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Alternatives

As mentioned in the introduction section, Carl Zeiss used to offer a broad range of medium telephoto lenses in its Contax lineup. Besides the 100mm Planar reviewed here, the company also offered two other 100mm primes - Sonnar T* 100mm f/3.5 as well as Makro-Planar T* 100mm f/2.8. On top of that, Zeiss also offered two 135mm primes - a widely popular and inexpensive Sonnar T* 135mm f/2.8 and its faster and more expensive variant, Planar T* 135mm f/2. Then there's obviously Planar T* 85mm f/1.4 and its slower cousin Sonnar T* 85mm f/2.8, both of which are superb lenses. But the best news is that the company re-introduced its legendary SLR lineup for modern cameras and particularly Carl Zeiss Makro-Planar T* 100mm f/2 is now available for Nikon, Pentax, as well as soon Canon cameras! However, if you're interested in other alternative lenses, make sure to take a look at Leica's discontinued Macro Elmarit-R 100mm f/2.8 and for less exotic and less expensive option, either Nikkor 105mm f/2.5 AiS or Olympus OM 100mm f/2.8.

 

 

Recommendation

Contax Planar T* 100mm f/2 is truly an exceptional lens with very little weaknesses. Some vignetting and some flare, both of which should not really deter you from considering this lens. Then there is some chromatic aberration, particularly at wider angles, which is lightly higher then what my personal comfort level is, but then again, it's not the worst one can see in a lens. On the other hand, the lens offers superb image resolution on both full frame and APS-C cameras (resolution actually exceeds  the capabilities of a 12MP full frame sensor), excellent color and tonality reproduction capabilities, superb build quality. What else one might desire in a lens? Ah, native mount perhaps? If adapting an alternative lens does bother you, then I'd strongly recommend you to go after the new generation Makro-Planar T* 100mm f/2, which is as impressive as the original Planar, but also offers 1:2 macro capabilities. Bottom line - just go get the lens...