What can I say that hasn't been said about the Zeiss Jena DDR lenses? The Jena lenses have a cult following and are lenses that are often recommended when it comes to vintage lenses.
My intention is not to review the Jena 35mm but rather to share an observation and reflection of how the Zeiss Jena DDR 35mm f2.8 Flektogon inspired me while I used it.
First off, there are multiple variations of the Jena and a lot of the information can be found here.
This variation of the Zeiss Jena DDR 35mm f2.8 Flektogon was available with two common camera mounts; Exakta and M42. I was able to score an m42 version of the lens and immediately attached it to my Sony FS7. Like every "new" lens that I try, I had to get used to where the focusing ring and the aperture were set on the lens. After becoming familiar with the layout and adjusting my M42 to E-Mount adapter to have the aperture readings on the top, I was ready to try it out.
I made a video with footage from the Sony FS7 and the Zeiss Jena DDR 35mm f2.8 Flektogon below.
Based on my short experience with it, here are my initial impressions.
The minimum focus is unreal. The image reminds me of a lens with a diopter on it. About a month ago I tried a Diopter on my Zeiss Loxia 50mm f2. This is what it looked like.
Even though I think it looks rad, I have to use step-up rings and play around with different diopters to find one that works with what I am working on.
When I was out filming with the Jena, I had to keep telling myself to get closer, the minimum focus distance of 18cm (7 inches)
As you can see in the video, the lens flares easily, it is not forgiving in that regard. The lens lacks the famous T* coatings from Zeiss. The Jena also has what some may call "flaws", which sends the hope for a clinical look to the land of no return. I noticed things like chromatic aberration, lens halation, and focus breathing. This can be a major determent for many but for those that can embrace this sort of thing, it's magical.
On the Fujifilm
I followed my FS7 video with a test run on my Fujifilm X-T20.
I think when paired with a Fuji sensor the Jena does something charming.
The images have a painterly quality to them and the fall-off is dreamy, elegant, and hypnotic.
I can wholeheartedly recommend the Zeiss Jena DDR 35mm f2.8 Flektogon. In fact, The Zeiss Jena 35mm f2.8 left me smiling so much that I'm considering putting together a set together of Zeiss Jena lenses