Pentaconar lenses

Yes, everyone (whose ever been bitten by the legacy lens bug) has hear about Pentacon lenses. But WTF are Pentaconar lenses? Bear with me.

Back in the late 1960s (1968 to be precise) when the central planning bureau in Berlin decided that the East German camera-and-optics industry needed some further streamlining, they instigated a spate of reorganisations and mergers.

One of these mergers was the shotgun marriage of the traditional (but already socialised) optics manufacturer VEB Meyer-Optik Görlitz (subsequently: ‘MOG’) with the camera-manufacturer VEB Pentacon (which itself had been born through a bunch of state-directed mergers in 1964 – only some years earlier). What had previously been a symbiotic relationship (MOG lenses on Pentacon cameras) was to become synergistic.

But as Pentacon had previously not manufactured lenses: what should these new lenses be called?Continuing selling the lenses as ‘Meyer-Optik’ was likely not a favoured option, simply because the Soviet creed did not favour naming enterprises after single persons (unless they were heroes of the party/state/revolution/etc.).

TBH, I have no inside information on any brainstorming or spitballing that might have been ongoing within the halls in Berlin (central committee) or Dresden (Pentacon headquarters) regarding how to name the line of lenses, and even the otherwise impeccably informed people at offer no speculation.

I would like to think they’d have played with various names – I know I had fun brainstorming with chatGPT about this (see transcript below) – but there is simply no indications whatsoever that they ever considered ‘Opticar’ or ‘UnityLens’.

However it is clear that – in the midst of the effort of renaming lenses from ‘Meyer-Optik Görlitz’ – there was a short period when lenses rolled out of the factory with ‘Pentaconar’ (instead of the later ‘Pentacon’) on the lens name ring/barrel. While I have seen one guesstimate of this ‘Pentaconar’ naming having initially been used on lenses targeted for export, there is little to substantiate this assumption.

While Pentacon lenses have always defied easy dating (the serial number scheme is no indicator), the mere relatively low number of ‘Pentaconar’ lenses would indicate either a very limited timespan, a limited sub-segment of products (hence the ‘export lenses’ hypothesis), or complications in the manufacturing process or some combination of the aforementioned. What is however certain, is that those rare ‘Pentaconar’ lenses are commanding a significant price premium on various collector-oriented auction sites.

Is the entire anno 1970 lineup of Meyer-Optik/Pentacon lenses available as ‘Pentaconar’ lenses? I cannot say with any certainty. However, I can list those Meyer-Optik/Pentacon lenses that I have seen inscribed with ‘Pentaconar’ (or have seen in a brochure):

  • Meyer-Optik Orestegon 29/2.8 a.k.a Pentaconar auto 29/2.8 (seen)
  • Meyer-Optik Lydith 30/3.5 a.k.a Pentaconar 30/3.5 (brochure)
  • Meyer-Optik Oreston 50/1.8 a.k.a Pentaconar auto 50/1.8 (seen)
  • Meyer-Optik Orestor 100/2.8 a.k.a Pentaconar auto 100/2.8 (seen)
  • Meyer-Optik Orestor 100/2.8 a.k.a Pentaconar 100/2.8 (brochure)
  • Meyer-Optik Orestor 100/2.8 a.k.a Pentaconar 135/2.8 (brochure)
  • Meyer-Optik Orestegor 200/4 a.k.a Pentaconar 200/4 preset (seen)
  • Meyer-Optik Orestegor 300/4 a.k.a Pentaconar 300/4 (brochure)
  • Meyer-Optik Orestegor 500/5.6 a.k.a Pentaconar 500/5.6 (own)

So with the striking omission of the 50 mm f/2.8 Domiplan, it seems that all Meyer-Optik lenses were at least intended to be launched as Pentaconars. Further, please note that simply a lens existing in a brochure is no guarantee for it ever having been made. If you have a sample of one that I above list only as ‘brochure’, feel free to be in touch.

Beyond Pentaconar lenses I have seen or that have been discussed in brochures, there are two further Pentaconar lenses that have been mentioned in a list of lenses for Exakta cameras (a 50 mm f/1.4 and a 200 mm f/2.8 lens). Of these the first seems to have actually made it into production (see this article over at, but the later seems to be a case of vapourware.


[for laughs: an excerpt from the transcript of me asking ChatGPT for a discussion regarding how they could have named the lenses (instead of Pentacon or Pentaconar)]

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