Carl Zeiss 45mm 1:2.8 T* Tessar Contax/Yashica – review

Published by Tony on

Carl Zeiss Tessar 45mm 1:2.8 T* Contax/Yashica lens review, aka Carl Zeiss 45mm 1:2.8 C/Y.

Mount – Contax/Yashica (C/Y)

A simple and reliable prime lens, with a very well-known label.

The lens for the test was provided by Egor Nikolaev (Егор Николаев) – many thanks and greetings.

Carl Zeiss 45mm 1:2.8 C/Y look

Carl Zeiss 45mm 1:2.8 C/Y specifications

Name engraved on the lens Carl Zeiss Tessar 45mm 1:2.8 T*
f[mm] 45
A max [1/f] 2.8
A min[1/f] 22
Lens design [el.] 4
Lens design [gr.] 3
Filter thread Ø front(rear)[mm] 49
Lens Shade
closefocus[m] 0.6
Dimension Ø x length [mm] -18
Weight[g] 87gr
Year 1982
Style CY

More data

Floating elements NO
Aperture blades number 6
Confidence in the test results of reviewed copies Enough high
Reviewed Lens SN: 7439053

Historical note


Carl Zeiss 45mm 1:2.8 C/Y lens exterior

Carl Zeiss 45mm 1:2.8 T* Tessar Contax/Yashica mounted on Contax Aria

Carl Zeiss 45mm 1:2.8 C/Y sharpness

Сlose-distance resolution test, minimal distance

Testing methods description

  • Target: 10-15 cm picture, printed on glossy photo paper
  • Distance: 1.7m
  • Camera: Sony A7II (24mpx, full-frame, tripod, remote control). M-mode, ISO fixed, WB fixed, SteadyShot – OFF.
  • The test was repeated for every F-stop on every focus position with manual focus adjustment for each shot. That is to avoid the effect of field curvature.
  • RAW processing: Capture One, default settings. All quality settings – 100%. Crops – 300×200 px

Original target image (printed in horizontal orientation on 10cm X 15cm glossy photo paper)

Scene preview

Test results

Long-distance resolution test

Testing methods description

  • Target: cityscape
  • Distance: > 200 meters to center focus point
  • Camera: Sony A7II (24mpx, full-frame, tripod, remote control). M-mode, ISO fixed, WB fixed, SteadyShot – OFF. The focus point is on the center only.
  • RAW processing: Capture One, default settings. All quality settings – 100%. Crops – 300×200 px

Scene preview

Test results

Note: yes, I see a little lack of sharpness on F5.6, and it was a surprise because I’ve made three tries and all three show this behavior. Probably it is a focus-shift because I didn’t refocus on F5.6 for this lens because of the risk to move the DOF on corners. So it isn’t a deviation and seems not critical for understanding the lens sharpness and I decided to keep the test result as is.

Carl Zeiss 45mm 1:2.8 C/Y aberrations


Geometric distortion

Coma aberrations

Chromatic aberrations

Long-distance bokeh

Test #1

Test conditions: the lens was focused on minimal distance on the scale (0.6m), buildings are on “infinity”-distance.


Test conditions: lens was focused on 1.0m

Light bubbles bokeh – long distance

Test #1

The lens is on the minimal focusing distance 0.6m, lights are on infinity (cityscape)

Test #2

Test conditions: lens was focused on 1.0m

Carl Zeiss 45mm 1:2.8 C/Y – final conclusion

Usually, pancakes aren’t gems and top-performers, they are about small size and convenience. This type of lenses with optical scheme 4el.3gr and 45mm 1:2.8 is very old, well known, and many companies have created “true pancakes” based on this design. (I mean really thin lenses). What about Tessar at all – it has been introduced by the Carl Zeiss company in 1902, so, if you interested – start to dig from Wiki.

Our reviewed current Zeiss is a typical pancake and has a few nice and a few poor traits:

  • It has an average IQ because of bad corners. They stay bad even at F8.0
  • On the other hand, the middle and center are very good and it makes this lens suitable for cropped-cameras
  • But don’t expect the same “thin”-exterior on mirrorlesses – the flange focal distance of Contax C/Y is 45.5mm it means that the height of an adapter, for example, for Sony-E should be 27.5mm
  • The lens is not very fast, it starts from F2.8 and becomes good at F4
  • Most of the aberrations display some expected behavior for near-fifties. Just the vignetting looks higher than usual, but nothing critical for modern digital cameras
  • Bokeh is a very subjective material and I think that here it is definitely not bad – enough smooth in the center and has elements of “swirly”-type, it looks like a bonus from problems in corners

Obviously, any cheap near-fifty will be better. But, as it was said above – this average IQ is the payment for the small sizes.

The main reason to get this lens – it looks very sexy on a film camera (I don’t have Contax to show it, sorry, Google may help). The second reason – it is really small and able to save a couple of centimeters on your digital set. And it is demanded on cropped-cameras at least because it is still faster than modern collapsible kit-zooms.

Can it be recommended as a near-fifty standard lens? No. Probably, for cropped cameras, but mostly – no. There are better variants. Can it be recommended as a little stylish lens for film-cameras? Yes, 100%.

Have a nice day!


The very helpful video If you need to fix something in this Zeiss:


Heinz · 2023-01-05 at 17:48

Thank you for this detailed review.

Yes, the lens shows strong focus shift. Refocus for smaller aperture is needed! If refocused it shines from f/5.6 on!

All the best,

    Tony · 2023-01-05 at 19:34

    Thank you for the comment. I can say more – almost all prime lenses from that era have focus-shift at least between the first and the second steps. Does it mean that tons of photos of that years a bit misfocused – is a question

Stefan · 2023-06-18 at 03:13

During my tests I tried to refocus for center at every f stop, but with some lenses this approach makes the midframe and the corners worse. How is it possible that the increased DoF while stopping down doesn’t compensate enough for the refocusing on the center? You mention that you decided to to refocus at 5.6. What’s the physics behind? Thanks.

    Tony · 2023-06-18 at 11:57

    Hi Stefan. If I understand correctly the question, it is because of ‘field curvature aberration’ – the topic is simple for understanding (see schematic in a wiki) but complicated to be considered in real conditions. That’s why I use three positions for close-distance resolutions tests – it gives the overall but enough description for a reviewed lenses. Measuring the actual curvature is a very time consuming task, I once did it, but the tests are not very useful as they are very situational (measure this at all possible distances from closefocus to infinity? No thanks)). Let’s just say – all lenses have field curvature to varying degrees, and this is worth remembering when photographing

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