Extension Tubes with CONTAX Zeiss 28-85mm

Robber fly shot with the CONTAX Zeiss 28-85mm @ f11 and 18mm extension tube. Image taken at MFD.

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 flower shots. The image above was from a hike today. I had an 18mm extension tube attached and the lens was at 85mm when this robber fly landed on a branch next to me. I tend to keep the lens at minimum focus distance and then move closer until the insect is in focus. I’ve also used the 28mm end of the zoom for some interesting shots. You can physically get much closer when the lens is extended to 28mm but since it’s 28mm and not 85mm, the actually image obtained is smaller on the sensor. It’s really a matter of how you want to frame your shot. Sometimes 28mm will be more appealing and other times you’ll want to use 85mm.

An exciting screw in a board. CONTAX Zeiss 28-85mm @f5.6 with 18mm extension tube.

Notice the hexagonal bokeh this lens produces when stopped down. The lens is also devoid of chromatic aberration.

Water on a leaf. Shot with CONTAX Zeiss 28-85mm lens
Water drops on a leaf. Shot with the CONTAX Zeiss 28-85mm lens wide open, and 18mm extension tube.

Contax Zeiss 100mm f3.5 For Macro Photography

I’m not sure how many extension tubes I’d have to add to actually get the lens to 1:1 for true macro photography; nonetheless, you can definitely add an extension tube and come out with some great results. Here is a flower shot I took with an 18mm extension tube attached to the lens.

Contax Zeiss 100mm f3.5 @ f8 with an 18mm extension tube. Unedited.

Below is a crop of the stamen:

Contax Zeiss 100mm f3.5 @ f8 with an 18mm extension tube. Unedited. Cropped.

The colors are excellent, typical Zeiss straight out of the camera. The black areas are deep and specular highlights have no chromatic aberration. Excellent detail. I’d be happy using this combination anytime I need to get a bit closer to the subject. Without the 18mm extension tube the lens has a minimum focusing distance of 3ft. With the 18mm extension tube it brings it down to roughly 21 inches, a little less than half the distance.

My makeshift MFD measurement:

XQD card holder next to tape measurer at minimum focusing distance.

I used ImageJ to make a new MFD calculation. I knew the XQD card that fits in the card holder has a long edge of 38.5mm. Using the inside edges of the plastic I was able to set the pixel to mm ratio in ImageJ and obtain a cross sectional measurement of the full image, and then divided by 35mm. That puts the MFD of this lens with an 18mm extension tube at 1:3.98. Basically 1:4. Certainly not macro. If someone would like to download my image and check my math that would be great. I may make another post actually getting the lens to 1:1 with enough extension tubes but I’m not sure how usable the images would be.

All-in-all, I definitely will be using extension tubes with this lens because the images produced are outstanding. They’re not macro but they’re a lot closer than the 1m (3f) native MFD of the lens.

Update: I added another extension tube (11mm) for a total of 29mm, and a new MFD of 1:3. I’d like to get even closer but my other extension tubes are for Nikon F-mount so I have no more to stack. The image is still nice and sharp since extension tubes don’t really add aberrations. They will decrease the amount of light hitting the sensor by a good amount depending how many you use, but that’s math for another day.

CONTAX 100mm f3.5 with 29mm of extension tubes.

Macro Photography with Contax Zeiss Lenses

This week I’ll be trying out an assortment of Contax Zeiss lenses to see how well they perform for macro photography. Years ago I produced some stunning results so this should be interesting. I use extension tubes followed by the Nikon Z to C/Y adapter. The image below is from the Contax Zeiss 28-85mm f3.3-4 lens a few years ago.

CONTAX Zeiss 28-85mm with extension tubes for macro photography.

Update: Took some test shots with the CONTAX Zeiss 100mm f3.5 and 18mm extension tube. It didn’t reach 1:1, only 1:4, but the images were excellent.