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Which Zeiss Lens Doesn’t Get Much Love?

Zeiss ZF.2 28mm f/2 Distagon (Nikon mount)

Get $200 off + 4% reward on the Zeiss 28mm f/2 Distagon for Nikon or Canon (also works on Sony mirrorless with adapter).

Zeiss has something like fifteen lenses in the ZF.2/ZE lineup for DSLRS (including the Otus lensees). One lens just does not get much love is the 28mm f/2 Distagon.

Lab tests (ugghhh) won’t shine with the 28/2 Distagon, but Zeiss does not game the system as some vendors seem to do (for lab test distances). Rather the 28/2 Distagon is a classic 'artsy' lens that gets darn sharp with some stopping down.

Out in the real world, if you’re tired of the same-old CaNikon blah, try the Zeiss 28mm f/2 Distagon for Nikon or Canon. It’s also a solid lens that will last practically forever. And with the ZF.2 version you can shoot it on Nikon or Canon or Leica M or mirrorless (with adapter). How’s that for versatility? Oh, and Leica’s best M efforts do not perform better (the 28/1.4 not yet tested as this was written, Leica is having severe issues producing them apparently).

On Sony mirrorless with adapter, I’ll take the Zeiss ZF.2/ZE rendering style over the Sony 28mm f/2 any day. The 28/2 has personality, it has field curvature it has some foibles and for the right expectations, you’ll love it—it does not disappoint in visual impact (ditto for its 25/2.8 sibling, perhaps even more so, particularly at close range).

More depth of field would have been better here (try getting three people to line up their eyes in a geometric plane!).

f/4 @ 1/60 sec handheld, ISO 100
Nikon D800 + Zeiss ZF.2 28/2 Distagon

Jon M writes:

I just have to comment. The B&W portrait of your daughters has to be one of the loveliest portraits I have seen. The luminosity and the radiance of their expressions, the composition, the bokeh - everything just comes together. Who cares if the tip of the post highlights are blown or if some Zone System aficionado complains about some tone or another or if one hair of an eyebrow is slightly out of focus. The picture is PERFECT. Congratulations. I am envious. I have never been able to master the 28mm. In my hands I hate it. Just going to have take one of your trips so you can show me how…

DIGLLOYD: 28mm is a wonderful focal length. But not everyone sees the same way—35mm may be preferred for some. But 28mm has always felt right to me for portraits like this—closer and more in touch with the subject. One way to experiment is to use a 20-35mm zoom or similar; tape it down to a fixed focal length and force yourself to shoot it at that focal for a day. Then repeat on similar subject matter. See what you gravitate towards.

J writes:

I think it's horrible all around. Saggital coma flare is profound in that lens.

And the 28mm Distagon is a fine lens when you don't use it to shoot long exposures when there are a multitude of off axis lights to make sagittal coma. It also makes wonderful 3d effect and separation (probably because of the res falloff and curvature) (many theories on that)

In general, we've never had it as good as now. The D810, Zeiss Apo lenses, it's hard to judge a photo from 5 yrs ago against these makers.

DIGLLOYD: every lens from Nikon and Canon has coma-like effects — sagittal coma flare being an oft-misused term. Sometimes lenses with serious flaws are highly liked—Leica M Summilux designs prove that in spades.

Nikon D3x + ZF.2 28mm f/2 Distagon @ f/4, 30 seconds, ISO 100 +3 stop push + Levels

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