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How sharp is the new Zeiss Distagon 55mm f/1.4 ZF.2 lens? (comparison)

During the Photokina show this year Zeiss released a new Distagon 55mm f/1.4 lens designed specifically for high resolution, full frame DSLR cameras (with resolution over 30MP). Michael van Kraalingen, who visited the show, was able to take some comparison snapshots between the Zeiss Distagon 55mm f/1.4 ZF.2 (expected price around $4000), Zeiss Planar 50mm F/1.4 ZF.2 ($725) and Nikon AF-D 50mm f/1.4 lenses ($329). All images were taken with a Nikon D600 camera:

f/1.4

Zeiss Distagon 55mm f/1.4 ZF.2 lens at f/1.4

Zeiss Distagon 55mm f/1.4 ZF.2 lens at f/1.4

Zeiss Planar T* 50mm F/1.4 ZF.2 lens at f/1.4

Zeiss Planar T* 50mm F/1.4 ZF.2 lens at f/1.4

Nikon AF-D 50mm f/1.4 lens at f/1.4

Nikon AF-D 50mm f/1.4 lens at f/1.4

f/2.8

Zeiss Distagon 55mm f/1.4 ZF.2 lens at f/2.8

Zeiss Distagon 55mm f/1.4 ZF.2 lens at f/2.8

Zeiss Planar T* 50mm F/1.4 ZF.2 lens at f/2.8

Zeiss Planar T* 50mm F/1.4 ZF.2 lens at f/2.8

Nikon AF-D 50mm f/1.4 lens at f/2.8

Nikon AF-D 50mm f/1.4 lens at f/2.8

f/5.6

Zeiss Distagon 55mm f/1.4 ZF.2 lens at f/5.6

Zeiss Distagon 55mm f/1.4 ZF.2 lens at f/5.6

Zeiss Planar T* 50mm F/1.4 ZF.2 lens at f/5.6

Zeiss Planar T* 50mm F/1.4 ZF.2 lens at f/5.6

Nikon AF-D 50mm f/1.4 lens at f/5.6

Nikon AF-D 50mm f/1.4 lens at f/5.6

f/11

Zeiss Distagon 55mm f/1.4 ZF.2 lens at f/11

Zeiss Distagon 55mm f/1.4 ZF.2 lens at f/11

Zeiss Planar T* 50mm F/1.4 ZF.2 lens at f/11

Zeiss Planar T* 50mm F/1.4 ZF.2 lens at f/11

Nikon AF-D 50mm f/1.4 lens at f/11

Nikon AF-D 50mm f/1.4 lens at f/11

f/16

Zeiss Distagon 55mm f/1.4 ZF.2 lens at f/16

Zeiss Distagon 55mm f/1.4 ZF.2 lens at f/16

Zeiss Planar T* 50mm F/1.4 ZF.2 lens at f/16

Zeiss Planar T* 50mm F/1.4 ZF.2 lens at f/16

Nikon AF-D 50mm f/1.4 lens at f/16

Nikon AF-D 50mm f/1.4 lens at f/16

100% crop

So, how sharp really is new Zeiss Distagon 55mm f/1.4 ZF.2 lens in order to justify the nearly $4000 price tag? Take a look at those 100% crops:

Zeiss Distagon 55mm f/1.4 ZF.2 lens at f/1.4, 100% crop

Zeiss Planar T* 50mm F/1.4 ZF.2 lens at f/1.4, 100% crop

Nikon AF-D 50mm f/1.4 lens at f/1.4, 100% crop

Please note that those samples were not taken in a controlled environment. The new Distagon lens is probably also not the final version, the official release is expected in the second half od 2013. All of the above images in full resolution are available on flickr. Few more samples taken with the Zeiss Distagon 55mm f/1.4 ZF.2 lens can be found here.

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  • Aldo

    How far will people go for some extra sharpness?

    • babola

      I honestly doubt there is any, the test is flawed to the core.

