Zeiss Planar 50mm f/1.7 T* AEJ (Contax Mount)


This is the lowest of low-end Zeiss lenses in the popular 50mm size.

There are two flavors of this lens: AE and MM. This review is of the AE, which is the older vintage. The newer version, the MM was made from the mid 1980s to the mid 2000s. The AE started production sometime in the 1970s.


The lens is setup with 7 elements in 6 groups.

Maximum Aperture: f/1.7

Minimum Aperture: f/16

The diaphragm is 6-bladed, producing obviously, well-defined hexagonal points of light (when stopped down, round otherwise) in an otherwise boring and blobby bokeh.

The lens is strictly manual focus, predating autofocus by several years.


Made out of plastic this lens has a thoroughly vintage, cheap feel to it.

The focus ring is covered in a rubber grip that is common of the era.

The mount is a "C/Y" for Contax and Yashica film cameras. I acquired mine with a Contax RTS camera. I use my lens on my Nikon bodies with a C/Y-NIK adapter ring.

I don't think this lens is made in an M42 mount, but if happen to find one in M42, then it will likely be of more use to you as the C/Y mount is not well supported today.


Sadly, wide open, this lens is a big miss. There is significant veiling and softness at f/1.7 making it useless at that aperture. Things improve at f/2 but significant flare and ghosting remains until you reach f/2.8.

Chromatic aberrations are plentiful, mostly of the axial CA flavor. They hang on, though less noticeable through f/2.8 and are gone at f/4 and above.

This makes the lens basically an f/2.8 instead of an f/1.7 for all practical purposes. And that is junk.


Any other 50mm lens should be considered an alternative to this lens, unless you love to shoot at f/5.6 for some reason. At that aperture the lens is okay.

I do not recommend this lens to anyone except if you get it for free. Since I have so many other lenses I have put this one at the top of my list of lenses to resell when I get the time to sit down and list it on eBay.


Following are some sample photos to demonstrate the power of this type of lens and some general uses which will likely yield good results. If you shoot things like these, then this lens may be a good one to think about adding to your camera bag.

The above is un-touched (except from RAW to TIF) at f/1.7 showing the softness, veiling, and some (blue) ghosting.

Above is another f/2.8 but less sharpening from Photoshop this time. Still quite nice.

Above and below are f/1.7 examples to demonstrate the bokeh and terrible veiling present when wide open.

Then, above at f/4, things sharpen up quite well.

Check out more photos I have shot with this lens in my Flickr Album.