Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 1.4/55 lens: “the best fast 50mm ever”

Just in case you missed today's post on Carl Zeiss published a new video for their upcoming Distagon T* 1.4/55 lens which they claim to be "the best fast 50mm ever" (see this comparison of seven different lenses for Nikon mount). The Distagon T* 55mm f/1.4 lens is part of a new line of DSLR lenses designed for high resolution DSLR cameras like the D800/D800E. The new lens is expected to start shipping in the second half of the year (probably around September) with a price tag around 3,000 EUR. Few sample images taken with the lens can be found here.

Carl Zeiss also has plans for new high-end 85mm and a wide angle f/1.4 lenses (fast forward to the 1:15 mark of the video below):

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  • dps

    Maybe the first? Nice lens…

  • peteee363

    I’m a retard who will spend countless hours talking about my gear because people like fast lenses and I do not.


    3000$ ???
    Well , Zeiss is getting REALLY WELL with the spirit of world wide crisis !

    • Reality check.
      The target market for this is the ‘upper class’ and they’re doing better than ever. Ever wonder where all that money went from 2007/2008 – and there’s been no arrests?
      The money didn’t just disappear.

      • Ant

        NR should have an age limit for posting. This lens is for commercial users, you know …working photographers that have their own quality requirements that they charge their customers for and assign their equipment purchases to the ledger as a cost to do business …

  • CardiacKid78

    Interesting that Zeiss’ DSLR of choice is a D800. They tried to cover it up with gaff tape, but it’s obviously a D800.

  • dan

    that shit is ginormous

  • I applaud Zeiss for this effort, I would argue that at this point the primary difference between medium format and 35mm is lens quality. However, I really wish that they could find a way to implement auto-focus in these new lenses. Shooting at f/1.4 for optimum sharpness will new require a tripod, which eliminates many photographic implementations. Just try to nail focus hand-held at 1.4, it’s nearly impossible.

    I’m very excited to see how this lens performs at f/4 in studio situations as well.

    • Rui Nelson Carneiro

      A simple 50/1.8G will perform spectacular at f/4 in question of sharpness, contrast, aberrations, vignetting, distortion, distortion of focus plane, etc. etc. etc.

      • dro_ID

        Yes, but you buy an f/1.4 to use the light. It is useless to buy a fast lens like f/1.4 or f/1.8 and use it at f/4. Try to shot something inside a church at f/4…

        • Rui Nelson Carneiro

          Yes, that’s the point.

          If you can do the photo at f/4, you don’t need a lens more expensive (and worse) than a good 50/1.8

  • Guest

    $3000 ? I’ll take 2 !

  • Rui Nelson Carneiro

    They won’t do better than our little 58mm f/1.2 Noct-Nikkor… meh

    • Ant

      you dont have a clue let alone a noct.

  • Starfires

    Except of course it’s a 55mm lens, so I’m not sure why they say that and a bit of an uncomfortable length to use. I also really wish they could get AF working for their bright lenses.

    • Remedy

      They DO HAVE AF working on their lenses…. You might wanna check their lineup for Sony and even in the video they mentioned this new NEX lens gonna be AF. Living under a rock much? It’s probably some deal with Sony for AF exclusivity.

      • Starfires

        Well yes I do know about the Sony lenses, but I’m taking about ones like this. Generally their Sony lenses, according to reviews I’ve read, aren’t their best ones either. Seeing as Sigma, Tamron and Tokina can manage it for various mounts, you’d think CZ would too?
        Actually the reason they gave when asked is not Sony exclusivity, but legal restrictions. Look, at the end of the day these lenses are handicapped compared to AF ones. It’s not like a rangefinder where MF is easy and responsive. If you are a Sony user or can handle the MF accurately more power to you!