  • n11

    At 100% crop quite the clear visible difference in sharpness.
    Curious to know why they didn’t use a D800 instead.
    That said, unless you’re a millionaire a super-pro photog who needs that extra sharpness at those sizes, I think the cheaper alternatives will suffice for most people.

    • J Shin

      The focus point of the planar is much further back. The Nikon shot is in between. It’s hard for me to say that the difference is clear. :-(

      • Petia

        Well, actually, it looks like the DOF is larger for the Planar, extending further back, but also further to the front (bottom right corner). As if they got the numbers mixed and the Planar’s f/1.4 was actually f/2 or f/2.8… (note that the framing is different too).

        • zeiss

          The planar has field curvature; the focal plane shifts towards the camera near the edges.

    • Swade

      Photographer. This isn’t twitter.

  • Aldo

    “Please note that those samples were not taken in a controlled
    environment. The new Distagon lens is probably also not the final
    version..”

    Why bother then? it also appears than the focus is being done in a different place of the flower. A flat object, like a paper with plan text would have been better for a comparison.

    • http://nikonrumors.com/ Nikon Rumors

      Because this the best and only comparison we have so far from this lens.

      • neversink

        Then – I wouldn’t even bother publishing it. The pics tell us nothing, so why publish. When the best is the only, then I run the other direction, as it is also the worst and only comparison. Sorry, but I grew up on the streets of Washington Heights, and I can always tell when something isn’t kosher…..

        • Arkasai

          This is Nikon Rumors not dpreview, there would be no news if the author didn’t take some risks by listening to tipsters or accepting less than perfect sample photos. You understand that right? Rumor sites are built on tentative reporting and back door blurry shots of products that don’t exist yet.

          • neversink

            Of course I understand… But it still shows us nothing so why post it. For a rumors site, NR is one of the best, however, this post is a low for NR. And yes, all rumors are just that. However, not all posts on this site have been rumors. So I repeat, why publish when one can draw no conclusions. The photo examples are poor and prove nothing. That’s why I don’t understand why this was published. At least wait for a good example where some conclusions can be drawn.

            • http://nikonrumors.com/ Nikon Rumors

              This is the “rumor” part of this post – we don’t have much info, but the new 55mm Zeiss lens seems to be ver sharp. Note that those are pretty much the only samples available from this lens – yes, they are not perfect, but it’s way better than not having any samples at all.

            • Andrew

              I love how this post is presented. Give us the information and let us find fault with it. And by so doing you have not taken the debate away from us.

            • Spy Black

              Dude, if this shows you “nothing”, you should get out of photography. It’s obvious how insanely sharper that Zeiss lens is. Granted, it’s insanely overpriced, but the point is clearly made.

              At that kind of money however, I’d rather get a 58mm f/1.2 Noct-Nikkor

            • neversink

              It shows me nothing because I don’t know if all samples are perfectly in focus. Do they look all look in focus to you?There is no denying Zeiss has made some of the finest lenses in the world, so chances are that this lens is incredibly sharp. But I can’t tell by these samples.

              (Maybe it is time for me to get out of the phtography world if you say so. I’ve only been at this full time since 1987-88 and part time before that starting in the mid-70s. But it is all I really know how to do and all I really want to do, and I love it.)

              By the way, I have a beat up Noct Nikkor that you are talking about and it is incredibly sharp… I can’t put a glass filter on it as the front end of the housing is dented. There is also a minor nick on the front element, but that that doesn’t appear to degrade the sharpness at all. It’s a great lens, Thanks to a recent thread on this site, I dug it out of one of my old camera bags, and I am using it again on a D4 and D800.

            • Keith

              Yes it’s clear you have many years of test chart shots since you have obviously been shooting them exclusively since 1987 if these photos offer nothing for you. Someone who typically shoots subjects other than charts gets an overall impression of the performance of a lens and just starts using it.

