Zeiss Planar T* 85mm f/1.4 ZF (ZE) (on Canon EOS) - Lab Test / Review
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Review by Klaus Schroiff, published July 2010

Lens kindly provided for testing purposes by Markus Stamm!


The Zeiss Planar T* 85mm f/1.4 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 as Z-series (Canon, Nikon, Pentax) - each with slight optical variations due to the different requirements. 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 Z-series lenses the T* 85mm f/1.4 doesn´t feature AF so you have to rely on the focus confirmation in the viewfinder, Live-View or a split-image viewfinder screen for (accurate) manual focusing. 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 compared to other lenses in this class.

We used the ZF (Nikon) version via adapter but a native ZE (EOS) version is available. The ZE lens has no aperture ring, of course.

Optical construction6 elements in 5 groups
Number of aperture blades9 (rounded?)
min. focus distance1 m (max. magnification ratio 1:10)
Dimensions77 x 62 mm
Weight570 g
Filter size72 mm (non-rotating)
HoodIncluded, barrel shaped (snap-on)
Other features-

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