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Saturday, 21 March 2015


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My only Zeiss lenses, and I have kept them with the hope of using them one of these days, are my Hasselblad V lenses, lovely & sharp. It always felt good to use them, whatever the focal length. Most of the camera manufacturers (I have Nikon and Fujifilm) now make such excellent and usually autofocus glass, that I've not felt the urge to invest in Zeiss. The "Oti" sure are tempting though.

I have two--both in Zeiss Contax mount. A Zeiss-Opton 50mm f/2 Sonnar and a Carl Zeiss Jena 5cm f/2 Sonnar collapsible. They reside on a pair of Kiev cameras that I no longer use. More examples of film camera nostalgia in my mini-photo museum.

I purchased A ZEISS LENS TO COMPLIMENT MY NEW SONY A7r. Also an adapter to facilitate the use of my 4 other major brand lenses. The difference is very obvious and I want to say the major brand lenses don't compliment the full frame 36mp system quality.

While I have been concerned with the outsourcing of many of the Zeiss products to Japan like the latest Distagon 35mm f/1.4 for Leica, the quality is amazing. I was almost ready to put the Leica on the shelf when this lens came out. Could be the best lens available for the Leica M...

Remember that Zeiss is the only company where two cameras were created for their two legendary lenses.

The Hasselblad Super Wide was created to host the Biogon, and the Contarex Hologon to host the Hologon.

While the Hologon is an oddity, the Biogon is still one of the best wide angles to this date.

Zeiss is my favorite lens brand, I like their Tessars for Rolleiflex, but also where they have taken their current SLR and M-mount lens ranges in terms of look and ergonomics. They strike to my eye a pleasing compromise in terms of image quality, even to such a point that I'm starting to feel that I've become a bit partial to products from the Z company.


You did say; "... the longer the comment you leave, the less likely people are to read it ..."

I have two. In 2012 I was given the first, which my parents bought a few years before I was born, and it still works:

Bought the second last year, with a camera to suit:

My first Zeiss lens was the Tessar f:3.5 35 mm in Yashica's T4.
These days I'm shooting with the second, a Zeiss Apo-Sonnar f:2.0 135 mm:

sample shot with Zeiss Apo-Sonnar f:2 135 mm

I have a Zeiss Ikon Nettar 518-16 camera with a 75mm f/4.5 Novar-Anastigmat lens. That's a three element lens with front cell focusing.

The 518-16 is a folding camera with scale focusing, making 12 6x6 exposures on 120 film. I don't have a photo of it, but it looks like this.

Only lens I'm using these days - fixed on my Sony RX-10 - is a Zeiss-branded 24-200 (35mm E) F2.8 Vario-Sonnar. Beautifully matched to the camera's 1" sensor, and capable of results that astound me after a year with the camera.

My Super Ikonta, from 1937, has an 80mm f2.8 Opton Tessar. I still use it.

I don't much about this stuff but didn't the Cooke Triplet pre-date Zeiss? This is a wild guess.

I have a Carl Zeiss 60mm f/4.0 UV-Planar, an enlarging lens, which I use for - what else? - UV photography. "-)

And an aluminum Carl Zeiss Jena 50mm f/3.5 Tessar for m4/3 fun.

I recently saw some auction site where someone was wanting to sell one of those Zeiss S-Orthoplanar beauties for $8000. My goodness.

I would surely like to have one of the newer Zeissen for my D810. But I'm still dealing with the cost of that camera.

My favorite Zeiss(and god, how pretentious that sounds:) is the 135 3.5 Planar, on 4x5, 6x7 and 6x9. Really nice on 4x5, but magic stopped down just a tad on smaller formats - I use it mostly on a Linhoff Tech 70 that doesn't have the right frame lines, but it just works so well it's worth the confusion. It's probably voodoo, but what about this hobby isn't?:) The Contax G 45mm Planar is also a treat - although using on anything else is a trial.

I use a Zeiss T 35mm on my Canon 6d and compared to my other Canon/Tamron lenses the Zeiss really sparkles.

