Carl Zeiss Sonnar 85mm f2.8 is a beautiful Carl Zeiss lens made in West Germany. It’s a sharp lens with a rare optical design – it only has four elements in 4 groups. Compared to some of today’s lenses, four element designs are unique – Zeiss Batis 85/1.8 has 11 elements in 8 groups.
Element count alone does not determine the quality of the lens – there are some excellent lenses with high element counts. However, there is a tendency for small element count lenses to produce some very appealing results due to uncorrected aberrations, which add to the character of the image.
The low number of glass-to-air surfaces ensures minimal internal reflections and allows the lens to capture images with great micro-contrast and ‘3D’ look.
Carl Zeiss Sonnar 85mm f2.8 is just finely machined glass and metal. The focusing ring is smooth and easy to use. The more I use these manual focus lenses, the more I enjoy focusing manually.
Manual focus on Canon EOS R with focus peaking is delightful – I can fix the focus point exactly where I want it to be. Focusing was way more complicated with Canon EOS 6D, and I consistently failed to focus when using manual lenses. I genuinely enjoy my manual lenses now.
You will need QBM to EOS RF (EOS R) adapter to mount this lens on Canon EOS R. I bought a Roxsen adapter on eBay and paid $23 for it.
The lens feels well balanced on Canon EOS R and is light enough to become a perfect travel photography lens.
The image quality is better than expected for the price. Images are sharp and contrasty. There is a bit of softness wide open, but not as much as with Mamiya Sekor 55mm f1.8 M42. Once stopped down a little, it produces incredibly sharp results. The lens is excellent for portraits and nature photography. I particularly like the way it renders images – they have the perception of depth and the “film” look.
Focal Length: 85mm
Optical Design: 4 Elements / 4 Groups
Minimum Aperture: f2.8
Maximum Aperture: f22
Aperture Blades: 6
Minimum Focus: 1 m
Years produced: 1970-1981
Made by Carl Zeiss in Oberkochen, West Germany
I enjoy having this excellent value for money lens and will keep shooting it. It is not a popular well-documented lens, and that made it interesting for me. The results speak for themselves, and I am happy that I have bought it.
I would rate it 5 out of 5.
I hope this small review helped you. Do you have one? Is your experience similar to mine? Leave a comment below.