View Full Version : I bought a zebra farm... My ebay 72 hour vintage adventure. Frank made me do it.

Peter Culley
08-30-2013, 08:34 PM
I was reading one of Frank Glencairn's blogs re Zeiss Zebras and have to say I was more than intrigued seeing some frame grabs and looking further on vimeo for examples.

Whilst I have a comprehensive set of L glass I realised I had one I had not used for years, a 200l prime. So I put it on ebay, sold it next day and spent 48 hours trawling for a 50/80/120/180 family of primes.

I could scarcely believe I managed to get what I believe are a full set of clean examples with detailed images of lens surfaces for less than my 200l and have enough left over to buy a couple of Helios and Mir lenses to play with.

I realise these lenses will be long on the EF but for an upcoming tvc they will be great IF the look is right which I believe it will.

When I receive them I will to do a side by side shoot with some L glass in prores and no post and split screen it for others to view.

I did notice the HUGE variance in pricing with some auctions running red hot and others going under the radar. I always check seller feedback and take responsibility for a roll of the dice.

So 4 zebras, 2 in original boxes, cases, hoods for less than 200 a piece... Worst case they will make for some interesting Objet d'ar.

Closing confession... I also bought another lens from Germany that I am too embarrassed to admit to until I shoot with it and can show some footage. That will be another story that may result in humiliation, a shovel and a 6 foot deep hole.

08-30-2013, 08:43 PM
Congratulations... I, too, have been bitten by the Zeiss Jena Zebra bug.

35mm, 50mm, 80mm... then switched to Meyer/Pentacon 15-blade bokeh monster 135 and 200! Still want a 20mm, too.

Very curious about your mystery lens... hope it works out!

Peter Culley
08-30-2013, 11:08 PM
Randy, I will confess... AND it will be obvious I know enough to know nothing but often jump right in...

Now the reason is I was looking for something to give me a super long shot for a few seconds of a lonley outlaw figure across a dusty desert scape with ideally a lot of heat swirl or at least abberation so sharpness is not a criteria out of camera.

I bought a 19mmm rig and tripod head large enough (I HOPE) to handle this... As well as numerous weight bags etc.

The glass? A 500mm 5.6 pentacon that i figure should give me 1150mm. (2.3x)

Doing some research I found a number of encouraging examples and hope I got a good copy off ebay once again from Germany. Buyer beware as the prices on these vary wildly.

So anyway. it should be here in 14 days and the test shall begin... If nothing else it will make a good doorstop...


08-31-2013, 07:13 AM
There is the Bower as well new.

It's a T mount you can adapt to M 4/3 and the Bower is cheaper and shorter. On the BMPC will give you a 1500 FOV for $150 and might get a great shot out of it....

08-31-2013, 08:14 AM
Peter... wow! And I thought my 200mm might be pushing the limits of practicality. :)

But while it's not exactly your standard walk-around lens, as long as you can support it, you should be able to do some fascinating work with it. Just the thing for your Lawrence of Arabia long shot.

I'll look forward to seeing how it works out for you!

Brad Ferrell
08-31-2013, 09:07 AM
I like where this is going. I'm learning to "go long" too. I really like the look when shooting spherical.

08-31-2013, 12:38 PM
I love the look of long lenses, that compression you get is second to none. Not something I always use but a 125mm looks great on the Bmcc!

Fresno Bob
08-31-2013, 01:13 PM
Great thread! I love reading about people getting swept up and buying a whole bunch of funky lenses.

JFR - i just got a 135mm zeiss Jena from eBay. Image is superb

Peter Culley
08-31-2013, 07:08 PM
Thanks for the interest and enthusiasm gentlemen! I thought the majority just wanted wide wide wide... I was beginning to wonder if i was a heretic?

Randy your reference to that 'shot' in Lawerence of Arabia of Omar Shariff is the reason at the age of ten I became fixated on camera work and the 'look'. The story of that panavision lens is legendary. They still have it as a revereed object.

I bit the bullet and after ordering a 15mm rig decided it would be prudent to go to 19mm and a heavy baseplate. Walkaround it is not! Then of course I had to get a tripod heavy enough... Thank goodness for ebay, some patience patience I sniped a Vinten 100 after missing out on several. I stayed up for that one until 3am to bid in the last 10 seconds with a scream of EUREKA at my success. My girlfriend was not impressed or indeed the slightest bit interested.