              A trophy collector however can only know if a lens is good if they can compare it with their other trophies which see more shelf time and shoot more charts than they get used. Though I’m sure like every garaged cherry hot rod, it gets a spin every once in a while.

              I’m not saying there is a problem with being a trophy collector, to each his own, but to most photographers this type of post provides a large net gain of knowledge of the lens. And even though it doesn’t demonstrate the only relevant aspect of a lens for your purposes (unimpeachable comparison with your other trophies), that doesn’t mean it isn’t valuable to active shooters.

              From my eye, the other two lenses 100% crops look exactly like every other site with 100% crops for those lens, but the new Zeiss is simply and obviously more striking for contrast and sharpness even though it isn’t using 100% scientific techniques which makes it all the more impressive.

              It is overpriced though.

            • neversink

              Excuse me!!!! I have rarely shot test charts in my career. I test all my equipment in the real world. And I shoot in the real world for clients. Your ranting and raving only prove you know little. I never suggested that these lenses be compared on a test chart. That is for DxO and other tech geeks to do.

              You accept the “results” of these tests blindly without even knowing where the focus points are in the photos. The light could be different in the different shots. There are many variables about this “comparison” that makes me question, as others here have also questioned, why this is even considered a valuable comparison by NR to post. To me, many of the examples here, appear to be out of focus.

              This is just a sloppy example. If you want to base your photographic learning knowledge on sloppy examples, be my guest. But you will draw wrong conclusions.

            • Cristi

              You want to imply that the author has no clue how to take a photo. In my opinion the focus can’t be somewhere else than in the cropped area, and you can’t see any sharp section for the second 2 lenses. It’s a real world sample.

            • Andrew

              A good dose of sloppiness is what makes a rumor site vibrant. Posting tidbits of news, suspect analysis, and future predictions all make up the core of a rumor site. I am a perfectionist but I have the good sense to accept that we live in a less than perfect world. Being overly harsh is not warranted against the purveyor of this site, especially if you have come to know his exacting professionalism.

            • Andrew

              What we have here is not a review but news. Now as an astute photographer all you have to do is (1) receive the news of the new lens graciously, (2) appreciate the samples taken with the new lens, and (3) ignore the comparison. Nikon Rumors did the correct thing, and that is to give us the information as is, and then let us sort through it. Now as a result, a fun debate has ensued.

          • http://nikonrumors.com/ Nikon Rumors

            Exactly!

        • Break

          The pics do tell a story. Look closer and you’ll see the new Zeiss is superior. Colors, contrast and sharpness are amazing. And that’s freakin’ wide open!

    • lorenzo

      Agree. Give it some time and the various Mansurovs etc. will show us a real comparison on the test chart, then we can really judge it.

    • http://www.facebook.com/alexey.shalyapin.3 Alexey Shalyapin

      Sharpness is not the only part of lens quality. That strange for me, but no one talk about colour contrast, saturation, bokeh and so on… Profanic Pixelometria as a common ill of a new kind photographer?

      • tedtedsen

        you have so right so right BINGO i have this lens on my old d800 and compared to other 50mm it is sharper by a margin when cropping hard yes it is slightly but thats whats photogapers are afther that small difference i have plans for the new 85mm otus

  • Ted

    Why use the Nikon D and not newer G version?
    And since when did 50mm need to be sharp?

    • texasjoe

      Exactly what I was thinking.

    • Fifi

      And since when 50 mm lenses don’t need to be sharp?

    • Joe

      Obviously that was the lens that the guy had with him at the trade show to shoot the comparison images with. I don’t think this was a planned test, just done by an opportunity.

    • Rocket Joe

      “And since when did 50mm need to be sharp?”

      Exactly.

      It’s becoming so much more about the gear than the photography itself.

      Lens/camera review m*sturbators would like us to believe their drivel actually has anything to do with the reality.

      • http://genotypewritings.blogspot.com/ genotypewriter

        You’d talk about these things too if you knew something to talk about. That’s the reality…

    • Sahaja

      @d10ca8d11301c2f4993ac2279ce4b930:disqus

      Probably he had only the D version available at the time.

