I’ve been thinking for a while to glue it on the Canon 5d mark II…and that should tell you something!
It’s really the lens that you will reach in your bag more often that not, unless you shoot Nascar or Formula 1…
Scary sharp, contrasty, doesn’t know what the flare is even if you are shooting directly into the sun, easy to focus, not so bulky for beeing a macro lens.
All of this for 300 / 500 € street, depends in wich conditions you will find one and if from a private seller or from a shop.
There is also a cheaper version called C-Planar that goes only to 1:2 but with the same optic; if you are not interested in macro, or if you can appreciate the cut in weight and bulkiness, it may worth a look.
After the first photos this will be the word that will be out of your mouth when you will see the results.
The pictures made with this handy zoom literally pops-out from the screen, even from the tiny one of the digital cameras, not to mention from an iMac!
By any means this it’s not a cheap lens.
When it came out its price was out of range for most professionals. And even used, now, its price is stable around the 500/700 euro.
But, believe me, it is worth every cent.
Luminosity aside, carrying this tiny (for the focal range) lens is like carrying around a full set of top-grade fixed focal lenghts.
Contrast, color, definition; it’s all over the top. The only lenses that I know of that are marginally better of this zoom are some fixed Zeiss focal lenses: the Contax 85mm f/2,8, the 100mm f/2 and the 100mm f/2,8 Makro. Period.
Even the Contax 300mm f/4 falls short in comparision.
Long story short: unless you shoot sport, if you manage to find one buy it, and you will not regret!
One of the best “bang for the bucks” out there.
Its strongest point is the colour rendition, tipically Zeiss despite the Yashica lineage.
The first weakest point is the relatively vast amount of flare when shot in backlight (otherwise it would have scored a full 4 stars).
Its second weakness is that the macro focus range starts at an odd distance – 1.7 meters! -, and because the focus is splitted between the normal manual focus ring and the macro one, that makes difficult to take pictures at typical reportage distances.
A solution is to focus near or at the minimum distance with the primary focus ring and then to use the macro one to follow the subjects. However this is more of a nuisance than a deal breaker.
Overall a great performer, pretty sharp at both ends, that you may buy used for the price of a Contax metal hood alone: 60 euro more or less.
At this price definitely a “must have”.
Rating: on Canon 5D Mark II
UPDATE: quite surprisingly this lens performs quite a lot better on the – supposedly more demanding – A7r sensor than it did on the Canon 5D Mark II. Go figure…
Rating: on Sony A7r
Not one of the best Zeiss lenses, but a solid performer anyway.
His strongest point is the colour rendition, tipically Zeiss.
100% crops. Left center, right borders (on Canon 5D Mark II):
On the other side, resolution wise, it is not better that a Canon 24mm f/2,8, especially at the borders.
Good if you have other Zeiss optics, just for colour consistency, or if you prefer to focus manually.