Contax Zeiss 85mm f1.4 A7S Test
For regular all around shooting, I find the Contax Zeiss 85mm f1.4 Planar to be a bit too long for my video tastes. I have not spent nearly the time shooting this tight of a lens as I have with wider angle lenses. On my other hybrid storyteller hand, for still portrait work the Contax Zeiss 85mm f1.4 Planar feels just about right.
Shooting street portraits or client portraits on the street, the Sony A7S it is a dream come true. ISO settings from 3200 to 12,800 are clean, so there is seldom a need to go below or above them so your always dialed right in the perfect range for still lighting conditions or a heavily overcast day as this one was.
Having a good, fast lens like the Contax Zeiss 85mm f1.4 Planar means I am able to keep my shutter speeds up, freezing the action for crisp details, while narrowing my depth of focus for main subject 3D pop against the background blur.
Stop the Contax Zeiss 85mm f1.4 down to f5.6 to f8 for this lens to roar like the Zeiss lion it is. Tack sharp, across the frame, with that beautiful Zeiss drawing signature and color balance.
However, nothing in fantasyland is ever perfect. This is not a small lens. It is not a light lens either, weighing in at a hefty 595 g. The balance on the A7S without the optional grip is not that good, and adding the grip only improves it slightly. All the weight of the Contax Zeiss 85mm f1.4 Planar sitting at the end of an inch of adapter certainly does push things out there. Coupled with its inability to focus any closer than 1 meter, you soon realize the limitations and learn to work around them. Well worth the effort in the case of the Contax Zeiss 85mm f1.4 Planar, as it is one of the finest lenses made in this focal length.
If you want the very best, this Contax Zeiss 85mm f1.4 Planar, the Leica R 80mm f1.4 Summilux, and the new Carl Zeiss OTUS 85mm f1.4 are the three best of breed to choose from. The OTUS is superb, though a hefty USD $4,490 new. The Leica R 80mm Summilux used on Ebay (Leica has discontinued this lens, so no longer available new) will cost you between USD $1,800 to $3,800 depending upon condition. This excellent Contax Zeiss 85mm f1.4 Planar can be had for a relative steal at USD $500 – $900 depending upon condition.
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