The Two Zeiss 85mm ZM Lenses

writer: russell j.t. dyer; posted: sep 2010; revised: oct 2017; readers past month: 1917

I want to buy an 85mm Zeiss ZM lens for my Zeiss Ikon camera. Zeiss makes two 85mm lens models for M-mount cameras. They make the Sonnar T* f2.0 and the Tele-Tessar T* f/4 lenses. The Sonnar lens costs more than triple that of the Tele-Tessar.

From what little I know about these two lenses, the Sonnar f/2 would seem to be better than the Tele-Tessar f/4. There’s the obvious difference in maximum aperture, but I’m not sure about much else. I can imagine the Sonnar is better, but haven’t used either. Even if I assume it’s better, the price of the Sonnar is a bit of a stretch for me.

Zeiss Sonnar T* f2.0 Lens and
Zeiss Tele-Tessar T* f/4 Lens

I’m wondering how pleased are those who own the Sonnar version with this focal length lens. Do you feel the price is fair considering the quality of the lens? Zeiss doesn’t seem to price their products as Leica, which is able to get much more money based on their name. At the same time, I’m wondering how well the Tele-Tessar f/4 ZM 85mm lens performs.

The two Zeiss lenses I own now are very solid, perform surprisingly well, and give excellent results. One of them cost me about $ 1000 and the other cost about $ 1800. Jumping up to $3350 for one lens is a bit of a choker for me, but not impossible. However, I’m concerned that the $ 875, slower Zeiss lens will be a noticeable let down by comparison to my other Zeiss lenses. I’m thinking I should hold off on buying the Tele-Tessar model and wait until I can pull together the money for the Sonnar. I’ll have to research this more.