I have twelve. The three oldest are marked "Made in West Germany", and go on my Hasselblad. Four are Nikon mount including the stellar 100/f2 Macro Planar and the 135/f2. Three are Leica mount including my most recent purchase, the 35/f1.4 distagon - which begins to look like a masterpiece of lens making.

That leaves two. They are in my glasses which I put on as soon as I wake up and take off when I go to bed. My optician (not me) chooses those, but they have been Zeiss as long as I remember. I have always thought that pictures from my Zeiss equipped cameras look better, and now I begin to wonder if this could be the explanation.

One line in your post caught my attention, unless I misread. There's a Zeiss lens for micro four thirds? Is that right?

[Nope that was a brain cramp. Sorry. Fixed now. --Mike]

I've never owned one -- never cared for Zeiss. Now that you mention it, it is a bit odd since I've owned just about every brand under the sun (apart from Contax / Hasselblad).

Might need to go looking for a moderate - wide Zeiss M mount lens I suppose...


Earlier this month, I rented a Sony Alpha 7 II, a Zeiss 35mm prime and a Zeiss 24-70mm for a week of shooting in Cuba. At the end of the week I compared those images to images from my Nikon D800e and a variety of top of the line Nikkor lenses.

The Net result: I bought a Sony Alpha 7 II, the Zeiss 35 mm prime, the Zeiss 55 mm prime, and the Zeiss 24-70mm. Today I sold my Nikon D810e and will sell all my Nikkor lenses. I foresee using Zeiss lenses for the rest of my life

In my case, I have two Zeiss lenses - which were produced approximately 78 years apart.

The first is a 50mm f:1.5 Sonnar from a 1936 Contaflex twin-lens reflex that my father bought used in 1953. The second is a 24mm f:1.8 Zeiss made in 2013-2014 and used on my Sony NEX-6.

I also have a couple of Kiev rangefinder cameras with Jupiter lenses from the early 1950s that were made on Zeiss tooling by Zeiss techs who had been moved from Germany to Ukraine in 1945 by the Russians as part of the "war reparations". The Jupiter-3 lenses would be very, very hard to tell from the 50mm f:1.5 Contax Sonnar without the labeling.

- Tom -

One correction: Touit lenses are for Sony NEX and Fuji X, not for m4/3 as far as I know.
I have a 2.8/25 Biogon for Leica M, but only a film Leica at the moment so it does not see much use. I also have a 38 Biogon in a SWC905, one of the last new ones before they stopped production. Should go and buy some film
to make use of hat one as well.
I also have a 80 Planar and 150 Sonnar for the 'blad.
Once in Shanghai I got a cheap Chinese adapter from Hasselblad V to Leica R, and fitted that 150 on another adapter to convert the R to 4/3 and compared that 20 or so year old Zeiss medium format lens with one of the best modern lenses, the 2/150 Zuiko, on the same E-3 body. Quality was about the same. Very sharp and contrasty. Of course the Zuiko was designed for 1" image circle while the Sonnar covered 6x6. Quite an accomplishment.
I had a Yashica T3 for a while with a Zeiss lens. But I dropped the camera and it broke.
I suppose my most used current Zeiss lens is in the pure view camera of my Nokia phone. Best mobile camera, and lens, on the market. Or I should say best ever made because it is not really on the market anymore. Still better than any current contraption whether from Korea or the i company.

I had for a while a 28/45/59/85/135 combo from contax to fit both Fuji and M43. I stupidly sold them to a friend as I felt they were surplus to needs.
The 28/45/135 were perfectly serviceable on a modern camera, but the 50 and 85 were quite special.

I've a 12mm Touit in Fujifilm X mount. Wonderful contrast; I should use it more often. Touts are somewhat pricey new (B&H has a sale going at the moment) but they can be had used for very attractive prices.


A Carl Zeiss CB 80mm 2.8 T* Planar on a beautiful chrome Hasselblad 501CM, acquired recently for B&W portraits. Shot the first roll yesterday.

The lens is attractive and smooth-handling, with low-key white and grey numerals, notched black rubber focus and aperture rings, and a scratch-less polycarbonate filter ring and barrel. And, with the mirror locked up, a nice gentle snick from the in-lens shutter. No electronics in sight.

