Carl Zeiss Sonnar 250mm F/5.6 Superachromat CFE

Medium telephoto prime lens • Pro • Film era • Discontinued


CFE A lens with Prontor shutter. Also compatible with cameras with focal-plane shutter. Electronic databus. Learn more

Features highlight

Vis - IR


Production details
Announced:October 2001
Production status: Discontinued
Original name:Carl Zeiss Superachromat 5,6/250 CFE
System:Hasselblad V (1957)
Optical design
Focal length:250mm
Maximum format:Medium format 6x6
Mount and Flange focal distance:Hasselblad V [74.9mm]
Diagonal angle of view:17.9° (Medium format)
Lens construction:6 elements - 6 groups
Closest focusing distance:3m
Closest working distance:2.7m
Maximum magnification ratio:1:9.6 at the closest focusing distance
Focusing modes:Manual focus only
Manual focus control:Focusing ring
Diaphragm mechanism
Diaphragm type:Automatic
Aperture control:Aperture ring (Manual settings only)
Number of blades:5 (five)
Built-in leaf shutter
Type:Mechanical Prontor
Speeds:1 - 1/500 + B
Physical characteristics
Maximum diameter x Length:⌀83×153mm
Filters:Bayonet-type 60mm
Lens hood:<No data>
Teleconverters:Hasselblad Teleconverter 1.4XE → 350mm F/7.8
Hasselblad Converter 2XE → 500mm F/11.2

*) Source of data: Manufacturer's technical data.

**) Some basic information is missing in the specification as it was not provided by the manufacturer.

Manufacturer description #1

Göteborg Oct 2001 - Hasselblad introduces three new CFE lenses

Three extremely high performance lenses, the Macro-Planar T* 4/120 mm, Sonnar T* 4/180 mm and Sonnar Superachromat 5.6/250 mm, will shortly be available with a CFE barrel design. The CFE design simplifies the light metering function together with 200 series cameras. CFE lenses previously available were the Distagon CFE T* 4/40 mm, Planar CFE T* 2.8/80 mm and Tele-Superachromat CFE T* 5.6/350 mm.

The Macro-Planar CFE T* 4/120 mm lens is the top of the line lens for macro type of photography, for which the lens performance is optimised. The lens type is also the preferred choice for digital close-up applications.

The Sonnar CFE T* 4/180 mm lens is an outstanding portrait lens but is also extremely useful for general photography outdoors, on location and in the studio. The performance regarding stray light reduction is outstanding making it also very popular for white-background fashion and beauty photography.

Originally designed in 1972, the Sonnar Superachromat CFE 5.6/250 mm lens still has the highest overall resolution of all medium format lenses within its focal length range. The reason for this is the extremely good design combined with meticulous manufacturing procedures at Carl Zeiss.

The new CFE lenses will further strengthen the integration between the 500 and 200 series cameras and expand the lens program for automatic use of the precise light metering functions of the 200 series cameras. For fully automatic exposure, the camera shutter should be used. When using the lens shutter, the CFE design facilitates rapid transfer of shutter speed information calculated by the camera.

Deliveries of the new CFE lenses are expected to start at the end of 2001.

Following the introduction of the new CFE lenses, the FE lenses Sonnar T* 2.8/150 mm and Tele-Tessar T* 4/250 mm will be discontinued.

Manufacturer description #2

The Sonnar® Superachromat 5.6/250 CFE lens is a lens with a perfect color correction never achieved before. It is the first photo lens on the market that ever had superachromatic color correction, which is the highest level of color correction ever conceived. The manufacture of this lens is extremely difficult. A critical combination of very special optical glasses and crystals are used.

Superachromatic color correction goes far beyond apochromatic color correction: The so-called secondary spectrum, the dominating lens aberration in telephoto lenses, is so well corrected over the entire spectral range from 400 nanometers (the border of the ultraviolet range) to 1,000 nanometers (which is far inside the infrared domain), that residual aberrations are within the Rayleigh limit of focussing uncertainty. So they are absolutely negligible, because, due to the wave-nature of light, focussing cannot be more precise than allowed by the Rayleigh limit. With the Sonnar® Superachromat 5.6/250 CFE lens the spectral limit in the infrared domain beyond 1,000 nanometers is not set by the lens but rather by the infrared sensitivity of the films available. For that reason the Sonnar® Superachromat 5.6/250 CFE lens is not Carl Zeiss T* coated since T*, while providing excellent transmission for visible light, cuts off both the ultraviolet and infrared. The Carl Zeiss T-coating used with the Sonnar® Superachromat 5.6/250 CFE lens provides higher transmission of infrared light. Focussing visually with the Sonnar® Superachromat 5.6/250 CFE lens leads to perfect sharpness, even with infrared-sensitive black & white or color film.

No infrared correction needs to be applied. The lens therefore comes without an infrared-index. The focussing ring can rotate beyond infinity to allow use of this lens in a variety of temperature conditions.

The Sonnar® Superachromat 5.6/250 CFE lens provides Hasselblad photographers with a wealth of special opportunities in scientific, technical and creative photography – on earth and in space. In general photography the Sonnar® Superachromat 5.6/250 CFE lens enables tele shots of unique sharpness. Provided, of course, that high-resolution film is used and all influences that could deteriorate sharpness are meticulously eliminated.

Not only color aberrations, both lateral and longitudinal, are extremely well corrected with the Sonnar® Superachromat 5.6/250 CFE lens. Other aberrations are also reduced to such an extreme extent that the performance of the Sonnar® Superachromat 5.6/250 CFE lens in the central area of the image is limited only by the final, the unavoidable of all limitations: the diffraction. Optics conoisseurs around the world in search of the perfect lens therefore consider the Sonnar® Superachromat 5.6/250 CFE lens the finest photo lens ever conceived and brought to reality. It is an extremely valuable lens. And the only one that can produce perfectly sharp photos on infrared color film.

Preferred use: telephoto shots with extreme sharpness, infrared and multi-spectral photography, industrial, scientific, aerospace, digital photography.

Typical application


Slow 6x6 medium-format medium telephoto prime lens • Professional model (Top class)

Professional model (Top class)

  • Designed for medium format cameras
  • Specialized tool
  • Compatible with teleconverters

Recommended slowest shutter speed when shooting static subjects handheld:

1/250th of a second

Alternatives in the Hasselblad V system

///// Sorted by focal length and speed, in ascending order /////

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2 years ago

I am having two 250mm Zeiss Super Achromatic lens f5.6 and Zeiss 350mm f5.6 with 1.4x converter.
Problem is Hasselblad 503cw,205 fcc and 203 fe cameras are no more produced so I had to buy h6100c two bodies I am using them with h- v cfe converter. I am now shifting towards Nikon d 850 with Zeiss Otus lenses I have seven lenses I want to use my super achromatic lenses with Nikon d 850 I have purchased Novoflex v lenses to nikon converter but my exposures are not very good.
I need some help.
Best regards,

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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.

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 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),


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


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.


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".

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/5.6 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.


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.


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 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.