Zeiss Ikon Contax Camera Repair

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A Counterfeit Biogon

The following two pictures are of a Russian made counterfeit 35 mm f2.8 Biogon being sold on Ebay recently.

This picture shows the front of the lens. There are a few things worth noticing.

  1. The Bezel engraving clearly shows the word "Biogon". Biogon is not a generic name. It is the Zeiss name for the Biogon lens, it is trademarked and in use by Zeiss today. The engraving on this lens is a clear attempt to deceive.
  2. The design of the focusing ring is a reasonable facsimile of the very highly desired and costly postwar Zeiss Ikon 35 mm f2.8 Biogon. If one was looking at this lens front on it would be very difficult to tell that is was not a Zeiss postwar Biogon.
  3. The bakelite lens case is of Russian manufacture. Zeiss did not use bakelite lens cases.
  4. The rear lens cap is a Russian bakelite lens cap. Zeiss used metal lens caps on the Biogon.

The backside of the lens is just as revealing.

  1. The Russian 35 mm f2.8 Contax mount wide angle lens is not of Biogon design. It is a copy (usually a bad one) of the postwar Carl Zeiss Jena 35 mm f2.8 Biotar. The Biotar is a very simple design compared to the Biogon and they are not similar in any way. Looking through the lens you can see the outer edge of the front element clearly through the rear element. It is not possible to do this with a real Biogon. Notice also that the diameter of the front element and the diameter of the rear element are about the same. This is a characteristic of the Biotar design.
  2. The screw holding the lower skirt onto the lens body is flat and not chromed. Postwar Biogon lenses have raised head bright chrome plated screws.
  3. The color difference between the focusing ring and the lower skirt is typical of Russian Contax mount wide angle lenses. The focusing ring is polished aluminum and the skirt is chrome plated steel and this explains the color difference. Both parts are chrome plated on the Zeiss Ikon Biogon.
  4. The "M" indicating the focusing calibration is in meters is capitalized whereas in German made lenses it is always small case "m".
  5. Deep up inside the cavity of the lens, in the outer edge one can just make out the shape of the retaining ring. This ring is only present in Biotar type lenses.

A real postwar Zeiss Ikon Biogon is worth about $500.00. This lens is worth about $12.00. This explains why the Russians are still in the business of engraving fake bezels for Jupiter lenses so that they can be sold here. The prevailing opinion of many is that the Russians are no longer manufacturing lenses and camera bodies labeled Jupiter and Kiev. This may be so, but it is clear that they have not stopped manufacturing Zeiss labeled cameras and lenses. This lens looks new and unused meaning it has been recently manufactured. We know this because the highly polished aluminum focusing ring would begin to dull very quickly after its initial polishing. I estimate this lens to be no more than one year old.

My universal advice about the purchasing of Contax equipment is very simple. BUY NOTHING FROM OUTSIDE THE USA. Buy nothing where the enforcement of United States postal fraud law does not apply. The postal inspectors do a good job and for the most part if you buy something from a USA seller who is located in the USA, accepts payment in the USA, ships from inside the USA and who has no problem accepting payment in the form of a United States Postal money order sent by U.S. Mail, you will have absolutely no problems that cannot be quickly resolved to your complete satisfaction.


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