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Review: Carl Zeiss Distagon 28mm 1:2.8 T* Contax/Yashica

Lens review: Carl Zeiss Distagon 2.8/28 T* (Contax / Yashica (C/Y))

Considered as one of the best 28mm lenses ever. Let’s check it.

The lens for the test was provided by Egor Nikolaev (Егор Николаев) – many thanks and greetings.


After getting a new lens, I always take a few technical shots to understand its strengths and weaknesses – usually, it helps me a lot to start using an unknown lens with much less of doubt. One day I decided that my data might be interesting for someone else and this site has been made.

CZCY2828_exterior_441_logo.jpg

Carl Zeiss Distagon 28mm 1:2.8 T* Contax / Yashica parameters:

Name engraved on lens Carl Zeiss Distagon
f[mm] 28
A max [1/f] 2.8
A min[1/f] 22
Lens design [el.] 7
Lens design [gr.] 7
Filter thread Ø front(rear)[mm] 55
Lens Shade (Lens Hood) G-12 soft hood or No.1 metal hood
closefocus[m] 0.25
Dimension Ø x length [mm] 62.5/50
Weight[g] 284gr
Year 1975(?)-2005
Style
Notes Two editions – are similar by IQ

Floating elements NO
Aperture blades number 6
Average international price (sold items) 2020: USD 200
Reviewed Lens SN: 6631574

This lens has two versions – AE and MM.

The difference between “AE” lenses and “MM” lenses is the type of automation they allow with the Contax bodies. AE lenses were the first Contax (C/Y) lenses and they provided for aperture-preferred automatic exposure. Later, MM lenses were produced that had an additional linkage to the camera body to allow shutter priority and program auto exposure modes. (source)

The particular tested copy is “AE” and it is marked “Made in Japan”, it means the Kyocera production. The front element does not rotate.

I like the feel of working with this lens. It has a convenient weight to size ratio. The design is quite monolithic. Special note about the diaphragm ring – there is a feeling that it rotates on grease, this is not like many other lenses of those times.


Lens exterior:

(Please, forgive me the dust on the lens, I never have the patience to clean objects for close-up photo sessions)


Sharpness – close distance:

Test description: target is a 10×15 cm picture (printed, glossy photo paper), fixed on the wall by scotch. Distance – 0.7m. Camera Sony A7II (24mpx, full frame) was fixed on the tripod and managed remotely with computer display as a viewfinder. All groups of shots were repeated 3 times for every target position on all apertures from fully opened up to F16, ISO-200, WB – same for all shots. SteadyShot – OFF. Focus was manually corrected for each shot. After all needed shots have been taken for one target position – I moved the target to the next place. Main idea – to exclude the field curvature affect on so close distance. Of course, I can’t be absolutely accurate, but test results looks correct.

Finally, pictures were converted from ARW-files in Capture One with default settings (Some single files have a slight light correction, for better visual convenience in comparison), then cropped for 300×200 px elements, combined into diagrams and exported into JPEG-files

Original target image (printed in horizontal orientation on 10cm X 15cm glossy photo paper)

Azusa Nakano 15_2print

Scene preview:

CZCY2828__b_res_close_previewNEW.jpg

Test results:

CZCY2828__c_res_close.jpg


Sharpness – long distance:

Test description: Camera Sony A7II (24mpx, full frame) was fixed on the tripod and managed remotely with computer display as a viewfinder. Targets (buildings) were fixed by gravity power on the distances in more than 200 meters. All shots have been taken with apertures from fully opened up to F16. ISO-100. Shutter Speed – depends on light (camera A-mode), WB – fixed and the same for all shots. SteadyShot – OFF. Focus was manually corrected for each shot to exclude focus-shift affect.

Finally, pictures were converted from ARW-files in Capture One with default settings (Some single files have a slight light correction, for better visual convenience in comparison), then were cropped for 300×200 px elements, combined into diagrams and exported into JPEG-files.

Scene preview:

CZCY2828__e_far_preview.jpg

Test results:

CZCY2828__e_res_far.jpg


Vignetting:

(frames scaled – 300×200)

CZCY2828__f_vignettingNEW.png


Geometric distortion:

(frame scaled 1200×800)

CZCY2828_geometry_021.jpg


Coma aberrations:

(100% crops – 300×200)

CZCY2828__h_coma_aberr_.jpg


Chromatic aberrations:

(100% crops – 300×200)

CZCY2828__i_chrome_aberrNEW_.png


Long-distance bokeh:

Test#1:

Test conditions: lens was focused on minimal distance 0.25m, houses were fixed in infinity distance on the ground.

Such scenes can’t be meet often, so this is a demonstration of extreme conditions. The blur level will be less in most cases of real-life photography.

(frame scaled 1200×800)

CZCY2828__k_bokeh_far_min_NEW.png

Test#2:

Test conditions: lens was focused on 1m – ‘portrait distance’ for a 28mm wide lens, houses were fixed in infinity distance on the ground.

(frame scaled 1200×800)

CZCY2828__k_bokeh_far_mid_NEW.png


Light dots long-distance bokeh:

Test #1

Test conditions: The lens was focused on minimal distance 0.25m, lights were fixed in more than 200m.

Such scenes can’t be meet often, so this is a demonstration of extreme conditions. The blur level will be less in most cases of real-life photography.

(frame scaled 1200×800)

CZCY2828__m_dots_far_min_NEW.png


Other resources with reviews:


Carl Zeiss Distagon 2.8/28 T* (Contax / Yashica (C/Y)):

CZCY2828__AvatarReview_.png

Yes, definitely, this Distagon is one of the best 28mm I’ve taken in hands ever. It has almost no weaknesses.

In general, making a successful 28mm lens is not an easy task and this lens turned out to be just wonderful. There’s nothing to complain about, well, maybe except the price, but, frankly, I don’t have any special complaints even about the price – there are a lot of these lenses on sale and if you have the patience, you can get one for the reasonable price.

The lens is ready for landscapes at F5.6. The best sharpness over the frame distribution is at F8 but this result is amazing for 28mm lenses. The behavior on close distances is the same as for long distances – the nice center and middle even on wide-open apertures and good corners at F8 (or at least after F5.6).

The geometry distortion level is very small. Coma is small too. Chromatic aberrations are almost absent.

Usually, this Zeiss is scolded for strong vignetting, but it isn’t a problem for modern digital cameras with a wide dynamic range, so any vignetting is easily compensated in photo editors.

Can it be recommended? Of course, I have no doubts. Especially if you remember that not many 28mm lenses have a good IQ.


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