Eight Zeiss lenses to be updated with electronic CPU contacts for Nikon (ZF.2)


Focus will still be manual, but now "these new Zeiss lenses support all- important operations such as the automatic mechanisms for time, aperture setting and program. The CPU also supports manual exposure settings, including those for camera casings that are not AI-compatible. Since the lens now transmits the EXIF data such as manufacturer, date, metering system and exposure to the camera, photographers no longer need to set the parameters manually." Here are the 8 models:

Full press release on the next page:

Carl Zeiss presents a new series of lenses: ZF.2 for F bayonet

OBERKOCHEN, Germany—November 16, 2009.

Optics specialist Carl Zeiss today announced its introduction of a new series of lenses for the semi-professional market: the ZF.2 with F bayonet for digital SLRs. Thanks to its electronic interface (CPU), these new ZEISS lenses support all-important operations such as the automatic mechanisms for time, aperture setting and program. The CPU also supports manual exposure settings, including those for camera casings that are not AI-compatible. Since the lens now transmits the EXIF data such as manufacturer, date, metering system and exposure to the camera, photographers no longer need to set the parameters manually. These quicker and faster handling capabilities of the ZF.2 lenses are especially useful under hectic shooting conditions.

ZEISS lenses truly come into their own in situations that demand extreme photographic creativity and maximum image quality. Carl Zeiss’ established fixed focal length lenses are known for their high light sensitivity and precise manual handling, leaving the photographer in full control. The new ZF.2 series will be especially interesting for photo enthusiasts who value creative, high-quality images combined with the comfort of automatic settings.

Martin Klottig, Marketing Manager of the Camera Lens Division at Carl Zeiss AG: “The ZF.2 lenses are ideal tools for photographers who want to concentrate more on the subject than on their camera equipment. Whether at a wedding, a toddler’s first steps or impressions from faraway countries, these lenses are perfect for photographers who want to capture once-only moments quickly and accurately. These situations demand first-class technology that captures spontaneous actions without too much effort and delivers fantastic images each time.”

The ZF.2 lenses are available in eight focal lengths, six of which will be available from the end of November: 3,5/18, 2,8/21, 2/35, 1,4/50, 2/50 and 1,4/85. The Distagon T* 2/28 ZF.2 and macro Planar T* 2/100 ZF.2 will be introduced in Spring 2010. “We are currently completely reworking and optimizing the Distagon T* 2.8/25 ZF. As a result, it will be available for other mounts somewhat later,“ says Klottig.

The prices for these new lenses will lie between EUR 545 and EUR 1.386 (excluding VAT). With the new ZF.2 series, Carl Zeiss extends its acclaimed ZF family of lenses, for which there is still high demand and possibly long waiting times. “We will offer the ZF series as long as the demand lasts,” stresses Klottig.

For more information, visit www.zeiss.de/photo.

A list of compatible camera models is available under: http://www.zeiss.com/C12567A8003B58B9/ContentsWWWIntern/90A1B4054F3696A1C125743600416478


ZF.2 with F bayonet for digital SLRs support all-important operations such as the automatic mechanisms for time, aperture setting and program thanks to its electronic interface (CPU).

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  • Hi admin 🙂
    Just wondering, do you have any recent rumours of the FX 35 f1.4? 😀

  • johnny


    Been eyeing that 100 f2 but not having the convenience of auto exposure was a turn off

    • Sarge

      Really? Being saddled with manual focus, every shot must be fairly well-composed anyway; checking the meter isn’t really a problem.

      I agree, AE is better, but personally, particularly for macro use, I don’t see the AE on the 100mm as all that important. I’ll probably go looking for a deal on one of the older non-AE lenses. If its only a couple hundred bucks discount, I’ll go with the AE, but that’s about as much value as I’d place on it. Now autofocus… that’s another story!

      • johnny

        True, but since I use all my lenses on aperture priority mode, most of the time I will forget to change the exposure with a non AE lens and only realize it a few shots later when I look at the lcd. These new ZF.2 are essentially stupid-proof (or me-proof).

      • Bob

        If the prices on Adorama are accurate the the zf.2’s are being priced about $150 – $200 more then the zf’s. Unfortunately this may be the only price break for buying the older lens we see.

  • Daf

    I’m curious – who buys these lenses ?
    Are they THAT much better than Nikon primes to forgoe AF ?

    I do lots of events, so Manual focus just wouldn’t work for me.

