Carl Zeiss C/Y Vario-Sonnar T* 70-210mm F/3.5 [AE]

Telephoto zoom lens • Film era • Discontinued

Abbreviations

C/Y (Unofficial acronym) The lens is designed for Contax RTS series 35mm film SLR cameras.
T* The multi-layer coating is applied to the surface of lens elements. It boosts light transmission, ensures sharp and high contrast images, minimizes ghosting and flares.

Production details

Announced:1980
Production status: Discontinued
Production type:Mass production
Original name:Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar 3,5/70-210 T*
System: Contax/Yashica (1975)

Features highlight

Constant F/3.5
Auto
MF
PUSH/PULL
TC

Specification

Optical design
Focal length range:70mm - 210mm [3X zoom ratio]
Speed range:F/3.5 across the focal length range
Maximum format:35mm full frame
Mount and Flange focal distance:Contax/Yashica [45.5mm]
Diagonal angle of view:34.3° @ 70mm - 11.8° @ 210mm (35mm full frame)
Lens construction:15 elements - 12 groups
Diaphragm mechanism
Diaphragm type:Automatic
Aperture control:Aperture ring (Manual settings only)
Number of blades:<No data>
Zooming
Zoom mechanism:Manual
Zoom control:Combined zoom/focusing ring
Zoom type:Push/pull (210mm → 70mm)
Zooming method:<No data>
Focusing
Closest focusing distance:1.8m
0.3m [MACRO 1:2]
Maximum magnification ratio:<No data>
Focusing method:<No data>
Focusing modes:Manual focus only
Manual focus control:Combined zoom/focusing ring
Physical characteristics
Weight:1145g
Maximum diameter x Length:⌀77×186mm
Accessories
Filters:Screw-type 67mm
Lens hood:Metal Hood No. 3 with 67/86 ring
Teleconverters: Carl Zeiss Mutar T* 2X I (AE) → 140-420mm F/7

*) Sources of data: Manufacturer's technical data ● Contax/Yashica 35mm SLR Camera System booklet (177 pages) ● Contax system accessories & lenses booklet ● Contax Real Time Photography booklet (PUB. CXS-GB) ● Contax Real Time System booklet (PUB. CX-28 GB) ● Contax Real Time Photography booklet (PUB. CXS2-D, in German) ● Contax Real Time System booklet (PUB. CXRTS-D, in German) ● Yashica FX-3 instruction manual.

Manufacturer description

With a focal length variation of factor 3 this Vario-Sonnar covers the range between the standard focal length and extreme tele focal lengths. The optimal angle of view can be selected exactly by continuously varying the focal length, while fully retaining the sharp focus as well as the speed of f/3.5, which is remarkably high considering the handy size of the lens. At the longest focal length of 210 mm in the zoom range and with front element focusing to the shortest object distance of 1.8 m, an object area of 170x255 mm fully covers the negative format of 24x36 mm.

After changing over to the macro range by setting the focal length to 210 mm and then moving the focal length setting ring towards shorter focal lengths, the distance of the sharply focused object plane rapidly decreases and, on the other hand, the image scale increases. At an object distance of 0.3 m from the film plane, an area as small as 46x69 mm fully covers the negative format. At this distance, which corresponds to an image scale of about 1:2, the depth of field for f-number 11 is scarcely +/-2 mm. Therefore, when working with the Vario-Sonnar in macro position, one should stop down appropriately, just as one has to with other macro lenses.

Unusual sharpness and contrast over the entire zoom range from 70 to 210 mm focal length secure for this Vario-Sonnar a top position among lenses of its class, even at full aperture. Full advantage of the flexibility of the Vario-Sonnar can be taken when photographing in rapidly changing situations.

The possibilities of this lens are multiplied by the fact that after simple switch-over it can be used in the macro range, which is of particular importance in nature photography and for technical and scientific applications.

Typical application

distant subjects, distant landscapes with perspective compression effect, wild nature

Frequently asked questions (1)

Alternatives in the Contax/Yashica system

Sorted by focal length and speed, in ascending order

Lenses with similar focal length range and speed

Sorted by manufacturer name

P. Angenieux 70-210mm F/3.5 ⌀62 1982 
Vivitar Series 1 70-210mm F/3.5 Macro ⌀67Push/pull 1973 
Vivitar Series 1 70-210mm F/2.8-4 VMC Macro Q-Dos ⌀58Push/pull 1991 
Vivitar Series 1 70-210mm F/2.8-4 VMC Macro ⌀62Push/pull 1984 
Vivitar Series 1 70-210mm F/3.5 VMC Macro ⌀62Push/pull 1981 
Vivitar Series 1 70-210mm F/2.8-4 VMC Macro ⌀58Push/pull1 special limited edition 1987 
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35mm full frame

43.27 24 36
  • Dimensions: 36 × 24mm
  • Aspect ratio: 3:2
  • Diagonal: 43.27mm
  • Area: 864mm2

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Image stabilizer

A technology used for reducing or even eliminating the effects of camera shake. Gyro sensors inside the lens detect camera shake and pass the data to a microcomputer. Then an image stabilization group of elements controlled by the microcomputer moves inside the lens and compensates camera shake in order to keep the image static on the imaging sensor or film.

