Pancolar 80mm f1.8 Carl Zeiss Jena M42

Pancolar was premium product line from Carl Zeiss Jena factory 50mm is so common and well known about it's image quality. 80mm sister if we can say anything is better , yes even better. Sharp at every aperture even wide open amazing.

Small lens not much longer than an 50mm lens and diameter not much bigger either.Lens contrast is perhaps best from eastern block lenses , lens draw stunning images. Lens has only three variants two of them  come with M42 mount auto and electric, third one has Practica B mount. No zebra or other finish, a super rare Pancolar 75mm f1.4 exists also as similar item in zebra finish. Focusing is a joy very smooth and accurate, aperture click well at each position. Most lens what you can find come in excellent shape, due lens was pricelly item and people did care about them well. 

Fact Sheet


Vendor nameTypeCompatible camera systems
Carl Zeiss Jena Pancolar M42
Focal Min(mm)Focal Max(mm)Focus Min(cm)
58 80 80
Aperture MaxAperture Min.Barrel length(mm)
1.8 22 64
Elements In GroupDiaphragm actionWeight (g)
6 in 5 auto|manual 310
Filter Size (mm)Push on diameter (mm)Angular field
58 60 30.4

User Comments

It is very sharp even when shot wide open. At f1.8 it can handle most available light shots. Its’ bookeh is really amazing. The image quality is superior to its predecessor, the Carl Zeiss Biometar 2.8 80mm. The focusing is very precise.
The all metal and glass construction really sets standards in terms of build quality. It is a joy to shoot with.

(Walter Owens)

This lens has gorgeous Bokeh.
It's fantastic for portraits. Gives a out of this world 3D and lovely Diemntionality to images and reveals backgrounds perfectly.
I like how the oof areas have definition rather than just turning to whipped cream blur.
You can see what the background and still soften it so it's not distracting.
At vey short distances a Sonnar variant lens may be more soothing and less busy.
For Portraits and mide tele work the Pancolar is perfect IMO.


About the bokeh, from my experience and comparison with other 85mm lens (Takumar 85/1.8 and Olympus 85/2), yes it's a bit harsh.
But I like the Pancolar not for it's bokeh but for it's color, contrast and flare resistance which is in my opinion better than both lenses I mentioned. Could be personal preference too Smile
O yes, and for portrait, my Pancolar has the best skin tone color too.

In some condition, the unsmooth bokeh gives more artistic look than the other two lenses.


If you can afford it , don't miss it! I rate it higher than most other portrait lens what I did try , include Leica Elmarit  , Carl Zeiss Planar etc.  M42 mount makes it to almost universal 35mm portrait lens, works almost on any system except Nikon :( On Nikon working distance is very limited around 1m I think. If you are Nikon owner I recommend to take an inexpensive second hand mirrorless camera and give it a try to M42 and other lenses.

Comments (1)
Great Samples
1Thursday, 26 May 2016 20:15
Marc P.
....and a lovely Wife, Attila. ;-) Congrats. Fine pictures, as always.


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