Care to Buy an Antique 400mm Soviet Lens on eBay… for $488K?


Next time a spouse or friend razzes you for spending too much on camera gear, try pointing out all the cool, expensive stuff you didn’t buy. Like the antique, no-name, large-format lens currently up for sale on eBay for close to half a million bucks.

The listing for “UNIQUE ANTIQUE 400mm AERIAL SPACE Lens LARGE FORMAT SPACE CRAFT AIR FORCE LENS,” buy-it-now price $488,000, is confusing on a number of counts:

  • Who actually made the thing? The listing says it’s “related” to a Zeiss World War II Luftwaffe lens, updated to use “coated precious glass.”
  • What kind of camera could one use it on? The seller merely notes the lens has a “rear-fitting screw” of 82 or 84mm and suggests film stock of 18×24 centimeters, considerably larger than 4×5-inch film.
  • Why is Sotheby’s mentioned several times in the ad when the seller appears to be an independent dealer with no connection to the auction house?
  • Why does it take more than a month to ship this baby?
  • And most puzzling, if this is such a unique, historical item, why does the seller have the exact same lens listed in another auction for a buy-it-now price of $40,000? (There: PetaPixel just saved you $448,000… You’re welcome.)





On the plus side, the bokeh looks pretty sweet, and shipping (U.S. only) is included, as is “intellectual support and consulting,” including a custom-written (hopefully not in the same all-caps, verb-challenged style of the listing) article explaining the historical, cultural and political significance of the item.

Bargain hunters, meanwhile, may want to check out one of the seller’s other auctions: a 426mm f/26 ultra-wide, ultra-large format lens selling for $300,000 or $200,000, depending on the auction.

(via PopPhoto)

  • GuessWho

    ”U.S.S.R. and Germany weren’t exactly swapping technology during the war” – in fact, they were very much prior to the German invasion of the USSR. During the 30s, Germany imported heavy weapons from USSR and had military people getting trained in USSR.

  • theart

    ”U.S.S.R. and Germany weren’t exactly swapping technology during the war”
    True, but a lot of Zeiss technology and tooling was appropriated by the Soviets after the war ended, and based on the icon and serial number this lens was made by KOMZ, probably in 1956. So it wouldn’t be a stretch at all to assume that it’s a copy of a Luftwaffe lens.

  • Jan

    Things I don’t understand on this world… who the hell has that much money for such a lens? :O

    Is it at least worth its price? (Referring to the 48K$ offer)

  • Tony B

    Some ebay sellers list very high prices to initiate contact so that people will get accurate shipping quotes before bidding. It screws up searches and confuses people.

  • DLCade

    Thank you for the feedback @theart:disqus! We’ll go ahead and remove that statement :)

  • 7LeagueBoots

    The Q&A portion of the more expensive post seem to indicate that the whole thing is a joke and that the seller knows this.

  • Andrea H.

    Hilarious questions & answers he’s given regarding the value of the lens!! ex : Q: Fascinating! How far up your ass do you keep your head?Jul-20-13A: FAR

  • Eli Center

    Weren’t some massive lenses from that era mildly radioactive? In Soviet Russia, X-Ray Takes You!

  • xBris

    I think it’s called “money laundering” ;)

  • whoonelly

    I have a feeling this person walks around their apartment with a foil helmet on, talking to the “other place”. I wonder if he knows the Nigerian prince.

  • Björn Lubetzki

    The worst thing is the font he used! It constantly changes from big to small. How reads that?? Maybe he did it deliberately to confuse people. If so, it worked!

  • Mel

    It was originally listed for $1,000,000

  • Vladislav Kern (

    Ridiculous. This lens probably values at about $2k on a good day.. the guy just wanted to make headlines..

  • Peng Tuck Kwok

    It says ‘can be related to Zeiss Lens’. Holy mother of jesus even I can be related to Zeiss.

  • jennnnnnnnnnnnn

    List items like this, get exposure to your other, serious auctions.

  • Dwight K Schrute

    “Zeh KGB will focus the lenses!”

  • Burnin Biomass

    Well, at least the lens is in good shape… call that what, LN? EX+?

  • Alex

    He has other questionable items FS….. he’s been reported.

  • Zos Xavius

    that one cracked me up!

  • Zos Xavius


  • Vitaly Falco

    Nice myth. USSR very closely collaborate with Weimar Republic, because both countries was in isolation after WW1. However all collaboration was stopped in 1933 after gitler came to power.

  • Kynikos

    Tell that to Poland in late 1939.

  • Brian

    The seller is lying through his teeth, and is looking for an idiot. That is a barrel lens from a process camera. It’s worth maybe $100.00.

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  • Werner

    But he does not have any serious listings