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180/6.3 Zeiss Tele-Tessar K for Contax

A late example of the first production version 180/6.3 Tele-Tessar K.

The 180/6.3 Tele-Tessar was originally the longest lens offered that was rangefinder coupled for the Contax (later the 180/2.8 Olympia Sonnar tied it). Most rangefinder cameras limited their coupled lenses to 135mm as that was as long of a lens that the rangefinder base was accurate enough to support. The Contax had a longer base than most, making it more accurate. It is afour element/three group design.

Although some lenses were pictured in literature from 1933, it is likely that these were either prototype or preproduction lenses. Or possibly a drawing of a lens not yet completely designed. Production started around serial number 1411501. The lens had a sloping bezel, and was finished mostly in black with nickel plating on scales on the focus and aperture rings.

The first of the chrome lenses were produced in 1934-35 in batches 1505401-1505500 and 1735501- 1735600. Other than the finish they were very much like the previous version, although they did have a groove around the front rim.

The lens underwent some changes in 1935. Sill finished in black and nickel, the front bezel was flat and the front had threads for a 40.5mm filter. Both of the area above and below the milled grip ring on the aperture ring were now finished in nickel. They range from about 1525701 to around 1780954, with some chrome lenses intermixed.

The last group was chrome. The letter K was removed from the lens designation on the beauty ring. Production started in 1936, and batches of serial numbers 1780901-1781000, 2073801-2073900, 2189901-2190000, 2233901-2234200, 2268301-2268500, 2609901-2610000 and 2682201-2682400. At 1100 lenses produced, it exceeds the total of all of the other lenses combined (about 700).

The later version of the black and nickel 180/6.3, mounted on a Contax I with finder and tripod collar.