    • f/2.8

      Yea Daf, there is no event photography until the advent of AF. Sports photos were just athletes posing in studio.

      • J

        there’s a photo of muhamid ali in rtye 60’s knocking out a dude, best boxing shot, Imo, it was shot with a rolleiflex.

        teh coating are different, questionably”better” than nikon. the focus is much more fine and precise. a lot people use them on the RED cameras. I sold one to a videographer. they are expensive, but very nice,

        • f/2.8

          Hello J, I believe you are refering to Neil Leifer who shot the most iconic boxing image of our times during the match between Ali and Liston in 1965.

          Ali knocked Liston down in the first round. Liston was on the canvas with Ali standing over him apparently yelling at him to stand up and fight. Or perhaps to tell him I told you I would knock you down in the 1st round.

          There is currently a joint photography exhibition of Neil Leifer and his rival Walter Iooss at Annenberg Space for Photography in Los Angeles. You may not know it but you have seen their work either in SI or Times Magazine. Their work are not just sports photo, they are iconic images.

          They are my idols and I think AF will be a hindrance to them.

    • Sarge

      I own 50mm and 85mm ZF lenses. The color contrast and bokeh are absolutely superb to Nikon’s primes.

      Getting a sharp image at 1.4 is not easy though. No way could you use them for events, if you’re getting paid.

      I sometimes like working as ‘backup shooter’ with them, as they do deliver a ‘look’ that NIkon doesn’t; it’s just avery different signature, one that I very much prefer.

      Practically, though, they’re relegated to portrait, landscape or product use. Events are just not reliable with MF. Phenomenal lenses though. I’d recommend waiting for the AE’s to come out, and look for a deal on a non-AE 50mm ZF, just to play with. You might find yourself pretty impressed. It just depends on your ‘eye’ for the fine details, and your appreciation of the Zeiss signature.

      • PHB

        Before the advent of autofocus and digital, a photographer was allowed to interrupt many types of event to take a shot, or they would sit at the sidelines going through ten rolls of film to get one amazing shot.

        These days a photographer is expected to deliver a far higher number of good shots than in the past and be virtually invisible whilst doing so. Manual focus lenses just do not cut it any more.

        The same is even true of family shots. We all know the photography bore who insists on interrupting every event to fiddle with their camera for half an hour while everyone tries to pose just right.

        Manual focus lenses were OK back in the day when you had a split prism viewfinder you could use to get focus. But trying to use any modern autofocus digital camera with manual focus lenses is a pretty hit and miss affair.

        I can see why people would buy these lenses regardless. What I cannot understand is why anyone would make them without autofocus. Its not as if the technology has not been mastered by Sigma, Tamron and the rest.

        • Tabitha Green

          Tamron? Mastered? Tell that to my Tamron 70-200! 😛

        • Adam

          yeah, it’s a pity these lenses still do not have autofocus. They will stand far better value in my humble opinion if it has autofocus.

          Also, I don’t get it why DSLR can’t implement proper MF focusing viewfinder, what I meant is, in AF mode, it will be back to the default AF points, while in MF mode, the viewfinder will remove all the AF points and give you something similar to the Leica Rangefinder viewfinder or the old SLR viewfinders.

          Anyone care to explain? I still haven’t found out why.

        • Daf

          Thanks, nice reply.

          It would be good to have one to play with, but I doubt it would get much use out of playing / still life type of stuff.

          Had a go at the Leica M9 over the weekend. Nice camera, love the compactness of the lenses but again – lack of AF would be a killer for me. At least it has the rangefinder/split screen thingamebob.

  • shivas


    in all seriousness, if your subject remains in the same distance plane, micro-adjustments in manual isn’t THAT difficult. . .

    but I have shyed away from Zeiss for the MF reason alone. . I don’t get it, they are WORLD-RENOWED, expensive lenses . ..why they can’t install an AF chip to work with Nikon or Canon bodies is beyond me. . .

    And I think they might realize that with this move. . .so I suspect give them a few more years, and there will be an AF chip in. . .hell, with the CPU contacts in, they are almost 85% there dammit, no?!!

    • El Aura

      AF chip, oh yes. Sounds about as easy as putting an ‘engine chip’ into a horse-drawn carriage to make it a car.
      If you compared the last Contax MF 85 mm prime by Zeisse with their first AF version of it (labelled Contax N), you’d see it is a completely different optical design because they had to switch to a rear-focussing lens to keep the moving elements small and light enough.

      • f/2.8

        shivas, I like your idea of just putting a chip in and voila, solution.

