New for Photokina: Zeiss Distagon T* 55mm f/1.4 ZF.2 lens

Zeiss will announce a new Distagon 55mm f/1.4 ZF.2 lens (Nikon mount) at Photokina. The lens will be available for sale in the second half of 2013. Zeiss already has two 50mm lenses in their lineup: Planar T* 50mm F/1.4 ZF.2 and Makro-Planar T* 50mm f/2 ZF.2 (check this comparison of seven 50mm prime lenses for Nikon F-mount).

The company also announced plans to produce lenses for mirrorless cameras. No other details were given at that point - it will be interesting to see if Nikon 1 will be included.

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  • Ben

    If the 50mm f/2 is $1300 how much is the f/1.4 going to be???

    • karl

      $2600 of course – it captures twice the amount of light, you know…

      • Wilson

        I don’t understand the sizeof this lens.. 82mm filter thread compared to the current nikon mount 50mm 1.4 zeiss lens’ filter size Of 58mm.. Im Sure zeiss has their reasons and personally I would love to see this lens but it seems like theres something missing here, that could potentially make the price very high, if this is AF and under $900 I would love to have it.

        • Sky

          That’s what you are missing here.

    • MJr

      It seems you’ve missed something, the 50/1.4 is here already and it’s the cheapest ZF lens in their line-up. Unlike the F2 Macro version.

      This 55mm is going to be something different …

      • karl

        well, but the 50mm is in fact only a f2.8 lens… at least according to slrgear….

        • Worminator


        • Sky

          What, SLR gear posted another idiotic statement?
          well… good I don’t visit their website for quite some time already.

      • Roger

        This is Distagon, wide angle lens. This lens will have larger image circle than needed, this is medium format wide angle lens in F-mount.

  • T.I.M

    difficult to focus manualy at f/1.4

    • zebrazebra

      yes, but its gonna be possible to choose smaller apurtere..
      the 55-1.4 will be far more easy to focus @ 2.8 than a lens with a biggest apurtere of 2.8 @ 2.8..
      and if you know what you are doing its no big deal to manually focus @ 1.4.. that depends on the objekt, the camera and the light of course…

      • T.I.M

        Unfortunatelly, I does not work that way, you can’t count on the d.o.f to correct a miss focusing.

        If it’s not perfectly in focus at f/1.4, your picture will not be good at f/2.8

        That’s why manual focus lenses are so hard to use, and the digital cameras viewfinder does not have an image split or microprismes as the old films cameras had.

        You can try it yourself, take a picture at your lens’s larger aperture with autofocus, and then take the same picture in manual focus, you will see the difference

        • Regular

          Serious photographers upgrading the focusing screen of their camera.
          Canon is selling many types of screens with stigmometer / micro prisms / grids / etc
          Nikon certainly does the same.

          • Sahaja


            Unfortunately Nikon no longer “does the same”. However you can get replacement screens for some cameras from KatzEye and other companies. The D800 screen is apparently very difficult to replace and I’m not sure if there are any available for that camera.

            I wish Nikon would go back to making interchangeable focusing screens.

        • Marc W.

          Maybe I’m not understanding the problem with manually focusing at full 1.4 aperture. Are you saying that a f/1.4 lens is harder to manually focus than a f/2.8 lens?

          Or are you saying manually focusing a f/1.4 lens and SHOOTING at f/1.4 is harder. =/

          • Spy Black

            Manually focusing with DSLRs is difficult because there are no manual focusing aids like split image/microprism screens for any except I think the top of the line Nikon cameras.

            Manual focusing is further aggravated in DX cameras by virtue of their smaller viewfinders. Even though I have a KatzEye split image/microprism screen in my D5100 (which certainly helps), focusing with a 50mm or shorter optic is difficult (longer optics are relatively straightforward).

            Using the same lenses on my old F and F2 film cameras I have no problems focusing.

            • Mike

              Derp. Manually focussing is a snap if you practice. Im tired of hearing people moan about difficulties with MF lenses. Practice a little and things like portraiture with fast glass is significantly easier with MF lenes with great focus throw than you’ll ever get with AF.

            • Worminator

              The F1.4’s are tough to manually focus. Three reasons:

              1. F1.4 is that much narrower DOF, so it is more prone to error.

              2. These ultrawides tend to shift the focus plane slightly depending on aperture. This leads to error unless you stop down to focus.

