Sony A7s. The part is made using a shift adapter. Most of the apertures used were F / 2.8 and F / 4.

Since the lens is designed for black and white photography, I was curious to see how good the photos taken with the Tessar 75 / 2.8 in b / w looked. To do this, I converted several photos to b / w using Silver Efex. In some cases, the result does seem more interesting in my opinion.


Maybe I just love Tessara too much, or maybe this lens is really good. The pre-war Tessar 75 / 2.8 is distinguished by a pleasant plastic (i.e., predictably and conveniently changing with aperture) picture, well suited for portrait photography. The lens performs well both in color and in black and white photography. The only drawback of the lens is the rather mediocre image contrast and unsatisfactory backlight performance. Unfortunately, today it is very difficult to find an alternative to this lens in terms of the totality of its optical properties, which is the reason for the demand for pre-war Tessars on the market.

You will find more reviews from readers of Radozhiva here... All Rodion reviews in one place here.

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Comments: 5, on the topic: Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar 1: 2,8 f = 7,5cm (1938). Review of the adapted lens from Rodion Eshmakov

  • Novel

    Interesting, but the bokeh is rather nervous and distracting.

    • Dmitry V.G.

      To me it even reminded me of a pseudo bokeh on mobile phones. A sharp object in the frame and everything around is in a mess. "Well, this ...". In b / w it looks much better.

      • Novel

        By the way, yes. Thought, but not formulated.

  • Rodion

    If any of the readers are interested in this lens, it, like a number of other unusual optics, can be purchased from me. The cost is $ 100. You can contact on Instagram or by mail:

    • Rodion

      Not relevant.

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