The technology allows to increase the shutter speed by several stops and shoot handheld in such lighting conditions and at such focal lengths where without image stabilizer you have to use tripod, decrease the shutter speed and/or increase the ISO setting which can lead to blurry and noisy images.

MF

Sorry, no additional information is available.

Original name

Lens name as indicated on the lens barrel (usually on the front ring). With lenses from film era, may vary slightly from batch to batch.

Format

Format refers to the shape and size of film or image sensor.

35mm is the common name of the 36x24mm film format or image sensor format. It has an aspect ratio of 3:2, and a diagonal measurement of approximately 43mm. The name originates with the total width of the 135 film which was the primary medium of the format prior to the invention of the full frame digital SLR. Historically the 35mm format was sometimes called small format to distinguish it from the medium and large formats.

APS-C is an image sensor format approximately equivalent in size to the film negatives of 25.1x16.7mm with an aspect ratio of 3:2.

Medium format is a film format or image sensor format larger than 36x24mm (35mm) but smaller than 4x5in (large format).

Angle of view

Angle of view describes the angular extent of a given scene that is imaged by a camera. It is used interchangeably with the more general term field of view.

As the focal length changes, the angle of view also changes. The shorter the focal length (eg 18mm), the wider the angle of view. Conversely, the longer the focal length (eg 55mm), the smaller the angle of view.

A camera's angle of view depends not only on the lens, but also on the sensor. Imaging sensors are sometimes smaller than 35mm film frame, and this causes the lens to have a narrower angle of view than with 35mm film, by a certain factor for each sensor (called the crop factor).

This website does not use the angles of view provided by lens manufacturers, but calculates them automatically by the following formula: 114.6 * arctan (21.622 / CF * FL),

where:

CF – crop-factor of a sensor,
FL – focal length of a lens.

Mount

A lens mount is an interface — mechanical and often also electrical — between a camera body and a lens.

A lens mount may be a screw-threaded type, a bayonet-type, or a breech-lock type. Modern camera lens mounts are of the bayonet type, because the bayonet mechanism precisely aligns mechanical and electrical features between lens and body, unlike screw-threaded mounts.

Lens mounts of competing manufacturers (Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Sony etc.) are always incompatible. In addition to the mechanical and electrical interface variations, the flange focal distance can also be different.

The flange focal distance (FFD) is the distance from the mechanical rear end surface of the lens mount to the focal plane.

Lens construction

Lens construction – a specific arrangement of elements and groups that make up the optical design, including type and size of elements, type of used materials etc.

Element - an individual piece of glass which makes up one component of a photographic lens. Photographic lenses are nearly always built up of multiple such elements.

Group – a cemented together pieces of glass which form a single unit or an individual piece of glass. The advantage is that there is no glass-air surfaces between cemented together pieces of glass, which reduces reflections.

Focal length

The focal length is the factor that determines the size of the image reproduced on the focal plane, picture angle which covers the area of the subject to be photographed, depth of field, etc.

Speed

The largest opening or stop at which a lens can be used is referred to as the speed of the lens. The larger the maximum aperture is, the faster the lens is considered to be. Lenses that offer a large maximum aperture are commonly referred to as fast lenses, and lenses with smaller maximum aperture are regarded as slow.

In low-light situations, having a wider maximum aperture means that you can shoot at a faster shutter speed or work at a lower ISO, or both.

Closest focusing distance

The minimum distance from the focal plane (film or sensor) to the subject where the lens is still able to focus.

Closest working distance

The distance from the front edge of the lens to the subject at the maximum magnification.

Magnification ratio

Determines how large the subject will appear in the final image. For example, a magnification ratio of 1:1 means that the image of the subject formed on the film or sensor will be the same size as the subject in real life. For this reason, a 1:1 ratio is often called "life-size".

Electromagnetic diaphragm control system

Provides highly accurate diaphragm control and stable auto exposure performance during continuous shooting.

Manual diaphragm

The diaphragm must be stopped down manually by rotating the detent aperture ring.

Preset diaphragm

The lens has two rings, one is for pre-setting, while the other is for normal diaphragm adjustment. The first ring must be set at the desired aperture, the second ring then should be fully opened for focusing, and turned back for stop down to the pre-set value.

Semi-automatic diaphragm

The lens features spring mechanism in the diaphragm, triggered by the shutter release, which stops down the diaphragm to the pre-set value. The spring needs to be reset manually after each exposure to re-open diaphragm to its maximum value.

