Contax 135mm F2.8 Sonnar on a 5D...Can it be done?

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by cimino55, Apr 3, 2007.

  1. Hello,

    I am looking for a manual focus portrait lense for my Canon 5D. I read a
    report that the Contax 135mm F2.8 Sonnar is not compatible with the 5D. Does
    anyone use this combination. I am also interested in an FD mount Canon 135mm
    F2.0, and the Contax 85mm F1.4 Planar. I want to slow my photography down a bit
    and take some candid portraits. This is more for a personal project than for
    any client. <p>

    What manual focus lens would you use on a 5D for portraits with real creamy


  2. I haven't heard the old manual focus Contax 135 f2.8 is incompatible with the 5D -- it works wonders on the 350D -- an extremely sharp lens. The FD 135 could only be used for close-ups -- certainly less than 10 feet, likely much less than that.
  3. according to, the 135 Sonnar is compatible with the 5D. You'd have to really convince me that the results would be better than the Canon 135L, which delivers exactly what you're asking for. Just turn the autofocus off (then back on when you need it) I'll admit that this is a big lens, and older MF 135s are probably smaller and maybe lighter.

    I have a treasured Nikon 85mm 1.4 AF-D that I use on my 5D. Creamy bokeh, very flattering skin tones, contrast is just right, very 3D images. Have a look at the Nikon 135DC as well, with its interesting defocus control.

    It's not simple to get good manual focus results on the 5D, even with the Ee-S screen. Critical focus is a bastard to get just right, even with a tripod and subjects trying to hold still. I don't like the mood created when the subject is tightening up, trying not to sway or move. Sometimes AF allows me better quick candids. Just my opinion.
  4. The Contax Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* 135mm f/2 might give the Canon EF 135mm f/2 L a run for its money, but I don't think that the Sonnar 135mm f/2.8 is in the same league as either of the f/2's. I use the Contax Carl Zeiss Planar T* 85mm f/1.4 on 30D and 20D bodies, and it's wonderful (although a current topic on the Fred Miranda Alternative Digital Systems & Lenses forum apparently gives the edge to the Planar T* 100/2). I just got a Canon 135mm f/2 L last week, and I'm getting to know it - so far, so good.
  5. The Contax 135mm f2 (actually a Planar design, not Sonnar) is a superb lens and will give exactly the bokeh you are looking for. I have compared it to my 70-200mm f2.8L IS at f2.8, and the Contax bokeh is far more pleasing to my eyes (though sharpness on a 5D was similar).
    Of course the f2.8 Sonnar will be a lot cheaper than the f2 Planar.
    If you want the ultimate in beautiful bokeh (and have a fat wallet) then you should consider the Contax 85mm f1.2 50yr Anniversary lens. It is, and may forever remain, the finest 35mm portrait lens ever produced. Again, it's junior the f1.4 will be much cheaper, as the 85mm f1.2 sells for around GBP2000/USD4000 (if you can find one, as ony 1,000 were ever made).
    There are many autofocus confirmation adapters available now, I have some from the eprey member happypagehk and they are very useful with such shallow DOF.
  6. I use a used Zeiss 85/1.4 on a 10D. It was an exceptional "ugly" lens from KEH. Still have not had a chance to test it properly, but so far so good. Picked it up for 1/5 the price of a 135/2 L or 1/7 the price of a used 85/1.2 L. Yes I would have liked the Planar 100/2 for sharper landscapes but again it would have been about 3 times the price.

    I am not sure either that the 135/2.8 Sonnar is anything special, you might also want to consider the Nikon 85/1.4 AIS, Nikon 105/1.8 AIS, Nikon 105/2.5 AIS, Nikon 135/2 AIS, or Nikon 135/2.8 AIS.

    I would not worry too much about manual focus. I've had great success with 5 Nikon lenses on my really small and dark 10D viewfinder. Good luck.
  7. With 20D there's no problem with Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* 2,8/135 and I don't think there should be any with 5D as well. The rear element is deeply inside the lens, anyway.
  8. I use my old (1978) contax 135mm f2.8 on my XT with no problems. Mainly used for indoor sports events (my son's hockey) where f2.8 really helps, even though the manual focus slows the picture taking rate down somewhat from the Canon 100-400 f4-5.6 zoom I use for outdoor sports.


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