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Introduction

Contax Carl Zeiss Tele Tessar T* 300mm f/4 was one of two 300mm primes the company was offering for its Contax range of SLR cameras. Considering that the company's other 300mm lens, Tele APO Tessar 300mm f/2.8, was out of reach for most photographers (the lens was priced at ~US$5,000 while still in production), the slower, non APO lens was the lens of choice when looking for a telephoto, non mirror, primes. The lens was originally manufactured in the West Germany as an AE version and later in Japan as an MM version. Copies of the lens are more or less easy to find on used markets, but prices range widely, from ~US$400 to ~US$800 depending on the quality and the manufacturing origins.

The optical construction of the lens consists of 5 elements in 5 groups - nothing particularly fancy if you look at the optical diagram above. The build quality of the lens is typical of Contax lenses of that era - metal barrel, metal built-in lens hood, rubberized broad focusing ring and aperture ring. The lens is not the largest 300mm prime around, primarily because it's relatively slow maximum aperture - the lens measures 88 x 205mm (3.5 x 8.1in) and weighs 1170g (2.65lb). The lens actually extends during focusing towards closeup, adding another 10cm or so to the overall length. Focusing action is very smooth and the aperture ring has a very nice feel to it The aperture ring moves from f/4 to f/22 in one full f-stop increments. The lens has an unusually large 82mm filter thread, typically found in faster telephoto lenses (for example, Canon's EF 300mm f/4L has a 77mm filter thread, as does Nikon's AF-S Nikkor 300mm f/4G IF ED). The lens focuses down to 3.5m (11.5ft).

 


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Like all Contax lenses, Carl Zeiss Tele Tessar T* 300mm f/4 is a 35mm full frame lens, so when used on an APS-C type digital camera like Canon Digital Rebel XTi, the field of view of the lens will resemble that of a 480mm prime on a full frame body. The lens can be easily adapted to a number of alternative mounts, including Canon's EF/EF-S cameras and Micro Four Thirds cameras. Within the scope of this review, the lens was tested on a FF Canon 5D and APS-C Canon Digital Rebel XTi.

 

Summary
Lens Composition 5 elements in 5 groups
Angular Field 8.2 degrees
Minimum Focus 3.5m/11.5ft
Focusing Action MF
f-stop Scale f/4-f/22, manual
Filter Size 82mm
Lens Hood Built-in metal, No 5 metal (optional)
Weight 1170g/2.65lb
Dimensions 88x205mm/3.5x8.1"
Lens Case No. 6 soft (included)