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When one thinks of the apex of lens design for medium format film cameras, it becomes difficult to avoid some level of contemplation about the Zeiss 80mm f/2 lens. It's a fantastic lens with an astonishing f/2 aperture that makes it a highly versatile lens in the medium format world.
I'm going to keep this review short because I think the images do most of the talking. If you'd like to also learn a little more about the Contax 645 body, be sure to check out my Contax 645 Review. So, without further ado, here's my Carl Zeiss 80mm f/2 review.
I think it only appropriate to talk about bokeh first when it comes to the 80mm f/2. It has very nice bokeh. It's buttery smooth and almost seems painterly. Enough said?
At f/2 I see some minor vignetting, which is to be expected. By 2.8 and smaller, vignetting only because less and less noticeable.
Sharpness of the 80mm f/2 is good. Even at f/2, images can come out rather sharp.
At the far corners of the image, I tend to see some softness.
Fall-Off/Depth of Field
Fall-off with the 80mm f/2 is nice. Coupled with the sharpness and smooth bokeh of this lens, It's what helps give the subject a 3D look. At f/2 on a 645, the depth of field is similar to a 50mm 1.25 or so.
Thanks to the T* coating that Zeiss has applied to this lens, the contrast is top notch and pleasant. Skin tones tend to render rather well with the 80mm f/2. They can appear contrasty, yet still smooth and buttery (in a good way).
Colors rendered by the Zeiss 80mm f/2 are good. There are no weird color casts that I've noticed.
I've noticed some very minor barrel distortion with the Zeiss 80mm f/2. This typically presents itself at large apertures and is noticeable by a slight swirl most notably at the corners of the image.
Minimum Focusing Distance
This is something that I feel can be very underappreciated. I love getting up close, to my subject for some close shots. At 70cm (about 2.3 feet) minimum focusing distance the Zeiss 80mm f/2 allows me to do just that.
Build Quality, Features, and Feel
The Zeiss 80mm f/2 is built well. It's solid and feels "comfortably heavy". The aperture ring clicks very nicely and the focus ring is rather smooth, allowing for precise manual focusing.
Worth noting, the aperture ring includes click stops for each stop, but (when using on the Contax 645 body) you can adjust the aperture halfway between each stop to achieve different f stops in between each stop.
Final Remarks on the Zeiss 80mm f/2 Review
This lens is legendary, and for good reason. And for such reasons, it's not cheap. Current market value can be between $1,800 and $2,400 depending on the condition the seller.
But, despite the price, it's a lens that people, including myself have found to be an investment. With wonderful bokeh, great contrast, good contrast and more, it's a lens that has earned it's reputation.
If you've enjoyed or found this article helpful, please consider using our Ebay link to the Zeiss 80mm f/2 if you plan to purchase one. We've receive a portion of the total sale price, so it helps us out a lot!