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Zeiss 250mm Sonar f56 CF


Active Member
Can anyone share with me their experiences and tips for getting the best from their 250mm Sonar lens? I recently bought one for tight portraits, landscape and similar work. I love its view and am pleased by its sharpness. But I'd like to learn of your creative experiences with it - what works well for you, tips, don'ts.
Many thanks for your time and guidance.
I only have the 250 C non T* but as far as I know one of the caracteristics of the lens is that it is sharpest wide open! That makes it a super portrait lens when you like sparkling eyes and out of focus background. I use it sometimes with a small extensiontupe when I what tighter cropped portraits. In the field it is a great lens when you wish a secluded area or when you like the perspective tighter - A rising moon in the background will come more to its right etc. So the same thing rules as with 35 mm cameras mounted with a 150-180 mm lens, though the "sharpest at wide" open is a special feature of the Sonnar

I like this lens a lot too.
I think you do need to carry a 32 mm extension tube with it always. It's 2.5 m minimum focussing distance is a bit long, and the tube will help you get that extra bit closer.

One thing to remember using this lens is that even without tubes you need to apply an exposure compensation of 0.5 to 0.6 stop when used at distances shorter than 3.5 - 3 m.
With the 32 mm tube (with matches the lens's built-in 31 mm extension very nicely) and the lens fully extended you need to add 1 full stop.

F/5.6 is a bit on the dark side, so a tripod is a "must" (when isn't it?).
Or at the very least you will have to find some other suitable support.
You can "get away" with "handholding", but trust me: compare images shot handheld with those taken fom a tripod, and you'll see what a waste of a good lens handholding is.
But when i a push... ;-)

Stopping down even further makes matters worse, of course. But (like Ruben said) you do not need to: you do not increase depth of field by much, and the image quality does not improve. So i genreally only stop this lens down when i run out of shutterspeeds.
Many thanks Ruben and Qnu. I'm particularly pleased to hear of the stop and extension tube suggestions, which experience is just what I hoped to hear.