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Rediscovering the ZEISS Biogon 2.8/28 Lens: A Unique Journey in Photography



When I began photography the very first manual focus Zeiss lens that I purchased was the Distagon 2.8/28 for the Contax system. It was a very nice lens and I made some images I was happy with when I had it. I lacked experience and so I sold it and never picked up another 28mm lens to replace it. I opted for other focal lengths ranging from 18mm to 135mm but always seemed to skip over the 28mm. I’m glad I took another shot with it.


The ZEISS Biogon 2.8/28 is a different lens when compared to the Distagon. Yes, they were both made for the Contax film cameras but the Biogon was made for the electronic Rangefinder Contax G lineup that replaced the SLR Contax cameras.


The lens doesn’t have any markings other than the aperture and can be odd to focus on since the lens itself lacks a focusing helicoid. There’s plenty of info on the internet about this.


All I can say is that it’s going to be challenging to take this lens off my Sony. It feels right at home for the type of photography I’m embracing more - Street and Documentary. In reality, I set it to f8 and forget it for that type of photography; maybe that’s why I find it liberating to use. It also renders beautifully even though this copy of the Biogon is prone to flare with light I embrace it happily.


My first time taking it out was to make some images of this truck at my friends' house.

In this image, I like the color rendition and sharpness. I don't feel like bokeh is a strength for this lens as it looks almost hazy and smeared. This lens is also known to not play nice with certain mirrorless sensors because of the design of the rear element.


The 28mm offers a unique look at things and required my composition to change to accommodate.


Architecture


I shot all of these at F8, it seems the optimal aperture for sharpness. I was so impressed by how little distortion this lens has and that it is already a lens that is 25+ years old. It doesn't quite look like any modern Zeiss lens I've tried and because it has a lot of "defects" when compared to modern lenses it's perfect for adding character while still performing well when used to its potential.








Handling


The Biogon is quirky and in reality not user-friendly. It has unfavorable focusing and can be too small for some people.




The handling is enough to turn most people away. I promised you, if you persevere you will be rewarded. I know that there are people that offer and have done Leica M conversions on this lens and are extremely happy with the results. One person that comes to mind is Sebboh


Personally, I took my current lens adaptar and made some markings for distances and called it a day. The Contax G line up is fantastic and rewards those that are willing to challenged the manual focus experience. I have the 90mm as well, which is one of the smallest tele lenses I've used. I'll write and share on my thoughts on the lens soon.



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