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Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* 3.4/35-70 C/Y - topimage Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* 3.4/35-70 C/Y - side

Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* 3.4/35-70 C/Y

My usage


Image quality


Sharpness and Contrast

Based on photos I have taken I have no reason to doubt that the measured MTF charts would not be as Zeiss has them measured. Specially around 50mm the performance is surpricing me every time when doing "pixel peeping" at 100% crops. Micro-contrast is very high at any focal length af f/5.6 or smaller. Also it seems that lens takes small apertures pretty well. With Canon EOS 5D mkII f/11 is fully usable and f/16 is usable but some contrast is lost.

Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* 3.4/35-70 C/Y - MTF (screen capture from Zeiss PDF)
According to Zeiss (underline parts different than in Canon's MTFs): "The Modulation Transfer (MTF) as a function of image height (u) and slit orientation (sagittal, tangential) has been measured with white light at spatial frequencies of R = 10, 20 and 40 cycles/mm."


Wide open - subjective

Closed down - subjective

highlight shapes - in corners "cateye" or not

highlight shapes - is the highlight circle having strong edges or soft edges

Lens flare


Nightphotos on city => strong lights

Vignetting and distortion



Textures etc.

Handling and usage

Focusing from infinity to 1 meter is about XXX degrees rotation. XXX subjective description of manual focus resistance XXX. XXX Manual focusing is very accurate and it's very easy to achieve accurate focus with live view.

Aperture can be selected 1 stop intervals. When using viewfinder and manually stopping down it's easy to calculate "clicks" from wide open to determinen the aperture into which lens is stopped down. XXX subjective feeling of aperture adjustment if any XXX XXX subjective description of focus ring width and usage with gloves if relevant XXX

XXX subjective description of lens hood if applicable - physical and flare protection XXX XXX subjective description of lens cap when lens hood is used XXX

XXX Polarized usage with hood if applicable XXX XXX Lens hood effectiveness with filters XXX

Build quality and basics

Build quality is as good as I could imagine, from different planet than Canon lenses.

Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar 
T* 3.4/35-70 CY - constructions Lens dimensions with C/Y to EOS adapter and lens caps are: diameter 70mm, length 80.5mm, weight 475+XXXg. This lens isn't internal focusing and therefore extends when focused closer. Lens extends about XXXmm when focused to minimum focus distance 0.7m. There is additional macro mode, which can be used in wide end of the focal range.

Lens uses filter size of 67mm, which is same as in Carl Zeiss Makro-Planar T* 2/100 ZF. filter thread revolves when lens is focused and therefore lens has to be first focused and then polarizer/ND-grad filter adjusted.

Minimum aperture is f/22. Largest aperture is f/3.4 and there is step for f/4 even it's not marked to the lens barrel. Aperture has 8 blades and aperture remains pretty round at f/5.6 but after that it's clearly octaconal.

Lens has 10 elements which are in 10 groups. Actual focal length range is 35.7-69.0mm. Minimum focus distance is 0.7m, which results 0.05-0.10x maximum magnification and full frame (36mm x 24mm) coverage is between 706mm x 471mm and 365mm x 243mm. Magnification is calculated based on focal length and minimum focus distance.

Macro mode

When lens focal length is set to 35mm lens can be set to macro mode. This is done by turning focus ring to clockwise to macro range, which is marked with red color. In the macro mode maximum magnification is 0.##x



+ excellent sharpness, contrast and microcontrast over all focal lengths and apertures
+ excellent colors
+ excellent flare resistance
+ macro mode


- when lens is focused filter thread rotates

See photos in my picturebank taken with this lens.

Carl Zeiss lenses links (Link to parent category)

digLloyd Zeiss ZF lenses - Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 35mm f/2.0 - Carl Zeiss Makro-Planar T* 100mm f/2.0 - Test of 28mm lenses including CZ 28/2.8
Pebble Place - Carl Zeiss Planar T* 2/100
Pebble Place - Carl Zeiss Macro-Sonnar T* 2.8/100 N
SLR Lens Review - Contax Sonnar T* 2.8/135mm C/Y
SLR Lens Review - Contax Sonnar T* 2.8/85mm C/Y
SLR Lens Review - Contax Planar T* 1.7/50mm C/Y
Pebble Place - Contax Sonnar T* 2.8/135mm C/Y
Some example pictures of Zeiss lenses - samples from various lenses

Pictures of Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* 3.4/35-70 C/Y

Lens extends when focused

Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* 3.4/35-70 C/Y - lens extension when focusing close and in
macro mode compared to infinity focus
Distance from EOS lens mount (including adapter) to end of the hood is XXXmm at infinity and XXXmm at minimum focusing distance, and XXXmmm when in macro mode.

Front/side projection

Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* 3.4/35-70 C/Y - Front/Left
Made in Germany.

Huuhaakuukausi 3rd, 2009