Zeiss Distagon T 35mm f/1.4 ZF.2 Lens (Nikon F Mount) to start shipping in few days

B&H is now taking pre-orders for the latest Zeiss Distagon T 35mm f/1.4 ZF.2 lens (F mount). This is an indication that the lens will start shipping in the next few days. The initial release date was February, 2011.

More details and technical specifications on the this Zeiss 35mm f/1.4 can be found here.

Update: some sample images can be found here and here.

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  • dan

    A nice lens, but so damned expensive.

    • LGO

      Until Nikon released its f/1.4 prime lenses, this lens would indeed be relatively expensive. But this changed when Nikon released its new prime lenses starting last year. Compared to the current price of the Nikkor 35mm f/1.4 however, it is quite reasonable. For the images that you can get with it, some would consider it a steal.

  • Yan

    Indeed … I will for review of it but .. they better be amazingly positive.

  • Ken Elliott

    I fail to grasp why Zeiss cannot (or does not) put a simple screw drive AF in these lenses. I’m pretty sure this is a simple mechanical system – well within their capabilities. I’d have a complete set of Zeiss primes had they done so. But since I’m old and use AF a lot, they lose my business. Surely there are others like me.

    Come on Zeiss – a basic AF is all I’m asking for.

    • Trevor

      I don’t get it either. Zeiss makes AF lenses for Sony, so it’s not that they can’t make AF. Anyone have any thoughts? Does Sony own part of Zeiss?

      It would seem really odd to me that a lens maker would agree to only make AF for one company, but who knows. Maybe Sony agreed to work with them, and Zeiss is snooty enough to say “we won’t make AF for you without your investment.” Either way, I think it’s a lost opportunity for them.

    • Valdemar

      It’s most likely intentional as their target audience want a precise manual focusing ring. You cannot get that if you have AF onboard.

      They use precise and “heavy” damping on the focusing, as well as utilizing an entire revolution when going from infinity to closest distance – no AF lenses I know of have the latter for instance.

      • LGO

        Indeed. This is why I have preferred to use the Zeiss 100mm f/2.0 to the Nikkor 85mm f/1.4 even for close-up portraits.

      • The myth about you can’t have well damped MF and fast/precise AF at the same time is…well, a myth. See: Tokina 28-70/2.8. It’s just a marketing decision and it cost decision. It’s completely possible to do. Just a couple reduction gears on the manual side and you have it.

        But the truth is, with the pro bodies, MF is a waste of time. I’ve tried several screens and bucket loads of MF lenses, and I can’t nail focus with 1.4 lenses (or even long 2.8s!) like AF can. Even for static subjects. The only time I can do as well (not better, only just as good) is live view with static subjects. At that point, gearing the MF side is of negligible importance.

        Wide open, MF with a good matte screen is better than focus/recompose from a center AF point. But with the CAM3500 or Canon’s latest 45 point deal, focus is faster and much more precise than your eye on ground glass.

        With lesser cameras, the AF is less precise AND the focusing screens are crap. But Nikon’s 1.4 glass isn’t targeted at these cameras.

        I understand both sides. I would love a Ferrari 458 with a fully manual transmission. But the fact is, the point of that car is to BE fast, not just feel fast. To that end, you can’t get a proper transmission with a manual clutch. People like me think this is heinous and will whine. But the truth is, we ain’t buyin! Even if we had the money, that’s not the point of that car.

        Nikon’s 1.4 lenses are for people who want to shoot. The most efficient system to do that today is with AF (especially with anything wider than 50mm!). Nikon has decided to go with function over nostalgia. BRAVO!

        • El Aura

          It is indeed a cost (and possible also a little bit a size) question. The lenses for the Leica S2 have been described by Lloyd Chambers as the only AF lenses he has used that are really great at MF (but then again, nobody has said that the AF of the S2 is really great so fast AF and great MF still has not been demonstrated).

        • El Aura

          P.S.: If you look up the history of the Zeiss 85 mm f/1.4 lenses, you will see that the AF versions (the Contax N and the current Sony Zeiss) have a quite different optical design to the MF versions (the old C/Y and the current Zeiss ZE/F) simply because AF requires that the lens groups moved for focussing are small (and thus light) to allow for fast AF operation. You will find this with the vast majority of AF lenses.

          Thus, creating an AF lens is often not as simple as adding a screwdrive, it really requires a complete mechanical and optical redesign (except probably for very compact and thus already light lenses).

        • Anonymus Maximus

          It sounds strange, but I had to use the Focus fine adjustment for my Zeiss 85 1.4. It is indeed hard to focus 1.4 correct just using the screen, and the in focus confirmation feature gave always an off focus.

          However after the AF fine adjustment the focus confirmation is now always spot on.

          sounds strabge because it is counter intuitive to perform a AF fine adjustment for a manual lens but it helped for me.

          And I love the pictures with the 85 1.4 ZF.2

        • Not that I’m amazing or anything, but even with the tiny optical port in the D200, I can nail a 1,2 50mm shot in most situations. If you can’t nail the focus, it could be down to a number of things, but I have no idea. There are also indicators that help you realise good focus. They come at the low end in cameras like the D5000 and get better as the models go up. D3/700 should have good focus indicators.

