I noticed a subtle but what I think is significant difference between my older ZF lenses versus the new ZF.2 samples: the focusing feel is now as smooth as I’ve felt in any lens.
It feels like the lubrication has changed for the better; it is simply luxurious and I’d rate it better than any other lens line I’ve used, including Leica. I like it very much, the feedback is incredibly good and perfectly damped, fantastic. The original ZF line was always very smooth, but somehow the ZF.2 lenses feel even better. I believe that the ZE line for Canon shares the same approach.
See my Nov 19 notes on the ZF.2 line. I prefer the ZF.2 line now that I’ve used it, mainly for electronic aperture control, but the actual practical difference is minimal for many types of shooting. All models are optically identical.
Check out my convenient lists of Zeiss ZF.2 (for Nikon) or Zeiss ZE (for Canon) at B&H Photo. Note that the ZF.2 line costs about 20% more than the original ZF model, but you can also save about 21% buying the ZF model, good for those on a budget.
Speaking of ZF.2, I had another near-dark experience tonight. While I could not see well enough to focus, the focus assist of the Nikon D3s did the trick. Below is a photo taken with the Nikon D3s using the Zeiss ZF.2 35mm f/2 Distagon, the 35/2 being a longtime favorite. Taken at ISO 6400 then pushed 1.3 stops (ISO ~17000, it shows the outrageous image quality of the Nikon D3s, as previously reported and examined at length in my D3s review. But the 35/2 Distagon offers compelling color and contrast to match the elegance of the D3s sensor, a perfect combination.
Noise reduction is completely off for these examples.