Eric L. Woods

This Old Lens: Contax G Zeiss Sonnar 90mm f/2.8

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Preface

Film or digital, no matter the camera, if the lens is no good none of those other things will matter. There will be no spoilers as I will like all of these lenses. This lens and one last Contax G lens will nearly be a cut and paste of the G 28mm. All of them are winners.

Contax G Zeiss Sonnar 90mm f/2.8

Asking Price

This is the bargain of the G model line up. Current asking price is less than $200 and closer to $160 for a decent silver copy. Black copies will run you over $300.

Value

For reference I will compare this Sonnar 90mm f/2.8 to current new model manual focus Zeiss Loxia 85mm f/2.4 which currently runs $1,189. Or over $1,000 more than the lens discussed here. In short this lens offers good great value.

Why I Bought It

Ii is a Zeiss lens. It is a portrait lens. That is more than enough reason for me right there. Add in the images this lens can create and it is as easy decision. I have heard some discuss slow focusing with this lens but I got on fine with this lens on both the G2 and the current G1 I have currently.

Contax G1 and G2

As mentioned previously I had sold this system to fund another purchase but later wanted back in. When I jumped back I first bought the 28mm and this one was the next in line. While it did not get nearly much use as the 28mm and 45mm every time I used this lens I was impressed. I have my personal reasons also. Of two of my favorite photos I have taken of my wife one was taken with a Leica M3/Voigtlander. The other was taken with a G1 and this lens. I will include that image first in my film samples below. Digital AF is possible with the TECHART AF adapter.

TECHART G Master

But I did not go that route this time and instead picked up a manual focus adapter. Weird when you think about. AF on film and MF on digital.

Image Quality

<ahem> It is a Zeiss lens. Literally cut and paste from the 28mm, except for the Flare section, with 90mm samples below.

As I said with the Contax Zeiss 50mm it ticks off every single positive lens attribute box. Brief comments below but I will largely let the samples talk below, but again it hits it out of the park.

  • Flare
    • Have not witnessed any flare with this lens.
  • Sharpness
    • It is the Zeiss-eist. Wonderfully sharp with film and digital.
  • Colors
    • Zeiss scores again. Wonderfully color rendering. Looks better than the actual scene without looking artificial.
  • Bokeh
    • Another win. Not only in the amount of bokeh available but in the quality. No squirrely distractions like some other lenses. Just creamy backgrounds and foregrounds.

Samples With Film (Contax G1)

Contax G1 and G2
Rollei RPX400 w/ Contax G1
Rollei RPX 400
Cinestill Df96 / Rollei RPX 400
Rollei RPX 400
Cinestill Df96 / Rollei RPX 400
Rollei RPX 400
Cinestill Df96 / Rollei RPX 400
Rollei RPX 400
Cinestill Df96 / Rollei RPX 400
Rollei RPX 400
Cinestill Df96 / Rollei RPX 400
Rollei RPX 400
Cinestill Df96 / Rollei RPX 400
Rollei RPX 400

With Digital

Contax G Zeiss Sonnar 90mm f/2.8
Contax G Zeiss Sonnar 90mm f/2.8
Contax G Zeiss Sonnar 90mm f/2.8
Contax G Zeiss Sonnar 90mm f/2.8
Contax G Zeiss Sonnar 90mm f/2.8

Techart Contax G to Sony A7 Adapter
Manu at SE Camera, Carrboro
Techart Contax G to Sony A7 Adapter
Manu at SE Camera, Carrboro
Techart Contax G to Sony A7 Adapter
Wilson at SE Camera, Carrboro
Techart Contax G to Sony A7 Adapter
Wilson at SE Camera, Carrboro

Conclusion

A great value. You could easily spend so much more for a modern mirrorless MF only lens that would not perform any better in my opinion. Purchased at a fair price this is still a stellar lens bargain. I highly recommend it for film and digital.

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