CONTAX Zeiss Lens Reviews

Taken with the CONTAX Zeiss 28-85mm f3.3-4

Welcome to the site. Here we 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:

  • Comparing an assortment of CONTAX Zeiss lenses at minimum focus distance
    For this test I wanted to see how my current collection of CONTAX Zeiss lenses compared at minimum focus distance. This will give you a sense of the focal lengths, …
  • CONTAX Zeiss 50mm f1.4 vs Nikon 55mm f1.2
    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 …
  • Vintage look of the CONTAX 28-85mm
    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 …
  • First Snow of the Year. CONTAX 28mm f2.8
    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 …
  • Shooting Landscapes with the Contax 28mm f2.8
    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 …
  • Zeiss Colors. CONTAX Zeiss 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 …
  • Lens flare of the 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 …
  • Close Focus of CONTAX Zeiss 28mm f2.8
    This week I’ve been walking around town with the CONTAX Zeiss 28mm f2.8 lens. People must think I’m a bit strange taking photos of the most innocuous items, like the …
  • CONTAX Zeiss 28mm f2.8
    Today I had the privilege of shooting with the CONTAX Zeiss 28mm f2.8. Here’s a black and white shot I took while at the local pond. I’ll have a review …
  • Contax Zeiss 100mm f3.5 Resolution
    I often find that I grab the 100mm f3.5 because of its light weight, small size, and outstanding image quality. The lens is amazing wide open. I stopped down here …
  • A day hike with the CONTAX Zeiss 28-85mm f3.3-4.
    Today was a hike around town with the 28-85mm. A great zoom range if you’re not quite sure what you’ll be shooting. Check out my main review of the CONTAX …
  • Extension Tubes with CONTAX Zeiss 28-85mm
    I really enjoy shooting macro shots with the 28-85mm. Sure they’re not 1:1 and you loose infinity focus, but the images are great and you can certainly obtain insect and …

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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