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.