Jenoptem fakes

Based on information by Claudio Manetti

It has been claimed quite frequently that the late versions of the Zeiss Jena Jenoptem, those made in the 1980s, were of inferior mechanical construction compared to the earlier versions. Although there were frequent mechanical modifications implemented over the years, to reduce the number of parts and improve efficiency of the production process, these claims were most likely triggered by a bunch of 'faked' or 'oriental' Jenoptems which were not made in Jena, but in Japan.

The number of binoculars produced in Jena during the 1980s was tremendous. These are the official production numbers:

Despite of these impressive numbers, the demand for Zeiss Jena binoculars was even higher, because they were reasonably good and their price tags were, after conversion to Western currencies, quite low. On one day suddenly faked Jenoptems came up. Their origin could apparently be traced down to a Japanese factory. After a closer inspection, Zeiss representatives found these fakes to be close enough to the originals to suggest a deal: Since the demand for Jenoptems were higher than the production capacities in Jena, they issued a license to the Japanese manufacturer. From now on these binoculars were no longer fakes, but Zeiss Jena glasses which were out-sourced to a Japanese factory. Consequently, they did not carry the 'DDR' imprint. Unfortunately, these binoculars were altogether of inferior mechanical quality than the originals. They are nowadays frequently found on e-bay, mostly offered by British sellers.

A detailed description can be found in the following two manuscripts by Claudio Manetti (Microsoft Word format):

A detailed description of the differences

Table: CZJFake&Original4, a table listing the principal differences

The following pictures are by Claudio Manetti as well:

Fig: CZJFake&Original1.jpg

Fig: CZJFake&Original2.jpg

Fig: CZJFake&Original3.jpg

Fig: CZJFake&Original5.jpg


The information given in this report reflects the personal impressions and opinions of the authors only. I cannot guarantee for the accuracy of any given specification.

Claudio Manetti:

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Last updated: May 2005