      50mm needs to be sharp when doing copy work.

  • TSY87

    It looks to me like the second picture with the other zeiss 50 was not focused on the same spot on the flower… That said, I’m still impressed though 4000 is out of my range. I would get it if it were around 2500

    • lorenzo

      I would consider it if it was in the $1,500 range

    • peteee363

      i would consider it if somebody gave it to me!. why would i spend that kind of money for a 50mm, or 55mm lens? if it was wider, or longer half that price would be ok, but 4 grand for a normal lens, wtf! also what is with all this hype for super fast lenses, most of my shooting is done over f/11. unless you are a sports shooter, or a photo journalist, the extremely narrow depth of field wide open lenses have make for specialized pics anyway.

  • lorenzo

    Yes, I see a moderate difference in the cropped photos, but $4000 for a 55 mm lens are too much for my wallet. With a lot less than that I can buy the Complete CS6 plus the full Nik s/w packages and possibly get a similar result.
    I just noticed that in the crop Nikon looks sharper than the planar!

  • seagoat8888

    Fun to see but I agree that without matching the focal plane, these aren’t that helpful.

    Is my head on backward or does it seem like the longer lens (55mm) is giving a wider FOV than the 50s?

  • fjfjjj

    Worst NR post ever. Utterly useless to evaluate the sharpness of a lens using an unstable subject and a handheld camera. In our next edition, we will evaluate the newest VR Nikkors using a camera bolted to a 300lbs dolly.

    BUT… has anyone noticed the bokeh? Seriously superior on the new Distagon.

    • http://nikonrumors.com/ Nikon Rumors

      so you did find something useful in this comparison :)

    • Marty

      Yeah I noticed they forgot to put in rounded aperture blades, reason not to buy it for bokeh!

      • fjfjjj

        The lens companies invented this phrase “rounded aperture blades for pleasant rendition of out-of-focus areas” so that camera gadget freaks who know nothing about optics could repeat it over and over. Stop it. It’s baloney.

  • BernhardAS

    Thanks for the post.

    As far as I can read the article this was an impromptu comparison while visiting a trade fair.
    I look forward to more controlled comparisons. However for me the “flat test chart” shots are really less interesting. As I do not take photos of flat subjects as a matter of principle. I am always more interested to compare real shots with depth and near/far relations. And I am very grateful for people doing the work for me.

  • joseph

    First, I bet it will not be any better than a 55mm Micro at the equivalent aperture. And for those needing the speed or short DOF, I bet the 50mm f/1.2 AIS will equal this at f/2 at 1/10th the price. If you need razor-sharpness with no DOF, you shouldn’t be shooting a camera with a tiny sensor.

    • http://genotypewritings.blogspot.com/ genotypewriter

      Why “equivalent aperture”? The 55mm Micro is a 2.8 lens… some of us want smaller f-numbers than that.

      The issue with every 50mm fast lens out there is they suck in terms of wide-open sharpness (I mean across the entire frame) and they’re full of aberrations. If Zeiss can make something that can be better than the rest, it’s going to be a great achievement for this price-range.

  • Captain Megaton

    Okay, uncontrolled environment, blah blah blah… but, holy &%! that crop from the Distagon at f/1.4 is unbelievable! f/1.4, people, f1.4…

    That said, overall I am pleased with the overall “look” of the Planar in these comparisons. That’s the one of this group I own. While can’t objectively say it’s the best of anything, subjectively it never ceases to delight.

  • Vicious

    Lens made for high resolution “30” +mp tested on a 24 mp dslr..

    • dave

      You have to love how unscientific this is. Out of focus shots on a camera that this lens isn’t really designed for.

      • http://genotypewritings.blogspot.com/ genotypewriter

        They don’t claim it’s a perfect test. And having something to look at is better than nothing. Also sharpness is not the only thing it demonstrates… you can see the overall contrast differences of the lenses too. Focus errors of this scale don’t have an impact on that.

