CONTAX Zeiss 80-200mm f4

CONTAX Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* 80-200mm f4 MMJ Lens

This is a great alternative to heavier and more expensive 70-200mm f2.8 lenses of today. While an f4 and not 2.8, this lens retains the “Zeiss 3D Pop” that is often lost with newer zooms, even the professional 70-200mm f2.8 lenses of today, especially at 80mm. If you’re shooting sports or weddings (documentative photography) then one of those other autofocus lenses is probably better, but also much more expensive. This lens typically sells for around $200.


Contax Zeiss 80-200mm f4 bokeh at f4.
Contax Zeiss 80-200mm f4 @ 200mm f4. At minimum focus distance backgrounds just melt away.

Bokeh balls from this lens at f4 are round in the center and develop cats-eye bokeh near the edges of the frame.

Contax Zeiss 80-200mm f4 bokeh at f8.
Contax Zeiss 80-200mm f4 @ 200mm f8.

Stopping down to f8 shows the 9 slightly rounded aperture blades. This is the MM version that does not exhibit ninja-star bokeh. I’ve never owned an AE version of the 80-200mm.

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Sample Images:

Contax Zeiss 80-200mm f4 @ 200mm.
80mm @ f4. At 80mm images just pop off the page. Typical for Zeiss glass.
200mm @ f4. Stepped back to frame the shot roughly the same. Still pleasing at 200mm. Less Zeiss pop because of the compression factor of 200mm.
80mm @ f4. Slight vignetting in the corners. Cleans up nicely by f8
200mm @ f4. Still some vignetting. Cleans up nicely by f8.
200mm @ f4. Slight CA on the floating bobber.
200mm @ f8. CA has disappeared and vignetting is gone.
Heavy crop. 200mm f4. CA present around bobber.
Heavy crop. 200mm f8. CA is non-existent.
80mm @ f4. Deep colors and great contrast from f4.
200mm @ f4. Also great colors and contrast. A great feature of Zeiss glass are the accurate colors straight out of the camera.

If you’re looking for a vintage zoom lens to compliment your kit then you can’t really go wrong with the CONTAX Zeiss 80-200mm f4. It’s not as famous as some of the other lenses but it’s a great shooter nonetheless. It certainly outperforms the other 80-200mm lenses of the day, and even gives current 70-200mm options a run for their money.

Are there any negatives to this lens?

The shape of this lens is slightly awkward. It’s not terrible but it’s long and slender, making it look kind of odd on a mirrorless camera like the Nikon Z6. That’s really a minor issue though.

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