Zeiss Planar T* 50mm f/1.4 ZF (ZE) (on Canon EOS) - Lab Test / Review
Lens Reviews - Canon EOS (Full Format)
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Review by Klaus Schroiff, published July 2010

Lens kindly provided for testing purposes by Markus Stamm!


Carl-Zeiss is one of the legendary brands in the business thanks to a history dating back to the very beginnings of the optical industry. Regarding the number the key designs it can almost be described as its cradle (established in 1846). The company was a major player in the photography market till the late 1970s when the well-known Japanese competition started to introduce AF SLRs and Contax (Zeiss supplied the system lenses) didn´t follow. Zeiss remained active and successful in other optical markets (inc. medium format lenses) but fell asleep regarding its consumer (35mm) photography business till a new prince (Sony) kissed snow-white (Zeiss). Thereafter it made Boooom and we´re now seeing several new products from Zeiss for Sony (ZA) but some of the all-time classics were adapted to Nikon (ZF), Pentax (ZK) and EOS (ZE) users (plus a few M42 variants). These classic lenses are designed in Germany but made by Cosina in Japan under Zeiss quality control.

In the scope of this review we will have a look at the Zeiss Planar T* 50mm f/1.4, a manual focus standard lens. The original symmetrical Planar design was invented in 1896(!) but its various incarnations survived the storms of time. In fact it is the most successful and most copied design in the business. "Planar" originates in the German word plan ("plane" in English) and refers to the flat reproduction characteristic (minimal field curvature). The lens is available for EOS as well but we used the Nikon version via adapter.

By today´s standards the Zeiss 50mm f/1.4 is a bit of weirdo - it is a brand new lens yet it doesn´t feature AF. The focus confirmation in the viewfinder remains active though and you can naturally use Live-View for focus fine-tuning. The build quality of the full-metal Zeiss (brass with chromium-plated brass front bayonet) just screams quality. The fluted focus ring feels exceptionally well damped. The lens does extend marginally when focusing towards close distances. The front element does not rotate.

Optical construction7 elements in 6 groups
Number of aperture blades9
min. focus distance0.45 m (max. magnification ratio 1:6.7)
Dimensions66 x 45 mm
Weight330 g
Filter size58 mm (non-rotating)
HoodIncluded, barrel shaped (snap-on)
Other features-

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