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Carl Zeiss lens forgeries from the Soviet Union



I recently acquired what was supposed to be a 50mm f/1.5 Carl Zeiss Sonnar #18xxxxx (a late Stuttgart Zeiss lens for the Contax RF). Sending it off to a trusted expert for repair of separation of the center triplet I was surprised to be told that the lens was a high quality Soviet forgery from the days of the Contax IIa.

Now I am familiar with the Jupiter 3 and the mount was like no Jupiter 3 I have ever seen – it was heavy high quality chromed brass. My expert said anomalies in the letter “a” in the names Carl and Sonnar, thread count in the mount, a yellow tint to the coating, the use of a double front and rear bezel, and the width of the aperture ring pointed to a forgery.

As I said I know the Soviet stuff quite well so I was really fooled. Does anyone know about late 1950s and 1960’s Zeiss lenses forged in the Soviet Union? Could changes in the late Sonnars account for this diagnosis?
I saw also bad sonnar for leica forgeries on ebay... but they where easy to spot, uncoherent sn, no ears to the f-ring...
They try to sell them as late war or post war production...


sorry is't not true. The Stuttgart Sonnar West- Germany Nr.lenses beginning over 3 Millions.
You have not a late Stuttgart Sonnar, but of Nr.18xxxxx is produced in Jena Germany prä war periode.
Many greetings from Germany
peter müller


Check out Ebay auction no. 3810454765. Notice how the lens has been carefully positioned so that the distance scale engraving and the size of the set screws are not visible. My bet is that it's another fraudulent Jena engraved bezel on a Jupiter lens. I say this because Zeiss did not make an 85 Sonnar with a black filter ring. It's also my guess this peculiar composition is a result of people in russia reading these postings. I was the person who diagnosed Michael's Sonnar as being of russian origin. I've seen three lenses like his. Zeiss chrome is unique for two reasons. It is bright and it is plated directly onto the brass. Bright is a technical term meaning that when it is plated it plates smooth and shiny needing no polishing. Only Zeiss did this and only Zeiss knows how to plate bright chrome directly onto brass. It's a trade secret that no one has been able to duplicate. Everyone else must plate copper, then nickel, the polish the nickel, then plate the chrome on the nickel to get a bright appearance. Michael's lens had failure of the plating on the inside of the barrel so I could see the layers of copper and nickel demonstrating that it had been plated copper, nickel and then chrome and was therefore not of Zeiss origin. I have seen three such lenses. There was more. The little tab that catches on the lens mount on the camera is different. Typically on a Zeiss lens the tab will have a cleanly made small square milled out cup to hold the red paint in it. In the russian fake lens this little cup is crudely made or there is no milled cup and red paint is just painted onto the tab. The finish on the sloped surface underside of the barrel on a russian fake is also not as fine as the Zeiss lens. It's fine but not irridescent. The paint filling the bezel engraving in a russian fake has a yellowish tint indicating that the pigment is lead carbonate instead of titanium dioxide as used by Zeiss which is pure white. Jupiter lens egraving fil paint is also yellowish. Zeiss engraving is always pure white. The engraved letters in the Russian fake Sonnar lenses, when examined under magnification, have uneven edges as does the engraving on russian Jupiter lenses. The russians faked these lenses because they were worth the equivalent of ten ounces of gold at the time they were made. They were well worth faking.


oh no ! Zeiss Sonnar 2,0/85mm exist with black filter ring. You see self in a presentation pictures in: "Hans Jürgen Kuc: Contax Geschichte II.Teil 1945-1982,page 34, 3 from 8 Sonnar have a black filter ring. Zeiss Sonnar from Stuttgart West-Germany in post war have only a chrom filter ring that's true. The Carl Zeiss Jena Sonnar from East- Germany up on 1945 have only a black filter ring.
A other detail: all classic 2,0/85mm Sonnar have six lenses and Jupiter 9 too. The Sonnar from Stuttgart have different details: 7 lenses like 1,5/ 50mm Sonnar, duoble diaphram, all chrom filter ring, and better finish. I can't say the Stuttgart Sonnar is better include one lens more. In my own test is a favorit with best sharp= Carl Zeiss Jena 1:2/8,5cm Sonnar from East-Germany, following Jupiter 9 and last not least the Zeiss Opton Sonnar West-Germany. The different is minimal for showing. In mechanic quality is the Sonnar from Stuttgart absolutly the best.
Henry is everyday on a wrong trip. In the Soviet Union not produced forgeries Carl Zeiss lenses.
This forgeries lenses, exempel for sell in eBay, made in a littel fake or forgerie manufacture in Pole. She take a Jupiter 9 with a new bezel engrave Carl Zeiss Jena, and ready is the faked lens Carl Zeiss Jena.Henry a Zeiss Expert for repair see this details, but this fake based on a Jupiter 9 are nota fake from Soviet-Union, or made in Ukraine KMZ plant.
Well. the first step identificed a fake: All russian lenses coatet with "Schell- Lack" on the chrome. In the running of years the "Schell-Lack" have in later times a yellowish tint, other details for identificied too. That's a other story and Henry give any details. I tell in this forum in next days a report for hope finish the wrong legend forgeries or fake Carl Zeiss lenses from Soviet-Union.
Many greetings from Germany
peter müller
Apperently it is forgotten that Zeiss Contax and Lens lines where transported to Kiev and Sovjet after WWII.
No fakes but legimate copies. The Contax was that way in over 50 years of production, under the name Kiev.