My Zeiss camera lens is the 35 mm f2.8 for my Sony A7. Love the lens. But Zeiss optical quality, of course, is not limited to camera lenses. I have a pair of surgical loupes that probably date to the early 1960s that have excellent optics. I still on occasion use a Zeiss OPMI-6 surgical microscope that is over 35 years old, and the newer Zeiss surgical microscopes are at the top of their league. I think the Zeiss and Leica surgical microscopes are the best. In regard to surgical microscopes, the Germans have something in their secret sauce that leave the others struggling to catch up.

My very first camera, a Praktica, came with a Zeiss Tessar lens in about 1967.

I have three Zeiss Contax G lenses, the 28mm Biogon, the 35mm Planar and the 90mm Sonnar. If only they had focusing rings!

And I have the Sony RX10 with its 24-200mm Zeiss. Yes, they are very hard to be without.

I have had three Zeiss lenses, the 25mm and 35mm Biogons and a 50mm Planar all M mount. Sadly I no longer have them but they were really nice in use and the results top notch. As some recompense I am really looking forward to the "Fujicron" 35mm as an AF nod to both Zeiss and Leitz.

Don't know if this counts but I have a Zeiss Ikon Nettar with a 75mm f6.3 Novar. I think it is uncoated but not sure, the lens looks clear to me.

Almost forgot, I also have a Zeiss Box Tengor, but I just looked and it has a Goerz Frontar lens.

Never had a Zeiss lens. In my formative years, they were famous for making slow lenses, basically (hence the ad featuring the Super-Q Gigantar 40mm f/0.3), which was incompatible with what I was doing.

Now I don't have anything vaguely like the budget. But am also not all that sold on the importance of differences in "drawing" and other subtleties; the one time my Leica friend thought one of my shots looked like it was taken with the Leica (in an 8x10 print), it had in fact been taken with a Tokina zoom on a Pentax.

"Every photographer needs at least one Zeiss lens."

Oops, moment of panic! Do I have to quickly buy a Zeiss lens or not be a photographer? Might I have to dispose of all the images I have made, under the mistaken impression that I was a photographer?

Then I remembered ... There's a CZJ Tessar 2.8/50 T sitting on a corner of my desk. I think I'll keep it there, as a certificate of belonging.

Whew! {;~)>

Oh, do the Zeiss enlarging lenses in the basement count, too?

[I just said you need one, not that it's required. You know, like I need a million bucks. --Mike]

I have the Planar 2/50 in [Z]M mount.

My first Zeiss lens was the Distagon 4/18 also in M mount. I traded it for the Planar and a replacement wide angle lens (Voigtlander 25/4 VM), both new in Hong Kong (had to pony up additional cash). The Planar is the only lens I have that can produce usable pictures at higher than ISO 800 on my GXR-M.

There are two other Zeiss ZM lenses on my wish list. The discontinued Tele-Tessar 2/85 (if I can find it) and the current Distagon 1.4/35 (when I can afford it).

(Larger picture)

I've never owned a Zeiss lens. Not because I wouldn't have been interested but because they were either too expensive for me or incompatible with my photographic interests at a given stage in life.

But what about now? B&H has a nice sale on the Zeiss Touits for Sony and Fuji. At $499, might be able to swing the 32mm f1.8 in X-mount. But I recently picked up Fuji's own 35mm f/1.4. Certainly the Touit 12mm f/2.8 would be nice but it's sale price is $699. I might have to work on that.

A Zeiss Ikon Contessa? My dad bought that same model to take my baby photos in '54. Later it became the first camera I ever used.

I have a modern-day 50/1.4 Planar adapted to m4/3. Thought it would make a good portrait lens and stopped down a bit it most certainly does.

I have a Biogon 21/2.8 that I bought to be an effective 28 mm lens for use on an M8 Leica. It was a clear choice over the 21 Elmarit for that role. Since then incredibly crisp Super-Elmar 21s have come along and the Leica M got to full frame, so that Biogon is resting quietly in a drawer, waiting for me to give it another run.


PS I also have an old Hasselblad SWC, which is ALL Zeiss. The only Hasselblad whose price still keeps going up on E-Bay.

