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Contax Zeiss 28-70 V 28-85 zoom lenses

Tony Smith , Mar 17, 2000; 06:26 p.m.

Does anyone know of how these lenses compare apart from the 28-70 gives a lot less neck strain. I have a 28-85, it works fine but what a weight. I would appreciate any info from pertson who have tested these lenses side by side.


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Dan Brown , Mar 17, 2000; 10:14 p.m.

Let me start by saying that I have not tested, or used either lens.

But, I did speak at some length with a tech. rep. at Kyocera about Contax/Zeiss lenses and I have read most of the material on the subject of these lenses.

The new 28-70 was designed for the Aria. It uses a simpler optical design and takes advantage of the lighter weight and lower cost of plastic. This resulted in a lens that was cheaper, lighter and smaller than other Zeis zooms, such as the 28-85 you mention.

The net affect of this is that the 28-70 seems to be competitive with other brands of lenses designed in a similar vein. That is, the 28-70 appears to be a medium quality lens, especially in terms of performance.

My reaction to all this was to avoid the 28-70 in favor of primes. this is not to say that other Zeiss zooms aren't excellent. I have reason to believe that the 100-300, for example, is an outstanding lens that compares favorable with primes (Zeiss primes) and that ain't bad.

Eric Ung , Mar 18, 2000; 06:48 a.m.

I used to own 28-70 and 100-300 for my contax system. I agree that the 28-70 is having a light weight, good handling, however, with a poor optical quality. The contrast, colour reproduction are not consistent with other zeiss lens.

The optical quality of the 100-300 is super, but so does the weight, it is a one touch zoom with poor body build. You can never handle it properly without a tripod.

Recently, I traded them in for exchange of a EOS 3 with a 28-135IS, I also spent additional money for 17-35f2.8L, 100mmMacro(Sigma), 70-200mmf4.0L and the 550 speedlite. When compared with the old day of using AX, 35mm, 50mm, 85mm, 135mm, 100-300, 28-70 and Metz flash, I really feel I can enjoy shooting again because of better technology, faster AF and better metering. Although one day, after my girlfriend saw the printout of my new system, she said," I think your new system is poor in terms of optic". Honestly speaking, even myself is subconsciously aware of what she said, that's why I still keep my contax primes a 167MT and the AX.

What do you think?

Eric Ung , Mar 18, 2000; 06:56 a.m.

I know this thread will soon be deleted, however, the above was my "true-hearted" feeling, could the webmaster please keep this thread a little bit longer so more peolpe can join the discussion?!!

Dan Brown , Mar 18, 2000; 01:00 p.m.


I recently sold a Nikon rig with pro-AF zooms in favor of MF for my creative work. I picked up an Aria and a 35, 50, 85 and 135 set of primes. I have re-fallen in love with 35mm becasue the camera is so small, light and easy to handle. It goes with me (with the 35/2.8 and 85/2.8) all the time. Images throught Zeiss glass are stunning.

I hope I don't start to miss Nikon automation, but so far, so good.

Simon LIU , Mar 19, 2000; 09:03 a.m.

Tony, I asked the same question about a half year ago. Now I've sold my 28-70 and got the 28-85. The answer is simple from "technical" point of view. The 28-85 is better. But whether you need that edge, it depends. For someone who sticks to the technical merit, I would definitely advise getting the 28-85. But if you really believe "solfware" is more important than "hardware", the 28-70 will deliever very reasonable quality to support your creativity.

Tony Smith , Mar 19, 2000; 01:08 p.m.

Thanks everyone.

I think Simon's comment says it all. I am going to stick with the 28-85. There is not a lot wrong with it apart its size and weight. I thought with the passage of time and newer types of glass, Zeiss might have been able to achieve the optical performance of older lenses but using less complex designs and hence a lighter weight lens. I suppose they are some way down that path but not there yet.


Jeff Thompson , Mar 19, 2000; 09:48 p.m.

Hi all. The 100-300 is wonderful. The 28-85 is a great lens. I use a 28, 35, 50, and an 85mm when weight and bulk is not a problem, but grab the 28, 28-85, and the 100-300 at othe times. At 28, vignetting is a problem if you want to use filters, nad it takes 82mm ones. An intersting site which objectively evaluates various lenses is at photodo.com, and I suggest you read their evaluations

Bobby Tan , Mar 23, 2000; 10:55 p.m.

I have the 28-70mm and it complements my 100-300mm very well, but there's no comparison in terms of optical quality. I generally like zoom lenses as it enables you to frame your picture very precisely, and the 28-70mm is very light indeed. I also like the idea of all my lenses having the same 67mm filter thread.

I had thought about replacing this lens with the 28-85mm, as I have no doubts that this lens optically superior, but I don't like the weight and the filter size! I am instead replacing it with a 28mm/2.8. I have the 45mm/2.8 and 85mm/1.4 so I won't really miss the 28-70mm, which flares quite a bit if you shoot with the sun in the frame.

If you already own a couple of prime lenses in the 28-85mm range, then I would advise that you replace it with one more prime lens, so you have a set of 3 e.g. a 28mm, 45mm or 50mm, and the 85mm. These are all faster lenses as well. Forget about the 25mm/2.8 which, in my opinion, is not good value - the angle of view is very close to the 28mm and it's optically not as good as the 28m

Ulrich Neuhaeusler , Jul 25, 2000; 05:56 p.m.

I was thinking about getting either the Zeiss 28-70 or 28-85 and asked myself the same question. The German 'Photo Magazin' tested both of them: The Zeiss Vario Sonnar 28-85, 3.3-4.0 got 9.2 on mechanical and 9.6 on optical performance (issue 11/89), the Zeiss Vario Sonnar 28-70, 3.5-4.5 got 9.6 on mechanics and 9.2 on optics (issue 10/98). Statement: "The 28-70 performance is not far apart from the 28-85". And you have to consider that it is only half the price. I haven't gotten the objective yet so I do not have any real life experience to share ...

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