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Carl Zeiss announces Zeiss ZE 50mm f/2 and Zeiss ZE 100mm f/2 Makro-Planar for Canon EOS

Carl Zeiss today announced the ZE 50mm f/2 Makro-Planar [datasheet] and ZE 100mm f/2 Makro-Planar [datasheet], for Canon EOS. These lenses follow on the heels of the ZE 18/3.5 Distagon, the ZE 21/2.8 Distagon, the ZE 28/2 Distagon and ZE 35/2 Distagon. Canon users now enjoy the entire line in EOS mount, with the exception of the 25/2.8 Distagon, which will appear in redesigned form next year.

As with 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 50/2 Makro-Planar worked accurately with the Canon EOS “green dot” focus assist in my extensive testing. Also, unlike “fast” f/1.4 designs, there is no focus shift to worry about. I expect the ZE 100/2 Makro-Planar to work equally well, and I will report on that as soon as I have a sample in my hands.

The 50/2 Makro Planar should be available soon in stores, with the 100/2 coming slightly after, see my handy wish list to watch availability, and this blog. When buying, a fresh click on the wish list ensures that this site gets credit (at no cost to you)— thank you.

Zeiss ZE 50mm f/2 Makro-Planar T* (Canon EOS mount)
Zeiss ZE 100mm f/2 Makro-Planar T* (Canon EOS mount)

I consider the Zeiss 100mm f/2 Makro-Planar a world-class lens in terms of sharpness and contrast. Its ultra low distortion and outstanding bokeh are additional features you have to experience to fully understand its remarkable performance. The only nitpick is that it is not an apochromatic lens, but by comparison the Leica 100/2.8 APO does not have the flat field of the Zeiss 100/2 near infinity, so pick your poison!

The Zeiss 50mm f/2 Makro-Planar is an versatile choice for an all-around 50mm lens. An f/2 lens is just fine for so much shooting, without the hassles of f/1.4 focus shift, and the 1;2 macro capability makes the 50mm a go-anywhere lens. Even without the lens shade, its deeply recessed front element is a nice plus, both protecting the optics as well as defeating stray light.

MTF (sharpness with contrast) is exceptional for the 50mm f/2 Makro-Planar to the edges of the frame, though corner performance drops off sharply. However, that is typical for many 50mm designs, and in this case is due mainly to field curvature, not an actual lack of sharpness. Infinity performance is higher in the corners than seen here at 1:10. The 50/2 does have some barrel distortion (not shown), so for strict requirements choose the 100mm f/2 instead.

Zeiss 50mm f/2 Makro-Planar MTF at f/4

MTF (sharpness with contrast) is truly world-class for the 100mm f/2 Makro-Planar, sharp right out to the extreme corners, a theoretical performance I’ve verified many times with a real lens. Performance wide open at f/2 is amazingly high, and combined with its highly unusual and beautiful bokeh, it’s a must-have lens.

Zeiss 100m f/2 Makro-Planar MTF at f/2
Zeiss 100m f/2 Makro-Planar MTF at f/4

It’s unlikely you’ll find any lens with lower distortion than the 100mm f/2 Makro-Planar. This makes it a fantastic choice (also) for high resolution composite images.

Zeiss 100m f/2 Makro-Planar distortion

Below is the official Zeiss press release for the 50/2 and 100/2 Makro-Planars:

Isolate Stunning Details with the New ZEISS Macro Lenses
Carl Zeiss presents the Makro-Planar T* 2/50 and 2/100 for EF bayonet

Thornwood, NY - December 4, 2009. Carl Zeiss has again applied its expertise in lens manufacturing to enable photographers to create wonderfully expressive images. With the introduction of two new macro lenses, the Makro-Planar T* 2/50 and the Makro-Planar T* 2/100, Carl Zeiss expands its existing ZE line of lenses for EF-mount cameras. Owners of EOS camera models can now create detail-rich macro images that allow the effective use of both sharpness and unsharpness to be deployed as creative elements. These fast, versatile lenses are also perfect as standard focal lengths for portraits or still life photography.

Even in tricky lighting situations such as dusk, the Makro-Planar T* 2/50 and T* 2/100 ZE create distortion-free images thanks to their extraordinary fast aperture. Whether capturing an insect resting on a flower or the moisture on a piece of fruit, these lenses allow a degree of sharpness that was hitherto impossible. Even with a maximum aperture opening and a low focal depth, the desired image can be easily isolated from its surroundings.

Both macro lenses render objects in close-up on a scale of 1:2. To enable such detail, these lenses include Carl Zeiss’s acclaimed “floating elements” design. This special lens alignment enables high optical performance across the entire focusing range, from 0.24 m to infinity as in the case of the 2/50 ZE lens. The Makro-Planar T* 2/50 and Makro-Planar T* 2/100 are currently available for F bayonet (ZF) and K bayonet (ZK) cameras. The Makro-Planar T* 2/50 is also available as a ZF.2 version. Both lens systems are optimized for analog and full-format digital SLR cameras.

The Makro-Planar T* 2/50 ZE will begin shipping in December 2009 at a MAP price of $1,283. The Makro-Planar T* 2/100 ZE will be available in early 2010 with a MAP price of $1,843.

Technical specifications for 50mm f/2 Makro-Planar
Focal length: 50mm
Aperture range: f/2 - f/22
Number of elements/groups: 8/6
Focusing range: 0.24m – infinity
Angular field (diag./horiz./vert.): 45/38/26°
Coverage at close range: 72 X 48 mm
Image ratio at close range: 1:2
Filter thread: M67 x 0.75
Weight: 570g
Length: 91mm
Mounts: ZF and ZF.2 (Nikon), ZE (Canon EOS), ZK (Pentax)
Lens hood included       
Technical specifications for 100mm f/2 Makro-Planar
Focal length: 100mm
Aperture range: f/2 - f/22
Number of elements/groups: 9/8
Focusing range: 0.44m – infinity
Angular field (diag./horiz./vert.): 25/21/14°
Coverage at close range: 72 X 48 mm
Image ratio at close range: 1:2
Filter thread: M67 x 0.75
Weight: 570g
Length: 115mm
Mounts: ZF and ZF.2 (Nikon), ZE (Canon EOS), ZK (Pentax)
Lens hood included          

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