Long envied by Canon users in the know, the Nikon-mount ZF 100/2 Makro-Planar is imminent as the Zeiss ZE 100mm f/2 Makro-Planar. Watch my wish list for it to appear at B&H. Wish lists (“gear lists”) are at left, under the B&H search box. The 50mm f/2 Makro-Planar is already available for purchase.
While not available in stores quite yet, a production sample is presently mounted on my Canon 5D Mark II, and though I had only 5 minutes this evening, I snapped a few shots which show off its distinctive bokeh, or blur characteristics, which are highly unusual and beautiful, albeit not as easy to understand at this smaller size. I’ll be posted samples in my usual big sizes in Guide to Zeiss ZF/ZE Lenses.
The 100mm f/2 Makro-Planar is one of the finest lenses available today. Whether you’re shooting macro or making landscapes or stitched panoramas, the 100/2 Makro-Planar will not disappoint. And while it’s not apochromatic and will show magenta/green color on out of focus areas at wide apertures, unlike the Leica 100mm f/2.8 APO-Elmarit-R. However, unlike the Leica offering, the 100/2 Makro-Planar has a flat field at infinity, making it eminently suitable for landscapes. It also happens to perform brilliantly in infrared. I can’t think of a better all-around 100mm lens, let alone one that is both a macro lens to 1:2 as well as having an f/2 maximum aperture.
Want to see detail resolved from center to the extreme corners wide open? Then this is your lens. Few lenses can deliver the sharpness across the frame this lens can, sharpness that doesn’t waver or show field curvature. Your challenge is to exploit its amazing blend of sharpness and bokeh by focusing precisely. But that’s the challenge with all top-grade lenses.
The downside? It’s manual focus, with a silky smooth focusing helicoid, and none of the sneaky focal-length-shortening tricks played by most macro lenses these days.
BTW, after shooting the stunning new Nikon D3s, it is frustrating to see the prominent noise at ISO 800 with the Canon 5D Mark II. Maybe Canon will follow Nikon’s lead in 2010.