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Search for year of production of a Carl Zeiss lens



can anyone tell me how to go back to the year of production of a Contax lens from its matriculation-number? Maurizio.
If it is a German made lens, Zeiss Oberkochen will tell you the month of production (just mail the serial number). In case of Japanese lenses they can find out only the year of production.
Is there much of a difference in quality, production, etc. between the German Zeiss lenses and the Japanese Zeiss lenses?