Automatic diaphragm

The camera automatically closes the diaphragm down during the shutter operation. On completion of the exposure, the diaphragm re-opens to its maximum value.

Fixed diaphragm

The aperture setting is fixed at F/3.5 on this lens, and cannot be adjusted.

Number of blades

As a general rule, the more blades that are used to create the aperture opening in the lens, the rounder the out-of-focus highlights will be.

Some lenses are designed with curved diaphragm blades, so the roundness of the aperture comes not from the number of blades, but from their shape. However, the fewer blades the diaphragm has, the more difficult it is to form a circle, regardless of rounded edges.

At maximum aperture, the opening will be circular regardless of the number of blades.

Weight

Excluding case or pouch, caps and other detachable accessories (lens hood, close-up adapter, tripod adapter etc.).

Maximum diameter x Length

Excluding case or pouch, caps and other detachable accessories (lens hood, close-up adapter, tripod adapter etc.).

For lenses with collapsible design, the length is indicated for the working (retracted) state.

Weather sealing

A rubber material which is inserted in between each externally exposed part (manual focus and zoom rings, buttons, switch panels etc.) to ensure it is properly sealed against dust and moisture.

Lenses that accept front mounted filters typically do not have gaskets behind the filter mount. It is recommended to use a filter for complete weather resistance when desired.

Fluorine coating

Helps keep lenses clean by reducing the possibility of dust and dirt adhering to the lens and by facilitating cleaning should the need arise. Applied to the outer surface of the front and/or rear lens elements over multi-coatings.

Filters

Lens filters are accessories that can protect lenses from dirt and damage, enhance colors, minimize glare and reflections, and add creative effects to images.

Lens hood

A lens hood or lens shade is a device used on the end of a lens to block the sun or other light source in order to prevent glare and lens flare. Flare occurs when stray light strikes the front element of a lens and then bounces around within the lens. This stray light often comes from very bright light sources, such as the sun, bright studio lights, or a bright white background.

The geometry of the lens hood can vary from a plain cylindrical or conical section to a more complex shape, sometimes called a petal, tulip, or flower hood. This allows the lens hood to block stray light with the higher portions of the lens hood, while allowing more light into the corners of the image through the lowered portions of the hood.

Lens hoods are more prominent in long focus lenses because they have a smaller viewing angle than that of wide-angle lenses. For wide angle lenses, the length of the hood cannot be as long as those for telephoto lenses, as a longer hood would enter the wider field of view of the lens.

Lens hoods are often designed to fit onto the matching lens facing either forward, for normal use, or backwards, so that the hood may be stored with the lens without occupying much additional space. In addition, lens hoods can offer some degree of physical protection for the lens due to the hood extending farther than the lens itself.

Teleconverters

Teleconverters increase the effective focal length of lenses. They also usually maintain the closest focusing distance of lenses, thus increasing the magnification significantly. A lens combined with a teleconverter is normally smaller, lighter and cheaper than a "direct" telephoto lens of the same focal length and speed.

Teleconverters are a convenient way of enhancing telephoto capability, but it comes at a cost − reduced maximum aperture. Also, since teleconverters magnify every detail in the image, they logically also magnify residual aberrations of the lens.

Lens caps

Scratched lens surfaces can spoil the definition and contrast of even the finest lenses. Lens covers are the best and most inexpensive protection available against dust, moisture and abrasion. Safeguard lens elements - both front and rear - whenever the lens is not in use.

Rotary zoom

The change of focal length is achieved by turning the zoom ring.

Push/pull zooming allows for faster change of focal length, however conventional method based on the rotation of the zoom ring provides more accurate and smooth zooming.

Push/pull zoom

The change of focal length and the manual focusing is achieved by one and the same ring. The change of focal length happens when the photographer moves the ring towards the mount or backwards and the rotation of the ring leads to change of focus.

Push/pull zooming allows for faster change of focal length, however conventional method based on the rotation of the zoom ring provides more accurate and smooth zooming.

Zoom lock

The lens features a zoom lock to keep the zoom ring fixed. This function is convenient for carrying a camera with the lens on a strap because it prevents the lens from extending.

Zoom clutch

To set the manual zoom mode, pull the zoom ring towards the camera side until the words "POWER ZOOM" disappear.

The Holy Trinity of lenses

The Holy Trinity of lenses refers to a three-lens set that covers a focal length range from the ultra-wide focal length of 14-16mm all the way long to the telephoto focal length of 200mm. The set typically consists of a 16-35mm ultra-wide angle zoom lens, a 24-70mm standard zoom lens and a 70-200mm telephoto zoom lens and usually represents the best constant-aperture zoom lenses in a manufacturer's lineup. The set is designed to cover almost every genre of photography, be it landscapes, architecture, portraits, weddings, sports, travel or even wildlife (with teleconverter). However, it is also expensive, large and heavy.