Zeiss Makro-Planar T* 50mm f/2 ZF - Review / Test Report
Lens Reviews - Nikon / Nikkor (APS-C)

Review by Klaus Schroiff, published April 2007

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


The Zeiss Makro-Planar T* 50mm f/2 ZF is another new representative of the recently introduced ZF line-up. Zeiss ZF are a manual focus lenses compatible to the Nikon F(Ai-S)-mount (therefore ZF). The 50mm f/2 is a full format lens but as usual we'll have a look how it performs within the APS-C DSLR scope where the field-of-view equivalent to 75mm. It is obviously a true macro lens but regarding its unusually large max. aperture (for a macro lens) it may even be a viable substitution for the classic 50mm f/1.4 lenses unless you really need the extra f-stop.

Typical for all ZF lenses the 50mm f/2 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 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. A lens hood is part of the package as you may notice below. However, the front element is deeply recessed from the filter thread so you don't really need one anyway.

Typical for most macro lenses the focus design is a combination of an extension system and floating elements for close-focus correction. It takes a ~300 degree turn of the focus ring to reach the closest focus from infinity and in the process the length of the lens increases by 32mm. The working distance (front element to object) is about 9cm here. Unfortunately the max. object magnification is only 1:2 whereas most of the competitors offer 1:1.

Equiv. focal length75 mm (full format equivalent)
Equiv. aperturef/3 (full format equivalent, in terms of depth-of-field)
Optical construction8 elements in 6 groups
Number of aperture blades9
min. focus distance0.24 m (max. magnification ratio 1:2)
Dimensions89 mm x 72 mm
Weight530 g
Filter size67 mm (non-rotating)
Hoodbarrel shaped, metal, bayonet mount (supplied)
Other featuresfloating system (close-focus correction)