        Imagine, no one would be buying DSLR or screaming for AF-S primes. Everyone will be shooting LCD paneled F2, F3, FM and I am sure Nikkormat too, with chipped AI, or AIS primes.

        Some new Korean co. makes a killing converting old Nikon gear to digital. Nikon sales collapses and became a Nikon camera restorer to survive and constantly have to sue the Chinese for making fake F3s.

    • Sky

      “why they can’t install an AF chip to work with Nikon or Canon bodies is beyond me” – it’s the deal they have with Sony. If you want AF Zeiss lenses you have to change the system. It won’t change till the cooperation with Sony lasts.

    • Ken Elliott

      What is really odd is they don’t need a chip to make it autofocus. If they use a screwdriver-type AF, then it is all mechanical (I think).

      I wish another third party lens maker, like Sigma, would join forces with Zeiss and offer AF VR lenses with real Zeiss optics for Nikon and Canon.


    I really don’t see the point in chipping the lenses when most of the people using these will be using pro-bodies which all you need to do is input the lens data in the set up menu. Maybe they are doing it so they can up the price more.

    • El Aura

      Have you ever shot with two or more non-chipped lenses in parallel? Changing the lens in camera menu every time you switch them becomes tiring pretty fast.

  • longtimenikonshooter

    still no VR?

    • WoutK89

      Yes, let’s put VR in and leave AF out 😀

    • Chris P

      Quote “Still no VR’. I do love irony!

  • Sarge

    Well, I have two ZF lenses, a 50mm f1.4 and an 85mm f1.4, and I imagine this will bring down the value of them. On the bright side, hopefully it will bring down the value of the existing 100mm Makro lens as well… I’ve been eyeing that for a while.

    I use these lenses with my D3 whenever I can get away with it, which is not all that often, sadly. To those who ask ‘are they that much better’ than Nikon primes…? Yes. The bokeh is far more buttery, the color contrast/saturation is superior, and the sharpness is phenomenal. I can’t say they’re necessarily sharper than Nikon primes, but the quality of the ultra-smooth bokeh and more contrasty color saturation gives more of a ‘pop’ to color and luminosity, so the resulting ‘signature’ is very different, and very much higher quality to my eye.

    All that said, having no autofocus is what makes them far less useful – not auto exposure. These chips will, I think, improve their marketability a little bit, and makes them a better candidate for video use in the future, but adding autofocus is the missing ingredient for sales.

    Regardless, over time I will buy more of these lenses, as the ‘signature’ they leave is simply unobtainable from any other lens.

    • Adam

      yup, I tested a Zeiss lens before mounted on a Canon T1i and the IQ was SUPERB! Too bad it doesn’t have autofocus, cuz if it does, likely I will get some Zeiss lens sometime in the future.

  • shivas

    i think AF is around the corner if their Marketing team has ANY sense in the world. . .you can’t make bodies shooting 5-9 fps and NOT have AF lol!!

    • WoutK89

      So these lenses will remain for the D3X crowd shooting 14 bits images

  • KK

    Any word on Zeiss being able to chip the first generation of these lenses?

    • Uli

      Definitly not!

  • LGo

    Zeiss makes an AF 24-70mm f/2.8 zoom lens for Sony:


    I have the Zeiss 100mm f/2 ZF which cost about $1,500. So I would be more than happy to pay $1600 for a Zeiss auto-focusing 24-70mm f/2.8 that would work with my Nikon dSLRs.

    • WoutK89

      Or does Zeiss make the optics and is the rest (housing and electronics and such) done by another party?

      • Tabitha Green

        Sony makes the lens, optics designed by Zeiss (or co-designed by Sony & Zeiss).

  • Jesus_sti

    This is good or bad lens … only on images quality ?

  • Alex

    Buy one get one free ?

  • Anonymous

    MF lenses bore me to death

    • Alex

      Get a 20mm, shoot f/11 at hyperfocal and you won’t have to worry about focusing :o)

    • exit here

      You are kidding right …an AF lens means you are just pushing a button …dude instead of walking do you use an electric scooter …must be exciting for you, all those times you can toot your horn

  • lox

    I already put my hands on a 2.8/21, which turned out to be a spectacular piece of glass. Although it’s heavy, it feels like you never felt holding a lens in your hand. Not such over-technical full-featured monster like Nikons current 2.8 zooms (which I like anyway ;)), but a rock-solid, full-metal housing, delivering a bright, high-contrast viewfinder image, no doubt about the image quality and not to talk about the benefits of a fast wide-angle prime. Unfortunately it’s rather expensive, but worth every penny.

