CI Photocommunity

Register a free account now!

If you are registered, you get access to the members only section, can participate in the buy & sell second hand forum and last but not least you can reserve your preferred username before someone else takes it.

Need comments on tele-zooms

Mark Muse

I use a number of CY (and ZE) Zeiss lenses on my Canon 5D Mk II with generally excellent results. But in the 80-200 (100-300) zoom range I have to do something else. This range is very important to me. I have an 80-200 Æ’4 CY and a 100-300 Æ’4.5-5.6 CY.

The 100-300 must have at least one decentered element. Does anyone know if it is practical to have it repaired? Who would do it? Is it worth it?

The 80-200 is a gem in terms of sharpness and contrast. I love the rendering. Its color rendering is perhaps a little less ideal, though certainly not bad. But in high contrast scenes (branches against the sky for example) it has severe purple fringing. And CA can be a little hard to correct completely. Otherwise it is really nice: light, small, excellent resolution, high detail contrast.

I am considering the CY 70-210 and the Leica-R 80-200 Æ’4 as a replacement. Is there anyone out there who has direct experience with them and who could perhaps compare them to the CY 80-200? Any digital experience? Any comments welcome. Thanks.


Well-Known Member
Between the two, CY 70-210 or LR 80-200, the Leica R would win hands down. For starters, it is a newer design then the old CY, but more importantly it has rave reviews in the Leica R world (being compared to the 70-180/2.8). I have shot with both of the LR lenses, and I must say they are superb zooms with fix focal length quality to their images. The couple of bad things I can say about them are their weight and cost. The 80-200 though can be had for about 950 to 1200 USD. I know the CY 70-210 can be had for quite less than this, but it's a great zoom for the price point.


New Member
Hi, i have used some of your mentioned lenses with film: The zeiss 70-210 was a great lens with an interesting macro-function, but the 100-300 and the leitz 80-200 are optically superior. The difference between this two lenses are more on the colour-side: zeiss warmer, leitz colder. The zeiss 100-300 is for me more usefull because of its bigger zoom-range and the one-ring-design. The zeiss 100-300 is in my opinion the best buy on the longend in zeiss rts. For leitz there are more and better options like 2.8 180 apo which is superior to both.

Mark Muse

Well I purchased the Leica 80-200. . . and sent it back. It had some nice qualities (tonal smoothness, color rendering) but there was a big purple spot right in the center, serious CA problems (but largely correctable), not as sharp as the Zeiss 80-200 Æ’4, limited depth of field compared to the Zeiss.

I also just borrowed to test the new version Canon 70-200 Æ’2,8L IS II. Not for me. It is a beast, not any sharper than the Zeiss, is mushy in the shadows, and has CA problems.

The Leica APO weighs more than the Canon 2.8, if you can find one and can afford it, though I'm sure it has excellent image quality.

Are there others I should look at?


New Member
Hi Mark, with film (provia 100) the leitz 4.0/80-200 was/is a great performer. The zeiss 100-300 performed imo better with velvia 100. You tried the canon 2.8/70-200. This is a complete different lens with a wider aperture and so comes with all the downs of high-oppened zoom lenses. But for the approach of this, it isn´t a bad lens. I do not own one, but have seen great shots from friends with it.

I now use the canon 5d ii with the 4.0/70-200 (no is). When using this lens on my filmbased eos 3 I get good results. Maybee you should give this "cheap" lens a try and test it. I think it´s better comparable to the zeiss and leitz zooms with the same 4.0 aperture.

Good light, Michael


New Member
Hi Mark,

that´s fine. How does it compare to the 2.8 Canon and the zeiss and leitz 4.0? You have got lots of experiences with those lenses.

Good light, Michael

Mark Muse

Remember my experiences are with one copy of each lens, and as you know there are variances within any production run, in addition to potential abuses that can knock lens elements or groups out of precise alignment. Also these are subjective evaluations based on landscape images made with them. Last, these are my opinions. Your milage could vary.

The following are all on a Canon 5D Mk II, tripod mounted, shooting camera raw files that were processed in Aperture then Photoshop:

Zeiss Vario-Sonnar 80-200 ƒ4 positives—
Very high contrast, very sharp, good color rendering, preservation of shape (3D rendering) is excellent from HL to Shadows. The lens is relatively light and compact. Geometric distortion is minimal, as is light falloff. As the image goes out of focus the image remains fairly smooth, though not as smooth as the Leica. Build quality is very good, typical Zeiss.
Zeiss Vario-Sonnar 80-200 ƒ4 negatives—
In high contrast scenes purple fringing can be a problem. Internal reflections (I am guessing) cause some barely visible tonal fluctuations in the image on occasion. This lens uses the same collar to adjust focus and focal length. Chromatic aberration (CA) exists but usually can be completely eliminated in the raw conversion (Aperture), though sometimes secondary CA ghosts can't.

Leica Vario-Elmarit 80-200 ƒ4 positives—
The particular strengths of this lens are that it goes out of focus very gently and produced no harshness at all, and its color rendering was really good, the best of all four lenses. Good contrast, though not nearly as contrasty as the Zeiss. Sharpness is OK, but again falling behind the Zeiss. 3D rendering is good, geometric distortion and light falloff are minimal. The build and ergonomics of this lens are very good. I did not encounter any purple fringing with this lens.
Leica Vario-Elmarit 80-200 ƒ4 negatives—
This lens had pretty serious CA problems, easily twice that of the Zeiss, but they could usually be eliminated in the raw converter (Aperture). It was not as sharp as I would like or as contrasty (detail). The contrast seemed to be influenced by flair. Depth of field for any given aperture seems subjectively to be significantly less than for the Zeiss.