So gentlemen... I give you this... Weighing in at 2300mm on the EF... What could we do and HOW? I have a client, 'silly', 'brave' enough who said... "Well, why don't we give it a go?"... Two tripods? An onsite cast concrete plinth? Any suggestions? Yes, I realise it will have the mirror issues and a depth of field that would need the subject a kilometer away... Anyone know how we can work that out?

Here it is for your viewing pleasure...



Peter Culley
08-31-2013, 07:16 PM
Footnote, apparently these were $42000 when released according to some forums... Yikes.

Peter Culley
08-31-2013, 07:28 PM
Non mirror Rollei...


08-31-2013, 08:07 PM
Peter, first off - I am AGOG at the sight of that lens. What an engineering challenge, just to work with it!

I was looking for something to give me a super long shot for a few seconds of a lonley outlaw figure across a dusty desert scape with ideally a lot of heat swirl...

Randy your reference to that 'shot' in Lawerence of Arabia of Omar Shariff is the reason at the age of ten I became fixated on camera work and the 'look'. The story of that panavision lens is legendary. They still have it as a revereed object.

And of course, in your comment about a lone desert figure, there was no reference to Lawrence of Arabia... but the image your description immediately evoked was unmistakable. I knew the shot instantly.

And while I can't match your lens for impact, I can share a related anecdote...

I live in Bristol, RI - a tiny little seaport town, named after its much larger sister city across the Atlantic. For the last several years of his life, another Lawrence of Arabia alumnus, Anthony Quinn, lived a stone's throw down the road from me, on a tony little point that juts out from the town harbor.

I almost (literally) ran into him once, as we were each walking on a sidewalk, and rounding a corner from the opposite directions. I said "hello, sir," and he gave me a dignified little nod and a smile. He continued down the sidewalk to the Bristol House of Pizza, where he had lunch with his very young wife and two young children. He's now buried under an oak tree on the property where his wife still lives.

So every time I see Lawrence, like the amazing new Blu-ray restoration, I think of that meeting, and picture him without all that dark makeup, going out for a pizza.

Now have fun with your lens. :)

PS - And Peter, no need to stay up until 3:00am... say hello to my little friend...


Peter Culley
08-31-2013, 09:07 PM
WOW! What an anecdote re Mr Quinn (They will never make an actor like that again!!!) Talk about a thread going somewhere i could have never imagined! Great story Randy. Man I love the internet!

So, I'll see what a handful the 500mm is and if it is getting the look before seriously outlaying for the zeiss or rollei... Maybe. Strange scenario the client just saying DO IT, we are paying for it, you get to keep it but I do still have some responsibility even though I am a self confessed hoarder.

I may come off as a wackjob to many but ocassionally I think because I am coming at this left field I could possibly jag this.

IF I, and a BIG if I can pull this off it will create a couple of seconds that will be the backbone of the brands identity for years to come across all media. Being a small concern, a co-director and myself both also as gaffer tape and tea ladies we keep it tight and very agile.

I have already spent a 1000+km 'outback' scouting locations with some huge flat vistas with beautiful hazy distant mountain ranges 20km or so away (Flinders Ranges, South Australia) Several of these are bookmarked on my Ipad via gps with sun/moon and shadow data for each day. Just an awesome APP with satellite etc so I can see down on a HUGE amount of information you cannot see on the ground and thus hone in on likely suspects.

Good bad or indifferent I will share my experience here right through to the tvc.

Disclosure: The images below are from google and not my own.


08-31-2013, 09:30 PM
Man, Peter... incredible, fantastic locations.

You gotta do it. You will regret it forever if you don't. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT CLIENT. Do it. Do it. Do it. Do it. Make that little snipe work for you. Do it. DO IT.

Lug that mother lens around and make it sing. Make it SCREAM. Make a shot that people will know forever, just like I knew the one that changed your life at 10, just like Stanley changed mine at 12 with 2001.

Do it. Only you can. So you have to. You can't let down the Universe that put you here. it's been waiting for you to pick up that hunk of glass, steel and mirror and CAPTURE THE PHOTONS that Sol took 8 1/2 minutes to send to you.

If you don't, they'll have come all that distance in vain.

Peter Culley
08-31-2013, 10:43 PM
That 'snipe' is going to get me into lots of trouble... NOT that I need any help...

Thanks Randy!

Can anyone point me in the right direction to work out the depth of field on these 1000mm scenarios with the EF?

09-01-2013, 03:42 AM
What depth of field?

Peter Culley
09-01-2013, 05:32 AM
I was afraid someone was going to say that...

If I have the COC right then the following is going to be a pinch... 4362

I am now onto ebay to get a decent laser rangefinder and a can of marker paint...

