Beautiful Westerwald with the Zeiss Contarex 135/2.8 Sonnar

I love this lens. On the A7 II even more versatile than ever thanks to the stabilizer that is built in the camera. Just be sure to set it manually to 135 mm as the lens of course does not come with any electronic communication. :)

Because of that, I find it particularly easy to carry one manual and one AF lens – for example, combine the Contarex Zeiss 135/2.8 with the Sony FE Zeiss 35/2.8. If I use the AF lens, the stabilizer automatically reverts to that lens’ focal length and whenever I use the 135 mm, it will remember the manual setup.

Westerwald. (A7 II with Zeiss Contarex 135/2.8 at f/2.8)

Westerwald. (A7 II with Zeiss Contarex 135/2.8 at f/2.8)

The lens is super sharp and contrasty, with visible color fringing at open aperture (if you pixel peep) as every classic lens design shows. All in all, a textbook performance. It easily had enough resolution for the 36 MP sensor of my old Sony A7R so the 24 MP chip in the A7 II is no deal at all for it.

And regarding the mechanics, I firmly believe that no lens in the world ever beat all the Zeiss Contarex lenses. Even these mightly lenses do need a service from time to time to update the lubricant in the focussing helicoil, especially the original lubricants of the 1960s do not last forever and get sticky over time. Other than that they will just last forever and never ever go out of alignment. Unbelievably impressive.

Westerwald. (A7 II with Zeiss Contarex 135/2.8)

Westerwald. (A7 II with Zeiss Contarex 135/2.8)

Westerwald. (A7 II with Zeiss Contarex 135/2.8)

Westerwald. (A7 II with Zeiss Contarex 135/2.8)

Apple tree. (A7 II with Zeiss Contarex 135/2.8 at f/2.8)

Apple tree. (A7 II with Zeiss Contarex 135/2.8 at f/2.8)

The last shot below is actually more or less a 100% crop out of the original frame:

Common kestrel. (A7 II with Zeiss Contarex 135/2.8 at f/2.8)

Common kestrel. (A7 II with Zeiss Contarex 135/2.8 at f/2.8)

OK so are there any downsides? Apart from that you probably won’t want to shoot fast action with a manual-focus lens? (Could still be fun I think.) Well the lens is quite big, and it is heavy. It balances perfectly on the not-so-small A7 II body but if you really want to travel “light” then you’ll rather throw an Olympus OM Zuiko 135/3.5 in your bag – or, as I now do frequently, the Zeiss Contax G 90/2.8. Of course that lens uses a much shorter focal length than the Zeiss Contarex 135/2.8, yes, but in fact the character of these two, the way they render images, is similar.

Click here for some info and pictures on the Zeiss Contax G 90/2.8.

Cheers,
Thomas

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One thought on “Beautiful Westerwald with the Zeiss Contarex 135/2.8 Sonnar

  1. I wholeheartedly agree with you. After shooting Leica glass for the better part of two decades, I’ve finally made the switch over to Zeiss.

    What was the decision maker for me? Well, I noticed that I using digital cameras with highly corrected Zeiss Sonnar designs (like the Sony RX1R II) — and really liked the results I was getting. Then I tried older point-and-shoot film cameras with classic Sonnar lenses and liked those results even more (they really exhibited the fabled Zeiss “pop”). More recently I finally picked up a Sonnar 50/1.5 ZM and am just in love with the imagery it produces.

    Switching over to Zeiss was the best glass decision I’ve ever made!

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