Carl Zeiss Jena DDR P 1:1.8 f=50mm MC Lens Review

This is a review of the Carl Zeiss Jena DDR P 1:1.8 f=50mm MC lens.

Please note: Any error in this blog post is due to my lack of experience and please don’t hold me responsible for any trouble that occurs from the contents of this blog post.


I own a lot of camera, lens, record videos and have sold photos, but I view myself as a novice and not a lens expert. I plan on amending this blog post over time, which might incorporate further photos and possibly embedded videos.

I do both indoor and outdoor photography and I enjoy using vintage lens. I quite like using a 50mm for both indoor and outdoor use.

About the lens and how I’m using it

I’ve purchased the praktica mount version second-hand and somebody had already attached an EF adapter. I’m currently using the lens on both my Canon EOS 20D and Canon EOS M cameras.

When using with my Canon EOS 20D camera, as the lens already has a PB-EF adapter attached, it attaches straight onto the EF mount on the camera. With the Canon EOS M, I’m using a second adapter! I’m using the Meike MK-C-AF4 to attach the EF to the EF-M mount.

A photo of a lens and adapters

The MC text placed on the lens, means it has multi-coating and this lens has a 49mm thread for you to screw filters or a hood. Originally this Carl Zeiss lens was intended for film cameras, but as I’ve already mentioned, I’m using it with a couple of digital cameras via adapters.

It’s an old manual focus lens and as it’s a fixed 50mm focal length, it doesn’t cater to as many scenarios as say a kit lens does. So to be clear, it’s not capable of ‘zoom’, so close up shots, will either require you being close or are just not possible.

The aperture control on the lens has a satisfying gentle ‘clicking’ sound as you increase or decrease the amount of light coming in. I’m not sure when my lens was made, but I suspect it’s sometime in the 1960s and I think it was manufactured in East Germany, but I’m unsure.

My initial opinion of the lens

I’m not a lens guru, but I really like the build quality of the lens. My lens feels robust and the manual focus is slightly tough to turn, but still smooth all these years later.

A photo taken Carl Zeiss Jena DDR P lens

With a small screen on my EOS M camera and using manual focus, probably not helped by my skills, it took many photographs for me to settle on the photo shown above.

I didn’t use a focal reducer when taking the photo above, so I’m not getting photos anything near to 50mm with my EOS M, but I’m okay with that. I will likely buy a VILTROX speed booster soon. 

Without auto-focus more effort was required, but I think the colours look good and I also think this lens can give you the ‘vintage’ shot, but via a digital camera without having to resort to manipulation at the editing stage.

A photo taken with a lens reversed

I also disconnected the lens from the Meike MK-C-AF4 adapter, left the adapter attached to the camera and then reserved the lens for a close-up photo, which is shown above.

As you can see in the photo below of the camera and the Carl Zeiss lens reversed and being held, the reverse lens technique isn’t hard to learn and I like the result.

A photo of a camera with the lens reversed

Final thoughts

I know this blog post is light on technical details and opinion and I will probably update this blog post in the future. At the time of first writing the post, I like the lens and I’m glad it’s part of my vintage collection. It was a cheap purchase and I think the photographs I’m able to capture with the old lens are acceptable and look good.

Sometimes a 50mm, however good the lens, isn’t what is required. If like me, you’re building a lens collection and you’re moving away from a ‘kit’ lens, then obviously it’s important to try and judge when it’s appropriate to use a 50mm lens like this Carl Zeiss.

I’m glad I purchased this lens.

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