09-01-2013, 09:42 PM
All this talk about long lenses has made me drool. I would love one...until I needed to keep anything in focus.

Frank Glencairn
09-02-2013, 08:03 AM
I was reading one of Frank Glencarin's blogs re Zeiss Zebras and have to say I was more than intrigued seeing some frame grabs and looking further on vimeo for examples.

I'm glad, that such an old article on my blog still inspires folks.
Just came back from 5 days of shooting with the zebras, gonna post some grabs to sweeten the waiting for your batch. :)

best, Frank

Frank Glencairn
09-02-2013, 02:56 PM
Here are the grabs: http://www.bmcuser.com/showthread.php?5387-Some-grabs-from-the-last-5-days-of-shooting&p=80632#post80632

Peter Culley
09-04-2013, 07:00 PM
Here are the grabs: http://www.bmcuser.com/showthread.php?5387-Some-grabs-from-the-last-5-days-of-shooting&p=80632#post80632

I WANT my zebras NOW!... I am glad I bought them when I did as I think Frank has just sent the market value up!

Peter Culley
09-10-2013, 09:24 PM
30 minutes ago the postman delivered the final two lenses from Germany and the Ukraine to me in Australia.

I have had a play with 80mm and have to say it seems a joy and exactly what Frank Glencarin has written about in his blog. A unique aesthetic signature that I CANNOT wait to use for an interview doco with my elderly mother. (of which I will be asking some opinions of doco style in the relevant forum.

Have to say it was great to get a couple with the original packaging as well. (I am a devotee of older graphic design and 'patina')

In roundup I have had a month of great 'fun' trawling ebay, exchanging dialogue with sellers in different countries (Germany, France, Italy, UK and the Ukraine) and have to remind myself I funded this whole collection with the sale of ONE 200 f2.8L Canon Prime with enough left over to buy a Pelican case for the collection.

The most difficult lenses to get in prime condition at the 'right' price were the 500mm Pentacon and the 50mm Zebra. So many of the 50mm's had the bubbles in the front element it was scary and sellers still wanting 300 euro. Eventually one came up 'minty glass' and I pulled the trigger. The 500 was tricky, many sellers wanting 500 to 1000 euro and somehow I sniped mine for 166.00? Bizarre. I'll just put it down to patience and lady luck.

So I now have a vintage set and a Canon L set. I look forward to sharing some comparo footage. Hope this inspires others to consider an ebay journey of hidden vintage treasure.


500 / 180 / 135 / 120 / 80 / 50

09-10-2013, 10:55 PM
Looking forward to seeing some of the character, Peter.

Do you have already, or plan to add a 35mm and 20mm zebra Flektogon to the set?

Peter Culley
09-11-2013, 12:27 AM
UM... Yes.

If my girlfriend reads this... I will be a dead man.

Michael Bergstrom
09-11-2013, 01:00 AM
UM... Yes.

If my girlfriend reads this... I will be a dead man.

My camera equipment and guns fall into the same category. "I fear that when I die, my wife will sell my collection for what I told her it was worth".

09-11-2013, 01:28 AM
this is incredible. I too have been having a great deal of fun on ebay searching for my own zebra farm.

Just a question though - aside from some being for medium format and others for 35mm, are the characteristics of the zebras pretty consistent between the two? For instance, if I pick up a 20 f4 and 35 f2.8 in addition to the 50 flektogon, etc, will there be a difference?

Peter Culley
09-11-2013, 03:18 AM
Michael... I'm hearin' ya!

As to the consistency across the 35 and med format? I think I am about to find out... Look and feel wise the examples I have seem all very similar albeit on scale. Proof will be in the shooting and just ordered an exacta eos adapter.

On a side note,and I know its LONG but my goodness gracious... The 180mm and 50mm Zebra? Build wise and tactile feel it makes all my L glass seem positively pedestrian and without soul. Could I say, upmarket ikea at best?

It will be interesting to see vintage lens prices in the next few years especially as more footage is uploaded.

09-11-2013, 04:33 AM
SuperWhiteFlame, I have the Flek 20mm f4, it is in need of a service and the front element could do with a polish, and also a 50mm, both zebra. Not all Flektogon lenses have the zebra housing. I think it is a reflection of various lenses being released during a period of time. There are prior or subsequently released lenses that of the same family, yet don't have the zebra housing. I am out of my league with the knowledge base and history behind the zebra lenses. I picked one up in 1995 in Amsterdam, looking for a wider lens while on my travels through Europe, my 20mm f4 happens to be a zebra version, the only one of 4 designs, if I recall. The 50mm I picked up in the last year or so. If you look on the MFlenses website (http://www.mflenses.com/) and forum (http://forum.mflenses.com/), you'll probably find some reviews and forum threads and sample photos taken with various Flektogon lenses you are interested in. I also found the site helpful for researching my manual focus legacy Russian and Japanese lenses I having been acquiring over the years. You may get lost in there, lose track of time, and find yourself tumbling deeper down the rabbit hole...

