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Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 28mm F2.8 Review RSS Feed

Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 28mm F2.8

Reviews Views Date of last review
7 80,496 Sat November 21, 2020
Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
100% of reviewers $278.57 9.29
Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 28mm F2.8

Lens Composition: 7 elements in 7 groups
Angular Field: 74 degrees (FF); 46 degrees (crop)
Minimum Focus: 25cm / 10in
Focusing Action: Manual Focus
f-stop Scale: f/2.8-f/22, manual
Filter Size: 55mm
Weight: 280g / 9.9oz
Dimensions: 62.5 x 50mm / 2.4 x 1.9"

Mount Type: Non-Pentax Mount
Price History:

Add Review of Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 28mm F2.8
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New Member

Registered: April, 2020
Posts: 6
Review Date: November 21, 2020 Recommended | Price: $165.00 | Rating: 7 

Pros: Decent sharpness and color
Cons: Chromatic aberrations
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 6    Bokeh: 7    Handling: 8    Value: 8    Camera Used: Sony A7   

Bought used for a good price.
A good lens for daily use.
It delivers enough bright colors as well as a decent sharpness.
New Member

Registered: May, 2019
Posts: 10

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: June 18, 2019 Recommended | Price: $230.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharpness, build quality, user experience, color
Cons: none really, could be faster I guess...
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 10    Camera Used: Fujifilm XT-3   

This lens is a joy to use. It absolutely drips with quality.

The focus ring moves with silky precision and just the right resistance. The aperture ring clicks (silently) in full stop increments but is easy to set at half stops if desired. Color is precise yet vibrant.

If I could, I would give the Distagon a 9.5 for sharpness. It focuses to approximately nine inches (around 23cm). With an effective 43mm focal length, the 28mm focal length is a good fit for the APS-C sensor on my Fujifilm XT-3. Good for street photography and portraits with context. I haven't used the Distagon for landscapes yet; when I do, I'll update this review.

This lens cost $200 on eBay (plus $30 shipping from Japan) and feels like it should cost twice as much.

This is a jpeg using the Fujifilm "Astia" film emulation. I didn't add saturation - just used the "auto tone" setting on PS which made the color more punchy. Shot wide open around 10" from the flower:

Shot at f5.6 while focused on the truck:

Shot at around f4 on an overcast day:

Junior Member

Registered: March, 2013
Posts: 28
Review Date: June 18, 2016 Recommended | Price: $180.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: zeiss colours and contrast
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 9    Value: 10    Camera Used: K01   

I got mine on ebay BIN for a modest price because it is AEJ so cannot be leitax converted. No problem as the K mount is very similar and can be modified very easily to accept C/Y lenses (a little off the back ). On installation the lens did not focus back to infinity quite, because the inner flange ring is about 0.3mm thicker, so I screwed off the filter ring, removed the 3 little cross head screws holding the focus ring on, focused the lens back to infinity in live view (K01), then returned the focus ring at the new inf point and screwed the clamping ring back on. Easy peasey and reversible.
Junior Member

Registered: January, 2012
Posts: 38
Review Date: August 2, 2013 Recommended | Price: $375.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Super sharp, great colors, construction

After reading all the reviews it's hard to add anything new.

It is a great lens.

New Member

Registered: July, 2011
Location: ile de france
Posts: 29
Review Date: September 20, 2012 Recommended | Price: $375.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Good lens, soft color and solid construction
Cons: Manual lens then "shoots" static

Good lens, soft color and solid construction

Manual lens then "shoots" static

Purchase CZ Contax mount 28mm F2.8 converted by a company Leitax mount Pentax K.

Expensive processing factory (Spain) but satisfactory (as tamperproof screws, glued with Loctite)

Tests on Pentax K5 and F8 to F5.6 and quality comparable to the Pentax FA 35mm F2 in terms of general definition.

Bon objectif, couleur douce et construction solide

Objectif manuel donc "shoots" statiques

Achat du CZ 28mm F2.8 monture Contax transformé par la socièté Leitax par une monture Pentax K.

