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Review by Markus Stamm and Klaus Schroiff, published April 2016
Special thanks to Dr. Roland Rudolphi
Several of the currently offered manual focus Zeiss Z-series lenses are based on fairly old designs, and that remains true even though Zeiss recently started to relaunch some of them as Milvus lenses featuring a way more modern look, still often housing the old optical designs, though. However, there are some newly developed lenses in the Zeiss portfolio, one of them being the Distagon T* 25mm f/2.
The Distagon T* 25mm f/2 is available in Nikon F and Canon EF mount. Apart from the lack of AF, it is a fully coupled lens, so a camera-controlled aperture, focus confirmation and EXIF data is supported.
The Distagon is, obviously, a moderate ultra-wide angle lens with typical applications such as landscape, street and architecture photography. It is, however, not exactly a budget item and competes with two current Nikkor lenses: the AF-S 24/1.4 and the recently announced AF-S 24/1.8, the former being considerably faster than the Zeiss and the latter way more affordable. And both feature autofocus on top.
The build quality of the full-metal Zeiss (brass with chromium-plated brass front bayonet) is stunning. The fluted focus ring feels exceptionally well dampened - something that isn't really possible on AF lenses. The focus path is fairly long so precise focusing is easily possible. Just as any other Z-series lens, it's actually a joy to use.
The front element does not rotate so using a polarizer is possible without any issues. As you can see in our product images below the lens extends marginally when focusing towards close distances. A petal shaped lens hood is supplied.
As already mentioned, the Distagon is a manual focus lens, just like the rest of the ZF gang. However, the focus indicator in the viewfinder remains active so there's a little guidance here at least. Thanks to a built-in CPU, the ZF.2 version of the Distagon is the equivalent of a Nikon Ai-P lens... in other words: it works with any current Nikon DSLR, entry-level DX cameras included. However, one should be aware that with the smaller viewfinders of those camera, manual focus can be a little more challenging.
|Optical construction||11 elements in 10 groups inc. 1x aspherical + 4x AD elements|
|Number of aperture blades||9 (rounded)|
|min. focus distance||0.25 m (max. magnification ratio 1:5.9)|
|Dimensions||73 x 98 mm|
|Filter size||67 mm (non-rotating)|
|Hood||petal shaped, metal, bayonet mount (supplied)|
|Other features||Floating system, CPU and camera controlled aperture|