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My second lens: Zeiss 28mm or Zeiss 135mm?



Hello. I just joined this web page forum yesterday. This past weekend, I came across 167mt & 50mm 1.7 mm lens (all like new in there boxes with papers). This is my first Contax. I have forever dreamed of being able to use Zeiss lenses (I am a Nikon F100 user also). I know I will enjoy this new toy. My question is this. I have the funds to pick up either a Zeiss 28mm 2.8 mm or a Zeiss 135mm 2.8 mm. Both are in very nice shape and about the same price. Based strictly on lens performance ( focal lenght is not a concern as I can always use my Nikon for any shot the other focal lenght would be need for) which one would you choose? Thanks in advance for your responses on your time!


I'm quite new (just 2 years) in Zeiss-lenses too but the Distagon 2.8/28 was as well as the Planar that one which really produces breathtaking pictures and which made me a Zeiss-fan. I have compared them with Canon and Pentax and you cannot disagree. The 2.8/135 is a very good lens too but in the tele-lenses there are other lenses you can choose such as the 85/100mm.
The 28 is a MUST.
There are of course others that prefer the 28mm Nikon but there are always folks who think their old own equipment is the best.
Just a question which/how many lenses you want.
Perhaps you want a reallly wide angle as the 18/21mm ?
Perhaps more the longer ones (200/200) ?
- or just in between (35 and 85 mm)?
I'd prefer the Distagon !


[Reinhold Schulte] I'd go for the Sonnar (2.8, 135mm). It was my first Zeiss lens and made me become a Zeiss-addict (ok, that Tokina wide angle thing in the back of this room is a kind of black spot - IT WAS CHEAP!). There is only one thing I dislike about hte Sonnar. Closest focus distance is about 2m. It could be a little bit less.

Even friends who always argued that there are a lot of comparable lenses that could take it up with a Zeiss lens, were convinced, that this lens provides outstanding performance. Have a look at the tests at Photodo (
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It's been awhile, but I will chime in. I won both the 28/2.8 and the 135/2.8. I got them so that I could see some variety beyond my 50/1.4. That being said, I use my 135 on a ratio of about 10 to 1 over my 28. In recent years, I have gravitated towards portraiture, and although it can be said that the close focus is too far at 2m, this really only h&ers me if I am shooting still life etc. After awhile you learn to "work" the lens to get a good head and shoulders portrait. Also with Studio lights, you shouldn't be that close to your subject anyway. Of course I am lusting over the 100/2.0 which puts many issues to bed...but the cost difference between the 135/2.8 and the 100/2.0 is quite large. As far as the 28/2.8, I have had some interesting architectual shots, but it is mostly useful for travel, since Indiana is not known for it's architecture ! If I were very serious about architecture, I would use a camera with tilt/shift movements. For general photography, i think the 28/2.8 is a bit too severe...and you have to really take into account to fill up the foreground. Sharp ? dog-gone right, but I think overall you just need to clearly define your photgraphic needs.

Best - Alan


Well-Known Member
I would go the other direction, my "normal" lens is the 35/1.4, my medium wide angle is the 25/2.8 and my wide angle is the 18/4. I do carry my 85/1.4, 70-210/3.5 500/8 on tavel assignments, but usually they stay in the bag. I can usually get closer to my subjects, but never far away enough. I just finished a week in NY shooting to my hearts content. I never took the long lenses out of the bag.


My own opinion is to go for the 135mm. My only reason is that this is a 35mm negative we are talking about. The wider the angle, generally the more "information" you will be capturing in the image because of increased perspective. At this point, even a mediocre medium format camera beats out the best 35mm optics, simply because of image degradation when you blow up the negative.


I would ask myself what I want to shoot first, then buy the lens to suit. There's no point in deciding," I want to shoot portraits ", then buying the 28. You rule the equipment, not the other way round. If you want to try both, buy both, or go for a zoom.