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Zeiss ZE Lenses for
Canon EF Mount

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Zeiss 50mm f/1.4 rear

Holy Cow: This is the bottom of the ZE 50mm, and it has Canon EF contacts! enlarge.

15 September 2008      More Canon Reviews   More Zeiss Reviews  



Today Zeiss announced that it will be making its old-fashioned mechanical manual-focus lenses available in a copy of the Canon EF (EOS) mount intended to fit all Canon EOS film and digital cameras.

You'll always be stuck with manual focus only, but unlike any other 3rd-party scheme to put manual-focus lenses on Canon cameras, these Zeiss lenses have electronic contacts intended to provide full exposure control, automation and EXIF data, supposedly just like a real Canon lens.

These lenses are for the Canon EF/EOS mount only. These manual-focus-only lenses will not fit any of Canon's manual focus FD-mount cameras like the AE-1, F1n, T70 , AV-1 or A-1.

The first lenses out will be the 50mm f/1.4 and 85mm f/1.4. I tested the Zeiss 50mm f/1.4 in Nikon mount, and it was the same as the Nikon lenses, except it was manual-focus only.

I haven't made any comparison to Canon's EF autofocus lenses, however considering that Canon's 85mm f/1.2 L II is the sharpest f/1.4 or f/1.2 lens I've ever used, I doubt the Zeiss 85mm will be as good. I'll let you know as I get my hands on these.

Just like every other Canon EF-mount lens, these have no aperture rings. You set the aperture on your camera.


Specifications with commentary  back to top

Zeiss 50mm f/1.4

Zeiss 50mm f/1.4. enlarge. Look, mom, no aperture ring!

50mm f/1.4

Filter Size: 58mm.

Close Focus: 1.5 feet (0.45m).

Maximum Reproduction Ratio: 1:6.7.

Aperture Ring: None. (Zeiss' PR says it has one, but Zeiss made a mistake).

Diaphragm Blades: 9, far superior to Canon's 8 blades for making exquisite sunstars.

Size: 2.6" diameter by 2.7" long (66 x 69mm), length not specified if it's overall or extension from flange.

Weight: 12 oz. (350 g).

List Price: $660.


Zeiss 85mm f/1.4. enlarge. Look, mom, no aperture ring!

85mm f/1.4

Filter Size: 72mm.

Close Focus: 3.3 feet (1.0m).

Maximum Reproduction Ratio: 1:10.

Aperture Ring: None. (Zeiss' PR says it has an aperture scale, but Zeiss made a mistake).

Diaphragm Blades: 9, far superior to Canon's 8 blades for making exquisite sunstars.

Size: 3.0" diameter by 3.3 " long (77 x85mm), length not specified if it's overall or extension from flange.

Weight: 21 oz. (600 g).

List Price: $1,170.


Recommendations   back to top

I've only used these lenses in Nikon mount. I wasn't impressed. The optics were identical to the real camera-brand lens, but the mechanics were second rate. Is Zeiss kidding? Other third-party lenses graduated from ribbed-metal focus rings by the 1970s.

These Zeiss-branded lenses haven't been made by Zeiss; they have been made by Cosina in Japan, the same people who have been making third-party lenses for people like Vivitar for many decades.

One bit of caution is to understand that these lenses are not made by either Canon or by Zeiss. They are third-party lenses completely unaffiliated from Canon. Canon does not sell them.

Third-party lenses have the annoying habit of occasionally having incompatibilities with some features on some cameras, so be careful to test any lens you get on every camera with which you intend to use it. I've had some Tokina lenses that some of my Nikons won't even recognize as being mounted!

These Zeiss-branded lenses, at least the ones I've used in Nikon mount, are competent optically, but not better than Canon lenses, and real Canon lenses autofocus, weigh less, and have much better manual focus feel than the ZF Nikon-mount versions of these lenses. I doubt the Canon-mount variants will be any different, and I'll let you know when I get to try these in person.



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