Pentacon Six System
Zoomar Sport-Reflectar 500mm f/5.6
mirror lens for
the Pentacon Six
This lens was apparently designed by the
American Zoomar company but manufactured in the Kilfitt
factory in Munich in what was then West Germany.
The lens name ring bears the words “ZOOMAR MUENCHEN
SPORT-REFLECTAR 1:5.6 500mm Nr. [and the serial
number]”. “MUENCHEN” is a way of transcribing the
German name for Munich, München, when the u-umlaut (“ü”)
is not available on the keyboard (or in former times,
with telegrams, for instance).
1:5.6 is a popular German way of
specifying a maximum aperture of f/5.6. The disk
in front of the centrally-placed rear-facing mirror has
the Zoomar logo, which contains the words “Kilfitt” and
“ZOOMAR”. The lens is also engraved “Lens made in
West Germany” on the back surface.
The lens cap says “Zoomar West Germany”.
There is no other lettering on
the lens: no indication of focussing distance
and no focussing index mark. In
consequence of this, there is of course also
no depth-of-field scale.
There are two focussing knobs
on this lens, both slightly under the lens and
near the back, for easy operation with the
left or the right hand. An unusual
feature with this lens is that the focussing
is internal. Rotate one of the focussing
knobs while looking through the viewfinder and
the image will come into sharp focus, but the
external body of the lens does not increase or
decrease in length. (The rear mirror is
moved within the lens housing.)
With this particular example of
this lens, there is no option to fit a
focussing lever. However, some later
versions of the lens were produced with such a
lever, which is in any case removable and
often appears to have been lost by a previous
The underside of this lens has
two tripod sockets, for ¼ “ and for
3/8”. It may be possible to use this
lens on a bean bag or other suitable support
(for instance, a cushion on open a car
window). However, for most use it is
best placed on a tripod – as indeed would be
the case with any lens of this focal length.
The tripod sockets are mounted
directly onto the lens, not onto a tripod
collar, so it is not possible to rotate the
mount round the lens. On uneven ground,
a level setting must be obtained by adjusting
the length of one or more of the tripod legs.
The left-hand focussing knob can
be seen in this image (arrowed)
The two tripod sockets (and the
other focussing wheel)
can be seen in this image.
A user’s-eye view of the lens
mounted onto the Pentacon Six
Lens shade or
This lens has a deep integrated lens
shade that is simply pushed forward to shield the lens
from unwanted stray light from outside of the image
area. This will in most cases improve contrast and
reduce flare considerably, so it should be used.
Because of the integrated design, there is no chance of
leaving it at home or losing it, two fates that often
befall lens shades.
This lens hood can be seen in the fully
forward position in all the above pictures.
As is well-known, it is not
normally possible for mirror lenses to have a
variable aperture. In practice, this
means that the only way of controlling the
exposure (apart from by selecting film of a
suitable speed or sensitivity) is to change
the shutter speed.
However, this Zoomar lens has
perfected a concept that was not new, the use
of filters at the back of the lens.
But whereas the Carl Zeiss Jena
Spiegelobjektiv has one neutral density filter
and then a range of different coloured
filters, the designers of this lens realised
that most people preferred to shoot in colour,
so there are no coloured filters (which would
of course normally only be used with black and
Instead, this lens has three
neutral density filters of different densities
and one plain glass filter. These four
filters are mounted on a large wheel or disk,
the edge of which protrudes above the top of
the lens. Corresponding to each filter
there is a marking on the edge of the disk.
However, instead of reading
“ND×2”, “ND×4”, etc, f/stop values are
marked. This is not strictly-speaking
technically accurate, as the aperture is not
changed. Therefore rotating this wheel
cannot increase (or decrease) the depth of
field in the resultant image. However,
using these numbers may be easier for some
users to understand, taking away the need to
make exposure calculations.
|The four numbers
||the clear glass filter
Here the “f/11” setting (ND×4
filter) has been chosen.
I could have digitally made
the “11” in this image whiter, but that is
how it is.
For the picture on the right, I
removed the filter wheel from the lens.
(This is not something that I recommend that
you do, as it involves partially
dis-assembling the lens!) Here you can
see the four filters. Because of the
shadows cast by the ND filters onto the
background paper in this picture, it is not
possible to appreciate exactly the different
densities, but I can assure you that each of
the filters is different and results in
exposure equivalent to the f/-stop values
given on the edge of the wheel.
