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Mini Review: Zeiss ZF/ZE 100mm f/2 Makro-Planar

Related: Canon, Nikon, Zeiss DSLR Lenses, Zeiss
Last updated January 12, 2010 - Send Feedback
Mini review of Zeiss 21mm f/2.8 Distagon

The Zeiss 100mm f/2 Makro Planar with ARRI optics is a world-class must-have lens offering bitingly sharp images wide open across the entire frame, with exceptionally beautiful background blur.

The f/2 maximum aperture is unique among ~100mm macro lenses, and the way in which the sharpness-to-blur gradient changes has to be seen to be appreciated— it’s unique. This lens is a classic. Outstanding flare control and color rendition.

Relatively heavy but of moderate size, the 100mm Makro Planar offers exceptional build quality consistent with its siblings. Its build quality and silky-smooth focusing helicoid distinguish the Makro-Planar immediately from autofocus lenses from Canon or Nikon. The focusing helicoid offers considerable “throw” and thus offers great focusing precision for close-ups. It is exceptionally easy to focus accurately.

The Zeiss 100mm Makro-Planar exhibits some of most beautiful background blur available today, a conclusion over which there is little dispute among those who own it. The combination of its world-class optical performance combined with its beautiful bokeh is a combination that offers stunning “3D” image rendition. Macro and portrait photographers should consider this a “must have” lens, but it’s equally excellent for distance shooting.

The Zeiss Makro-Planar is all but free of distortion, this 0.2% or so is “distortion free” even in a world where both Leica and Zeiss call a much greater 1% distortion unobservable by the human eye (which is untrue of course).

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Canon and Nikon and Pentax versions are optically identical

Specifications for Zeiss ZF/ZE 100mm f/2 Makro-Planar
Focal length: 97.5mm
Aperture scale: f/ 2 – f/22 (1/2 stop clicks)
Focusing range: 0.44m – infinity
Angular field, diag./horiz./vert.: 25 / 20 / 9°
Coverage at close range: 48 X 72 mm
Image ratio at close range:            1:2
Number of elements/groups: 9 / 8
Filter thread: M 67 X 0.75

As weighed: 583g, 661g with hood and caps

Dimensions (with caps): 76mm, 89mm long
List price: $1843 street price

Zeiss 100mm f/2 Makro-Planar distortion

The distortion is about as low as it gets. This lens is effectively distortion-free, rendering exceptionally natural-looking images.

Distortion — Zeiss 100mm f/2 Makro-Planar
Distortion — Zeiss 100mm f/2 Makro-Planar


You can shoot a lot more than flowers with this lens, because it’s fantastic at any distance.

Sunflowers — Zeiss 100/2 Makro-Planar
Sunflowers — Zeiss 100/2 Makro-Planar (multiple exposure)
Sunflowers — Zeiss 100/2 Makro-Planar
Rose — Zeiss 100/2 Makro-Planar
Zucchini flower — Zeiss 100/2 Makro-Planar
Zucchini flower — Zeiss 100/2 Makro-Planar
Sunflowers — Zeiss 100/2 Makro-Planar
Flowers — Zeiss 100/2 Makro-Planar

The 100/2 Makro-Planar is a very strong performer at infinity, even though it is a macro lens.

Saddlebag Lake — Zeiss 100/2 Makro-Planar
Saddlebag Lake — Zeiss 100/2 Makro-Planar

The Zeiss 100/2 Makro-Planar offers high resistance to flare. This image sums it up nicely, showing outstanding image contrast with no observable veiling flare and only a few small internal reflections that are barely visible.

Sunrise in Tenaya canyon — Zeiss 100/2 Makro-Planar
Sunrise in Tenaya canyon — Zeiss 100/2 Makro-Planar


It’s my reference lens! There are few lenses that deliver the results that the 100/2 Makro-Planar can.

You can get the 100/2 Distagon at B&H Photo for Canon or Nikon (Feb 2010 for ZF.2 and ZE model).

Learn more

Guide to Zeiss ZF/ZE lensesFor in-depth coverage to these Zeiss lenses for Nikon and Canon, please subscribe to our Guide to Zeiss ZF/ZE Lenses.

The Guide has numerous examples at much higher resolution, along with actual-pixels crops for each and every lens, in most cases several pages of examples per lens.

New material is constantly being added to the Guide, so don't wait, subscribe now!

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