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Some Help with the Zeiss 25mm f2.8


I've read some of the previous posts regarding the 25mm f/2.8. I had bought one for a Contax ST. I'm new to contax. It's a AE version made in Germany, and I was hoping someone could give me some pointers on optimum shooting with this lens.

My first test roll was not impressive, but that could just be me -a new system takes getting use to.
So could anyone point me in the right direction as far as how to ues the lens for the best results?



AFAIK, Distagon 25mm f/2.8 was designed with one purpose in mind - architectural/landscape photography with minimal or no distortion. So, although it can be used as an all-around lens, I would think that sharpness wide open wouldn't be so great. Once stopped down it should provide a very decent performance though.



Well-Known Member

You might want to elaborate on the reasons for your dissatisfaction. This lens gets a bad rap, but the Zeiss MTF shows decent corner performance at f/5.6


All Distagons have 2% linear distortion, which I consider unsuitable for architecture. You can hide it with some creativity (or image processing), but the Biogon's 0.5% is hot stuff.

My guideline for Western architecture:

3.0% - not acceptance
2.0% - poor
1.0% - good
0.5% - excellent

If the building can be shot with a short tele, the ultimate CZ performance comes from the 85/1.4 and 100/2 Planars (0.25%).

I actually prefer my buildings (and women) with curves - then the fisheye comes out!



This is from Zeiss's MTF sheet for 25mm Distagon:

"Within the varied applications of wide-angle
photography, the use of the 25 mm Distagon® T*
f/2.8 lens is also of advantage for architectural and landscape photography where, on the one hand, a relatively large object field has to be covered and where, on the other, the details on the periphery of the image have to be rendered as true to the original as possible - i.e. without too pronounced perspective distortion."

It's not the linear distortion you would be normally concerned with when shooting landscapes/architecture. Your main enemy is perspective distortion (due to a wide angle as I understand it) that is important.

It actually makes sense, otherwise why would Zeiss bother making a lens in a focal length between 21mm and 28mm?

Just a thought. Don't know it for sure. But from MTF sheet - that's the conclusion that I reached.



Hi Rico,

Fair question. Generally I was disastisfied with the lens preformance, or it may be my preformance using the lens, wide ope to 5.6. I found noticable corner light fall off, and even some "lack" of sharpness. I also didn't think the "color and contrast" of the lens was great. But then that could be film also.

I want to the lens for some landscapes. In honesty my tests or practice weren't landscapes. So I'll definately give it another try.

I guess I sort of expected it to be as good as the Leica. I mean so many Zeiss lens are, but then again it's a lot cheaper also.

That's why I asked to see if some of you found "the sweet spot" for the lens and had any pointers on it's use that I could learn from


Active Member
I owned the 2,8/25 and used it quite for a while before I sold it afther I got myself a 2,8/21. The 2,8/25 is one of the oldest lens designs in the Contax-lineup and goes back to around 1970. It was developed for the Contarex at a time when 25 mm focal length was looked upon as really super-wide and Zeiss did quite a good job on it. Distortion and sharpness were so much better than average that even now, 30 years later, the lens can compete with nearly any other product available. Only if you compare it to some newer Zeiss lenses it might show the age of its design.
But I think that in order to reach its optical limits you really would have to shoot under optimum conditions, on a tripod and with Velvia slide-film (or use BW film and do your own enlargements). Otherwise the film would be the limit, not the lens - at least as far as sharpness and resolution is concerned.
Color rendition I have always found to be flawless, slightly warm as with all CZ lenses that I have owned.
Distortion of the 2,8/25 is within the limits of what you would have to expect from a lens of that focal length. Remember, there is no wide angle lens in retrofocus construction, which is needed for SLRs, without distortion, and the wider it gets, the more distortion becomes a problem. If you mainly want to shoot architecture, I would however recommend the 2,8/28 which has almost the same field of view and much less distortion. For landscape, the 25's distortion should not be much of a problem.


Thanks Marc
Some good information and it does make sence. I guess my problem lies in me, not the lens. Not to mention I used some "average" film for the test shots. After too many years of the "Auto everything" in Nikon, I've become "dumb".

It is odd when I think about it, I wouldn't normally use such a lens wide open anyway. I did try some Ilford in it yesterday at lunch, so I can see how that makes out. I'm sure this is a case of "When we don't use the little gray cells, we loose them"

Thanks again.



This lens has been in my family since 1976. My Dad used it and loved it and I use it and love it. For me it is a great lens, very sharp with great color rendition.