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SMALL tele lens Zeiss sonnar 35-100 or Zeiss 28-85



hello zeiss-freaks,
because i didn't find a test comparing these two lenses, i try it here: which of both gives a better brilliance, sharpness and lower distortion?
has anyone here worked with them and REALLY tried to compare the results (tripod, 25-asa-film, same object etc.)
if so, i am interested in your results!

greetinx from germany,


all zeiss lenses have very very high quality. by having them you will never have to compare and test.


> I found this to be not quite true. Most of the Zeiss lenses are quite good and some average. I don't think the 300 f4 is that good. I got > rid of it to get something better. I tested the Tamron 300 f2.8 and found it better. I ended up going with the VS 100-300. Although it's > slower it's also smaller and very sharp. Much better than the 300 f4 in my opinion.


What kind of results can we expect using the Mutar II with the VS 100-300? I have the 300 f4 and the results are less than amazing. Can the Mutar II even be used with the VS 100-300?
Ron in NM


I could not find a forum topic for the VS 100-300???


just open a new one by clicking on "new thread" and copy the old posting in it... I will delete it here



obviously nobody has an answer to my question (see above), so i mailed zeiss oberkochen. dr nassers answer was friendly and he confirmed that there is no BIG difference. here is his answer (maybe interesting for someone here):

"...die Objektive Sonnar 2.8/85 und Sonnar 3.5/100 unterscheiden sich in der Leistung praktisch
überhaupt nicht, weil Sie ganz eng verwandt sind ( es gab zunächst das 85er, das dann einfach
auf die längere Brennweite hochskaliert wurde). Bedingt durch den kleineren Bildwinkel ist das
100er in der Ecke noch etwas besser, aber beide Objektive bieten schon bei offener Blende
eine sehr hohe Leistung, die durch Abblenden nur noch wenig gesteigert wird.
Auch im Nahbereich ist die Leistung noch sehr gut.

Bei den Super-Weitwinkeln ist das 18er ein gutes Objektiv, aber das 21er ist deutlich besser.
Das Distagon 2.8/21 hat einen sehr kleinen Farbquerfehler und ist dadurch wohl das allerbeste
21er, das man für Spiegelreflexkameras kaufen kann. In der Bildscärfe ist es genauso gut wie
die besten Objektive für Sucherkameras, hat bessere Bildfeldausleuchtung als jene, nur etwas mehr
Verzeichnung, die aber auch meist nicht stört.
Mit freundlichen Grüßen
Dr. Hubert Nasse
Geschäftsbereich Photoobjektive, Labor"

thanks, Mr. Nasse!


> Dieter, I appreciate the extra effort you went to to get us this information, if only I could read German/Deutsch. I tried copying and pasting Dr. Nasser's reply into Altavista's translation service, but the translation was really made some funny translations in places. (see:
Please, Log in or Register to view URLs content!
) Any chance you might relay for us who don't speak/read the language? Thanks, Lynn


Dr. Nasse sais in his response that the performance of both lenses is basically the same.

Because of the longer focal length of the 100/3.5, it is slightly better in the corners. Both are very good fully open, which gets only marginal better stopping down. Also for close ups, both are very good.

In te second part of the letter Dr. Nasse is talking about the 21/2.8 vs. the 18, which was obviously another question in the e-mail.

You can also look in the scan section for MTF's of both lenses. This underlines the information Dr. Nasse kindly provided in the answer.

The 100/3.5 is nowadays VERY rare second hand, an MM version almost impossible to find (in Germany). The 85/2.8 is pretty common. The design of the current version is exactly the same as the older version without MM of the older times.

So I guess it ends up in what is the bestsolution for your needs and what you can get on the market new or used. If you need the extra stop of 2.8, get the 85. I used it over years and was really happy with it. Portraits just came out beautiful.

I never had the chance to use a 100/3.5, so I can not tell you anything about it. But as far as I remember the weight and size is not that much different to the 85, so why bother?



hello lynn,
my english is not perfect and i am no technician, but i'll try to translate the text (bilingual zeiss-freaks will post errors, i hope...)