          Focus shouldn’t be a problem.

          • LGO

            “If you can’t nail the focus, it could be down to a number of things, but I have no idea.”

            Well said, and enough said.

            • Haha, yes. 1,2 lenses are great on anything with focus screens, visual indicators, or decent sized optical finders.

          • Eric Pepin

            im 19, have near 20/20 and even with my glasses on with my D300s and my 85 1.4 theres no way im nailing the focus even 50% of the time, and if the subject is moving which given its a portrait lens the subject most likely is then the percentage is much worse.

            The average Nikon customer is older then me, and has worse vision and reflexes. If I cant nail it that often, im guessing most of the customer base cant either. And I know the vast majority of the students in my program that use cameras every day also cant, because they try…. do they ever try bless their hearts.

            • TC

              Im 47 wear glasses and have a keep rate above 95% and not a single AF lens in my kit. I used to shoot a Nikkor at 1.2 as well and dont recall a miss.
              Before McDonalds and the Internet and even AF …you do know there was life …dont you?

    • that alone makes this lens a non starter. They could have put a push pull dampening mechanism for mf

    • Cold Hands Luke

      IIRC Zeiss are not able/willing to reverse-engineer the Nikon AF, and aren’t prepared to pay the $$$ for the info from Nikon (which I gather is NOT cheap). I’m pretty sure it’s not as simple as adding a screw to the focus mechanism, there needs to be some communication with the camera as well.

      They do AF for Sony because they’re in a partnership with them.

      • Tony


        I’m about to say exactly the same thing.

        It is the true for every companies that $$$ comes first, not YOU.

        • Mike

          I think there is more to it than that: I’d hazard a guess that the Zeiss/Sony partnership terms actually deny Zeiss the right to ask Nikon or Canon or anyone else for a licence to develop autofocus lenses, or even to just reverse engineer existing technologies.

          The CZ factor is a big part of Sony’s DSLR pitch: the lenses are all unique optical designs (the ZA 85mm f/1.4 is different from the ZF.2/ZE 85mm) and the autofocus feature is also a key part of that differentiation. Sony wants you to buy into its system if you want Zeiss autofocus.

          Metering doesn’t matter as much to Sony since the ZF (non-CPU) lenses already provide metering on both Canon and Nikon mounts (stop-down for the former and good ol’ pre-AI and AI-coupling on the Nikon).

  • I am not seen an aperture ring on this lens? If I am not this is so shame cosina!

    • LGO

      The Nikon ZF.2 version has an aperture ring.

    • The lens on the photo is the Canon ZE version. It has not aperture ring. Nikon ZF.2 has it.

  • am I not seen an aperture ring? If I am not this is so shame cosina!

  • Marco Polo

    It is ment to be for Street photography. You will rarely focus closer than 3 meters. At 3 meter the lens is alway on focus.

    • TC

      you need to get in closer, you are no street photog till you do ….get in there. My closest is 7″

  • I have had this lens since last week. All members of ZeissImages.com have been receiving this lens in ZF mount for a few days from popflash.com. All I can say is that the ZF version feels better than the ZE. I know its hard to understand that. But, having bith I can definietely tell you that the F version feels superior to the ZE. The focus on the ZF 35mm 1.4 is like no other I have ever used. It is simply the best manual focus lens I have ver held. I have been using it all weekend with an F6 and Kodak 160 NC. Forget those test charts, I will be posting real life sample images with it later tonight so you can see its capabilities. It for sure has the WOW factor.

    • The invisible man

      “Forget those test charts”
      Thanks !

    • Yes-yes, man post some images, please! Thanks in advance.

  • mshi

    Actually, I received in-stock notification email from B&H last week but only had time to read it today. In stock email turned into a pre-order page already.

  • For that price it’d better be much,much,MUCH more performing than the 35 f/2.

  • D700guy

    Isnt this the non-auto focus lens?

    • The invisible man

      no, it’s a yes-manual lens.

      • LOL! 😀

        Very exited to see real-life pictures and read review about this Distagon. Wish to buy it next year.

    • Jim

      It’s for thinking photographers – not point and shooters. Of course I own a manual transmission vehicle too – just call me dinosaur I guess.

      • cleht

        “thinking photographers”?…. hmmmm, are you sure you took the time to think about how that comes across as total nonsense?

        Maybe it is for slow photographers that need to spend 30 minutes to take a shot…jk

        • Worminator

          I find for most things a manual focus lens is easier to use than an autofocus lens. It’s a control thing. I like to be in direct command of the focus distance, and no, manually focusing an AF lens does not give me sufficient control

          For some things though it’s simply necessary to let the camera do it, either because there’s no time to set the focus manually, or because the DOF is so thin that accurate manual focus is near-impossible.

          All this to say some people would choose the Zeiss, others the Nikkor, depending on their needs.

      • Ronan

        Hey Jim, i’m guessing you have a B&W tv and you mowe your lawn with one of those manual mowing machines?

        • The invisible man

          with the gas at $4.00 a manual lawn mower may be a good idea !