              3. Finally, modern microlens screens don’t “see” apertures lower than F2.8 or so apparently, so you are essentially focusing at F2.8 even when the photo you take is at F1.4. Combined with 1 and especially 2 above, its mostly guesswork and trial and error.

              I did extensive testing of this with the ZF 50/1.4. It’s really freaky. At F1.4 the photo and viewfinder are simply not showing the same thing.

            • Marc W.

              Worminator, But isn’t that if you actually SHOOT at f/1.4.

            • Worminator


              Yes. Even by f/2 there’s essentially no difficulty. But if you never wanted to shoot at f/1.4, why would you suffer the expense of an f/1.4 lens?

              All I wanted to point out was that the 50/1.4 and 85/1.4 do have a real drawback on modern dSLRs because it is so hard to make use of the largest aperture setting. Nice lenses, though. The 50/1.4 is a real favorite of mine.

            • Dave

              The focus confirmation flash on my 5D2 had to be adjusted by +10 the get a sharp photo @1.4 from my ZE 1.4/50. Adjust with C.FnIII/2:/Info, even if this is a NR-site :-). Without this adjustment, the hitrate was a bit frustrating. But now this lens shines at all apertures and all distances.

    • Sahaja

      Actually it should be easier to focus with a fast lens – and when cameras had real ground glass screens it was. In fact one of the reasons people used to buy fast lenses for cameras like the F2, that had those screens, was because they used to appear to snap into focus due to the narrow DOF.

      Unfortunately modern plastic “bright” screens that have tiny prisms are optimized for something like f2.8 and if you shoot wider than that you are guessing – since they show no real difference in DOF from f2.8.

      Having a split image element helps a great deal – but modern DSLR screens lack that too.

      I wish Nikon would go back to making interchangeable screens and that the focus points in Nikon cameras would light-up when manually focusing. The green LED ►●◄ “digital rangefinder” helps, but you have to take your eye off the subject to use it.

      Still a fast lens should be easier to manually focus than a slower one when using live view – especially if you are focusing wide open but stopping down to take the picture.

      • Pablo Ricasso

        Probably too late, but I’ve been hearing about “Screens don’t see beyond 2.8.” a bunch of times and I can’t understand how that is.
        Does the camera hold the aperture down to 2.8 when the lens is idle. If not, I would think that at least the depth of field would be apparent, if not the brightness. It may be beyond everyone’s ability, but I wish someone could explain how this is…

  • The interesting thing is the new look of the lens. Is it metal or polycarbonate?

    • PeterO

      Gear is gear, but this is gorgeous from a design point of view. I miss all my Zeiss lenses from film days.

  • Camaman

    1. And “Distagon” means what?

    2. Where’s the aperture ring?

    3. It looks like a Sony.

    • John M
      • robjons

        “Difference between Planar and Distagon” …my question exactly, thanks for the link but I couldn’t quite stay awake through the explanation.

        got a simpler explanation?

        • cpm5280

          if you don’t want to learn, don’t ask. If you’re not willing to read it, then relax and treat them as product labels and move on.

    • Craig

      No, the Sony looks like a Zeiss.

    • rich

      This is an unique looking lens, like a bell curve in a way.

      Sony sonnar are made by carl zesis so it does have that look. Just orabably too expensive for me without aF. Can get a samgyang for like a few hundreds.

    • But I still don’t understand the difference between Planar and Distagon is. Ok, optical formulas are one thing, but not what it means to the image.

      • John M

        Generally speaking, and this is a broad generalization, Planar is sharper wide open and Distagon is sharper when stopped down. The differences are mostly in the corners.

      • Roger

        Distagon is Zeiss term for retrofocus wide angle lens.

        This is a completely different lens than 50/1.4 Planar, this is a medium format lens for 35mm cameras.

    • MoSHa

      2. Where’s the aperture ring?

      Picture shows the Canon version?

      • Marc W.

        A ZF.2 Canon mount?

        • Ant

          No, its there Marc, the press is pretty clear that the ZF version has an aperture ring …even if its that fiddly after-thought ring they already put on them. Also a requirement for many cine users. So no worry, the Nikon versions will all have manual aperture.

  • JT

    This looked like an auto focus zeiss lens!!!! . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . I wish. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    • Andy

      This must be an AF lens with the new exterior design. Otherwise I don’t see the point.

