Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Contax Zeiss 135mm F2.8

Contax Zeiss 135 F2.8

This little guy (a euphemism, i assure you) has found his way into my life. While I have only done one test shot with this beautiful (and rather heavy) lens, it managed to do something that I was unaware of being possible. It made the top of my fridge (which is home to various cooking/baking things) look amazing. Seriously. No colour correction... pure AWB and BAM! A box of Saran Wrap and a steel mixing bowl looks like artwork.

I have to say though... this little gift imparted on me on the weekend was totally unexpected. I had talked to my friend Scott about the Leitz Elmarit R 135 that I was spying on Ebay. We had discusses how the 135mm length has seemingly produced many great lenses through out the years. Leica, Zeiss, Takumar, Canon, Nikkor, Pentacon...etc... etc... Many have compared them over the years, and because beauty is in the eye of the beholder, the results of those comparisons has been usually suspect and left mostly to personal impression and influence.

What makes this Lens so great? Well... if you clicked that last link, you'd know. If you didn't... well... The reason that makes this lens so great is how it renders out-of-focus (oof) blur. It's the blur and Bokeh (amount and shape of blur, imparted by the lens' iris/aperture) that makes it awesome. The bokeh is more often than not, pleasing with this lens. More spectacular is that it renders really nice Bokeh through a good range of its F-stops (which start at 2.8 and end at 22).
Supposedly, this particular lens, while marked with the usual F-stop range, supposedly can do 1/2 stops in between those marked F-stops. That means, instead of doing 2.8 and then having 4.0 next, you can have something in the approximate range of F/3.2 (i think... it might be 3.4 or 3.5 - i dunno.)

Outside of the amazing bokeh/blur, the lens has a nice large grip and decently layed out markings on the barrel. It has a built-in hood and the standard threading for what appears to be 55mm filters. All in all... it's a definite throw-back in feel and what not. Reminds you of when Men were Men, Women were Women and Decent Focal Lengths demanded respect.

The downsides to this fantastic lens...
1) It's heavy
2) It's not a native EOS mount - I know these adapters are supposed to preserve Infinity focus, but I am still skeptical in that realm.
3) 135mm on a crop body (Rebel series) becomes an effective 216mm (thanks to the 1.6x). I don't really buy that whole magnification nonsense, but it does seem to be somewhat true. In other words, what should be a great portrait lens, is not.

Suffice to say... I'm looking forward to playing with this lens. I'll revisit this topic when i have some examples to show off.


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