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Carl Zeiss announces ZE 35mm f/2 Distagon for Canon EOS

Following closely on the heels of the ZE 18/3.5 Distagon, the ZE 21/2.8 Distagon and the ZE 28/2 Distagon, Carl Zeiss today announced the ZE 35mm f/2 T* Distagon [datasheet]. Like all the ZE lenses for Canon EOS, the mount is electronic, with full aperture control and “green dot” focus assist as with any Canon EF lens (manual focus of course). The ZE and ZF versions are optically identical.

Zeiss ZE 35mm f/2 Distagon T* (Canon EOS mount)

Worth noting is the 1:5.3 reproduction ratio, which allows near-macro shooting. While not true macro, a ratio of ~1:5.3 is very close, and that makes for great creativity with close-ups, extending the versatility of the lens.

The ZF and ZE line are also very well suited to videography because of very high image quality wide open, excellent manual focus feel, and minimal “breathing”. Distortion is modest, and a straightforward barrel variety, unlike the “wave” distortion of some of the wider angle Distagons.

Wide open performance is very high across the field even wide open. Sharpness holds well across the field, with only the far corners dropping off. Stopping down to f/4 bumps contrast up nicely. My field shooting over the years suggests that f/2 is very good, f/2.8 excellent, and f/4 about as good as it’s going to get.

Zeiss ZE 35mm f/2 Distagon MTF at f/2
Zeiss ZE 35mm f/2 Distagon MTF at f/4


As documented in Guide to Zeiss ZF/ZE Lenses, the 35/2 Distagon is an outstanding performer. It’s not perfect, but it makes awfully nice images, and it was a long-time favorite of mine on the 1.3X sensor of the Canon 1D Mark III. I’ll be covering the ZE 35/2 Distagon in the coming weeks, including new sample images.

Someone felt like being creative with the press release. I’m not quite sure how a 35mm lens is going to work for a deer or a squirrel, but I’m game for the lens.

Thornwood, NY – A squirrel nimbly scampers along a moss-covered tree trunk. It has made a promising discovery amongst the fallen leaves of an oak tree. A deer emerges from the half darkness of the woods. A photographer documents the winter preparations of various woodland creatures. This requires a versatile, high-speed, easy to use lens that produces razor-sharp images of the details and the entire scenery.
   Optical expert Carl Zeiss has now added an EF bayonet to its proven lens for photographic reporting: the Distagon T* 2/35 ZE. The high-speed, moderate wide-angle Distagon T* 2/35 ZE fits all analog and digital EOS cameras. Its classic 35 mm focal length is particularly well-suited for advertising, travel and nature photography as it captures dynamic perspectives with high depth of focus and few distortions. With a moderate wide angle of 53 degrees (horizontal), the Distagon T* 2/35 ZE can easily capture wide scenery without forcing photographers to consider perspective effects as design elements as they would have to with shorter focal lengths. The relatively short angle of rotation of the precision focusing mechanism enables fast but precise focusing when required.
    For the growing number of photographers and videographers using DSLR’s for movie making, the Distagon T* 2/35 ZE is one of four prime lenses making a core set, joining the Distagon T* 2/28 ZE, Planar T* 1.4/50 ZE and Planar T* 1.4/85 ZE. These lenses are well suited for HD video applications due not only to their exceptional image quality, but for the smooth focus and long focus rotations.
    The Distagon T* 2/35 ZE features high image quality for the entire aperture and focusing range. Thanks to its sophisticated optical design in which nine lens elements are perfectly aligned, it permits particularly high imaging performance across the entire image field.
    When a tripod is not available, the fast f/2 aperture allows easily handling under low light, making perfect pictures possible even under difficult lighting conditions. Thanks to its special optical design and the Zeiss T* anti-reflection coating, this lens captures bright light sources without artifacts. The Distagon T* 2/35 is also perfect on-the-go thanks to its all-metal and extremely durable precision mechanics for which Carl Zeiss lenses are well-known.
    This is ZEISS’ fourth wide-angle lens with an EF bayonet (ZE mount). It follows the recent introduction of the two ultra-wide-angle Distagon T* 3,5/18 ZE and Distagon T* 2,8/21 ZE lenses, as well as the moderate wide-angle Distagon T* 2/28 ZE.
The Distagon T* 2/35 ZE will begin shipping on November 16th for a suggested retail price of $870. For more information, visit

Technical specifications:
Focal length: 35mm
Aperture range: f/2 - f/22
Number of elements/groups: 9/7
Focusing range: 0.3m – infinity
Angular field (diag./horiz./vert.): 62/53/37°
Coverage at close range: 19 X 13cm
Image ratio at close range: 1:5.3
Filter thread: M58 x 0.75
Weight: 570g
Mounts: ZF (Nikon), ZE (Canon EOS), ZK (Pentax), ZS
Lens hood included
Zeiss ZE 35mm f/2 Distagon T*, front
Zeiss ZE 35mm f/2 Distagon T*, rear: fully electronic
Zeiss ZE 35mmc f/2 Distagon T*, optical design
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