"Have you got one?". Yes, several. In fact there's a new one on the way as I write. My initial experience with Zeiss lenses was on the Leica M platform. I then tried several focal lengths for my Canon EF system. My observation was that they all tended to render scenes cooler than their OEM counterparts. That's neither good nor bad. Just an observation.

Ultimately the manual focus and the bulk/weight of the Zeiss lenses with EF mounts put them on the bench for me. I've only one M mount in semi-regular service.

As for the Zeiss-branded OEM lenses by Sony they've been excellent, whether integrated (RX100) or separate. Also interestingly, I have not observed the coolness from their images.

So what Zeiss lens is on the way? With the current manufacturers sale on the Zeiss Touit lenses I decided to try the 32mm for Fuji X mount. It should be a handy focal length for me and it's AF facility should make it vastly more useful than its predecessors.

I have the Tessar 2,8/45 CY on my A7; the lens is only 19mm long; much shorter than the adapter. Recently purchased for a two digit sum ($ or €, much the same these days.)

Over they years I've had maybe ten Zeiss lenses and I like 'em. It seems they have one for every use, from all 'rounders, to soft portrait types, to hard and sharp architectural.

My favorite current Zeiss is a ZM28mm Biogon for a 35mm film camera. Just a great everyday lens. But below is an 80mm Planar on a Hassy with PanF (the repent image) and a ZM 50mm Sonnar on a 35mm camera using Neopan1600. That Sonnar is a fun lens to have when there is little light.

I still use a coated Zeiss Tessar lens that was made in the late 1940s.

I have two Zeiss lenses. I wear them most the time to correct my vision. On my glasses. On the other hand, I own about 30 or 40 cameras in all formats -bad GAS case- and not one of them has a Zeiss lens. Schneider, Pentax, Fuji, Nikkor, Bronica, Yashinon, Panasonics, Leitz, Sigma, Zuiko, etc. Oh, wait! I have a compact Yashica with a Zeiss lens! I'm in the club!

Oh yes! Of course I've got Zeiss lenses: a 50/2 ZM Planar and a 85/4 ZM Tele-Tessar. Both are great performers and I much prefer the Planar to the Summicron I had before it. I also had the Canon version of the Planar together with a 28/2 Distagon I didn't like that much since it had plenty of blue-green aberration in highlights.

Great construction and feeling in all four cases...

"Every photographer needs at least one Zeiss lens. Have you got one?"

You're an unmitigated swine, Mike Johnston! (Just when I thought I had my Gear Acquisition Syndrome under control…)

I have owned a bunch of Zeiss lenses over the years. The first was in my dad's pre WW2 Rollei TLR, which I still have. The first camera that I bought was a Zeiss Contaflex. I loved their lenses for Hassleblad.

Recently, I bought a Sony A99 just so I could get the 135/1.8 Sonnar and wound up getting the 24 Distagon and 50mm Planar also. Zeiss lenses can be addictive. The 35/2 Sonnar on the RX1R is a real killer lens, perhaps my favorite Zeiss, ever.


Nothing more pleasant on a nice lazy Sunday than a lens voodoo discussion. There's a 50mm Distagon, 80mm Planar and a 250 Sonnar in my film gear bag which sadly only comes out a couple of times a year. Still these lenses are rather wonderful.
One of the sad things about the decline in darkroom work is that we no longer get to argue about which enlarging lens is best. Oh well everybody knows it's the 105mm EL Nikor anyway so let's all go hit the couch, turn on the golf channel and have a nice nap.

My first introduction to Zeiss was in a bacteriology course at university; I had use of a Zeiss dual-ocular, phase contrast, oil-immersion light microscope. It was fabulous. They took my Zeiss away for a couple weeks for service and gave me an Olympus to use, and it wasn't even comparable. I wanted my Zeiss back!

I used a Yashica T4 for a number of years that had a wonderful Zeiss T* Tessar lens on it (my mother is using it now) and I still own a titanium-bodied Contax T3 that sports a spectacular Zeiss T* Sonnar f/2.8 lens. Images shot with that little puppy on Fuji Provia 100 was an experience to behold.

