Carl Zeiss Jena Biotar 2/58

Biotar_58_2_black4

The Carl Zeiss Jena Biotar 2/58 is a classic lens design that dates back all the way to the 1920s. It is famous for its’ sharpness and unique bokeh. It is very saught after by collectors and therefore can be quiet expensive compared to other lenses in its’ focal length. The design of the Biotar was often copied for example by Russian manufacturers when they produced the Helios -44-2 lens.

PROs:

  • super sharp even when shot wide open
  • superb bokeh
  • great potraiture lens
  • compact and light
  • works great on micro 4/3

The optical results of the Carl Zeiss Jena Biotar 2 / 58 are really top notch. The bokeh is wonderful and creamy – a true twirling delight. The overall image sharpness is also amazing even when you shoot wide open at f2. For portraiture the Biotar sets standards. It is also a useful lens on cropped cameras such as micro 4/3 systems as it will act like a nice telephoto lens.

(images kindly provided by Robert Ryan – all rights reserved)

CONs:

  • outdated ergonomics due to the semi-automatic aperture settings
  • a bit expensive
  • at infinity focus it can hit the mirror of your DSLR

In my opinion the main disadvantage of this Carl Zeiss Jena Biotar 2 / 58 are its poor ergonomics. The semi-automatic aperture settings were certainly great back in the day but on a modern SLR it can be a pain. Setting the aperture takes a bit longer and is more cumbersome than on other lenses. A good alternative might be the less expensive 50mm 1.8 Pancolar.

Another disadvantage is that with some modern DSLRs, when shot at infinity focus it will hit the back of your mirror. I had this issue when I used the lens on a Canon 6D.

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  • Gene Speed

    Thank you, your insight and knowledge is greatly appreciated

    • Hi Gene. Thank you for your kind words. It is always nice to get some positive feedback!

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  • Aleksander Zhbankov

    Filter Mount: M49.5×0.75 – no accurate information, There are many versions. I think there are 40.5 http://www.praktica-collector.de/CZJ_Biotar_2_58_black.htm

    • thanks, I changed it

      • Aleksander Zhbankov

        No, no, I’m only just wanted to complement your information. in my experience in the network, there are various modifications, but it did not coincide with my measurements. I realized the most common variant is still 49. But my mount Eksakta – 40.5

        sorry my english

  • Carleton Foxx

    When you say may hit the mirror on some DSLRs at infinity…. How about Nikons?
    And below I have posted the Popular Photography magazine SQF chart on this lens….it really is quite amazing.

    • There is no infinity focus on a Nikon DSLR. It will definitely hit the mirror and you will ONLY be able to use the lens in close focus (I had a Nikon before and switched to Canon because of that 🙂

  • saju

    In the above mentioned versions, which one is the best performer, the earlier black version or the later introduced siver?

    • I would get the silver preset version, either one of them. In regards to image quality they are all on par but the black lenses tend to be much more expensive.

      • saju

        I appreciate your advice. There is a black version available in the market for approx USD 300/-. There is some visible cleaning marks on and rear and front elements, but i dont think it has some effects on images. Otherwise the cosmetics are mint. i am waiting to buy one for a long, shall i have to try this one or just wait. Appreciate your opinion.

        • Did you check if the lens will work with your adapter? Early Zeiss M42 lenses often don’t work with adapters. As a first Biotar lens I would recommend a silver one with closer minimum focusing. For black lenses you pay a “collector’s premium”, in actual use they are not better than later models.

          • saju

            Actually i didn’t check it using an adapter. As you said, I think i should look for a later silver version rather than the old black version especially when i am not a collector. 🙂

          • saju

            Thanks for your advice.

  • Pixel

    I am interested in the silver version so I wonder if there is any risk that the focusing is hit the mirror on Canon 5D III and 7D II?

  • Guillaume Regnaux

    Hi. Thanks for all the info 🙂 I managed to find out that the version I own is the 2nd Silver Preset 🙂 🙂 in Praktina mount version 🙁 Adapter is horribly expensive!!! The optics are in “perfect” condition, but the helicoid and the aperture are stiff. Would you have by any chance some refs so I could do the servicing. Wasn’t able to find any on the net for this version. Best

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  • Kausthub Desikachar

    Why do some of the Biotar lenses have a 1Q marking. What does this mean?

    • Its explained in the FAQs.

      —– Reply message —–

      • Kausthub Desikachar

        Thanks.. you say in FAQ “Some lenses use the branding 1Q meaning that they are part of the batch of the highest quality lenses produced for this specific model. Lenses without that branding might be second grade.”

        Is it a fact? Or just a marketing technique?

        • Its a fact. It was a quality Check.they Did in the factories. First grade lenses were exported from east Germany.

          —– Reply message —–

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  • Joe

    hello, do you know something about this M42 model? it has no coating and seam like different model…thank you!!!

  • Joe

    this is Biotar?

    • Hi joe, no this is not a biotar lens. It looks like you got a Frankenstein lens here. The front engravings are taken from a biotar, hence the B. But the lens itself is definitely not a biotar. On the focusing ring it says 2.8. Looks like something like a vivitar to me.

      • Joe

        thank you, that is what I suspected…did not buy it:)….never seen this kind of front ring on Biotar thou.

    • David Mornet

      Obviously a Cosinon Auto 55mm f2.8, made by Cosina. One of the worst lens you could find.

  • Joe

    That is what I suspected, it is posted for sale on ricardo.ch….still wondering which Biotar did this front ring came from…Thank you!
    I dare to ask one more question even it is out of the topic. About Enna Munchen lenses, I can not find any forums about it, neither here neither elsewhere, about Super Lithagon 35/1.9 and Ennalyt 50/1.9…Thank you!

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