        And no… this lens is not going to suddenly work differently on a 30MP+ camera. Only a complete noob would think that.

      • NW

        Yeah. it could only conclude that this new Zeiss is much sharper than the other two lenses. It couldn’t show how good it could be with a 36MP sensor… Mm…

        Btw, it resolves only 30MP+. Does that mean, it is possible that it’s not sharp with a 36MP sensor? If so, then this lens is for D600, but not for D800…

  • King of Swaziland

    For $4K it darn well ought to have monomolecular edged sharpness.

    • http://genotypewritings.blogspot.com/ genotypewriter

      Wonder what you expect from the $25K+ lenses that Zeiss makes.

  • Ralph

    Be interesting to see all three focused at the same point and manually focused. im pretty sure im not spending $4000 on a 55mm lens though, that would probably be $5000 plus in Australia (coz we’re mugs and them them charge us more).

    I wonder what kind of resolving power this lens will score.

  • Graham Sumner

    This is a welcome comparison but surely, when providing samples in an uncontrolled environment, it would make more sense to use a scene containing distant objects in which everything is in focus. We could then compare corner and edge performance as well as centre performance.

  • Nilrem

    Sharpness is also dependent of motion, iso, shutter speed, depth of field, aperture, high iso noise, using a tripod, and so on. In this case the depth of field differs as you can see in the cropped pictures. The comparison only shows poor technique rather than a true comparison.
    A good image is beter than a sharp image!

  • a_

    Why did you compare the Zeiss with the old Nikkor AFD?
    The new one (50mm f1.4 G) is much better, especially at the larges apertures.
    …Probably the differences between the overpriced Zeiss and the rather cheap 50/1.4G would be indistinguishables…

    • Rock Kenwell

      Cut the cost in half, compare this against 50mm 1.8G

  • Eric Duminil

    Conclusion : Out of focus shots appear less sharp than correctly focused ones.
    Thanks for the info! :D

    • MB100

      lol, also why wouldn’t you take these on a D800??

    • Adrian B

      LOL! Still, you have to admit that the new lens produces more vivid colors with a better contrast overall, disregarding the focus…

      • koenshaku

        Yeah and at 2.8 the 50mm 1.4 the lights on the ceiling actual turn hexagonal whereas the zeiss lens not so much lol.

    • Monkey

      LOL, why not eat a banana?

  • Smudger

    This might well be the only data but bad data is still bad data……..

  • Why_bother

    This review is utter rubbish… Why bother??? Slow news day?

  • DafOwen

    I had fairly perceptible softening of my Nikon 17-55 when on my Nikon D200 not too long ago. Sent both for calibration and came back a LOT better.

    For those looking for extra sharpness I’d definitely suggest it.

    (D200 doesn’t have micro calibration. Have upgraded kit since then)

  • Pat Mann

    On the pictures of the lenses, you can clearly see the moire on the Planar, and it’s horrible on the Nikkor. Clearly Zeiss has found a way to deal with this on the Distagon.

    • MyrddinWilt

      the Moire is a feature of the subject and the sensor. Only way the lens could reduce it is if it was a bit fuzzy. So I suspect this is another case of the review being useless.

      I am so not interested in the Zeiss lenses. The only point to them is to give measurebators another way to brag. Which is kind of stupid since camera gear is pricey but the cheapest car on the market will buy you the best camera/lens combo anyone with a brain is going to want to carry for more than a few minutes. Given the choice of a new Jaguar XK8 and a phase one, I know which I would take and which would impress more women.

      • neversink

        You’d be much better off with a Ferrari or even a Jeep than a Jaguar, as they are notoriously in the shop more than they are on the road. It all depends on the shallow type of woman you are trying to impress.

    • e.braun

      For the people who didn’t get that this was a joke, he/she’s referencing the picture of the lenses at the top of this post, not the results any photos shot with of the lenses.