The Zeiss Planar 50/1.7 is the only lens that I have for my RTS. I do, however, dream of adding the 35/2.8 and 85/2.8 lenses one day. Here are a few samples - incidentally all featuring my son Anton:

I can't say I've ever commented on the lens when looking at a photograph.

Geek talk ends at the photograph IMO.

I do like a Zeiss. My walk around for my Sony A7r kit tends to be all Zeiss Sonnar. I have the native 35/2.8 & 55/1.8 but also carry a Contax G90 mounted on a third generation Tech-Art AF adapter that gives surprisingly adequate AF performance in decent light.

I'll often supplement these from the set of C/Y lenses I've built up over the last few years. Typically one or other of my 18mm or 25mm Distagons, which are a touch smeary in the corners but render beautiful images nonetheless. I also use the monster 28-85 Vario-Sonnar, an enormous zoom that can be flare prone at the wide end but is sharper at the edges than the wide primes and has, for me, pleasingly smooth colour gradations and transitions.

I use a coated Zeiss Tessar in one of my cameras.

Do clones of Zeiss designs count? After all, your beloved Takumar 50/1.4 is an (arguably improved) Planar copy, and the 43/4.5 for the Mamiya 7 is a very good Biogon design. Imitation being the sincerest form of flattery, and all that?

I have one, Distagon ZF (35mm, f2, Nikon mount) sorry if that's redundant, oh and a Zeiss lens on my now ancient mini DV Sony camcorder circa 2001. Surely obsolete by now, but hey it uses film in a manner of speaking. 😀😀😀

A Sony A7II and the beautiful manual focus Zeiss Loxia 50mm would probably be a nearly ideal outfit for a One Camera, One Lens, One Year-project.

In the early '60's I was talked out of an Argus "the brick" C3 and into a 35mm Werra 1(Commie camera), sporting a Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar 2.8/50 lens, mounted in a Prestor RVS shutter.

I used it for a number of years until I moved up to an M3. To my eye, images from the Werra are on par with the M. It's still in my collection.

Zeiss ... yummy.

I used to have several for my Leicas and Hasselblads, but now that I've downsized and gone all digital I have just one. The very one that's on your Sony NEX in your photo in fact: the Sonnar T* 24mm F1.8, the only difference being that it's on an a6000 in my case. Lovely lens.

Was going to say No but my RX1 has a Zeiss lens - does that count?

[Not only does it count, didn't another commenter say it was his all-time FAVORITE Zeiss lens? --Mike]

I said earlier that I have three Zeiss Contax G lenses but I wished they had focus rings. I'd forgotten about the Metabones adapters. They adapt these Zeiss G lenses to m4/3 with a focus ring around the adapter. Turn on focus peaking in the E-M1 viewfinder, add in the image stabilisation and hey. I've just ordered two, for the 35mm Planar and the 90mm Sonnar.

I have the three Zeiss F1.4 lenses in Y/C mount. I've used them for 30 years. I now use them with an adaptor on my 5D MKII. I often use the 50mm 1.4 with a Vivitar Macro/Multiplier adapter which gives me beautiful results. I now use them more for B&W than color which was also the case when I shot with film but the Zeiss with Kodachrome was a marriage made in heaven. Didn't need no Velvia. Mike used my 35, 50 & 85 with his Aria for awhile and wrote about them in Darkroom Techniques. Unfortunately I lost my copy when moving.
50mm F1.4 @ F1.4 with mixed lighting.

I have two ZEISS lenses (the name of the company is now spelled with capitals, right?). One C Sonnar T f1.5 50 ZM that I use in the A7II, and the other on my Lumia smartphone.

Both are great!

I've had the privilege of using a Contarex system for a number of years and I still miss the spectacular 21 mm Biogon.

I have one Zeiss lens, the 21mm f/2.8 Distagon ZE, and that darn lens has spoiled me. I have used Zeiss research grade microscopes in the past, the exact models used escapes me. I believe that the refracting setup at my opthalmologist's office is Zeiss - I don't remember who made the slit lamp microscope. Almost all planetarium projectors were custom-built by Zeiss to fit the specific planetarium.

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