      • JT

        Really hope it’s a AF lens. But it will cost a bomb with the AF motor, at least $300 more for being a AF lens, and $500 more for having larger aperture. So, it will be $800 more than the 50mm f/2 makro. o.O

        • Greger

          Why would it be 800 more than the macro? This is not a macro lens, numb-scull.

  • Kede

    Very strange. Looks like a AF system but I’m pretty sure it’s not. Distagon for a 55mm, strange to. Very interesting. I want to know more about it!

  • fiatlux

    My understanding is that this 55mm 1,4 is going to be part of a new premium lenses range , available by the end of 2013, not 2012. From the name of it (Distagon), it could be a scaled-down retrofocus medium format lens design.

    The lens that could be available by the end of the year is a moderate telephoto lens, which could be a 85mm f/2, a 135mm or a 180mm lens. Moderate is all relative.

    • Mc. Boulder

      I quote from the article: “The lens will be available in stores by the end of the year.”

      • Rain Man

        It’s highly unlike that the new 55/1.4 fits to the description. They actually refer to “a new moderate telephoto lens for SLR” and will most likely to be the 135/2.

    • Kit HB

      I was thinking scaled-down MF lens too.

      Possibly an apochromatic lens? (corrects colour dispersion at three wavelengths not the usual two and does away with chromatic aberrations).

      – would justify becoming a “premium” series to put Zeiss back above Nikon and Canon and perhaps even make the magnificent Leica S2 lenses look even more pricey.

  • Shawn

    Would they hurry up and start selling the 15mm already?

    • Owen

      I think it has been released for the most part… Maybe only in limited quantities.

      • Shawn

        Seen one?
        NYC Discount shops are still saying pre-order, new item.

  • Nathan

    82mm filters? That lens is enormous!

    I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m saddened by the fact that lenses keep it getting larger and larger. The latest Nikon G series lenses are huge. The new Sony lenses for the NEX series? They dwarf the body. It’s odd when you consider that we’re seeing a trend in smaller bodies with mirrorless systems. Even the rumored D600 is supposed to be quite small for what you’re getting.

    • sloma_p

      With front element this large, it could be 1.2 or even 0.95 lens – yet it’s “only” 1.4, so expect excellent performance in the corners…

      • Don’t. One thing zeiss have never worried about is corner performance – that is, until stopped down. It’s part of that 3D pop thing and I love it.

    • Anonymous Maximus


    • True. That’s why I’m getting more and more interested in the Fuji system…

    • asdf

      Ah. More cry babies.

  • Anonymous Maximus

    Already having a Nikkor 50mm, I have zero interest for this lens. Zeiss vs Nikkor difference is minor, especially in digital era.

    • it is true for 99% of lenses, but nikon’s 50 is tragical

      • Pablo Ricasso

        Which one and in what way?
        Be very specific if it’s not one of the AFS. They changed them more times than I can remember.

      • babola

        Very off-the-hip comment.

        Not true at all.

        If you’re referring to older AF-S 50mm 1.4 then kind-of, if referring to the newer f/1.8 this one is as as good as the nifty-fifty can be these days, just about flawless for the $$.

    • cpm5280

      Zeiss glass can be magical. Don’t agree, that’s fine…more for us.

  • Owen

    Great… Just as I’m about to have enough money saved to buy the 15mm 2.8, they’re going to release another gem…. And the cycle continues.

  • Anonymous Maximus

    Nikon, Sigma or Voigtlander must have a compact & rectilinear FX 16mm that can take filter. Btw, Zeiss brand is too expensive.

    • Owen

      Yes, they do… But the overall image and build quality of zeiss lenses is unsurpassed. I’ve used Nikon, Sigma and Zeiss, and theres a notable difference.

      Zeiss lenses just feel different and more special both in the hands and behind the camera. As primarily a landscape photographer, They’re a pleasure to use and produce amazing photographs… These are lenses you’ll have and want to use for a lifetime.

      • unsurpased? this you can say about schneider, some leica and maybe few high end nikkors and other but zeiss? no, some of them are good, but not good enough to make any image different.

        • Indeed. Maybe only today can people consider Zeiss build good. But evey Zeiss I have manufactured for ZF or ZF2 mount pales in front of Nikon’s Ai mount lenses that are often much cheaper.

