Zeiss Makro-Planar T* 100mm f/2 ZF (ZE) (on Canon EOS) - Lab Test / Review
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Review by Klaus Schroiff, published April 2010

Lens kindly provided by Markus Stamm


The Zeiss Makro-Planar T* 100mm f/2 is a quite interesting representative of its species - there're lots of 100mm macro lenses out there but this one is fairly unique because it is 1 stop faster compared to the competition so apart from its obvious target application (macro photography) it could also substitute a portrait lens - at least more so that its cousins. On the downside its max. magnification is "only" 1:2 (@ min. focus 0.44m) so die-hard macro photographers may have an issue here.

The lens is available in Nikon- (ZF.2), Pentax- (ZK) and Canon EF-(ZE)-mount. Typical for all Z-series lenses it's a manual focus lens. The focus indicator in the viewfinder remains active (ZE) so there's a little guidance here at least. The ZE versions use an electronically controlled aperture so it can be operated by the camera (the ZF.2/ZK variants feature also a classic aperture ring).

Unfortunately we weren't able to get our hands on the ZE version so we had to use the ZF variant via adapter. However, there aren't any differences apart from the mount specific aspects so our conclusions regarding the optical performance will be fully valid for ZE lenses as well.

The Zeiss lens is based on a symmetrical Planar design originally invented in 1896(!). "Planar" originates in the German word plan ("plane" in English) and refers to the flat reproduction characteristic (minimal field curvature). The patent is long expired, of course, so it's widely used in the industry nowadays.

The build quality of the full-metal Zeiss (brass with chromium-plated brass front bayonet) is superb. The fluted focus ring is exceptionally well damped. The lens uses a retro-focus (RF) design so the front element does not rotate. As you can see in our product images above the lens extends significantly when focusing towards closer distances. This is not unusual for a macro lens although we've seen more non-extending variants lately (e.g. the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 USM L IS).

Optical construction9 elements in 8 groups, Floating elements
Number of aperture blades9 (rounded)
min. focus distance0.44 m (max. magnification ratio 1:2)
Dimensions76 x 113 mm
Weight680 g
Filter size67 mm (non-rotating)
HoodIncluded, barrel shaped (snap-on)
Other features-

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