      It’s because the images of the the lenses are all being resized by your browser for display (the actual images are larger than what the HTML is displaying). Since the 55mm has fewer concentric circles in it’s housing design, it doesn’t appear to have the same moire “problem” as the other 2 lenses.

  • longzoom

    4K? For this money it is not for really working people. Just for rich snobs to put it on the shoulder to show prosperity. New Nik 85/1.4 at 2 looks equal in respect of sharpness, better bokeh, and way more practical with its AF, for 40%.

    • MyrddinWilt

      I was thinking the same thing. I don’t like the bokeh in any of the pics. $4K for a manual focus normal lens looks way overpriced to me.

      I don’t particularly want 36MP for final resolution, I want the extra headroom to make up for generation loss during processing.

  • D801

    If you want a sharp manual 50, get a $120 50mm f2.0 AI. Best resolution and corner sharpness I have seen in a 50.

  • No name

    The round bokeh looks better. Oh BTW, f/16 on a D600? where are the dust spots? Makes you wanna get the d600 now.

    • Bullsnot

      Lens aperture has nothing to do with the appearance of sensor dust.

      • catinhat

        The smaller the aperture the greater the dust suction. (Sorry, couldn’t help it :-)).

        Well, usually you can only start to see dust at very small apertures like f11-f13, so if it is not visible at f16, there isn’t much there probably, though the background in these pics gets pretty busy at small apertures which doesn’t help.

        • rhlpetrus

          DoF is required for dust to be sen.

      • friedmud

        Are you being sarcastic? Lens aperture has _everything_ to do with the appearance of sensor dust in a photo.

        Smaller apertures only allow light from ~1 direction… causing dust on sensors (and on the back of lenses) to cast “shadows” that show up in photos.

        Please don’t spread misinformation!

        • Pablo Ricasso

          You don’t have a clue about cameras and lenses, do you?

          • friedmud

            Again, it’s hard to tell if you’re being sarcastic or not. What I said is the truth. For instance:

            http://photo.stackexchange.com/questions/12087/why-use-a-small-aperture-when-trying-to-see-sensor-dust

            With larger apertures you have light coming from many directions so it’s harder to see dust “shadows”. Smaller apertures create essentially unidirectional light that allows dust that is sitting on the low pass filter to cast a hard shadow on the sensor (and show up in photos).

            Yes, I do have (quite a bit more) than a clue about how cameras and lenses work…

        • Richard Patterson

          You 2 year old has hijacked your accound dude…either that or you’re a dumba$s…

    • jackson

      I just got one for 1500, thanks to all the maroons who built Mt Everest with a bunch of internet posts. Ha ha ha! I’ll take the $600 saving and get the Zeiss 50mm now.

  • benjamin

    i recently picked up an old Carl Zeiss ultron 50/1.8 with the concave element. the performance on that thing is just incredible.. the clarity and resolution at f/1.8 far surpassed any other lens i ve used at the same aperture, giving contrast and resolution equall to that of the 50 1.2 stopped down to about 2.8 or 4. and the quality held up all the way into the corners.. perhaps this new distagon will have that kind of resolution at 1.4?..

  • Mr X

    Products of an insdustry of milion of dollars/euros are tested on the knees, in coffee shops?!? Come-on people, do you really think that?

  • Mr X

    Shooting flowers on available light?!? We have tools that can mesure microns, and these manufacturers did not make a scientific test of their product? This is madness…

  • Camaman

    is It just me or does the new 55mm lens have wider FOV than those two older 50mm??
    If they are 50mm this looks more like 40mm…

    • neversink

      I doubt it…. However one does not know if the “photographer” stepped back for one of the shots with the new Zeiss….. although I see little difference in FOV

  • vFunct

    The Bokeh is much better on this new lens. The other 2 are pretty horrible.

    Notice the background defocused light discs on the new lens are much more uniformly lit, whereas the other 2 lenses have a ring effect – the edges of the discs are brighter than the middle.