The filter wheel clicks into
position for each of the filters.
However, here I have deliberately partly
rotated the wheel, to leave the filters in an
intermediate position, so that it is possible
to see how they are mounted.
Because of the use of f/ numbers to
indicate the effect of each filter, the user reading off
combinations of shutter speeds and apertures from a
hand-held meter will easily know which shutter speed to
set, depending on the “aperture” (i.e. the filter)
selected. Naturally, those using a metering prism,
as here, merely need to centre the needle in the
viewfinder as normal, in this case by doing the
1) choose a filter
2) rotate the meter dial (in stop-down
mode) until the needle is at the meter index mark
3) check the shutter speed that is nearest
to the index mark on the metering prism and set that
speed on the camera.
If a suitable speed is not offered, change
the filter (or select “f/5.6”, which puts the clear
glass filter in the light path) and repeat steps 2) and
The lens is supplied in a smart
However, some 40-50+ years
after manufacture, the foam lining of the case
has disintegrated, as can be seen from this
This has also been observed
with another example of this lens case, so
is clearly not unique.
Nevertheless, it is possible to
obtain suitable foam, which these days is
usually supplied in a light grey colour.
|The foam in the lid, which has
an undulating surface, is called “convoluted
foam” and it can be found on the web both in the
UK and in the USA (and no doubt in other
countries, too). Suppliers will cut the
foam to size, which is what I had done
here. However, note that with convoluted
foam the minimum thickness from the supplier
that I found is 40mm, which is a little more
than I would have preferred for the lid.
Size and Weight
To give a better idea of the size of
this Zoomar lens, it is here pictured alongside the
Arsenal 3M-3B 600mm f/8 mirror lens.
Inevitably, the f/5.6 Zoomar lens is of
necessity larger than the f/8 Arsenal lens.
Here it is shown with its lens hood
||600mm Arsenal 3M-3B
||500mm Arsat APO
||118.5 mm 1
||Front: M 98 × 1
Rear: M 52 × 0.75
|118 × 1
||95 × 1
|Weight with front cap
|Rotatable tripod plate collar
|Tripod socket size
||¼" and 3/8"
||¼" and 3/8"
||3/8" (to be checked)
1 There is,
however, no thread for mounting filters to the front of
the lens. The rear filters are approximately
35.8mm in diameter. However, they are not designed
to be replaced and anyone seeking to do so would need to
disassemble the lens.
The weight of this lens compares
extremely favourably with other 500mm lenses. The
larger maximum aperture of the Zoomar lens results in a
lens that is heavier than the Arsenal mirror lens.
Both of these mirror lenses are approximately 1 kg
heavier than the 500mm Arsat, but 1 kg lighter than the
500mm Pentacon lens.
Its minimum length when mounted on the
Pentacon Six is approx 180mm, which is extremely short
for a 500mm lens.
Its maximum length (with the lens shade
fully extended but no lens cap in place) is approx
Largest diameter: approx 136.3 mm
To this must be added the size of the
tripod-mounting plate or platform.
manufacture & current condition
I would suspect that the Zoomar was last
produced at the end of the 1970s. The Pentacon
500mm lens was produced from the late 1950s until about
1990, and the Arsat was produced in the mid 1990s.
Several small batches of the 3M-3B were produced between
the mid 1970s and probably about 1990.
Many decades after manufacture, and
having been stored by a previous owner in an unknown
environment, the surface finish of this Zoomar lens is
now slightly mottled. However, this is not
particularly obvious even when the front surface of the
lens is carefully studied, and it appears to have no
effect on the quality of images produced by the lens.
Like other Kilfitt and Zoomar lenses,
this lens was available for a range of Medium Format
cameras with focal plane shutters. For use on the
Praktisix/Pentacon Six it requires the “WESI” mount on a
WESI base. The WESI base is held in place with
four screws, and both the base and the mount can be
changed if required, in order to mount the lens on other
cameras – always assuming that you can find the
appropriate mount or can get one made.
In due course I hope to be able to add a
review of the quality of the images produced with this
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© TRA First published: May 2012
Revised: July 2015