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Can I get some feedback on Carl Zeiss lenses?  I've seen some stunning shots taken with them, but the obvious concern is the manual focus.  Does anyone have experience with Zeiss Lenses?  What has been your experience with them? Are they worth the extra $$?


  • I rented the Zeiss 21mm Canon mount when we went on a vacation. I also rented a TSE II 24mm for a different vacation. I used to own a 24 -105. I good all round lens that did me well for 6 years but never liked it at 24mm. I had been looking for a WA lens for my FF in about the 24mm range.

    Just to knocked off the TSE. Excellent IQ but it is a tinkering lens and I was afraid the novelty would wear off because I'm like that. Also no AF.    

    The Zeiss did not disappoint. It's legendary contrast and sharpness was superb. Good in the corners. 3 things made me not purchase it.

    1. Moustache distortion. You won't notice it on landscapes but it is there on architecture if you look for it and it not that easy to correct, when I was exploring this. I'm not saying it is bad but I figured if I'm going to buy a Zeiss I figured that should not be there. All the owners that I chatted to about this lens love it so you need to look at samples and see if that is important to you or not. Most people won't even notice it. 

    2. No AF. It has AF notification and it was not too annoying but again I'm more of a walk to, compose and shoot sort of fellow.

    3. Price. I figured with the distortion and no AF and it being a specialty lens at one focal length I just couldn't justify it. If I had unlimited funds for camera gear there would be one sitting on my lens shelf.

    I waited it out and finally Canon came out with the 24-70 II. Very good at 24mm in the corners and sharp. No IS which really ticked me off for that price but I have not missed it a bit which surprised me. I may have at the 70-105 range. It was a tough decision but now I have good general zoom that is satisfactory for my landscape needs.  

    Hope this was helpful.                                             
  • That helps a lot!  I think that once I get my d810 I'll have to rent one to see how I like it. 
  • hoyaterphoyaterp Member
    edited December 2014
    The Otus series is very very special indeed. In Neil's hands the results are totally over the top. But the price will set you back a few house payments.

    From the '80s to about 2005 Zeiss made lenses for the high-end Contax film camera. While not Otus, those designs are what the current Zeiss ZE/ZF/ZA offerings are based on and can be had in the used market for a fraction of the cost of the current versions. Even by today's standards they remain superb. These older lenses are coveted these days by many cine guys. Might be worthwhile for you to check them out.
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