Canon 70-200 ƒ2,8L IS II positives—
Very sharp and contrasty at the highest frequencies down to mid frequencies. Sharper than the Zeiss at the highest frequencies. Color rendering is OK but not great. Bokeh is very good, but see below.
Canon 70-200 ƒ2,8L IS II negatives—
This lens is a beast, big and heavy (though the Leica 70-180 Æ’2,8 APO Elmar weighs perhaps 25% more!). There were CA problems on the left side of the frame only indicating that something is out of square (lens elements, lens mount) though I did not notice a corresponding drop in sharpness. 3D rendering, detail contrast, and sharpness are all closely related, and while these are very good in the higher frequencies, they are equally poor in lower frequencies, shadows, and areas of low contrast in the scene. In my admittedly limited experience with Canon EF L lenses this is what I have come to expect. If one pushes the image with various sharpening routines in an attempt to create shape and contrast in these areas, the likely outcome is a decided harshness in higher contrast parts of the image without achieving your goals in the problem areas.

Canon 70-200 ƒ4L IS—
This lens is similar to the Æ’2,8L in most ways. It is smaller and lighter, but also less sharp and harsher in rendering. 3D rendering is typically poor.


New Member
Hi Mark,

thank you for these detailed information. In analog times it was more easier: Zeiss (Contax): great wide-angles, good or very good zooms and bad tele-lenses (without the 2.0 200 and the 2.8 300 - I could not afford any o A f this two). Leitz made poor wide-angles, at the end of the system some great zoom-lenses, but great teles. They were very different in their reflex-Systems. I did not use both systems - but my brother is on tour with leica and was with contax. We did lot of outdoor-photography with tripod on slide film. We had these films developed in the same professionell lab and looked at them on our pradovits (P2000 and P2002). We often shot the same scene at same aperture and discussed the slides very critically: The best leitz lenses on the long end are to our experience: apo 2.8 180 an apo makro 2.8 100. My Brother also owns the 4.0 80-200 and 1.4 80. Both lenses aren´t so great imo. The 1.4 80 is ok for portrait - but imo 80 mm is to short.

On the long-end I had during more than 20 Years the following lenses from zeiss for contax rts:

1.2 85: An unbeleavible great performer. Ununsable with slide film. It´s the same as with the 2.8 21: These two lenses are to good for the rest. Everything was allways better than with the other lenses. No change to integrate pictures from these two lenses in a slide-show. Everyone allways said: Ahh - this was taken with your great lens. But for portraits it was the best lens ever :)

1.4 85: I don´t know, why so many people love this lens. I gave it away and never wanted it back.

2.8 85: Great performer and great compromise -small - very good for many purposes.

3.5 100: I didn´t see any difference in Performance and usage to the 2.8 85

2.8 135: Good for landscape, but not for portrait. No decent colours and bookeh.

2.0 135: Good for portrait, but not for landscape. Warm, smooth, great bookeh - but not contrasty. Wide open some kind of soft, but not really unsharp - as I liked it for softer portait: this one for the woman, the 1.2 85 for the man.

2.8 180: Nice for some portrait work - but nothing for landscape. No decent performer.

3.5 200: better than the 180er imo - but I also gave it away and never missed it.

100-300: If you are able to use it correctly, it was the best in the zeiss tele-range. But hard to hold or use it on a tripod: No lens-collar and very longat 300mm. When there was enough light, it was a great handholdable lens for all these trips with no tripod: on high mountains or long trips with enough other things to carry with you. Very flexible.

I gave all the zeiss/contax stuff away and bought canon, because I needed the af to get my kids in focus. Canon has a problem with wide-angles. So I gave the tokina 2.8 16-28 a change - it´s still in my bag. I don´t use is lenses, because the kids move - that´s the problem. I also use the 5.6 400 L - and it´s great. The small 4.0 70-200 L gives decent results in the kind of action-shots I do now.

But for serious lanscaping - maybee I will go again for zeiss someday with 28-85 and 100-300 zomm on the 5d ii. But what I really miss is the 1.2 85 with a rts iii for my b/w analog portrait-work. There the canon eos 3 plus 1.8 85 are not so decent. Not only the results - also the workflow. But that´s another story.

Greetings, Michael

Mark Muse

Thank you Michael! This should be useful information. But I will challenge you on some points.
• 100-300 Zeiss is highly rated, but not mine by me. I think mine has a decentered element. Or perhaps it sagged so much without a tripod mount that it caused problems. In any case mine sits in the closet.
• The 1.2 85mm sounds interesting. I bet they cost a fortune now if you can even find one.
• a little gem you overlooked it the 45mm Tessar. It is a moody little lens that barely covers full frame, but stopped down to ƒ8 it is sharp as can be and has lots and lots of depth of field. This lens has much more DOF than my 35mm ZE ƒ2.0. And when it does go out it does so very gently. It is never harsh. It is one of my most treasured lenses. But the mirror hits so I can only use it in Live View, but that is what I do mostly anyway.
• I have the 21 2.8 ZE. It is a treasure.
• I also have the 100 2.0 Makro-Planar ZE. Another superb lens, though much more analytical than my favorites.
• The 35-70 3.4 CY has some interesting qualities, but on the whole I like it. Very high contrast but lacks high frequency resolution. The 35 ƒ2,8 CY is almost identical but a little smoother.
• I have a 28-85 CY but I like my 35-70 better.
I also occasionally use some Pentax lenses. I have a 50 1.4 m42 mount that is very nice and a 150 Æ’3.3 645 that is very nice if you can avoid flair.