          Today, Zeiss are made of metal, yes, but have marks of imprecision especially in the quite embarrassing aperture section that older Nikkors simply didn’t have. Cosina, who put them together, have the same problems with their cheap Voigtlanders.

        • babola

          +1 re Zeiss lens. Pretty much the same can be said for Schneider-Kreuznach.

          The problem these days is majority is of belief if it’s Made in Germany or sounds exotic it must be better than those omnipresent Japan-made lenses.

          • Mike

            You guys sound like you’ve never shot with ZF.2 glass. And this from someone who’s owned many AI and AIs Nikkors as well as a number of Nikkor exotic telephotos. Pick up a 100mm f2 Macro -Planar and tell me its not on par with any offering available for a Nikon body.

            • Mike

              And Zeiss glass is made in Japan.

            • I have the ZF version. It simply isn’t made with the same car as the 100/2,5 AiS version Nikkor I have. The glass quality is better, yes, but the mechanics are a full step down. Feel the aperture ring: loosey goosey and the blades go out of shape ala a cheap Nikkor 35/1,8 DX. For a lens that costs as much as it does, its build is poor – considering it is supposed to be made to ‘Zeiss’ standards.

              My 105/2,5 for LTM is even better than the 105/2,5 AiS. Now, the Zeiss is a step up from modern Nikkors, but it simply doesn’t stand up to the legends.

  • Pablo Ricasso

    Well, from what the photo rumors site translates, this is said to be the closest thing you can get to medium format without actually doing it.
    Based on the size of that thing and the said price, I’d say that it had better be…
    I’d guess that light fall off is almost non existent and that wide open performance is better than any exiting 50 f1.4 or 1.2 at the same aperture. I suppose this is the perfect thing to have on a D800. I note they are making it for Canon but it didn’t say anything about Sony.

  • T.I.M

    I’ll pass and wait for the new Nikkor Af-s 50mm f/1.2 ED NC

    • oL’B

      Has Nikon filed a patent for it? or is this just hopes and dreams 😉

  • Lothar

    Another Zeiss waiting to sit and gather dust on a lens collector’s shelf

  • Ajabani Belonduwaji

    I find it’s so much better to stick with Nikon lenses and ignore these third party lenses.

  • Camaman


    This is a reversed telephoto lens, consisting of a large negative lens in front of an ordinary lens. This allows it to obtain a short overall focal length with elements of a larger and more manageable size, helps design a system that is favorable for both high relative aperture and wild-angular field, and increased the back focal distance beyond it’s usual magnitude, which give space for the mirror of a SLR. The downsides are that is must be physically large, and of complex construction to correct all the aberrations, making the lens more expensive to produce. Reversed telephoto designs are rarely over 2 inches in focal length, and then it is only used for specific applications. Compared to the Biogon, it has a larger circle of illumination full aperture, though softer when wide open, though it is sharper when stopped down. Rear element does not interfere with mirrors in SLR’s

    Looks like something you would would want for an SLR…
    This lens must be a first AF lens for Nikon mount or something.
    No point in Distagon 55mm for CSC… Planar would be a better choice.

  • oL’B

    Very noobish question here, what does ZF.2 stand for? (pretty new to Zeiss terminology) is it the mount?

    • oL’B

      ignore that ^^ I figured it out

  • nobody

    Something’s fishy here.

    Why would a standard lens be a Distagon, i.e. a wide angle lens design?

    Why would a 55mm f1.4 need an 82mm filter thread?

    And if this is the first lens of an all new line of AF lenses, why would this new line of lenses have the same ZF.2 designation as the well known line of MF lenses?

    I may be wrong in the end, but I’m not sure this is legit for now.

    • hmm

      I thought ZF.2 just mean Zeiss, F-mount version 2(with cpu) ??? It has nothing to do with MF or AF.

      • Worminator

        ZF was AI-S, ZF.2 was AI-P. If this was an AF lens it would conform to AF, AF-D or AF-S standard so it would make sense for it to NOT have the ZF.2 designation. Though Cosina can of course brand it however the heck they want…

    • fjfjjj


      So many inane comments, and everyone misses the bizarre fact that this is a non-wide-angle Distagon. What the heck is going on here?

      Zeiss definitely seems to be interested in innovating the Distagon design in this new direction. The 24mm f/1.8 for NEX is likewise enormous.

