I’ve nearly finished my Zeiss ZF lens review. What I thought would take two months has taken six months instead! I’ve learned more than I ever have before about lens behavior, and I have to say I’m very impressed with the ZF line—grant the ZF lenses some time and patience to learn their unique qualities, and they will reward you with gorgeous results time after time. That’s not to say I didn’t lose some hair along the way, but readers of my review can fast forward their learning process by many months, and continue paying the barber.
When I first used the Zeiss ZF 25mm f/2.8 Distagon, it presented various minor optical shortcomings that induced me to avoid using it (as a sort of knee-jerk reaction). But to my surprise, the 25 Distagon has become one of my favorite lenses because of its unusual rendering, and the especially artistic way it “draws” at close range (every lens renders the world differently—don’t waste your time on by-the-numbers lens reviews by clueless morons).
The 25 Distagon has the “problems” of strong vignetting and curvature of field wide open, but beautiful image rendition. Combine all three attributes appropriately and you will be rewarded. How could I not take yet another test shot of my wife’s beautiful arrangement of succulent plants? Perhaps the composition needs work, but the 25 Distagon has done a beautiful job here, shot wide-open at f/2.8 (though the JPEG compression hasn’t done the image any favors). Click to see it larger.
Zeiss ZF 25/2.8 Distagon + Canon EOS 1D Mark III, handheld @ f/2.8
If you are intrigued and want to start with one moderately-priced all-purpose Zeiss ZF lens, I recommend trying the ZF 35/2 Distagon. If you want something world-class, try the ZF 100/2 Makro-Planar. B&H Photo has all of the ZF line in stock (B&H is a recommended vendor)—search for “Zeiss ZF”. For more on the ZF line see the previous comments. Though the ZF line is Nikon mount, they can be used with an adapter on Canon (I use the CameraQuest.com ones).