Military Surplus 75mm Zeiss Biogon LF lens. : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Being a builder and tinkerer, I regularly receive a catalogue from a California company specializing in military/scientific surplus equipment. These folks sell everything from tools, surplus optics, industrial equipment, to esoteric electronic gizmos I cannot even begin to describe or understand.

Believe me, this is not some right wing, paramilitary outfit, selling surplus cammo clothing and war toys to paranoid militia types and survivalists! They sell truly wonderful and interesting stuff.

The last three catalogues have listed the following item: 75mm Carl Zeiss Biogon WA LF lens, military surplus, supposedly unused. The write-up is a bit long, so I will not quote from it here. They offer it in two versions: "professionally" mounted in Copal shutter, for approximately $1200.; not mounted in shutter, for about $600. They also sell a number of other interesting optics for ridiculously low prices.

I'm fully aware of the legendary reputation of the CZ 75 Biogon, and that it sells for over $2500. in some camera ads. I've never used one, and I personally don't know anyone that does. I use a Scneider 75mm 5.6 SA. I've read numerous things in View Camera Magazine (and other books/publications) over the years about this optic. Is it really that good?

The catalogue illustration looked like the genuine thing, at least to my untrained eyes. I called to discuss the item with them. The gentleman was helpful and seemed very well-informed. He advised me it was a surplus military aerial photography optic. As far as he knows, it's the same CZ Biogon lens design sold to photographers for years. They have it mounted in a Copal shutter by an independent lens technician in Ca. He said they have a return policy.

Questions for all the lens design types out there: Could this be the same CZ lens sold to LF photographers? Does anyone have technical info for, or personal experience with, the 75mm CZ Biogon? Should I just buy out their entire inventory and double my investment? Or is this just too good to be true?

Any thoughts on the matter would be appreciated. Thanks, Sergio.

-- Sergio Ortega (, April 15, 1998


While I cant really answer your question about this lens, as far as it being too good to be true, some really good buys do show up as liquidated military equipment (especially optics). The government probably paid top dollar for these items, and they are often sold off for just a fraction of thier new cost. Is there any info on the circle of coverage?

-- Ron Shaw (, April 15, 1998.


I know what store that you're talking about. I've been there several times, great place. I've seen the lens that you're referring to. It looked pretty neat. They had some black and white Polaroids that they'd taken with it. They looked ok. From a surplus/gizmo/gear-head angle it looks neat, (I'm thinking of converting one of their oscilloscope camera lenses to 4x5 use), but for $1200, you can get a bred new Schnieder or Rodenstock!

-- sheldon hambrick (, May 29, 1998. check out this link...go to LENSES. It's on the top. The lenses this guy has for sale are listed small to large...........the 75mm Biogons are not far down. He sure does like em. The mounted price sounds excessive. New COPAL #3 shutters are 300.00

-- Ray Price (, July 09, 2001.

If you have a look at the links page on S.K. Grimes' site there is a link to the 'C and H Sales Company', who have stocks of a 75mm Carl Zeiss Biogon, which I assume is the same as the lens you are talking about. Their price is only $395 for the lens in barrel.

According to their description the lens has a coverage of about 6 1/2 inches, wide open. It is also very large (about 3 inches diameter and 6 inches long) and according to what I have read elsewhere it is very heavy - 6lb! So, maybe it is the bargain of the century, or maybe it is just as well to stick with your Super Angulon. My guess, and it is only a guess, is that the sheer size, weight, and cost of fitting one of these into a shutter makes it an unattractive proposition.

-- Huw Evans (, July 09, 2001.

Given a recent thread on this forum, it may be worth asking what the radioactivity of this particular lense is .......

-- fw (, July 10, 2001.

The CZ 75 Biogon as an IC of 175 mm it open at f4.5 and use a compur 0 or copal 0 shutter. the outside diameter of the lens is 100 mm . it is supposed to be a very fine lens.

-- Michel Schmerber (, July 10, 2001.

I have a 75mm Carl Zeiss BIOGON 1:4.5 lens, have used it, and it's wonderful and a full stop wider that the Angulon. I'm a photo grandad and need to get rid of exis baggage. Also this lens is mounted on a Linhoff board (Technicka) w/shutter. Works great today! Can send email pic's of this lens if you email me. Lots of other Linhoff lenses also, and I have no idea of the price other than that of retail.

-- MH (, January 14, 2002.

Military surplus Biogon. It is fun to see this following here. Some 4 years ago I happened to discover the Biogon at C&H surplus and I have hand selected several dozen units from the rotation 70mm panoramic aerial cameras which they purchase by weight(?) from some army dump. The initial price at C&H was $150.- a piece and it reached the $600.- in just the three day during which I was picking the ones that escaped rain stains and the general abuse of beeing store outdoors for some time. As they started getting the idea of someone picking up large numbers, the price went with it. Whatever has been left at C&H is simply not worth the effort, but you if you want to have a go, well, go ahead. I never got to see their conversion and was not really interested in it. My lenses were taken to Century Optics as the only logical choice and were first of all cut, treaded, measured on the bench and finally equipped with new Copal shutters and via Samy's all except for 3-4 units ended up in Japan. I as i am unfamiliar with the C&H conversion I cannot comment about its quality. I can only add that what has been done at a great cost at Century Optics will typically justify a price tag of about $2,000.- for a mint unit. I have one left to go and will entertain a serious offer.

-- Tom (, February 13, 2002.

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