CONTAX Zeiss Lens Reviews

Welcome to the site. I showcase images taken with CONTAX Zeiss lenses and provide useful reviews and information should you decide to purchase a vintage CONTAX lens. Most lenses these days are selling on sites like KEH.com and Ebay. Mirrorless cameras have made adapting these lenses effortless with simple C/Y to “your mirrorless mount” adapters. I use a KIPON C/Y-N/Z adapter.

Latest CONTAX Zeiss Reviews and Images:

An overview of CONTAX Zeiss lenses and history:

I’ve developed a bit of a fondness for these vintage lenses. Great build quality, unique rendering, Zeiss “3D Pop”, and price, are a few of the reasons I reach for one of these lenses 9 times out of 10. I’m putting together this website in order to provide specific information on a variety of Carl Zeiss lenses made for CONTAX in the C/Y mount. New mirrorless systems from Nikon, Sony, and Canon, have made adapting these vintage lenses effortless. I hope you find the site enjoyable and informational. My inventory of CONTAX Zeiss glass is slowly growing. Check back often for new reviews if you can’t find the lens you’re looking for.

Contax/Yashica:

In 1975 Zeiss formed a partnership with Japanese lens manufacturer Yashica (owned by Kyocera), in order to offshore camera production at a time when pressure between East and West Germany made previous collaborations over the Berlin wall difficult. The Contax brand would change from Contax, to CONTAX, and a new mount would be developed by Zeiss, the C/Y mount. Naming conventions for C/Y mount lenses include:

T*:Pronounced “T-Star”, The famous Zeiss multi-coating used on T* lenses.
Distagon:Wide-angle lenses of retrofocus design.
F-Distagon:Reserved for Zeiss fish-eye lenses.
PC-Distagon:Tilt-shift lenses.
Hologon & Biogon:Non-retrofocus wide angle lenses
Planar:Fixed focal-length primes with large maximum apertures.
Sonnar:Zeiss telephoto lenses. Also includes Tele-Tessar and APO variants.
Vario-Sonnar:Zoomable Sonnar lenses.
Tessar:Simple 4 element lens design. Typically with a medium focal length.
Mutar:The designation for CONTAX Zeiss teleconverters.
Mirotar:Reserved for CONTAX Zeiss mirror lenses.

Lenses in C/Y Mount:

Focal Length/Aperture:Lens Design:
15mm f3.5Distagon T*
16mm f2.8F-Distagon T*
18mm f4Distagon T*
21mm f2.8Distagon T*
25mm f2.8Distagon T*
28mm f2Distagon T*
28mm f2.8Distagon T*
28-70mm f3.5-4.5Vario-Sonnar T*
28-85mm f3.3-4Vario-Sonnar T*
35mm f1.4Distagon T*
35mm f2.8Distagon T*
35mm f2.8Distagon T*
35-70mm f3.4Vario-Sonnar T*
35-135mm f3.3-4.5Vario-Sonnar T*
40-80mm f3.5Vario-Sonnar T*
45mm f2.8Tessar T*
45mm f2.8Tessar T*
50mm f1.7Planar T*
50mm f1.4Planar T*
50mm f1.4Planar T*
55mm f1.2Planar T*
60mm f2.8Macro-Planar T*
60mm f2.8 CMacro-Planar T*
60mm f2.8S-Planar T* (Older Macro)
85mm f1.2Planar T* (50y Anniversary)
85mm f1.2Planar T* (60y Anniversary)
85mm f1.4Planar T*
85mm f2.8Sonnar T*
100mm f2Planar T*
100mm f2.8Macro-Planar t*
100mm f4S-Planar T* (Older Macro)
100mm f3.5Sonnar T*
135mm f2.8Sonnar T*
135mm f2Planar T*
135mm f2Planar T* (60y Anniversary)
180mm f2.8Sonnar T*
200mm f2APO-Sonnar T*
200mm f3.5Tele-Tessar T*
200mm f4Tele-Tessar T*
210mm f5.6N-Mirotar T*
70-210mm f3.5Vario-Sonnar T*
80-200mm f4Vario-Sonnar T*
300mm f2.8Tele-Apotessar T*
300mm f4Tele-Tessar T*
100-300mm f4.5-5.6Vario-Sonnar T*
500mm f4.5Mirotar T*
500mm f8Mirotar T*
600mm f4Tele-Apotessar T*
1000mm f5.6Mirotar T*

Lenses come in AEG, AEJ, MMG, and MMJ versions. “G” versions were made in Germany while “J” versions were made in Japan. MM versions, whether Germany or Japan, changed the style of the aperture blades and added different coatings, but otherwise the optical formulas remained the same for most of the CONTAX line. The only notable difference for my shooting is the ninja star bokeh of the AE versions. Ninja star bokeh is a product of the aperture blade design, typically apparent one or two clicks from wide open. Some like the effect and some hate it. My 180mm f2.8 is an AEG version but I’m primarily shooting at f2.8 so it’s never really an issue. Lens coatings have apparently been improved on the MM versions but I’ve never really noticed a difference. MM versions are easy to identify by looking at the smallest f-stop number. It will be colored green like in the image to the left. AEG versions have all numbers painted white.

A Selection of CONTAX Zeiss Images:

CONTAX Zeiss 180mm f2.8 wide open and unedited. Beautiful color reproduction straight out of the camera.
CONTAX Zeiss 28-85mm f3.3-4
Building shot with CONTAX Zeiss 28-85mm Lens
CONTAX Zeiss 28-85mm f3.4-4. Typical Zeiss colors.
CONTAX Zeiss 180mm f2.8 shot wide open @ f2.8
The CONTAX Zeiss 28-85mm makes a wonderful vintage portrait lens.
Beautiful colors from the CONTAX Zeiss 100mm f3.5. Shot wide open & unedited.
Robber fly shot with extension tubes and CONTAX Zeiss 28-85mm lens.
Contax Zeiss 28-85mm f3.3-4 with 18mm extension tube. Shot @ f11.

Extension tubes are great for those times when you’re not planning on macro photography but just want to get a bit closer. CONTAX Zeiss lenses excel with extension tubes because of their high resolution and minimum chromatic aberration. I can take one CONTAX Zeiss lens into the field, throw an extension tube in my pocket, and be able to shoot a wide variety of subjects while carrying minimum weight.

An Assortment of CONTAX Zeiss Lenses
An Assortment of CONTAX Zeiss Lenses. From left to right: 80-200mm f4, 180mm f2.8, 135mm f2.8, 100mm f3.5, On Nikon Z6: 28-85mm f3.3-4.

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