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, lens compression, bokeh, and other characteristics while choosing a CONTAX Zeiss lens. No images have been corrected or modified in any way.

For this test I have sheepy in front of a miniature Christmas tree. He never moved for the test.

First up is the 28mm f2.8

CONTAX Zeiss 28mm f2.8 at MFD & f2.8

Followed by the 50mm f1.4

CONTAX Zeiss 50mm f1.4 at MFD & f1.4

Followed by the 28-85mm f3.3-4

CONTAX Zeiss 28-85mm at 28mm & MFD & wide open.
CONTAX Zeiss 28-85mm at 85mm & MFD & wide open.

Followed by the 100mm f3.5

CONTAX Zeiss 100mm f3.5 at MFD & f3.5

Followed by the 135mm f2.8

CONTAX Zeiss 135mm f2.8 at MFD & f2.8

Followed by the 80-200mm f4

CONTAX Zeiss 80-200mm f4 at 80mm & MFD & f4
CONTAX Zeiss 80-200mm f4 at 200mm & MFD & f4

Followed by the 180mm f2.8

CONTAX Zeiss 180mm f2.8 @ MFD & f2.8

Followed by the 300mm f4

CONTAX Zeiss 300mm f4 @ MFD & f4.

What conclusions can I make from this?

For starters, the 50mm f1.4 seems to give a very pleasing rendering, which is able to capture enough of the sheep, while also melting away the background. The zoomable 28-85mm f3.3-4 has a fairly poor minimum focus distance at 28mm, meaning I couldn’t isolate the sheep, and ended up getting much of the couch in the photo; however, it does a more pleasing job at 85mm.

Surprisingly, the 80-200mm f4 can get closer at 80mm than it can at 200mm, and our winner in the tight crop department has to be the 180mm f2.8, I could only get the head in the frame at MFD. The 300mm f4 has the most compression, no surprise there, but it’s not able to blur the backgrounds like the 180mm f2.8 or the 50mm f1.4.

Let me know your thoughts below!

First Snow of the Year. CONTAX 28mm f2.8

Contax Zeiss 28mm f2.8 @f11 ISO 100 1/250s

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.

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 enough to not be bothersome on long hikes, and the image quality is superb.

A landscape image shot with the Contax Zeiss 28mm f2.8 lens.
Contax Zeiss 28mm f2.8 @ f11.

The image above is from conservation land in my town. I chose f11 because of the depth of this scene and wanting to have most of it in focus. The lens exhibits typical Zeiss colors. I did find the image much warmer at f11 than at f2.8. The image below is wide open at f2.8:

Contax Zeiss 28mm f2.8 @f2.8

The above images were shot within seconds of each other. Notice how much cooler the second image is at f2.8. I shot a few images at both f-stops to confirm this effect. ISO for both images was 100. The f11 image was shot at 1/1600s and the f2.8 image was shot at 1/125s. My guess is that the sensor of my Nikon Z6 chose interprets scenes differently based on the amount of light entering the lens. Keep in mind that with no mechanical or electronic connection to the camera, this lens was at f11 during metering, instead of stopping down after metering, the way a modern lens would. The warmer colors of the f11 image is how I saw the scene while taking the photos.

Corner sharpness isn’t great at f2.8. See image below:

Contax Zeiss 28mm f2.8 Corner Sharpness @f2.8

Center sharpness is great. These corners aren’t looking great at f2.8. They’re also out of focus so not the best test.

Below is an image at f8:

Contax Zeiss 28mm f2.8 @f8

While corner sharpness isn’t great at f2.8, I’m not really in the habit of shooting landscapes at f2.8, and much prefer f8 and higher, and that’s where this lens shines for landscapes.

Zeiss Colors. CONTAX Zeiss 28mm f2.8

Contax Zeiss 28mm f2.8 @f8

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 a bit dark. If you zoom in there is a bit of lens flare just above the cloud at the 10 o’clock position from the sun.

Lens flare of the CONTAX Zeiss 28mm f2.8

CONTAX Zeiss 28mm f2.8 @f11 exhibiting lens flare

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.

CONTAX Zeiss 28mm f2.8 @f11 exhibiting lens flare

A hood will help from light coming in from an angle, but not these direct shots of the sun.

Close Focus of CONTAX Zeiss 28mm f2.8

CONTAX Zeiss 28mm f2.8 @ f2.8 and Minimum focus distance

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 corner of this “Do Not Feed the Birds” sign. While I agree this makes for a strange image, I’m really impressed with the minimum focus distance of the lens. I’m not used to being able to blow out the backgrounds with a 28mm lens. Out of focus areas are pleasing and not distracting at all.

CONTAX Zeiss 28mm f2.8

Black & white image shot with 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 of the lens up shortly. So far I’m really impressed. Micro contrast is excellent, and colors are rich and vibrant when shooting in color. What’s amazed me so far is the minimum focus distance.