    This ring effect is pretty harsh compared to the smoother disc of the new lens. Also, the result is really the function of the lenses, not the number of aperture blades. (which only changes the shape of the disc, not the smoothness)

    • vFunct

      BTW the sharpness is the least important quality of a lens. if they cared about sharpness they would stop down the lens.

    • bertbopper

      But 4000$. You can buy 2 85mm PCE’s for that if you are into the best Bokeh. Not 50mm though, but you might try the 45 and the 85PCE for that price :).

      • http://genotypewritings.blogspot.com/ genotypewriter

        Two tilt shift 85 f/2.8 lenses are more useful than a good 50 1.4? Thanks for the tip…

  • ff1980

    This test ist total crap – NR should not publish such stuff

    • genotypewriter

      They must have been sponosred by Zeiss…

      • http://nikonrumors.com/ Nikon Rumors

        I wish…

        • http://genotypewritings.blogspot.com/ genotypewriter

          Btw, that’s not me…

    • Fifi

      First, this is Nikon Rumors, not Nikon Facts. Nobody claims this is a scientific test, it’s just an impromptu comparison shot in uncontrolled environment. Well, we shoot in uncontrolled environment, too. So, well done NR, I find ‘such stuff ‘ useful.

  • reilly diefenbach

    Clearly out of focus on the 100% crops. Come on, folks. More Zeiss mythology for the rich yokels.

  • Neil

    The test does prove one thing: large apertures, manual focus and hand-held cameras are not a good combination.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=560714012 Matthew Saville Baldon

    I’ve taken shots with my 50mm f/1.8 AFS-G that are way sharper (and on the D800) than any of those…

    I’m sorry, but no 50mm lens is worth $4,000. It might be “buyable” to slightly delusional pixel-peepers and other elitists, but the truth is that it just doesn’t take $4,000 to make a sharp 50mm for 30+ megapixel cameras.

    This is almost as absurd as their $20,000 70-200 f/2.8…

    =Matt=

    • Spy Black

      “I’ve taken shots with my 50mm f/1.8 AFS-G that are way sharper (and on the D800) than any of those…”

      …and then the alarm clock went off…

    • Fifi

      Obviously, this lens isn’t for you, so why bother? You must be an expert in lens manufacture.

      I’ve seen differences in the same model of lens at most manufacturers (Nikon, canon, sigma, you name it), not so at Zeiss. Their lenses are manufactured to the highest tolerances so their lenses come close to identical. And quality costs money. Price doesn’t grow proportionately with quality, try exponentialy. Plus the factor of mass production….

      You can’t buy a Lamborghini for the price of Ford Focus, can you?

      Funny, you mentioned their 70-200 f/2.8 zoom. First, it’s f/2.9, second, it’s in the Compact Prime and not in Photo range, so it’s essentially a cine lens. So your conclusion it’s absurd is probably based on your extensive testing.

      I constantly hear complaints about lenses’ prices. You should be aware how lenses are made, especially quality ones. It’s quite time consuming and labor intensive and you need highly qualified workers. And quality lenses are built to last. Now in digital age you have to replace the body every 2-3 years if you want to be up to date, a lens like this can easily last 20-30 years, even more. Do the math and calculate yearly cost over it’s normal life time.

    • http://genotypewritings.blogspot.com/ genotypewriter

      “I’ve taken shots with my 50mm f/1.8 AFS-G that are way sharper (and on the D800) than any of those…”

      … at f/1.4, right? :D

    • jackson

      qvack qvack qvack

  • K

    I don’t think it is not a good idea to select an object that cannot stay steadily in the wind. It is meaningless to compare objects that are shaking and out of focus.

  • steki

    I like the Zeiss Distagon 55mm at f/16 shot.

