Zeiss Planar T* 85mm f/1.4 ZF - Review / Test Report
Lens Reviews - Nikon / Nikkor (APS-C)

Review by Klaus Schroiff, published February 2007

Lens kindly provided for testing purposes by Peter-Cornelius Spaeth!


The Zeiss Planar T* 85mm f/1.4 ZF is one of the few all-time lens classics. It has seen many incarnations over time from the ancient Contax C/Y era over the also gone Contax N-system and now in Sony ZA and Nikon F mounts - each with slight optical variations due to the different lens mount characteristics and/or the requirements regarding the focus group. It 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).

Typical for all ZF lenses the T* 85mm f/1.4 doesn´t feature AF nor an electronically controlled aperture. Reads: the lens has an automatic aperture but you have to stop down via the aperture ring on the lens (1/2 stop steps). Consequently the lens is not really compatible to the consumer-grade Nikon DSLRs a la D40 or D70. However, it works just fine e.g. in aperture-priority mode on the D200.

The build quality of the full-metal Zeiss (brass with chromium-plated brass front bayonet) is superb. The fluted focus ring feels exceptionally well damped. The Planar features a retro-focus (RF) design so the front element does not rotate. The T* 85mm f/1.4 extends slightly by about 1cm when focusing towards close distances. The rather long min. focus distance of 1m is a bit disappointing for a brand new lens.

Equiv. focal length127.5 mm (full format equivalent)
Equiv. aperturef/2.1 (full format equivalent, in terms of depth-of-field)
Optical construction6 elements in 5 groups
Number of aperture blades9
min. focus distance1 m (max. magnification ratio 1:10)
Dimensions77 mm x 62 mm
Weight570 g
Filter size72 mm (non-rotating)
Hoodbarrel shaped, metal, bayonet mount (supplied)
Other features-

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