Exploring the vintage lenses made during the CONTAX Carl Zeiss & Yashica partnership.
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.
When thinking of a standard zoom from CONTAX, it’s usually the 35-70mm f3.4 that people rave about. I’ve always shot with the 28-85mm and never really understood the lure of the 35-70mm. After shooting with it for a few days I’ve come to learn a few possible reasons for its highly regarded reputation. The first … Continue reading “Initial Impressions of the CONTAX Zeiss 35-70mm f3.4”
Micro Contrast, or microcontrast, or tonal range, measures the ability of a lens to resolve shade variations. There has always been a debate whether micro contrast actually matters, or even exists at all. These debates typically also involve discussions of “3D pop” and “Zeiss rendering”. Over the years I’ve come to realize that some people … Continue reading “Micro Contrast of CONTAX Lenses”
I believe this lens to be pretty close to optically perfect. Colors and contrast are outstanding, even wide open. This image is scaled down for the web. The only edits were converting from RAW to JPG and downsizing. This is just a test shot, review to come shortly. I’m very impressed with this vintage lens … Continue reading “CONTAX Carl Zeiss 100mm f2 Makro Planar Wide Open”
Today I acquired the CONTAX Zeiss 100mm f2 Makro Planar and adapted it to the Nikon Z6 using the KIPON C/Y to N/Z adapter. Review to come shortly. There is always healthy debate online as to which focal length is best for portrait photography. I’ve used the newer Zeiss 135mm f2 APO for portraits and … Continue reading “CONTAX Zeiss 100mm f2 Makro Planar”
This is a quick comparison showing the minimum focus distance of the CONTAX Zeiss 50mm f1.2 to Nikon’s 55mm f1.2. The vintage 55mm from Nikon has been my go-to “Nifty 50” for quite some time. I’d really like to see how it stacks up against the 50mm from CONTAX. Minimum Focus Distance of CONTAX 50mm … Continue reading “CONTAX Zeiss 50mm f1.4 vs Nikon 55mm f1.2”
Was going for a vintage look with this image. Not easy with the Toyota Prius parked on the curb. I don’t recall what the f-stop was for this pic but judging from the vignette in the top left corner I’m assuming it was wide open.
January 7th and this is the first real snow of the year in Northern Maryland, and just a few inches. I’ve been using the 28mm f2.8 a lot for landscapes lately. Contrast and color is great. The lens will flare if pointed directly towards the sun. I managed to get this photo without any flare.
I’ve been walking around with the Contax Zeiss 28mm f2.8 for a little over a month. I can easily say this has become my go-to landscape hiking lens. It’s small enough to not be bothersome on long hikes, and the image quality is superb. The image above is from conservation land in my town. I … Continue reading “Shooting Landscapes with the Contax 28mm f2.8”
Caught this morning’s sunrise with the CONTAX Zeiss 28mm f2.8. I’ve been playing around with bracketing exposure. This was five shots merged together in Adobe Lightroom. I’m not sure it was necessary for this image as the properly exposed image looks the same. This 28mm lens has great color and contrast, although this image is … Continue reading “Zeiss Colors. CONTAX Zeiss 28mm f2.8”
This is the type of flare you can expect from the CONTAX Zeiss 28mm f2.8 if you point it directly at the sun. This photo is somewhat underexposed to show more detail around the sun and the character of the sun-stars this lens produces. It will flare more than a modern Nikon or Zeiss lens. … Continue reading “Lens flare of the CONTAX Zeiss 28mm f2.8”
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.
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:
Pronounced “T-Star”, The famous Zeiss multi-coating used on T* lenses.
Wide-angle lenses of retrofocus design.
Reserved for Zeiss fish-eye lenses.
Hologon & Biogon:
Non-retrofocus wide angle lenses
Fixed focal-length primes with large maximum apertures.
Zeiss telephoto lenses. Also includes Tele-Tessar and APO variants.
Zoomable Sonnar lenses.
Simple 4 element lens design. Typically with a medium focal length.
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:
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.