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| Zeiss Lens Photos and Discussion |
I have been asked some questions about the Contax 80-200/4 Vario-Sonnar, which I will try to answer.
I was looking for a longer Zeiss lens, not a lens which would compete in any way with my (fantastic) 200/2 VR, but the 180 doesn't have such an amazing reputation, the 200/2 is too close to the VR, and generally not as good. In the end, there was just two choices I was considering, the 80-200/4 and the 100-300, but the latter is too expensive for a lens I probably will not use so much. Besides, Samuli has posted some gorgeous shots made with the 80-200/4, so I decided to try it out.
I bought mine in nearly new condition from Japan, which with shipping, customs fees, the Leitax mount with pre-installed Dandelion chip ended up costing about 400 Euro all told. Now there are some sitting in Germany's eBay at around 270 Euro, Buy it now price. I thought briefly about buying an extra copy or two in case some kind of revival is kicked off, but decided not to. I am not doing photography to make a profit, and would rather spend my time shooting.
Anyway, great lens, not all that large. Longer but thinner than the 100 MP ZF.2:
My copy is very sharp, although not quite as sharp as a modern ZF lens stopped down. It takes sharpening in Photoshop well, however. It has very little CA, less than the 100 MP and other ZF lenses. The boke is very gentle in my shots so far, almost Leica-like, but it still has that Zeiss feel to it. The push-pull zoom mechanism works well, and it doesn't move when I point the lens down. It is a very easy-to-focus lens, coming crisply into focus. I would say that it is easier to focus than my ZF/ZF.2 21 Distagon, 50 MP and 100 MP, although the latter comes close. Something about the way it snaps into focus. I was very happy to discover this, since I was worried that the f/4 could have made it hard.
At the current prices, buying one is IMO a no-brainer, although I don't know how much copy-to-copy variation there is. I do know that Samuli got his from a friend who bought 4, kept the best one for himself, sold the second-best one to Samuli and resold the other two, so at least there might be a little variation.
I don't expect that this lens is as sharp or clear as the best lenses in this region, like the Leica 180/2.8 APO, but I sure don't find many faults with it, so for the price, it is a steal.
Here are some shots made with it. The bird shot is a little soft due to the fast movement of the bird.