Transformation couteuse en usine (Spain) mais satisfaisante (car vis indémontables, collées à la Loctite)

Tests réalisés sur Pentax K5 à F5.6 et F8 et qualité comparable au Pentax FA 35 mm F2 en terme de définition générale.
Senior Member

Registered: January, 2010
Location: British Columbia
Posts: 120
Review Date: June 4, 2011 Recommended | Price: $375.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharpness (especially stopped-down); contrast; build/feel
Cons: Aperture ring sets at full stops only

As the previous review mentioned, this lens requires a mount swap out to be used on a Pentax camera. It's not too difficult, but you do have to be careful with the screws since they are all glued down.

The lens intrigued me due to its very high photodo score so I had set out to acquire one and have it adapted to my Pentax Kx.

Past f4 the lens gets so sharp that I have to back off the sharpening settings in post. At f2.8 it's noticeably better than the Tamron 17-50mm which I also own and think highly of.

Very good global contrast and captures subtle tones and contrast differences very well.

Chromatic Abberation
A touch of purple fringing when you get closer to the corners but otherwise excellent. Much better LoCA than fast aperture lenses such as the Pentax 31mm Ltd or Leica Summicron 35mm.

Excellent build since it's all metal, except for the rubberized aperture and focus rings. My nitpicks are the original lens cap (feels cheap) and the aperture ring only clicks at full stop. The aperture ring behaviour is not as big a deal as I had initially thought, but wanted to mention it as I would certainly prefer to have half stop clicks.
It's not heavy, but solid and uses easy to find 55mm filters.

Interestingly, my Leitax bayonet does not fit a Pentax bayonet rear lens cap; it just loosely covers the back of the lens. I have to use a Leica R rear lens cap to be able to fit it securely on the lens which is very strange.

In order to justify the use of adapted lenses, one has to understand what is the added value as opposed to using a modern lens since you have to overcome the lack of auto capabilities. IMO, this lens has two strong attributes going for it: excellent microcontrast, and killer stop down sharpness (wide open is excellent too, just not as jaw dropping as the IQ at f5.6 and smaller). If you're looking for these attributes in a lens, then it's a highly recommended lens to use.
Loyal Site Supporter

Registered: June, 2009
Location: Tumbleweed, Arizona
Posts: 5,676

6 users found this helpful
Review Date: April 15, 2011 Recommended | Price: $250.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: IQ, Sharpness, Contrast, Coloring, Rendering, Size, Weight, Build Quality
Cons: really none - but it is a manual lens - possibly its Bokeh, only because its a f2.8 lens

Carl Zeiss produced a series of professional quality lens for the Contax 35mm series of SLRs, in the MM (or C/Y mount), from 1985, which went out of production around 2005. Here are a set of links with additional information and images from the lens.These lenses have all the expected qualities of a Zeiss lens, however there is no adapter that directly supports the MM to K mount. The MM mount is functionally close to the Pentax K mount, however it has been reported that it can be forced on (I did not even try). There is a solution, and that is changing the mount from the MM mount to a Pentax K mount using a conversion kit from The conversion is reversible without any damage to the lens.

Carl Zeiss made two 28mm Distagon lenses for Contax, each using the Distagon design. One was a f2 which is physically larger, and a smaller f2.8. This is a review of the f2.8. However, touching on the f2 lens for a moment, it is faster, larger and about 3x to 4x more expensive. It has become a cult classic, and bears the price. An interesting aside is that the Pentax K28/f2 is a twin to the Contax Distagon 28/f2, designed in cooperation with Zeiss.....While everyone else is jousting for the f2, the f2.8 in my opinion is just a good - especially for my use.You are able to determine the mount type by the color of the f22 aperture setting (green indicates that it’s a MM mount suitable for conversion - white indicates an AE mount that is NOT able to be converted). Also the MM mount can be identified as MMJ or MMG indicating where the lens was made (J = Japan, G = Germany).

Distagon® indicates the particular lens design – which means that the back focal distance has to be much larger than the focal length, a retrofous design that Zeiss called Distagon®.