  • fotosniper

    all i know is that the ziess lenses on my hazzy are spectacular and i have searched ways to mount my hazzy lenses on the nikon.

  • Jim

    I was planning on getting the 100 makro but B&H had it as backordered. Now I see why. Personally I don’t see the advantage of AF for a macro lens such as Nikon’s 105. It also has VR – again why? if you’re using it for closeups that isn’t going the VR isn’t going to help if your vibration is back and forth too (a likely possibility). Another point is the focus on a manual lens vs the “sloppy” focus of an AF (if using manual focus) and, due to the quick focus from infinity to the closest setting, the f stop marks are about useless.

  • Hello Zeis,
    welcome to 1990. Oh wait…

    • f/2.8

      Fotograf Stuttgart, joking aside, what if Zeiss beats Nikon to UWA AF lens.

  • morphez

    It would be cool if they could work more closely with nikon…

  • morphez

    it would be called..maybe like this Nikkor Zeiss AF-S 100/2G ED IF VR N T….:P

  • Sky

    Nikkor Zeiss AF-S 100/2G ED IF VR N T A B C D E F G?

    • Tabitha Green

      E I E I O

  • cjd

    I believe your link to the compatabilitytabel is pointing to a table of lenses with the F-mount. Here’s a link to the compatabilitytable for the ZF.2:

  • Starfires

    How about some kind of teleconverter-AF system that Pentax made a way back? It could even have VR and bring such features to any lens, withiut needing to bulk up the design of it.

  • Z-freak

    The Zeiss MF lens are different in handilng – it’s all aiming at “experience” than the fully automatic systems. The mechanics is build to be precise and last long – which is in contradiction to the mass production of fully automtic systems. Unless you are ready to pay for quality in optics AND mechanics – just don’t ask Zeiss to build something, which doesn’t meet their branding.

    My 2 cents: try the lens and stop discussing about them

  • MK10

    I too wish for a Zeiss ZF AF lens range. Has anyone compared a ZA to a ZF to see if the AF mechanism affects the quality?

    I wonder if we should consider Sony as the “new” Contax? Especially if they come out with a model that retains the famous Contax handling- get rid of the superfluous buttons and menu options, keep the aperture ring on the lens, and the AE lock on the On/Off/AE lock lever.

  • danworx

    Hi folks,

    why don’t you look over the edge of the plate (as we say in Germany).

    These lenses are perfekt for motion picture. Zeiss has a Huge legacy in this area.

    We use Zeiss/Arri Ultra Primes and Highspeeds at work (for shooting on film) wich are manual focus only, They don’t even have a CPU. Aperture is set manually and focus….
    Well focus is done via external Autofocus aka the Focus Puller (1st AC).
    These highly trained Professionals can do amazing things with the Focus during shot. You won’t see an automated focus control as versatile adaptable or precise anytime soon.
    Think about the DSLR Movie crowd as potential customers for these lenses and these Zeiss lenses make perfect sense.
    They are a bargain compared to the Arri Primes and all other movie specific lenses.

    For stills though, they make sense for anything not action related wich is still alot of applications.

    Greetz from the movie crowd

  • Bob

    >>but I have shyed away from Zeiss for the MF reason alone. . I don’t get it, they are >>WORLD-RENOWED, expensive lenses . ..why they can’t install an AF chip to >>work with Nikon or Canon bodies is beyond me. . .

    Your ignoring a very important aspect of MF lens design vs. AF/MF lens design. Most DSLR lens designs place AF design considerations well ahead of MF design considerations. AF speed, a desirable feature in an AF lens, is achieved in part by designing the lens with a very short throw. The less the lens elements need to rotate from zero focus to infinity the quicker the AF system can lock on to the subject.

    With a MF design focus speed is generally not as important as focus precision. Precision can be achieved, again in part, by using a longer throw. A quarter turn of the focus ring on a MF lens may be short enough to allow the photographer to move the point of focus slightly to one side or the other while the same quarter turn on a AF lens would result in more of a jump. This is an oversimplification but it helps to illustrate that simply throwing a chip in a class leading MF lens is not going to get you a class leading AF lens.


  • dino

    A very BOLD guess……

    …and if Zeiss had suddenly decided to insert chip into its lenses because they heard that Nikon is about to release new ones in such lenghts?

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