      • Roger

        55mm Distagon = medium format wide angle lens. This is medium format lens in a ZF mount.

  • John

    Either most of you can not read or you are idiots. Read the link to the Photo Rumors description. If you still can’t figure it out after reading it all then this lens is NOT for you, move along.

  • Joaquim Prado

    Ok! But no aperture ring?

    I really like my zeiss distagon!

    • Indeed: no aperture ring is pretty sad as I’m sure this would work (if not look) great on older F’s. And my D200 no longer can use on-camera aperture control, so no go for this old beast.

      • This photo is the Canon mount …are you that thick

        • Marc W.

          That would be 100% true, if the front said “ZE”.

        • Thick indeed.

          • Ant

            Its a prototype pic. All the Zeiss owners already know the ZF.2 versions will have aperture rings. The problem with having you and Harold trolling every single Zeiss thread everywhere is that you misinform and then some.

            Even the MOST OBVIOUS that its the Nikon lenses that adapt to Canon, NEX, Olympus and Fuji and its because of this aperture ring but you didnt even think of this …and the point is how could you …when you dont even know.

            So its having Trolls and not missing an aperture ring that is the problem here (and elsewhere). I wish you two would knock it off.

    • EnPassant

      What I can see the lens has an Ai-cam, which means it will have an aperture ring, that just is not visiable from this angle because the thickness of the lens compared to the mount.

      • Indeed, you are right. I was thinking that it must just be the angle, but I fell in with the believing crowd.

        • Ant

          Troll indeed.

          Cant wait for Harold to give a half page summation of his views on this lens, really looking forward to that. You guys make for great reading even if the facts are absent.

  • Ronbo

    That’s all we need is another expensive manual focus 50mm lens. If this was an AF version that would be news.

  • Aris

    This absolutely looks like an AF lens, with a fatter body for the AFS motor. I bet a 6 pack of best Belgian beer. Barrel design cues remind of the NEX 24 f1.8 and Sony Alpha CZ. They are going AF on us. And….that would be great news.

    • Worminator

      Beer or no beer, this was my conclusion also. Both by the photo, and by the fact that there is no point releasing a manual focus 55/1.4 if you sell a manual focus 50/1.4 already.

      Considering they have the designs already in Sony mount, it’s about time really. Perhaps a exclusivity agreement has run out?

      • Worminator

        My bad. Press release clearly says “manual focus”

        A must-see attraction is a high-performance, full-format SLR camera lens with manual focus. With a focal length of 55 mm and aperture of f/1.4, this lens is the first model of a new product family designed for demanding users. Thanks to a newly developed optical design, this lens is superior to conventional full-frame lenses, and it achieves with powerful full-frame, full-format cameras an image performance that until now has only been seen with medium-format systems. The first pro- totype of this new range will celebrate its world debut at photokina. The family of lenses is ex- pected to be on the market in the second half of 2013 for EF bayonet (ZE) and F bayonet (ZF.2).


  • G Davidson

    It’s too bad it’s manual focus on a type of camera that’s hard to focus a bright lens manually on. The format is crying out for lenses of supreme quality, though, with cameras like the D800 offering so much resolution.

    I’m hoping there isn’t some agreement with Sony that prevents them making AF lenses for other DSLR brands.

  • Gordon

    A 55mm Distagon is interesting. In theory it should have less spherical aberration than a Planar so the potential exists for simpler distortion. It will be substantially more expensive, however if it works as expected it should be a popular lens for its price.

  • Ronbo

    At least the upcoming Zeiss Mirrorless lenses will be AF. If the pricing is good those will probably sell well.

  • 1) Am I wrong or it looks like it has an incorporated hood?
    2) Distagon instead than Planar – this is interesting: maybe they are retrofitting MF lenses for FF use ???
    3) 82mm filter size: maybe they want to achieve a superior blur / bokeh effect like the Sigma (which is said to have a better rendition due to the huge front lens – I can’t remember the name of this effect but I guess it’s something that has also to do with binoculars)

  • I think you guys are missing the point. This is the first ZF.2 AF lens. Look at the design. I can’t speak for why the lens is THAT much larger, but I have confirmed sources that this will be an AF lens. Look at it, it looks nothing like other ZF.2 lenses… EF mount to come soon as well.

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