Zeiss T* lens question

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by Rick Helmke, Nov 29, 2021.

  1. Morning everyone,

    A while back I mentioned here that I had come across a dusty Contax RTS 35mm camera and bought it inexpensively. It needed a new battery and some cleaning but it works well, I'm not finding any issues but so far haven't used it often. I was slightly disappointed in that it came with a Yashica 35-80/3.5-5.6 lens which if I recall was a budget option to the Zeiss lenses also in that mount. Again, no big deal, it has no fungus, scratches or mechanical problems. The aperture isn't sticky or anything. The variable aperture is a feature I don't care for but could live with. Yesterday I found a Zeiss T* 40-80/3.5 in this same mount for about $100. Is it really a noticeably better lens? I recall reading back in the day that Zeiss is high end and that has stuck with me ever since. Nearly all of my other glass is Nikkor and is quite good. Will the Zeiss impress me as well? Has anyone seen other Zeiss glass or maybe Yashica as well in longer prime or zoom setups? I don't shoot nearly as much film as I once did but I enjoy it and have a good darkroom so from time to time I still pick up a film body and this one might work for some nice portraiture. No motor drive so I will have to slow down and think instead of spray and pray but that's a good thing. Or am I insane.....

    Rick H.
  2. Answering that question would require that one have used both, and my guess is that few have, as it would likely be a lateral move.
    If you just want opinions, you can do a google search as well anyone can.
    Without googl'ing I can say that zooms of that era were rarely impressive. However, the primes from Contax/Yashica were mostly excellent regardless of branding. A Yashica branded 50mm is likely close to as good as the Zeiss branded equivalent but the Yashica will with high probability be a much better value.

    On the other hand -what is $100? If curios just buy and try it and then sell one or the other. How much can you loose?
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2021
  3. m42dave

    m42dave Dave E.

    Likewise, I haven't used either of these zooms, and am not familiar with the Yashica 35-80mm. The Yashinon screw-mount prime lenses I've tried are among the best I've used, regardless of brand. Yashica's ML lenses have a very good reputation for quality and value and generally should compare well to their Zeiss equivalents, though you might notice minor differences in critical tests. The T* multicoatings competed with other top multicoated brands at the time, such as SMC Pentax.

    The 40-80/3.5 was marketed as having quality comparable to prime lenses in its day, though the design dates from the mid-1970s. I believe it was one of the West German-made C/Y lenses, though that should not really matter as the Japanese-made Zeiss lenses were made under license to Zeiss specifications.

    The price asked seems reasonable (less than average auction prices), so as Niels commented, you'd have little to lose if you really want to try it.
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2021
  4. The Contax lenses made by Yashica are very fine lenses in my experience. And they are a heck of a lot cheaper to buy.
    Ricochetrider likes this.
  5. The Yashica ML lenses, as I understand it, were made in the same factory (Kyocera?) as the Zeiss Contax T* lenses. They feature the Yashica "Multi Layered" ML coating rather than the Zeiss "T*", and consequently have a rather different appearance. I have read that Yashica intended the series to bridge the gap between the Yashica DSB single-coated consumer-grade lenses and the much more expensive Zeiss offerings for the Contax system. I have a few of each and I really couldn't make a definitive statement regarding the superiority of one brand over the other. They are all fine lenses. There is a helpful mine of information regarding the Yashica lenses here:

    Yashica SLR FAQ: What lenses are available?

    Oddly enough, my favourite is the 50mm Yashica ML f/2. It's very sharp, displays an interesting bokeh reminiscent of the Russian Helios lenses and produces superb clean and saturated colour. It's one of my favourites on the digital platforms, and below is a sample from a Sony A7R camera. I'll take the lens out this weekend on a film camera and post some monochrome samples a little later.

    Rose -Dublin Bay- Ex Yashica 50 2.jpg
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2021
  6. I went ahead and bought it but will probably keep both as there’s no real money in either lens. I was looking through the KEH website yesterday and they show several lens available in this mount. Not that I need it but an 80-200 would be a nice addition. Then a second body……..

    Rick H.
    James Bryant likes this.
  7. SCL


    I picked up a Zeiss 80-200 a while ago for my Contax and Yashica cameras and have been very satisfied with it, which is a sonnar design (probably the same for the Yashic version). IMHO so far it doesn't seem to quite match my earlier Leitz or Canon FdN L lenses of the same focal length, but it does the yeoman's work and is well made, smooth in operation.
  8. I was able to give this lens a close inspection and a test run today. The most immediately noticeable thing is that it is bigger and heavier than the Yaschica lens by quite a bit.. It feels more solid and durable, just better built. I ran some b&w film through it today and will get that souped in a day or so along with a roll from the Yaschica lens. I'm hoping for good results from both but tend to expect more from the Zeiss lens. We'll see.

    Rick H.
    James Bryant likes this.
  9. The only "Contax" lens in C/Y mount I own is 1.4 prime ..which is especially nice all over. I own multiple ML lenses but the only "zoom" is the 28-70mm. This works well and renders nicely. As for Nikkor vs Zeiss... It probably very hard to choose as these are both extremely high quality glass in both cases!!
    Do C/Y lenses adapt to Nikon Mount? Nikon mount lens can't adapt properly to C7Y as they will not go to infinity IIRC?
  10. SCL


    Unfortunately C/Y lenses don't adapt to the Nikon mount unless you use an adapter with a lens in it, making it pointless. But they work great on m4/3 bodies as well as full frame mirrorless bodies.
  11. The only body I will be using this on is a Contax RTS. I may add a lens and perhaps another body. I don't mix brands using adapters so my F mount lenses will stay on F mount bodies and the C/Y lenses will go on a body built for that mount.

    Rick H.
  12. You got it BAD.
  13. I’m in complete denial

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