Zeiss Planar T* 50mm f/1.4 ZF - Review / Lab Test Report - Analysis
Lens Reviews - Nikon / Nikkor (APS-C)
Article Index
Introduction
Analysis

Distortion

The Zeiss 50mm f/1.4 ZF produces a slight degree (0.6%) of barrel distortion. Nonetheless it is worth to mention that this is comparatively high when looking at competing lenses out there.

The chart above has a real-world size of about 120x80cm.

Vignetting

The Zeiss lens exhibited the typical distribution of vignetting for a lens in this class. At wide-open aperture the vignetting is relatively pronounced at 0.7EV. However, starting at f/2 the problem is negligible under field conditions.

MTF (resolution)

Traditionally 50mm lenses were and are still a benchmark for film as well as image sensors and the Zeiss lens is no exception here. The center resolution is already very good at max. aperture whereas the borders are a bit soft and also low in contrast. By f/2 the corners already recover significantly and the center heads towards excellent quality levels. Stopping down further unleashes the full resolution potential which can only be described as bitingly sharp. In fact the Zeiss beats all comparable Nikkors and sets a new (center) resolution record on the D200. It is quite safe to state that the Zeiss easily outresolves the 10mp Sony sensor.

Below is a simplified summary of the formal findings. The chart shows line widths per picture height (LW/PH) which can be taken as a measure for sharpness. If you want to know more about the MTF50 figures you may check out the corresponding Imatest Explanations

Chromatic Aberrations (CAs)

Chromatic aberrations (color shadows at harsh contrast transitions) are still moderate in absolute terms but a little disappointing for a fix-focal lens. The degree of CAs remains constant across the tested aperture range with an average width around 1.2 pixel at the image borders.

Verdict

The Zeiss Planar T* 50mm f/1.4 ZF is an anachronistic lens these days. It is fully manual both regarding focusing as well as aperture control on the lens. It is not even a perfect lens - the vignetting figures are in line with the rest of the gang and the level of distortions and CAs is even a little higher though still moderate in absolute terms. However, there`re at least two aspects that are definitely -not- moderate. The most obvious one is the great build quality and the other one is resolution. At wide-open aperture you shouldn`t expect great wonders - the Zeiss is in-line with the rest here - but from f/2.8 and up the resolution figures are truly brilliant. The price tag of the Zeiss is almost surprisingly affordable at 499EUR (about 650US$) ... which is still twice the price of the corresponding Nikkor AF lens which is only marginally inferior. Well, as always you have to pay bitterly for that final extra kick.

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