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Zeiss ZM 50mm f/1.5 C-Sonnar T*

The Zeiss ZM 50mm f/1.5 C-Sonnar (about $1117) is a classic alternative to the 50mm f/2 Planar.

The 50/1.5 C-Sonnar is a classic design favored by some for portraits and its dreamy look when shot in the f/1.5 - f/2 range, as well as its classic (historical) look long appreciated in photography.

The compact design is characterized by uncorrected spherical aberration resulting in some focus shift, as well as wave-type field curvature. This is not a lens to look technically excellent, but rather one that offers unsual artistic qualities.

Use if this lens must be learned: its focusing characteristics (eg focus shift) can result in soft images if not understood! Get it only if you understand these issues; it’s an artists lens that takes some skill and appreciation to use well.

Image quality

Not yet tested.

MTF charts suggest that this lens offers significant focus shift and field curvature: expect a dreamy look at f/1.5, and be sure to understand focus shift, which is discussed in more detail in DAP.

The T* coatings and 6 elements promise outstanding flare control.

Specifications

Per Zeiss. See the datasheet.

Zeiss ZM 50mm f/1.5 C-Sonnar
Focal length: 50mm
Aperture scale: f/1.5 - f/16, 1/3 stops
Focusing range: 0.9m - infinity
Angular field, diag./horiz. 45.7°/38.4°
Coverage at close range: 37 cm x 55 cm
Image ratio at close range:            1:15
Number of elements/groups: 6 elements in 4 groups
Filter thread: M 46 x 0.75
Weight: 250g
Dimensions (with caps): ø 56 mm, length 63 mm

Distortion

The wave distortion is mostly pincushion, reversing to barrel distortion near frame edges.

However, the total distortion is only about 0.5%, unsually low for a 50mm lens, and thus likely to go unnoticed with the majority of images.

Distortion of the Zeiss ZM 50mm f/1.5 C-Sonnar

Conclusions

Not yet tested.

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