    Especially the blonde background :)

  • Daryl

    Many interesting comments so far. The price is secondary to what Zeiss is attempting to do, not from a purchasing point of view but from a manufacturing point of view. The 50mm lens produced by Nikon, Canon and other manufacturers is not their best, it is the best they can produce for the price point they want to achieve. Most will not want to pay much for a 50mm lens when their needs don’t demand it. Zeiss is attempting to make a lens that is not as restrained in price, so pricier glass, tighter manufacturing tolerances etc. contribute to the price tag. This lens is ironically the same price as the Leica 50mm/1.4 Summilux Asph. Furthermore, the lens is priced closer to lenses made for cinema use, and the price of those lenses can easily reach many multiples of this. That Zeiss is pushing the envelope for a quality 35mm dSLR lens may benefit everyone as it pushes the competition, and with competition comes competitive pricing (maybe).

  • crappy crap hole

    Any way… the blur characteristic of the 55 @1.4 better than the others… the torn at the leaf on the right part of the image, just blends…

  • elleyy

    Zeiss??? The world’s best delusionist company that jacks up the price. My japanese lenses can do better res.

    • Fifi

      You don’t know what you’re talking about! Zeiss is one of the very best lens manufacturers in our part of universe. So you think all those filmmakers and pro photographers who use them are delusional?

    • http://genotypewritings.blogspot.com/ genotypewriter

      Fifi is right… you have no clue at all… there’s also Leica.

  • Jason

    Everyone is being dumb. The 100% crops are impressive. Yes the lens is expensive, and yes none of you will buy it, but none of you care or would ever buy a cine lens. You want pricy look at those.

  • Bernhard_Reimann

    Any information, Peter, on the method by which these images were processed? And, were these all shot as RAW NEFs?

    • http://nikonrumors.com/ Nikon Rumors

      They were shot in JPG straight out of the camera. I do not have the RAW files.

  • vudie

    i download the images from flickr via the link provided, All the zeiss sample were shot at iso800, at 1.4 aperture i am impress, in the vid on youtube at zeiss booth when they talk about this lens, it value around 3000 euros, Well I just have to sit back and cross my finger till the price drop because it is clearly out of my budget.

  • simon

    thanks for posting this, but of course to evaluate center sharpness doesn’t make that much sense. they are all pretty good (maybe not at 1.4) but of course corner sharpness is going to be very interesting. and all the other abberations of course.

    I’m curious to see a comparison with the new 50/2 apo leica! the leica should be spectacular for the price.

  • LGPhotoArt.com

    Looking at the background of the more stopped down shots it’s clear that with the “Distagon” you get a blonde, with the “Planar” yu get a brunette, with the “Nikkor” you get….nothing. :)

  • not again

    Some of the comments here are absolutely bizarre.

    1. Yes, it’s clear that the focus point on the latter 2 were not right on that bud. But if you follow from front to back, you can see that there is a plane of focus somewhere in there.. nowhere did it seem quite as sharp as the new Zeiss.

    2. Who cares??? Even if the post was a leaked screenshot, it’d be valid news.. if it was a picture of the lens itself.. it’d be valid.. if it was just a shot without comparisons.. it’d be valid news.. simply because this person took the time to shoot a couple quick comparison shots, it’s drawing criticism?? There’s something about comparisons that just brings all the trolls out from under the bridge.

  • deeprock

    Nikon 50mm 1.4G has a 9 rounded blade diaphragm, but these pics show a 7 straight blade diaphragm, probably a 50mm 1.8D

  • jackson

    I doubt if the 2 headed trolls on here would know how to manual focus a pair of binoculars, let alone Zeiss glass.

    • Hijust Didhurvife

      Troll the trolls you troll troller. Indeed, troll away. You did, didn’t you. Or did I? Hummm. Indeed, indeed.

  • Ståle Tvete

    Why not test against a new Nikkor like the best one (AF-S 50mm f/1.8G)

  • me123

    Thanks for this test. It’s given me a very good idea with the difference between the lenses. I couldn’t find anything else on the net…so this was great!

  • tedtedsen

    Zeiss is focus lottery

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