Article Index




Carl Zeiss Tele Tessar 200mm f/3.5 is one of classical telephoto lenses developed by Zeiss for its range of Contax/Yashica branded SLR cameras. The Contax brand was discontinued back in 2005 when Keyocera, who jointly owned development rights on the brand, announced exiting the camera business. The Tele-Tessar 200mm f/3.5 model however was discontinued even earlier (circa early 90s), replaced by APO Sonnar 200mm f/2. While Zeiss recently reintroduced a number of its SLR lenses, sa far Tessar is absent from the lineup. The lens tested in the review was an AE variant, serial number 6101432, manufactured at the Zeiss factory in West Germany. Used copies of the lens can occasionally be found on eBay as well as specialty photo equipment resellers, with good quality samples going for ~US$200 (as of November 2007).

Like all Carl Zeiss lenses for Contax/Yashica mount, Tessar 200mm f/3.5 is a fully manual lens, meaning both focusing as well as aperture should be set on the lens and there are no electronic contacts to interface with modern digital SLRs. The optical construction consists of 6 elements in 5 groups. The build quality is superb, as expected from a Carl Zeiss lens - outer barrel, as well as inner cams and built-in lens hood are made of lightweight metal, with fully rubberized focus and aperture rings. The focusing ring is very smooth (ring is probably not an appropriate word to use here, since pretty much the entire outer barrel of the lens acts as a ring, rotating during focusing), and the aperture ring snaps nicely, moving in 1 full f-stop increments.

Carl Zeiss Tele Tessar 20mm f/3.5 is a pretty bulky lens, measuring 122 x 78mm (4.8 x 3in), but the inner cam of the lens extends when focusing towards closeup, adding another 30 millimeters. What is surprising though, is that despite this bulky look and feel, the lens is relatively light (for a telephoto lens that is), weighing 780g (1.71lb). The minimum focusing distance is 1.8m (8ft), the minimum supported aperture is f/22 and the filter size is 67mm (the lens accepts screw-in type filters).


I used generic, non AF-chipped Fotodiox C/Y to EOS mount adapter when testing the lens on Canon bodies. I used the camera in aperture priority mode with all but center weighted metering disabled. If you plan to use manual lenses very actively, consider investing in an AF confirmation adapter or at least using a specialized focusing screen. The lens was designed for full-frame cameras, so on APS-C type bodies like Digital Rebel with 1.6x crop factor, the lens has a field of view similar to that of a 320mm lens on a full frame body.


Lens Composition 6 elements in 5 groups
Angular Field ~12 degrees
Minimum Focus 1.8m/8ft
Focusing Action MF
f-stop Scale f/3.5-f/22, manual
Filter Size 67mm
Lens Hood Built-in, No.5 metal (optional)
Weight 780g/1.71lb
Dimensions 122x78mm/4.8x3"
Lens Case No.5 (included)