      • thats funny . now that I went back to a manual camera (fe2) I find myself having to think less.

      • I think thinking photographers is a misnomer especially when you can click, preview, and erase. Digital photography has you thinking, but lets you forget most of the problem in order to take great photos. Your lens being either manual or automatic focus/aperture has no correlation with thinking/thoughtless photography.

        Your camera still makes all the most important decisions for you, especially in the meter. Actually, I find it easier to use a manual focus lens on non-moving objects because it is easier to meter to your heart’s desire rather than force automatic metering and focusing in the same kernel.

        If manual focus is akin to thinking, then as a society of photographers, we have the silliest of role models. Manual, automatic focus, both are tools, no less, no more.

    • lurwig

      Like a non- colour tv

  • One expensive piece of glass

  • Lot of money f0r MF.

    • TC

      yea, too many $’s for taking pic of chicks on a beach

  • nir.ex

    I saw some pictures taken with this lens
    the amount of details and sharpness is like Medium format,
    man.. and the colors, you just can’t believe your eyes, and how 3d the picture looks.
    I just bought the Nikon 35mm 1.4G, but since I saw what this lens can do
    i started thinking, and thinking too much is very bad for my bank account..

    • Ronan

      Yah ok LOL

      Get some good medium format glass and a body then try again.

      My old AF 645 blew away my buddies Leica rangefinder and then some.

      • for realz

        • preston

          for realz +1

      • nir.ex

        Hi Ronan and Yah ok LOL back to you
        have you seen samples? have you tried shooting the exact same object under the same conditions with this lens on a studio camera like a d3x and compare?
        let me guess – you didn’t
        you are just assuming that a 645 blows away every 35 digital
        so Yah ok etc…

        • nir.ex is right. these zeiss lenses are worth it for that extra special look. I shoot Mamiya RB67 and D3s w/ the Zeiss 35/2 ZF.2…… I choose the D3s over my RB67 for final output quality.

          The RB67 can beat the D3s in studio conditions… but the character of the zeiss glass is unreal in real life situations. I can only imagine how good the new 1.4 is. Anyone that has tried these lenses understands why they are special.

      • Eric Pepin

        my $100 1957 yashicamat SLR which at the time was a budget camera even then can put up a mean fight with my D300 and a good prime. And An RB67 shot on portra 400 blows the d300s out of the water.

        I also use 4×5… lets not get into that.

  • longzoom

    I may say what I’ve already said – how is it working wide open.? Nikkor is soft. I am not suppouse to pay $2000 to use it at f4.0 and up. I need it wide open, vignetting is not big deal for me.

  • RevKrev123

    Why this over the Nikkor AI-S 35mm f/1.4?

    • halgor

      No reason as far as I am concerned… novelty I guess….

    • Ronan

      For having the brand Zeiss and a bit more sharpness.

      • Eric Pepin

        a zeiss lens not made by zeiss……………. made by cosina.. makers of the plastic FM10 and many other things.

  • Brock Kentwell

    This lens belongs in a museum, not on a camera!

  • Curt

    I ran across a Zeiss interviewer on last Photokina asking many questions. Among them if I had a Zeiss lens and if I’d by one over the Nikon. I said NO.
    I took a look at the Zeiss lenses with F-mount at the Zeiss booth. With the standard screen manual autofocus can’t be taken fast and sure at the same time imho. Zeiss lenses don’t come with a weather sealing. However, their mechanical build is very fine.
    Compared to the Nikon lenses, which are certainly on a very high level already, they are about 30% more expensive in average. I know many of you guys don’t like tests. But what choice do I have making a several hundred bucks decision? In just 3 to 5 shot just outside the camera shop I can’t be sure if the Zeiss is better than the Nikon. By the tests or not, it is hard to believe that the Zeiss give us as much advantage in terms of optical quality over the Nikon as the price is higher. So it rather appears to be a “welcome into the club of the exclusive Zeiss-shooters” investion.

  • I demand a three way!!!!

    test that is…. Between the Zeiss, Nikon and Samyang. Not only comparing the optical qualities, but also its usability. On that note, does the Zeiss have the electrical contacts? I have only seen pictures of the Canon one.

    • El Aura

      Yes, the current Zeiss lenses for Nikon have electrical contacts, they are chipped lenses.

  • disiderio

    A lens for rich old men.

    However, I do believe it may be a good lens for videographers?

    • Ronan

      Yes, once you have them converted for that.

      Double (sometimes triple) the price you pay for the Zeiss to get a video-ready version of one.

  • rwcs

    Hi Admin,

    I would like to see a comparation between Nikon AFS 35mm f/1.4 vs Zeiss 35mm f/1.4…..

    • I wanted to do a comparison, but this Zeiss lens was delayed for 3 months and I could not get the timing to have both lenses in my hands at the same time.

  • here you go guys samples on flickr.

  • ok, here are some samples from today at lunch time.

  • Nothing is like the nikkor. I am a fan! If you’ll spend this amount of money at least you should buy a Nikkor for you Nikon!

    • TC

      lol …maybe you could just pretend you have a clue.
      Its because its nothing alike …thats the whole point.

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