Carl Zeiss Jena 70-210mm MC Macro Jenazoom Super F/1:4-5.6

Although this older lenses causes the Err 99 code when I try to stop it down, for the price I paid I'd happily buy it again!

Specifications
Manufacturer: Sigma Corporation for VEB Carl Zeiss Jena Release Date: 1990's
Angle of View: Unknown Lens Construction: Unknown
Minimum Focus Distance: 1.35m Minimum Aperture: F 32
No. of Diaphragm Blades: 7 AF Motor: AFD (Arc Form Drive)
Diameter x Length: 78 x 105.5mm Serial No.: -
Filter Diameter: ø52mm Weight: 480g

Build Characteristics
Construction & Finish: Consumer lens. This lens is mostly made of smooth, black, metal with a few black plastic parts. The lens has an amusing little red ring around the front element. From what I can gather, this was a inexpensively produced lens, however, the build is really quite good.
(See a photo of this lens.)
Fit & Feel: In the hand, this little lens feels very sturdy. For it's compact size, it has a nice bit of heft. A solid lens, it feels good on the 20D, and it's light weight makes for easy handheld shooting.
Zoom Mechanism: Unfortunately, this is a pump / push-pull zoom lens. While zooming, this action can allow dust to be sucked into the barrel. Zooming extends the overall length of this lens by 3.5cm. A pump style zoom mechanism is never very precise, but the pump zoom on this lens operates smoothly and has a nice tension to it. There is no zoom 'creep' with this lens, and when fully extended, the barrel has no play.
Focusing Motor: This lens features some kind of arc form drive focus motor. The motor is buzzy and rather noisy, but auto focus locks quickly. Strangely, on my EOS Elan/100 auto focus needed a second attempt about 30% of the time. On the EOS 20D however, auto focus is very accurate all of the time, thanks to the 20D's improved AF sensors.
Focusing Mechanism: This lens unfortunately has a rotating front element, and the dedicated plastic focusing ring is slim, and slightly uncomfortable to use. It's rather like the EF 50 1.8 II toy focus ring. However, the focus ring does turn smoothly and easily.
AF - MF Mechanism: Very small A/M switch.
Lens Mount: This lens has a metal lens mount.
Distance Scale / Barrel Markings: Distance scale present. Markings are present on the barrel to indicate extension at 70, 85, 135, and 210mm.

Optical Characteristics
Sharpness:
On my 20D, wide-open this lens is surprisingly sharp. Other than wide-open, I can't judge the sharpness because this lens produces Err 99 when stopped down. Sharpness is very slightly softer on the long end, but still very good. The lens is very sharp throughout the range on my EOS film SLR. I was glad to discover this lens retained some CZJ quality of old.

Flare:
Flare is well controlled.

Chromatic Aberration:
CA is not very well controlled with this lens - some mild red and green fringing can be noticed in high contrast areas.

Bokeh:
Bokeh is slightly doubled but fairly smooth. Highlights can be distracting, but overall performance is not too bad:

145mm. 1/500, F4.5 - One-Shot AF, ISO800

Colour & Contrast:
SLightly warm colour with very good contrast.

Summary
After yet another weekend debating whose 70-200mm lens I was going to buy, I stumbled across this Carl Zeiss Jena oddity on eBay, and decided that for ~$100 Australian dollars, it was worth a look. My copy of this lens arrived in excellent condition - there was no dust to speak of inside the barrel, and it looked like it had hardly been used. I could not find very much information online about this lens, so I will provide what I can here.

These lenses were made by Sigma, under license for the Carl Zeiss Jena group. This is not a pure Carl Zeiss piece of glass, but it is not a piece of old Sigma junk either.
On the lens barrel it states: 'LENS MADE IN JAPAN UNDER LICENCE FROM VEB CARL ZEISS JENA'

Likely made sometime in the early-to-mid 1990's, this lens was aimed at the earliest EOS EF mount SLR bodies. Subsequently, when the EF mount changed in early 2001, older lenses like this one became prone to errors on newer bodies, due to their reverse-engineered design for the EF mount. If I try to use any aperture other than wide-open, my 20D will display the famous Err 99 error code. On my film SLR, an EOS Elan/100, this lens operates perfectly.

Even with the shortcomings (including Err 99) discussed above, I would buy this lens again. I recently took this lens with me for a trip to the zoo, and used it for every shot - happily, I did not see Err 99 once. I'm lucky that it just suits my style of shooting.


Carl Zeiss Jena 70-210mm MC Macro Jenazoom Super F/1:4-5.6