Photographica Pages

An online guide to collectable cameras and related stuff

50/3.5 Zeiss Tessar for Contax

This is what makes older Zeiss stuff so interesting. This would be from the 1932 bright faced nickel version of the lens, but with an unusual front rim that I have never seen another like it. Notice the notches on the inside to clear the screw heads. The nickel matches perfectly and the rim does not come off.

The Tessar was first designed in 1902 by Dr Paul Rudolph and quickly became one of the most celibrated and copied lenses of all time. When Reinhold Heidecke designed the first Rolleiflex, he insisted on using Tessar lenses. It would be unthinkable of Zeiss to build a camera of this caliber without making it an option.

The first of the 50/3.5 Tessars for Contax were built in 1931. The lenses have a black face, and the rest is nickel. The writing on the face was engraved and filled with white pait on most lenses, but on some the information ws embossed. These lenses could use 42mm or 27mm slip on filters, as well as 25.5mm threaded filters.

In 1932 the design was changed to an all nickel design, with a bright face.

In 1936 the finish was changed to chrome to match the Contax II. The first serial number is listed as 1403042.

Some prewar lenses were assembled using black and nickel lenses with serial numbrs over 3000000.

Also, in 1945 production was resumed in Jena. The 50/3.5 Tessar was built with an aluminum barrel with a black line engraved in a circle on the face with a gap where the aperture numbers ar engraved. These were coated. Serial numbers started at 3009301. Some were made without coating and the line on the face.

In 1947 a version of the Jena lens was produced for the Contaprox close-up device. The optics were the only part made at Jena. By 1950 the optics were made at Oberkochen and marked Zeiss- Opton.

Western Zeiss finally released a 50/3.5 Tessar in 1951. It was a rigid lens, and were marked Zeiss- Opton. They took 40.5mm filters. Production was limited to about 1500 units. In 1953 the engraving was changed to Carl Zeiss, and about 4500 were produced.

The postwar Jena lens in aluminum, with caps and worn box.

The Jena Tessar in the Contaprox.

The final version for the 50/3.5 Tessar for Conatx.