    • A. Lurker

      In that ‘length’, 5 mm can make a huge difference in wiggle room for corrections. Familiar with the 58mm f/1.4 Auto-Nikkor? There’s a reason it is 58 and not 50…

  • Cyberthug

    The lens costs more than a new D800.. I would better add a bit and buy 300 2.8

  • Cornholio

    I am very curious which “typical lens” he used for this demonstration !! A pre AI 50 from the 60s or what? I am not saying the Zeiss isn’t
    the best of all but I have a feeling in this film he compared it to
    either a lemon lens, or either a VERY OLD ONE or either a Canon 50mm 1.4
    which we all know stinks wide-open.

    There is no way a modern good 50 like the Nikon 50 1.4G or the Sigma
    could perform that BAD. I have shoot a lot with all and this looks like
    a joke !!

    • ToastyFlake

      Aggreed the pictures with the “conventional lens” look like crap. My phone would take better shots.

  • dnguyen

    Sorry… I’m sure it’s 3,000 euros good, but a little too big and clinical. I’d be happy with any 50mm no matter who manufactures it, and continue being mindful of the light and the subject manner.

    • dnguyen

      I also like my autofocus on DSLRs.

    • dnguyen

      I also like my autofocus on DSLRs.

  • LaurentProulx

    It’s me or at CZ they are better in lens production than video making … I can’t finish the video this was dull …

    This lens look amazing … I want to see independant test ! They seriously compare with an old 35 mm film lens of 1962 … Come on !

  • Richard

    If it cost under $2000 like the 85mm 1.4G, the 35mm f/1.4G or heck even the 24mm 1.4G, I will get one. But manual focus 55mm 1.4 at $3000+USD ….that’s the price of a used 200mm f/2.0 VR or the price of a D800. I love to invest in my lenses such as the 200mm f/2 vr and 300mm 2.8 vr ii, but for a 55mm at that price I find it hard to bite

  • Richard

    If it cost under $2000 like the 85mm 1.4G, the 35mm f/1.4G or heck even the 24mm 1.4G, I will get one. But manual focus 55mm 1.4 at $3000+USD ….that’s the price of a used 200mm f/2.0 VR or the price of a D800. I love to invest in my lenses such as the 200mm f/2 vr and 300mm 2.8 vr ii, but for a 55mm at that price I find it hard to bite

    • Micah Goldstein

      …and the 200/2VR is a stunning lens that is known to be good. This Zeiss 55mm is untested as of yet. I wouldn’t be surprised if it turns out to be quite good. But I would also not be surprised if it doesn’t live up to the hype.

      There are no pics and so far, it hasn’t happened.

  • Micah Goldstein

    That video is just rambling unqualified garbage. Show us a comparison a pixels between this lens and a known lens and then we’ll talk. I can’t believe they go through the whole stupid video calling the lens they’re comparing to a “conventional lens”. What IS that conventional lens?! Is it one of Zeiss’ own conventional lenses? Is it a 50 year old Leica? Is it an FD mount Canon? A Pentax? Minolta? Hassy? Really, it could be anything.

    I think that the reason we haven’t seen anything so far is that it just won’t live up to the hype.

    • Remedy

      Oh cut the crap and just admit that you like to rage about Zeiss because you could never afford one.

      • Micah Goldstein

        Considering I have a couple Mercedes worth tied up in gear, I’m going to have to call bullshit.

        And I don’t hate Zeiss–they make excellent microscopes and M mount lenses, which proves they have some skill with glass. But really, they’ve made a lot of big claims without showing us any proof.

        They talk like they’ve made something that surpasses Coastal’s 60/4, but goes to 11 by being that good at f1.4. That’s quite a claim without anything to show.

        • dro_ID

          you are right! the “conventional” 50mm lens is the worst one form the ’60s…

  • BenHDisqus

    Crud, it’ll be a few months too late for my vacation this summer.

  • NikonGreg

    I’m personally inclined to believe their lense comparison was actually a corner sharpness comparison. They don’t explicitly say this but this is the area in which most lenses, high quality or not, tend to get soft, especially wide open. And the images shown from that test board look to be a lower quadrant closeup.