"...comparing the lenses sonnar 2,8/85 and 3.5/100 you can see nearly no difference concerning the performance, because their construction is similar (related); the 85 was first, which then has been scaled up to the longer focal lenght. Because of the smaller angel of vision the 100 is a little better in the edges, but both lenses offer a very high performance operating with open aperture, which is increasing not very strongly if you stop down.
the performance is also very good taking pictures from a close range.

concerning the extreme wide angles the 18mm is a good lens, but the 21 is superior.
the distagon 2.8/21 has very low discoloration (?) and therefor is the best 21 that you can buy for SLR. its sharpness is as good as that of the best lenses for range-finder cameras, it has no loss in the image quality in the outer zones concerning brightness, only a little more distortion, which is not so important and does not disturb in the most cases.

so long, dieter!


Thanks both Dieter and Dirk for the further help understanding the information.

And Dieter, you do as well with writing in the English language as many people I know who speak/write English as their first language. I, on the other hand am unable to string together any simple phrase in German (even though my grandparents were fluent). You're way ahead of me



Dear Dirk,

i have to complete you in one point:
While the optic design remained the same, there are some different versions of the Sonnar 2,8/85.

1. The origin >mage in West Germany< Type, which i like most. The barrel totaly of metall, the scales engraved, diameter and design like most E55 lenses.
2. With the fabrication in Japan >made in Japan<, there came the barrel, known until now. Aperture ring of "plastic", printed aperture scale (like 1,7/50, 3,5/100). Broader focus ring and slightly less diameter.
May be, also the aperture mechanism was redesigned to fit the coming MM requirements (less weight and spring tension). The lens weight is about 30 gr. less the older type.
3. Then the actual MM type >made in japan<. Like type 2., but MM equipment with newer aperture mechanism.
4. The last series. Like 3., but manufactured in Germany with the introduction of aria body, engraved >made in Germany<, when I´m right.

After twenty years with CONTAX and other systems of different formats, I think the little Sonnar 2,8/85 is one of the finest and most usefull lenses I owned. It convinced me even with extension tubes. The viewfinder ist actually brighter than with the Sonnar 3,5/100 and the focusing helix (?) ist flater, what I prefer. Wonderful lens for landscape and travel. Optical performance even with 1,4/85.

By the way, one of my three Type 1. Sonnar >made in Germany" is to be sold. One in use and one in spare should be enough for me.

There was an ">made in Germany< with MM" on e-bay. As I know, this never existet and Contax/Zeiss refused mechanichal modification from AE to MM because of the expenditure. For landscape, portrait, nature,... MM is of no interest in my opinion.

I like your forum, will you soon scann the MTF of the never sold Apo Tele Tessar 5,6/500 and 8/800, I send you?

regards, Stefan Irmler


Servus Dieter!

Some years ago I had the possibility to compare both Sonnars, the 85 and the 100, and honestly said I could not see much difference. I really loved the 100 because it is little more "tele", but summing up I would prefer the 85 because of "2,8", and its smaller size. My first 85 was an old german with metall barrel, but I do not think that the newer "plastic" is worse.



I have the "Made In West-Germany" version of the 85mm f2.8 for my Arias and have never had a better short telephoto lens. It is more than a match for the 90mm I had when I used Leica M3s. For my Canon EOS system, I opted for the 100mm f2.0. It, too, is an excellent lens, but I keep thinking I should have an 85mm as well. There's something about that focal length that matches the way I see.


Hi folks,

I tend to favor the view of the 100mm focal length over the 85. Everytime I pick up a 100mm, either an old Nikon version or of course the incredibly smooth Zeiss MM 2.0, I find the perspective very liking. The 100 pulls your interest in on the subject without crowding them within the frame. The 85 for me while it is great for "environmental" portraits tends to include a few too many distracting elements...especially shooting at the range where you don't want to intimidate your subject. I have the 135/2,8 as well, but the perspective on the 100 tends to put just enough more space around the subject that it doesn't look as strained when trying to take a head and shoulders or waist level portrait. In fact, I am looking at inveting in an AX beyond my Aria, just so I can lease the wonderful 100/2.0 MM for better lens /body balance.