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Contax Zeiss Vario-Sonnar 100-300mm f/4-5.6 on A7r


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This wasn't exactly a cheap lens not even when new - if I remember correctly it used to cost something like 2.400€ in today's money or maybe even a tad more - , and it is still not a cheap lens even used: if you can find one, it will go anywhere from 500€ to 700€ and more. But it is worth every penny IMHO.


It is compact, super sharp even wide open, with tons of micro-contrast and, typically for a Sonnar, it exhibit a beautiful bokeh. It is at its sharpest between 100 and 200mm, and according to the MTF data measured by Zeiss it should be a bit less sharp at 300mm, but I honestly haven't been able to spot the difference! At 300mm you will be more likely to loose sharpness because of the air between you and your subject if shooting from a distance than from anything else anyway.


Look at the first picture: this kind of rendering is almost impossible to squeeze out from many other lenses, that will render the clouds soft and mushy even after a ton of post processing.


This lens in my book has only a couple of faults:


- it lacks a lens mount; you can probably get away without one, but it is not for the faint of heart. No big deal, there are cheap (~30€) aftermarket alternatives that work pretty good (even if then with the lens collar your lens will become a 135-300mm, because the collar locks on the first part of the lens).


- wide open it might exhibit sometimes a strange "light arc" that is really difficult to get rid of in the threshold between the uniformly illuminated image and the start of the vignetting. You have to see it, it is difficult to describe, but it looks a bit like an arc of "positive" vignetting, i.e. of a lighter area instead of a shadowed one, some kind of overcorrection of the vignetting just before the proper vignetting starts.


- not really a negative point for a 300mm lens of this quality, but while pretty compact (more so than many 70-200 lenses, even mf ones!) it is still fairly heavy at more than 900g.


I use it on the A7r, 99% of the time on a tripod (the last shot was hand-held though) but it will be best mated with a body with IBIS for an easier time focusing and shooting at 300mm.


P.s.: sorry for the compression artifacts on the 2nd shot, I can't see them in the exported image but they show up when I upload the image here...


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I use a K&F adapter plus a tripod mount found on ebay specific for this lens (around 30$ for the tripod mount, 10$ for the adapter).




The minimum focus distance is 1.5m, and you can find the other specs here:




Hope this helps.

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