All Contax Carl Zeiss lenses are purely mechanical and have no electronics, therefore they are fully manual lenses (no autofocus and no auto aperture), equivalent to the Pentax M or K lenses.
  • Build – All metal and glass - well the lens cover is plastic, as is the rear cap. Extremely well built, rubber coating on the barrel focus ring (equivalent to the Pentax FA Limited build quality). The focus (to twist) is backwards from Pentax – however, I have not had any problems adapting to this. From minimum focus distance to infinity is about 1/3 of a full turn. Very smooth focusing, with damping. Aperture setting, click at full f stops. Filter size is 55mm and there is no lens hood standard (available as a separate part and you need to look for them).
  • Size – The lens is not a compact (pancake) lens, however it is slightly smaller than the FA 31 Ltd, in all dimensions, height, diameter and about half the weight. The lens does not weigh a ton, however it does have the feel of some heft - or mass to it, well balanced on my K20 body.
  • Optics – A full frame lens, all glass. The lens is fully multi coated using Zeiss’ T* coatings, one of the best available – however since the lens is at a minimum nearly 10 years (Carl Zeiss produced the MM version for Contax from 1985 to 2005), the coatings are not optimized for digital, however flare is virtually non existent. From what I have read the T* coatings were introduced in 1972, as it was Zeiss' multicoating process. In 1974 Zeiss started marketing "T*" in response to Pentax's SMC (Super Multi Coated) lens advertising.
  • Sharpness – It will be extremely difficult (nearly impossible) to find a lens that is sharper than this one. Actually the entire Contax Carl Zeiss line of lenses are noted for their sharpness. This is sharp from f2.8 - wide open and just gets sharper. f4 to f5.6 is optimum for resolution and the sharpness is extremely wonderful.
  • Performance – I was shooting this lens side by side with the FA 31 Ltd. The CZ consistently had a significant shorter shutter time (at the same aperture), and tends to underexpose slightly.
  • Flare – This MM or C/Y version handles flare very well. The previous version - the AE did have some issues with flare.
  • Bokeh – Very nice. This may be the lens' only perceived weakness because its only f2.8 it will not provide as nice a bokeh as a faster lens. However, for its speed, its bokeh is very nice.
  • Price – The prices of these lenses vary, since they are available now only on the used market, via ebay, craigslist, and the other usual used avenues of acquisition. If you are going to modify the mount, you need to purchase the conversion kit from Leitax. You can do the conversion yourself or you can have Eric Henderson or Leitax do it for you. I’ll estimate overall costs to be a minimum of $350 US (which would include the acquisition of the lens) and at least a month of time, in terms of obtaining the conversion kit and possibly having it converted for you. This is not necessarily a cheap inexpensive lens, however the overall price is still approximately 1/3 the cost of the new ZK Carl Zeiss lens or a new FA 31 Ltd. Taking in to account used prices, the Contax will run about 1/2 the price of a used ZK or 31 Ltd. That said, you have to remember that it’s a manual lens – no auto focusing, or auto aperture. The upside is that there are also no electronics to fail on you.

I am going to call this a candidate for the title of “Poor Photographer’s 31 Limited”. It meets and matches Pentax’s FA 31 Limited in every category, and exceeds it in center sharpness. Corner sharpness, the Pentax has a slight edge in pulling in the light and details within the shadows. Rendering, contrast and colorings – the character of the two lenses are different – it’s the eye of the photographer if one is more pleasing than the other. When mounted on a Pentax digital body, you will still retain focus confirmation – which I find to be very helpful.

The conversion was flawless. Eric did a wonderful job. I had Eric do it for me so that I would not butcher such a fine lens. Leitax reports that many folks convert the lens on their own. My only problem was my own poor ability to manual focus - which is getting better with practice. Infinity focusing is perfect. When focused everything was spot on, clear, crisp and extremely sharp.

Do I think that its a perfect 10? No, however - neither do I think that its a 9. Its more like about a 9.8 - but I don't have that option, so I rounded - up to 10.

I am attaching an image from the lens. K20, ISO 100 @ f4, 6 seconds, Aperture Priority, Mulit-Segment, and 0 ev. It was taken just before 8pm in the evening.

The lens is suppose to have somewhat of a 3D rendering look to it in terms of contrast (folks have refer to it as microcontrasts). I like evening sunset landscape shots - with just ambient light. I thought that this would be a good test. Down in the lower corner there is brickwork that I was using as a reference for corner sharpness. I also wanted to see the evening valley lights, and how it handled the shadows, the variations in lighting along with the evening sky.


Some additional useful links....
Add Review of Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 28mm F2.8

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