Carl Zeiss Sonnar 2,8 / 85 Brief Review by Reader Radozhiva

A brief review of the Carl Zeiss Sonnar 2,8 / 85 lens specially for Radozhiva prepared Roman Ukhanyov.

Carl Zeiss Sonnar 2,8 / 85

Carl Zeiss Sonnar 2,8 / 85

The photomaniac has no purpose. There is only a path - a path in search of the perfect lens. And that journey led me to find a lightweight, compact full-frame portrait lens to take on a trip to photograph the natives.

I was initially interested in the Carl Zeiss Sonnar T * 90 mm f / 2.8 on the Contax G, but there was an expensive adapter and problems focusing through it. And then the hero of the review turned up.

The Carl Zeiss Sonnar 85 mm f / 2.8 is made of glass and metal and was originally produced on the Rollei 35mm mount. But for my review it got already adapted to Canon EF without a chip, but with the loss of infinity (for a full-length portrait it was enough), in style and workmanship it is similar to a pancolar electric. The optical design differs slightly from the Sonnar T * 90 mm f / 2.8 on the Contax G and Sonnar T * 85 mm f / 2.8 C / Y.

The size is small, not more than the usual manual fifty dollars, weight 200 gr. The diaphragm has only 6 matte blades, alas not blackened, operating in the range of 2.8 - 22. Optical design: 4 elements in 4 groups (Ernostar). The enlightenment is blue-violet. In general, in my experience, the back holds up well.

Now comes the fun part. The main highlight of this glass is, of course, the bokeh. It's pretty typical for sonars. It starts to play with new colors when strong light sources appear in the blur zone, and they appear ... lemon! I always thought that this is a unique feature of noble planars, and if they are on sonars, they are not at all pronounced. And here they are just exemplary for a sight for sore eyes.

Sample Photos

All photos were taken with Sony a7.

To summarize


  • Good sharpness in the open (all photos for the review were taken on it)
  • Unique bokeh
  • Tiny weight
  • Smooth aiming 230 degrees
  • Small popular thread for filter and lens hood 49mm


  • darkish
  • non-blackened diaphragm, with a small number of blades
  • rare bayonet (modern adapters can close this disadvantage)
  • no autofocus and no aperture control through the camera
  • mdf 1m

In general, a very interesting glass, captivating with its weight, quality and convenience, it is a pity only very rare on the market.

You will find more reviews from readers of Radozhiva here.

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Comments: 9, on the topic: Brief review of Carl Zeiss Sonnar 2,8 / 85 from the reader Radozhiva

  • Alex

    there is nothing special in the effect of "lemons" - almost all high-aperture lenses have it in the open area as a result of vignetting.

    the owners of Sony were lucky - they have a SAM 85 f / 2.8. very lightweight, compact, cheap, very decent optically, and even with autofocus.

  • Rodion

    One of the big advantages of this particular lens is its extremely good spherical correction. This makes bokeh so enjoyable unlike other similar 4/4 lenses. Although a somewhat similar experience can be obtained even with some Nikon E 100 / 2.8.
    However, all this, including lemons, has long been done in the excellent 5/3 Zonnar Nikkor-P 105 / 2.5 pre-AI.

  • B. R. P.

    Thanks for your review. You are cool about the photomaniac)

  • Eugen

    Bought the exact same one last spring at ebay auction. I had to clean and lubricate the dymphragm, the wheel was very tight.
    Since then lies ...

  • notapic

    Photos are cool, but about the review - brevity is the sister of talent. Where are the photos of the natives?

  • Alexey

    Externally - the cast Rollei Planar 1.8 / 50. Attach it to your Rolleiflex SL35 .. great portrait lens)

  • Michael

    Photos are good, but not CamJPEG. It's a pity not to see the source code. Thanks for your review!

  • Andrei

    something special in the difference with the Sony 85/2/8 is not visible

    • Rodion Eshmakov

      The scheme is almost the same) Sony will even be more progressive.

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