Zeiss ZF Lenses – High Performance For Nikon and Canon

Canon Featured Lenses Nikon Uncategorized Zeiss


The Zeiss ZF line for Nikon includes eight lenses as of August 2008. With an obvious hole to fill between 18mm and 25mm, perhaps it will include a ninth lens before long. The “family genetics” of the ZF line are highly consistent, with outstanding natural and pleasing color rendition, exceptional contrast and flare control, and beautiful bokeh. Some models of the line are true “artist’s lenses” and offer image rendition you’ll be hard-pressed to match with any other brand. All offer superb performance, but not necessarily conventional performance (eg the “by the numbers” testers just won’t understand some of these lenses). Build quality is first rate, and simply unmatched by anything from big N or big C.

For in-depth coverage of the entire Zeiss ZF line, see Zeiss ZF Lenses at diglloyd.com. You may also want to search and see the index page at diglloyd.com.

Buying suggestions

For macro shooters the choice is clear: the 100/2 Makro-Planar has few peers at any focal length, and offers stunning and unique bokeh and a very nice working distance. Users with cropped-sensors (not full frame), might find the 50/2 Makro-Planar appealing.

For wide angle work outdoors, the 25/2.8 Distagon is a good first choice, with the 28/2 Distagon an excellent alternative for low light shooting. Both offer strong artistic possibilities (see text on each lens).

For all-around shooting, the 35/2 Distagon is hard to beat; on full-frame it offers moderate wide angle coverage, and on smaller DX sensors it becomes an excellent “normal” lens.

For a normal lens, the 50/1.4 is the most compact lens of the line, but unless f/1.4 is a requirement, the 50/2 Makro-Planar might appeal for its versatility, offering both macro focusing (1/2 life size) and superb performance at infinity. Both make great portrait lenses on smaller sensor cameras.

The 85/1.4 Planar is close enough to the 100/2 Makro-Planar in focal length that the added versatility of the 100/2 might be preferable for many users. But its f/1.4 aperture and slightly shorter focal length will appeal to shooters who find 100mm a bit too long for some applications. The 85/1.4 Planar works great as an all around telephoto, and should not be thought of as just a portrait lens!

Related Content:
Nikon Review Page
Zeiss Lens User Reviews
All Lens Reviews
All Zeiss Lens News
Nikon Cameras Forum
Canon Cameras Forum
Official Zeiss Web Site
diglloyd.com Web Site

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  • jack says:

    pic4c.com – photos by Sony Alpha and Zeiss lens, Hong Kong, Ho Chi Minh (Saigon)

  • starriderrick says:

    Fantastic image samples…Quite impressive workmanship,performance. I must start saving…

  • Gideon says:

    Stunning examples- even at these small sizes, I can see the exquisite contrast and multi-layered bokeh. Also, regarding flare-resistance, I have never seen anything like it. I wonder about these, yet also whether Sony has the same quality in an auto-focus and image-stablised line, offering ‘the best of the old with the best of the new’. Well, I can barely afford one of these lenses now, let alone a second system. Only time will tell, ‘sigh’.

  • konstantin says:

    Carl Zeiss-the Best from best.

  • Myrra says:

    Seems the line up comments are consistent with my experience of Zeiss glass used on Contax cameras (both SLR and G series). Even the small nuances, like 85/1.4 not suitable for close up.Hopefully one day when my old Contax equipment dies Zeiss lenses will still be available on modern SLRs!

  • Thank you for this wonderful review of the Zeiss lenses.

    I am a Nikon user, looking for a perfect Fine Art combination.

    As an industrial photographer for many years, I have had a Leica M-6 system, and a few Hasselblads, and thrilled with the quality. I have always liked my Nikon, but it was not in the same league as the other two.

    Because of the cost of the New Leica M-9 and lenses, I feel Hasselblad should concentrate on the fine artist, instead of trying to compete with 35mm DSLR which I think they are failing.

    I am looking for a camera system that might be affordable (some what) with superb quality. I am leaning towards a Nikon D-700x, and 3 Zeiss lenses. (18, 35, & 100). I mostly shoot on a tripod, and check my focus and composition several times before firing the camera.
    For these reasons, I prefer manual focus lenses, but heard that Zeiss is now built in Japan and not the same quality as my German Hasselblad lenses.

    That is why I feel your review on these products is so helpful to me,


    Eric, (the Photomaker)

  • CASSANDRA says:

    do ZEISS ZK-mount lenses come with electronic interfaces , thereby allowing it to actuate the focus confirmation mechanism of Pentax cameras ?
    thank you !

  • X, Maquis De Spot says:

    “The f/2 maximum aperture is unique among macro lenses”

    Not quite, the Olympus Zuiko 90mm f2 did it years ago and still does. You are correct only in that it isn’t in production, but as such a wonderful (and my favourite) lens it shouldn’t be forgotten. A new classic doesn’t negate an older one.

    There was/is a Zuiko 50 mm f2 as well, of course.

    It pays to remember that there are more camera brands than Canon and Nikon.

  • GG the CZJ fan says:

    Don’t forget all Zeiss lenses had the past in Dresden, where the CZJ Lenses was made with superb quality and
    somtimes not so goodmaterial as it was not available under comunist regiem but the glasses are today still wonderful.
    and remenber CZJ Lenses was the Mother of all Nikon and Canon “replicas”.
    For my Canon I use Pentacon PB lenses 1.8/50. 1.8/80 and 2.8/135, all are quit good performers.
    for the Nikon F100 I use Pentacon 2.8/120 and 2.8/180mm both are great Lenses.

  • daniel says:

    i just started working with the ze 100/2 Makro and the 50/1,4 Planar….
    it feels great!! and the pictures look great … u got to have at least the EG-S Screen…but then… everything is working great!

  • everton wallace says:

    I have never used any carl zeiss lens. But from what i have seen, seems to be a good lens.

  • Michael D. says:

    Amazing! Just when I thought I had completed a satisfactory collection of older manual focus Zeiss Jena and Nikon lenses along comes Zeiss ZF for Nikon and your stunning examples. Back to square one!

  • Usman says:

    I am still confused about why Zeiss do not manufacture their lenses in Germany? Why Japan where mass production and a different manufacturing philospohy prevails than in Germany which IS the world’s best.

    I am looking for a portrait 85 mm lens, possibly with larger aperture. I understand that Zeiss has a Planar T 85/1.4 but I am confused why it is not manufactured and packaged in Germany??? If there are some of these made in Germany also, please inform me via email and I will go out of the way to purchase it.

    Thank you,

    • chad says:

      For cost reasons. If it was made in Germany, they will probably cost $5000 instead of $2000. While you may go out of your way to buy regardless, most people probably won’t. Hence the strategy to make it in Japan.

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