Zeiss Sonnar (G) 90mm F2.8 Quickie Test

I’ve recently been foaming at the mouth for the latest Fujinon XF 90mm F2…I’m not alone. For anyone that has one – I hate you. 🙂

I do have some awesome Fuji glass though. Fuji XF glass is best for Fuji cameras…that’s not a bold statement. You get AF (for what its worth…), you get full exif data, and of course, you get an amazingly sharp lens with wonderful colour reproduction and exquisite resolution and detail. That’s not to say there isn’t a place for legacy glass in my kit bag…

When the X-Pro first came out – in fact, for over a year – we were not exactly spoiled for choice when it came to lenses. There was a wide, a standard and a short tele. Fine – they were all really high quality lenses. But of course, one of the advantages of owning a mirrorless camera was the ability to whack on pretty much ANY lens, from any brand, and be able to use it via an adapter – if you were cool with manual focus. I’m fine with manual focus. Which is handy if you’re a Fuji-head….auto focus is not a selling point.

I have a full range of Olympus Zuiko OM lenses – all great, the 50mm 1.4 is terrific for portraits – and came to rely on them in the early days, as there was so little Fuji glass around at that time. This was before focus peaking too, and they were still very usable. But anyway, I digress – this is about the Zeiss Sonnar 90mm F2.8, my ‘stand in’ until I can afford a Fuji equivalent. Actually, it may not be a stand in…

First off – here is the lens in question (on an XE2 – I recommend this body over the X-Pro, as the focus peaking is more effective):

20151214-untitled (1 of 1)-4

Its pretty sexy, I think…

The adapter was about £25, and its regarded as a cheap one. The focus ring on it is a little ‘jumpy’ at first, not all that smooth, but it sorts itself out with use.  The lens, incidentally, is not mint (hence the ludicrously low price I got it for..) and has a few marks on the front element (this will make little difference to IQ – as the examples below show). Mint versions go for around £250-£300. I paid £100 for mine, with a Contax G1 attached. I was VERY lucky, I know…

So now, the results – please bear in mind that this was just a test. The images were shot this afternoon outside my office over a quiet ten minutes. They were also shot wide open, at 2.8, as the light was fading and I didn’t want to crank the ISO up too high. Most are between 800 and 1600 ISO.

I don’t think much of an explanation is necessary – but I am VERY pleased (and a little surprised) with the results. The focus peaking is good on the XE2, but not always accurate (unless its me…) but I’ve posted the ones where the focus is off a bit too. The dude on the bike, for example. Also, bokeh is not really featured here but I think its ok for a 2.8 lens at these sorts of distances. Editing was done in Lightroom, using the ‘Classic Chrome’ pre-set, or B/W with the red filter pre-set. A few tweaks, nothing major.

Would I recommend it? If you can manually focus – yes, no brainer. Is it better than a Fujinon XF 90mm? No, it wont be…this lens wont be able to compete with something manufactured today – its got 20 years on the Fuji. But it IS good, it IS way cheaper, and, come on…its a Zeiss. That still counts for something…



  1. lefey · December 18, 2015

    Interesting Matt, I imagine ebay will be scoured for Contax by Fuji users now. I have been using a 135mm manual focus Pentax lens on my XE2, equally impressive, and smashing colour rendition.. these legacy lenses are getting a new lease of life .. regards Drew


    • jezmouk · December 18, 2015

      Cheers Drew – I agree, there are some terrific legacy lenses out there. If Im honest, I’d take the Fuji equiv. for a variety of reasons – but some of this old glass is absolutely gorgeous – and can be bought for some really great prices. All the best, thanks for your comment. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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