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Zeiss distagon 28/2.8


I need a proper wide-angle lens for my RTSII and it seems that the T* Distagon 2.8/28 will meet my requirements. But I’m facing a vast dilemma: Should I look for one on the used market or rather get a new one? The problem with used Zeiss lenses in my country (Czech republic or Czechia) is that there simply aren’t any. I would probably have to import one from Germany, Austria or so and that would cost me extra cash, not to mention all the time spent on looking for one. But if I could save a substantial sum I wouldn’t hesitate to buy a mint second-hand piece. A new one isn't that expensive - costs about 40% more than a vintage 2.8/35 in Prague. Are older AE and MM lenses as good as brand new MM ones?
Thanks for comments, Fred


Well-Known Member
Fred, The optical design is the same with both the AE and the MM.(regardless of vintage) I would judge your desire to purchase on the condition of the lens itself. Also if MM important to you


Active Member
Hi Fred, I cannot imagine, that there are no 2.8/28s available in the Czech republic. I lived there for 2 years (6 years ago) and even then there was a great dealer in Prague with quite a lot of used contax stuff (bought a P-3 for my RTS2 there, quite rare in Germany): Jan Paderka, Vodickova 699. Or the "Classic Camera shops in Vodickocva and Husova. Other interesting shops are in Celetna and Parizska. Language is not a problem there, prices are an "tourist level". Good luck. BTW: When you are in Prague, do not forget to visit the National technical Museum: there is a great exhibition of ancient cameras and equipment!

Another chance would be to check the Internet pages of german or Austrian Photo-Dealers near the border (e.g. in Nürnberg or Vienna) and visit them.



Thank you Matthias, you’ve mentioned all important camera dealers in Prague. I visit them regularly, especially Skoda’s camera “megastore” and Pazdera’s bazaar (both in Vodickova) but so far there is no Zeiss 28mm lens available (only AE 35s for exaggerated prices). I keep looking everywhere – nothing at all. But I must say that Skoda has sold me an RTS II, Planar 1.4/50 and a TLA30 flash all in mint condition for a very reasonable price.

I know that it is widely believed that 20 years old Zeiss T* prime lenses are as good as new ones. But is it really true? Aren’t we just fooling ourselves? Didn’t Zeiss improve their technology over the years? I’m convinced that they’ve always made very fine lenses but there is always room for improvement, isn’t there? And what about the issue of aging? Don’t lenses deteriorate? Well, glass (even from Schott) is only a liquid with extremely high viscosity and I heard that some coating layers alter as time passes. That’s probably the case of my grandfather’s Super-Takumar 3.5/28, which now seems a bit too yellowish. I’ve a T* Planar F1.4/50mm AE that looks like new although it must be as old as I am. I’m sure it’s perfectly preserved and I’m completely content with the results it delivers. Do you think that such a lens is optically equal to its brand new counterpart? And what do you think, will it remain so good until 2020 or will it decline?
Now I’m preparing to buy a Distagon F2.8/28mm. I believe that it is one the finest 28s ever produced. A new one would cost me about 367 Euro (that is 30% more than a new 6-element AF-Nikkor F2.8/28mm but 45% less than a new 9-element MF-Nikkor F2.8/28mm – is this one comparable to the one from Zeiss?). I wonder how much could I save by getting myself a second-hand piece. I don’t need MM, as I use an RTS II, but maybe I should prefer MM lenses over AE lenses because they are newer and will cooperate fully with bodies such as the RX or RTS III (if I’m lucky enough to obtain one in the next twenty years). I am a bargain hunter but maybe a new lens is the right bargain for me as I intend to use it for the rest of my life for pleasure and work in field biology. I’m sorry for that posing so many questions.


Well-Known Member
Wow, that's a lot of ground to cover in one email. Optical design is one of the more stable elements (pun intended) of photography. One of my best lens is a Dagor red dot for my 5X7 camera that is pre W.W.II ! Now as for the coatings. Organic coatings and element cement to age and show signs of deterioration. But the newer coatings are dicholoric or metal and as such have very long lives, especially Zeiss's T* lenses. Many things can affect the hue of a negative or slide, temperature being the worse. 10 degrees plus or minus can affect how an emulsion reacts to light, (Guys don't attack, yet, let me finish) the age of film within its life effects its color balance, in fact there are huge numbers of factors other than the optical process of the lens that show up on a day to day basis. As I started with, most lens designs within a series don't change. One can argue that the 85/1.4 Distagon made for the C/Y mount is different than that of the N mount, and they are right, but the flange distance, nodule point and other mechanical factors affect the design requirements. There are great volumes of books on optical design and theory, but what's the point??? go shoot photos and enjoy, that's the real secret.


Active Member
I would like to put forth the assertion that much of the research and development resources in recent years have gone towards improving the performance of zoom lens designs.

This does not mean that the primes are somehow inferior in performance to a newer product. Indeed, test results indicate that the primes still outperform the various Zeiss zooms, although the difference may not be visible to the human eye.

Why reinvent the wheel? If definition wide open is fantastic, as are contrast and color saturation, why invest money in redesigning the lens?

My Distagon F2.8/28mm AE is mechanically and optically like new, a delightful lens to use, and I would unreservedly recommend buying one if it is in good shape and reasonably priced, you'll love it.


Well-Known Member

Design efforts by most makers do seem zoom-directed, but primes retain their advantage: size, weight, price, and lower distortion.

Funny you should mention the D28/2.8 AE, since I received one just today ($225). Picked it over the P35/2.8 due to better MTF, and it gets me further away from the 50mm view. I chose the AE to ensure engraved markings, but perhaps the MM has the same... I plan to keep this lens a loong time!


Well-Known Member
buy a used non mm(ae-28mm/2.8. all zeiss lenses always had better quality than any film can resolve. if you need very big posters of more than 70x100cm maybe the nwer lenses are a bit better. a professional photographer told me some years ago he will not sell his contax-system because nikon has better lenses but has the better system. so stay with old zeiss lenses and maybe you will buy a cheap used mechanical yashica fx-3-super 2000. i have nothing else at the moment. you will see it when someday you are in the field and the camera electronics will fail. this happend to me during a flash shooting and i did not know until film had been developped. i also decided to buy contax as olympus-replacement(very bad lenses compaired to zeiss, no continuous quality in the series)-


Thank you all very much indeed. Luckily you’ve put me off a new 2.8/28. Someone is switching to digital equipment and has offered me a mint F2.8/28mm with MM capability {bought in 2001, including a box and all documentation} for virtually the same price as those worn 2.8/35s are at Skoda’s in Prague. I saved 30%, which is the equivalent of a couple of first-rate filters or a decent(?) enlarging lens. Or maybe I’ll consider a cheap Yashica body, as I increasingly long for the possibility of using chrome and BW at the same time. I count on getting a second Contax body in about five years time to supplement my RTSII. A functioning cheap Yashica could do the job now!


Well-Known Member
Hi Frederick, I have a Yashica FX3 super 2000 on ebay - just have a look :

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I have some lenses for it too. It's from a friend of mine - as well as the other stuff (Pentax-gear).