Frank Glencairn
09-11-2013, 07:26 AM
Congrats Peter, looks like a steal. Can't wait to see, what you do with them.


09-11-2013, 02:10 PM
Can't wait for the footage comparisons!

Congrats on that beautiful set

Peter Culley
09-11-2013, 08:27 PM
Thanks Frank! Thanks Snoman!

Top tip... Do not leave packaging around the house... Yes gentlemen... 'SHE' made me confess... When will I ever learn?

09-11-2013, 10:01 PM
'SHE' made me confess...

That could be interesting...

Peter Culley
09-11-2013, 10:12 PM
'Interesting' is not perhaps how I remember it... Of course I had to buy sdi cables this morning, more batteries... I better earn some serious money soon or my days could be over...

10-02-2013, 09:57 AM
made the plunge and ordered a zebra farm of my own :) mix of 35mm class (for wides-normal lenses) and medium format on the telephoto end. Set to shoot a 70s period piece in a month and a half or so. Seems fitting to me!

Jorge De Silva
10-02-2013, 02:46 PM
50mm, 80mm & 180mm Zebras coming too ;) heheh FRANK Frank... :P

10-03-2013, 12:31 AM
so say I use an m42 --> nikon adapter and then put that on the nikon speedbooster, would that work? Am I able to stack adapters like that?

Tim Hole
10-03-2013, 04:08 AM
so say I use an m42 --> nikon adapter and then put that on the nikon speedbooster, would that work? Am I able to stack adapters like that?

I'd like someone to try...

The only mention of it is in the EF-NEX Speed booster description...

"Some improperly-made M42 screw mount adapters may short the electronic contacts of the Speed Booster™ and cause damage to the Speed Booster™ and/or camera body."

There is a video somewhere online where a guy just covered his contacts, on the adapter, with electrical tape and it worked fine. I plan on having a go, if and when I end up getting one. I have a hoard of m39 and m42 glass I would love to get an s35 FOV for...

Adapters can be stacked but there may be mechanical limitations and so some of the cheaper adapters tend to push infinity a little so adding two adapters that do this can have negative affects—I think the metabones is bound to be pretty bang on in this respect though.

10-09-2013, 11:22 AM
20mm zebra just came in the mail :) I swear I'm 9 years old again

10-09-2013, 04:10 PM
The best part about these lenses, is after you go through their sometimes-shoddy mechanics and get them serviced, they are top-quality.

11-17-2013, 03:25 PM
So any footage from you new Zebra owners?

Peter Culley
11-18-2013, 12:30 AM
My early Christmas present to myself...

Actually i decided to revise it....

We have to blame someone...

Make sure you view larger;)


Frank Glencairn
11-18-2013, 01:19 AM
HA! Brilliant!

Peter Culley
11-18-2013, 02:49 AM
You may wish to CLICK on that link again Frank and enlarge;)

11-18-2013, 06:14 PM
hahaha, that's great. and I won't have any footage yet, but I can post some grabs within the week probably. btw, it's jenas and the fs100, not bmcc :(

11-19-2013, 03:56 AM
Hell yeah-love to see it SuperWhiteFlame. Just bought a Biometar 80mm Zebra Pentacon Six version which should be with me next week. Still looking for a decent version of the 50mm which is proving difficult. Looking forward to comparing them against my modern ZFs.

Is it worth getting the 120mm and 180mm? Are they practical for a camera like the BMCC?

12-01-2013, 08:25 PM
Here's a little footage from my first shoot with fs100 + jenas (20mm, 35mm, 50mm). Didn't have the 80 with me yet.

password: ohwowww

12-01-2013, 08:27 PM
and kingswell to answer your questions about the 120 and 180 - I haven't used either yet at this point, although I do plan on getting them. But there are certainly uses for (in this case) extremely long lenses. I personally love the way they compress space and so if I have enough room to use them, I do for the most part. But as we've heard time and time again - the right tool for the right job; some jobs call for long lens work, some don't.

