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Zeiss ZM 85mm f/4 Tele-Tessar T*

The Zeiss ZM 85mm f/4 Tele-Tessar (about $940, black or silver finish) is a compact and low-cost high performance 85mm lens.

Since any lens of 75/85/90mm focal length is difficult to focus accurately and consistently on a rangefinder like the Leica M9, the f/4 maximum aperture is less of a real-world limitation that it might seem, at least for many types of photography.

Taking the relatively low price into account, the 85/4 might be a great choice for a compact kit where telephoto capability is needed.

The near-zero distortion and very high imaging quality make it eminently suitable for true-to-life imagery.

Focusing

Like all lenses over 50mm, the key challenge on a rangefinder like the Leica M9 will be accurate focus and framing, just as with the Leica 75mm f/2 APO-Summicron-M. In essence, perfect 20/20 vision is needed, along with perfect rangefinder focus adjustment. Leica M9/M7/M8 users should consider the Viewfinder Magnifier 1.4X for use with 75/85/90mm lenses.

But with magnified Live View on the Leica M Typ 240 or on a mirrorless camera system, focusing can be guaranteed accurate.

Image quality

Very high sharpness right at f/4. See review coverage in Guide to Leica.

Specifications

Per Zeiss. See the datasheet.

Zeiss ZM 85mm f/2 Sonnar T*
Focal length: 85mm
Aperture scale: f/4 - f/22 in 1/3 steps
10 aperture blades
Focusing range: 0.9m - infinity
Angular field, diag./horiz./vert 29/25/17 °
Coverage at close range: 32 cm x 21 cm
Image ratio at close range:            1:9
Number of elements/groups: 5 elements in 3 groups
Filter thread: M 43 x 0.75
Weight: 310g
Dimensions (with caps): ø 54 mm, length 95 mm

Distortion

A faint trace of pincushion distortion is all there is, and it’s all but identical to the ZM 85mm f/2 Sonnar.

This is effectively zero distortion for any practical purpose, and much less distortion than the Leica offerings in the 75mm - 90mm range.

Distortion of the Zeiss ZM 85mm f/2 Sonnar
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