    As to the size of the lens… I would think the large size is necessary in order to facilitate the added sharpness while minimizing CA. I’m no engineer but it’s a fairly simple concept to understand that the curved front element (more curved for wider lenses), has to bend the entering light progressively more and more as you move away from center (light entering the center should go straight thru to the sensor), in order to have all the light arrive straight on the sensor at the back of the camera. Anyone who has seen a prism at work creating a rainbow of colors (CA) might remember its the bending of light thru a prism (lens) that causes the CA rainbow. So if a designer uses more elements to gradually bend the light, less CA should be one of the results. I think lens size/quality has always been a trade-off for manufacturers who want to supply smaller lenses for demanding customers and to control assembly costs – it is a business after all. Anyone who wants to remember what is possible When cost and size is not a concern should remember the Nikon 16-element 13mm f/5.6 wide angle lens.

  • Roger

    Very excited by this lens.

  • Nitpicker

    the focus ring looks ….weird. and uncomfortable. just a minor nitpick.

    otherwise, aside from being f/1.4 I wonder how this one would compare to the 60mm f/2.8 Micro-Nikkor i use primarily in the studio – and looks absolutely perfect, I think.

    • Kyle

      That one or the Nikkor 55 ai (with clean or oily blades) does similar thing for most prints for under $300 used–who needs to spend that kind of money? And who uses f/1.4 for corporate product shots?

  • Not for me

    Not buying that one. I have no use for focal lengths between 35 and 85 mm.

  • Dick

    Zeiss claims the Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 1.4/55 lens is “the best fast 50mm ever” … and I invite them to compare it with the last batch (SN>1.1M) of the Olympus OM Zuiko Auto-S 1:1.4/50mm. The corners of the Zeiss should be better but the resolution in the center most probably won’t. Oh and have I mentioned that the Zuiko can be bought for $200 (used/mint) – a price tag of around 3,000 EU for the Zeiss is ridiculous.


  • roy

    How come “the best fast 50mm ever” is 55mm?!

  • roy

    Looking at this 55mm one I wonder how bit the 85mm will be?
    Also, will it be 85/1.4 or 90/1.4? as they are calling 55/1.4 as a 50mm lens!

  • Pedro

    Nice results with the lens, but, can someone tell me what’s a “Conventional” 50mm? What a joke.

    • Tony

      that its not a makro, macro or micro.

    • itchypedia

      anything with a double gauss design or variant. canon/takumar/nikon/olympus/zeiss contax/minolta/etc. 50/1.4’s are basically all very similar designs and have very similar operational qualities, including softness at 1.4 and tack sharp at 2.8-4. the 55/1.4 is a fundamentally different optical formula and expected to NOT be soft at 1.4 — that’s a first.

  • peppo sub


  • Mmm

    Лажа какая то. Сравнивают непонятно с чем. Ох уж этот маркетинг

  • Personally, I am looking forward to owning this lens and I hate to have to wait until September. I already own the Zeiss Macro Planar T*/2 100mm ZF.2 and this will be a nice addition along with the other two Zeiss lenses planned in this series. I own a D800 with the holy trinity (14-24, 24-70, 70-200 all f/2.8) plus the 85mm 1.4G. The limitations of this camera right now are the glass that is attached. Nikon is behind the times in building lenses specifically for their own high end cameras. Thanks to Zeiss for recognizing the gap. Spendy yes, but I anticipate it will be worth every penny.

    • Bastard

      You have too much money,and that is all that you have…
      …worth every penny… :-)))))))))))))))))

  • It’ll be funny when Samyang releases one for $400 that beats the Zeiss, like they did with their 35mm f/1.4.

  • Until further notice, the Noctilux 50/0.95 is the world’s current best standard lens. Too bad the M9/M240 are not the best camera bodies for it.

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