Tim Hole
12-01-2013, 09:44 PM
Yeah compressed space is good, but minimum focus distance can be problematic. As long as the distance to subject is more than four feet away, you're golden :D

12-02-2013, 12:49 PM
Here's a little footage from my first shoot with fs100 + jenas (20mm, 35mm, 50mm). Didn't have the 80 with me yet.

password: ohwowww

Love the trailer man! That 20mm looks great, especially with the colour. How is everyone mounting these? If I got dumb Pentacon to Nikon adapters, would they work on a BMCC MFT // Nikon Speedbooster, or would the flange distance cause infinity focus issues?

Gregg MacPherson
12-02-2013, 03:13 PM
I read a couple of Franks blogs about the "zebra" lenses a while ago. I probably should read them again before asking here, but here goes.

Could zebra lenses such as the zeiss biometer 80mm, 120mm or 180mm (if there is one) give similar apparent screen resolution to the S16 format Zeiss superspeeds? Could one extend the superspeed set with those or similar lenses, or will they have a noticeably softer look?

The reason for the question is that we may be using a small centre part of the lens, so the apparent on-screen resolution will be reduced by the cropping. For medium format (I'm not actually sure what format some of these lenses are) the loss of resolution due to cropping could be severe. Yes, if the lens has significant improvement in sharpness at the centre this is usefull, but perhaps not significant enough to the on screen result.

So could one extend the focal range of a set of S16 super speeds with some zebras, or would that require some soft filter for the super speeds? That is not an irrelevent option.

I realize that the coatings on the Biometers will not match the super speeds.

Any thoughts? I hope that Frank keeps checking this thread. My interest is in S16, but the question may be of interest to BMCC and BM pocket camera formats also.

Thanks for any thoughts.
Frank, those blogs were great, and the screen grabs from the WWII doco looked wonderful. I just wasn't sure how to answer my own question(s) from there.


Frank Glencairn
12-02-2013, 04:11 PM
Sharpness of the zebras would be definitely not be a problem per-se to match the superspeeds, but contrast and character because of a different coating.
Having an - almost non existent - coating, is something that makes the typical warm/organic zebra look - quite the opposite of the much harsher and colder superspeeds.

If you want something that matches the typical superspeed look much better, than it would be the Zeiss Contax lenses, since they have the same T coating.

If you haven't already read it, here is some great info: http://www.reduser.net/forum/showthread.php?92044-Contax-Zeiss-Survival-Guide&highlight=contax

Gregg MacPherson
12-02-2013, 04:26 PM
Thanks Frank. I'll go read.

Frank Glencairn
12-02-2013, 04:35 PM
... and if you want something to drool, have a look at the Zeiss Contax department of German Ebay :cool:


12-02-2013, 06:08 PM
But be careful: Only Contax RTS aka Contax/Yashica are useable with adapters, the Contax N or G lenses are for very special cameras.

There is an excellent thread about them: http://www.reduser.net/forum/showthread.php?92044-Contax-Zeiss-Survival-Guide

They are sheer beauty, but quite long on a BMCC, not speaking of the BMPCC. Unfortunately one of the widest, the 21mm 2.8 is the most expensive too…

But with a SpeedBooster the 28 is quite nice, for example.

Gregg MacPherson
12-02-2013, 06:13 PM
Has anyone solved how to inexpensively remount C/Y to PL? When I wondered about this before it looked like the edge of the aperture ring on the Contax lens was just beneath the PL flange plane.

12-03-2013, 02:03 PM
Here's a little footage from my first shoot with fs100 + jenas (20mm, 35mm, 50mm). Didn't have the 80 with me yet.

password: ohwowww

Thanks for posting that. I love the rendering of these jenas and the way you've handled them.

I've just shot with the 80mm today, and i really enjoyed using it. The focus throw is incredibly long for a photo lens. I did notice a problem with hitting infinity focus when it got dark and i had to open the aperture. I'm using the fotodiox adapter. Will have to double check when i can view at my edit bay.

12-04-2013, 08:44 PM
hate to steer the conversation away from the jenas, but does anyone have any experience with super takumars? I'm currently intrigued and on ebay...

kingswell - my fotodiox adapter is coming in the mail tomorrow, so I'll test it out as well and get back to you

12-05-2013, 03:07 AM
Some of the Taks are quite nice, but let's start a new thread for these – I already hesitated to derail this with Western Zeiss…

01-08-2014, 12:31 AM
just to reawaken this thread on the Zeiss Zebras, can those who own these lenses confirm the size of the front threads:

Flektogon 50/4: 86mm
Biometar 80/2.8: 58mm (?)
Biometar 120/2.8: (?)
Sonnar 180/2.8: (?)