A Surprising Discovery

I found a new (old) lense in my cellar.

A Surprising Discovery

We always kept an old Contax SLR with a standard zoom and non-spectacular Yashica lense attached to it on a shelf in our living room as nice decoration object, which we got from my photography enthusiastic father-in-law, who unfortunately died way too early from cancer several years ago. Two days ago my wife reminded me that there is another camera stored away in our cellar and this made me curious. When I found it and I saw the lense I couldn't believe what I was holding in my hand.

Carl Zeiss Planar T* 1.4/85 C/Y

All the time there was a Carl Zeiss Planar T* 1.4/85 C/Y in excellent condition in my cellar. Yes, this means 85 mm at f/1.4 combined with Carl Zeiss quality made in Germany! A bokeh monster!

I immediately ordered an Contax to Canon EF adapter for my Canon EOS 6D at Amazon, which arrived today. Here are the first unedited RAW test shots I made.

Moroccan Tea PotISO 100, f/1.8, 1/40s
Kitchen UtensilsISO 125, f/1.4, 1/40s
CalendarISO 320, f/2, 1/50s
TulipsISO 100, f/1.4, 1/50s

What makes this lense very special is the fact that it produces a circular saw blade like bokeh at apertures f/2.0 and f/2.8.

Circular Saw Blade like BokehISO 100, f/2.8, 1/3200s

This is due to the very special design of the aperture blades:

Aperture Blades of Carl Zeiss Planar T* 1.4/85 C/Y at f/2.8

I will need some more practice with this lense, but I am already starting to love it.

It has an exceptional build quality and despite it's simple architecture it's very heavy - it feels even heavier than my much bigger Sigma 24-105 f/1.4 Art, which is often criticized for its weight. Obviously it contains a lot of metal and much more glas. Focus and aperture rings are extremely precise and this lense produced in 1975 still offers a great image quality.

One last word about the C/Y to EF adapter: I've bought the Quenox AF-Confirm adapter, which contains a chip that tricks the Canon 6D to believe there is an AF capable EF 50 mm f/1.4 USM lense attached to it. This enables the highlighting of the focus points when half-pressing the shutter. After my first experience I do not believe that this was worth the additional money compared to a much cheaper full manual adapter. The AF points seems to have quite some tolerance, when you set the focus manually. As a result when shooting with an extremely shallow depth at 85mm and f/1.4 this AF confirm does not help as much as expected. The biggest gain for nailing the focus is achieved by replacing the standard focusing screen of the Canon 6D with the precision focusing screen Canon EG-S. The combination of the EG-S focusing screen with a fully manual C/Y to EF adapter costs almost the same, but you benefit from the EG-S screen also for other fully manual lenses like a Lensbaby.