Carl Zeiss Jena Biotar 1.4/50mm on Canon or Nikon?

haringharing Major grinsRegistered Users Posts: 281 Major grins

Is it possible to mount a Carl Zeiss Jena Biotar 1.4/50mm lens on a Canon or Nikon DSLR? If yes, which adapter do you recommend?
Thanks!

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  • ziggy53ziggy53 Still learnin'still lovin Super Moderators Posts: 21,699 moderator
    edited December 21, 2017

    It looks like the Carl Zeiss Jena Biotar 1.4/50mm, and very similar Carl Zeiss Jena Biotar T 5cm(50mm) f1.4, were produced with a number of different mounts, but no, I haven't found any versions which would mate to a Nikon or Canon dSLR. Possibly onto a Canon mirrorless, but I don't think even that would be easy or worthwhile.

    I would much prefer a Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM on a Canon body for its total utility, bokeh and color.

    If you really want an older, manual focus and manual aperture lens that "will" adapt to a Canon body and has excellent image quality potential at a fairly reasonable price, the Pentax 50mm, f1.4 SMC M42 mount, using an EOS adapter with a proper chip can produce astonishingly good results.

    https://dgrin.com/discussion/38398/pentax-50mm-f1-4-adapted-to-canon-dslr-5-images-w-2-crops-bandwidth-alert/p1

    https://dgrin.com/discussion/37003/50mm-shoot-off-wide-open

    ziggy53
    Moderator of the Cameras and Accessories forums
  • haringharing Major grins Registered Users Posts: 281 Major grins

    I see! So Sony is the winner. It wouldn't mount on a Canon or Nikon. Sony a7s or any full frame Sony "E" mount I guess.

  • ziggy53ziggy53 Still learnin'still lovin Super Moderators Posts: 21,699 moderator

    @haring said:
    I see! So Sony is the winner. It wouldn't mount on a Canon or Nikon. Sony a7s or any full frame Sony "E" mount I guess.

    That's not at all what I said.
    Here is what I said:

    @ziggy53 said:
    I would much prefer a Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM on a Canon body for its total utility, bokeh and color.

    ziggy53
    Moderator of the Cameras and Accessories forums
  • haringharing Major grins Registered Users Posts: 281 Major grins

    I see! Thanks! I really like the "look" of the Zeiss Jena Biotar.... :(

  • JusticeiroJusticeiro E clunibus tractum Registered Users Posts: 1,177 Major grins
    edited February 15, 2018

    You probably weren't expecting an epistle, but I have lately been researching this, so here goes:

    Whether or not you can mount a non-native lens on any given camera body, with an adapter, has to do with the body's "flange focal distance," essentially, the distance between from the lens' "flange" (the metal mounting ring) to the film plane. The Canon EF mount has a 44mm flange focal distance, which means the image is "in focus" 44mm behind the end of the lens. If you want to mount a Canon EF lens on, say, a Sony E-mount mirrorless, you have to subtract the Sony FFD (18mm) from the Canon EF FFD (44mm), if the remaining number is positive (in this case 26mm) you can have an adapter that is Canon on one end, Sony on the other, and 26mm deep. This will allow the Canon to "focus" on the Sony sensor.

    As far as I know all mirrorless cameras are "shallower" than SLRs, so that's why mirrorless cameras can mount, in theory, just about any lens, given the right adapter.

    So, which lenses go well on which mounts? Here is a chart that I got off of mflenses.com. It isn't my chart, but I can't find the post where the original is.

    Note that if the body and the chosen lens are red, forget it. You would have to gouge a hole in your camera to mount it. If yellow, then it can fit, but infinity focus is lost. If green, it could be OK. As you can see, the full frame system with the best compatibility with old manual lenses is Canon. Nikon is actually pretty terrible.

    Here's the problem with "green" according to this chart. The chart simply gauges the flange focal distance. It doesn't take into account another important factor, the distance between the rear element of the lens, and the mirror of the SLR.

    Some lenses can perfectly well focus on the film plane, but as you move toward infinity, the rear element of the lens, or rather, the housing of the rear element of the lens, can intrude into the space the mirror needs to move through in order to expose the shutter. This is referred to as the lens "fouling" the mirror. You will know this happens when you take a picture, the "click sounds weird" and your viewfinder remains black. This can't be good for the camera, and sometimes it severely confuses the Camera's computers, you have to reboot your camera, and is probably all kinds of bad.

    There are six ways to avoid this:

    1. Use an APS-C camera.

      None of the M42 mount lenses (the ones I use, as they are common and cheaper) will foul the mirror on the Canon APS-C series cameras, because the mirror is smaller an shorter.

    2. Turn on live view. Mount the lens. Shoot with live view on. remove the lens. Turn live view off.

    This holds the mirror up and out of the way of the lenses rear element, but I hate live view (at least on the 5D mark II, which is what I have) so I don't do this.

    1. File of bits of the lens' rear element housing.

    This is probably not good for the lens, may fill your camera body with metal shavings, and is also cultural vandalism. Avoid.

    1. Get an adapter with glass in it.

    Some adapter have a focusing element in the adapter itself. You can mount any lens to any body of the adapter "refocuses" the light. However, you loose some T-stops, and the glass is never good quality, so you might as well be shooting an $1800 L lens with cellophane stretched over the front element to weather seal it . What's the point?

    1. Make sure you have a lens whose rear element doesn't foul the mirror.

    Some M42 lenses, foul the mirror, some don't. In general, the telephotos (particularly the telephoto triplets like the telemegor) are unlikely to foul the mirror, particularly at 135mm or longer. The wider the lens, the more likely there is to be a problem, but this is very unpredictable.

    My helios 58mm fouls the lens. The 20mm f2.8 CZJ Flektogon doesn't, but the CZJ flektogon 35mm f2.8 does. If you want to figure out which ones are good and bad without risking your mirror, you're in luck. This guy has done the hard work for us for the m42 lenses, which is what you will probably use anyway. unfortunately, the Biotar you are talking about is not on the list of things he has tested.

    https://panoramaplanet.de/comp/

    1. Only shoot on close up subjects (don't focus at or near infinity)

    This isn't that big of a restriction. You said that you like the "look" of the biotar. I am assume you are talking about the swirly bokeh. That's actually a lens defect, and to get the most out of it, you need to shoot wide open, with a shallow DOF. I use my helios for close ups and portraits, and as long as my subject is two meters or closer, it's fine. Same with my lydith, which also fouls the mirror at infinity. I guess you could use a biotar for landscapes, but why? Like Ziggy said, I'd go for a modern canon lens in this case.

    Also, on a side note, if you are looking for this style of bokeh, the you can pick up a helios 44 f2 for around $50, vs the $700-$1400 (if you an find one) for the biotar f1.4.

    Cave ab homine unius libri
  • TasmanianTasmanian Quebec, CanadaRegistered Users Posts: 486 Major grins

    I have 37 lenses on my Sony A7II (Takumar, Pentax, Contax, Minolta, Konica, Helios, Konica, Canon, Nikon, Jupiter...) and all is perfect with adapter (K&F, Fotga or Fotasy).

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