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Zeiss 18mm f/3.5 Distagon T*

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Reviews Views Date of last review
10 22178 Jun 25, 2013
Recommended By Average Price
90% of reviewers $1,247.00
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating
9.90
8.13
8.6
18mm

Specifications:
Focusing on the perfect moment
This ultra wide angle lens is ideal for capturing breathtaking moments in dramatic perspectives. The Distagon T* 3,5 / 18 offers excellent image performance over the entire image field. The precision floating elements design offers constant high performance over the entire distance range from 0.3 m (0.98 ft) to infinity. Optimum reflection absorption combined with the Carl Zeiss T* anti-reflex coating allow for brilliant pictures even under difficult lighting conditions. Extremely contrasting edges are captured without color fringes due to the optimal color correction. Even combined with a digital SLR using a DX type sensor, this lens has an effective focal length of 27 mm, providing an interesting wide angle perspective.
The Distagon T* 3,5 / 18 is available with EF bayonet (ZE), F bayonet (ZF) and K bayonet (ZK). Above all, it is ideal for landscape, architecture and commercial photographers.

Focal length 18 mm
Aperture range f/3.5 f/22 (1/2 steps)
Focusing range 0.3 m infinity
Number of elements/groups 13/11
Angular field, diag./horiz. 99/90
Coverage at close range 44 x 29 cm
Filter thread M 82 x 0.75
Dimensions (with caps) 87 mm, length 84 mm
Weight 470 g (ZF, TK); 510 g (ZE)
Camera mounts F Mount (ZF & ZF.2) EF Mount (ZE) K Mount (ZK)


 


      
rbussmann
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Registered: Apr 11, 2013
Location: United States
Posts: 0
Review Date: Jun 25, 2013 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,295.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Size, weight, color rendition, IQ.
Cons:
Maybe price, but you pay for what you get.

This is really an underrated lens. Yes, wide open the borders are said to be less sharp than in the 21mm. On the other hand the lens is really small, and ideal for travel. And it IS wide. Right now nothing in the Canon line-up comes even close. The built is stunning - makes you get addicted to Zeiss!

Jun 25, 2013
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victoriae
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Registered: Sep 13, 2009
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 0
Review Date: Mar 8, 2013 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,000.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Size, ease of use, build quality, IQ, contrast
Cons:
Large filter size

I'm in agreement with those who feel this is an underated lens. OK it's not as sharp as the 21mm from what i have seen on reviews etc. It produces superb images, a bit of CA easily corrected in Light room. Set at around f8 most things are in focus and manual focus is not a problem for me. Typical Zeiss look to the images, small light and compact. I now have the 35mm f2, 50mm MP, 85 1.4 and this 18mm f3.5. Took me a while to get into these lenses but i have to say they are all superb. Wish i could afford more?

Mar 8, 2013
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kzaret
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Registered: Feb 6, 2005
Location: N/A
Posts: 10
Review Date: Feb 20, 2013 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Remarkable sharpness and presence to the image, corner to corner. Light weight, small profile, very high quality construction.
Cons:

Having truly enjoyed this lens, I agree with some of the comments below that the summary rating needs to be rebalanced to the positive. The images with this lens simply have a presence and contrast that is not often seen with other brands. The focal length requires careful attention to composition; it's not a lens to shoot casually with. On the other hand, the light weight and small profile make it easy to carry around. Here are shots with the lens:

http://www.pbase.com/kzaret/image/146118274

http://www.pbase.com/kzaret/image/146118265

http://www.pbase.com/kzaret/image/143384760

http://www.pbase.com/kzaret/image/143293960


Feb 20, 2013
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Doo-bop
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Registered: Jul 17, 2008
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Posts: 163
Review Date: Dec 23, 2011 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: lightweight and small, superb build quality, sharp into the corners
Cons:
light fall off, cost

IMHO the lens is underrated on FM. I have it to complement my 24-70 on the wide end and appreciate the small size. Not using it everyday it is still in my bag and gives me good image quality when I need it.

Dec 23, 2011
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Steve Perry
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Registered: Oct 9, 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 4666
Review Date: Dec 10, 2011 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,300.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharp, lightweight, nice rendering, takes a polarizer
Cons:

OK, I keep seeing all the so-so reviews for this lens and just had to speak up.

I own a lot of high-end glass - including the Zeiss 21 - so it does take a lot for me to be impressed with a lens.

For my usage, this lens is excellent. I use it exclusively for landscape work and find across the frame sharpness to be exceptional - and I love the way it renders.

I'm generally shooting it on a D3x in the F8-F11 range, so maybe stopping down is the trick to using this lens (honestly, never used it wide open). All I know is when I need to go wide I don't hesitate to grab this lens. It's been a consistant producer for me.


Dec 10, 2011
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Edgars Kalnins
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Registered: Mar 9, 2007
Location: Latvia
Posts: 708
Review Date: Sep 5, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: resolution, colours, contrast
Cons:
do not see any on canon 30D

I have only used it on a crop sensor camera - Canon 30D. This is the 5th Zeiss ZF lens I have used (not counting Contax) and I can say it is very good. Sharpness is very good, very little postprocessing is needed. I do not need to add any contrast at all. I have not used other lenses this wide apart from canon EF-S 10-22, which while nice was not as good. I have to stress though that i can not comment on the corner sharpness due to the camera I use!

Sep 5, 2010
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mattrosc
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Registered: Feb 7, 2008
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 0
Review Date: Jul 23, 2010 Recommend? no | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 4 

Pros: Build quality
Cons:
Poor optical quality at edges of frame and at most apertures.

Think of any company that produces a range of superlative products eg Lexus. Now think of one outstanding product after another and then they produce a clonker. This is what Zeiss have done. This is in my view a real contradiction, because most anyone you speak to who produces quality will avoid marketing something or working to a standard that is well below their usual, and believe me this is. I found I could just about get an acceptable picture if I shot at f8 and then cropped to the equivalent of a 20mm lens coverage, and since I have the 21mm distagon....

Jul 23, 2010
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ic2foto
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Registered: Jun 19, 2010
Location: United States
Posts: 0
Review Date: Jun 19, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,400.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: I am currently renting this lens and an 35mm ZE from BorrowLens.com. I have very good lenses (selected Zeiss/Contax lenses) to compare them to and am satisfied that these are the next step up in quality. While expensive, you more often than not get what you pay for and these are the best that I've yet to experience. Are they perfect - no. Are they the best you can get - very likely! 35+ years of serious work can be found at www.Image-Circle.com Cheers
Cons:
Lens cap is nice looking - but problematic as others have stated. Buy a generic at your convenience give the Zeiss cap to a fellow photographer with ambition.



Jun 19, 2010
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burningheart
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Registered: Mar 20, 2005
Location: Canada
Posts: 2456
Review Date: Apr 15, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 7 

Pros: Sharpness across the middle, color, contrast, closeups, controls flare and CA extremely well
Cons:
Light loss at wider apertures also causes noise, uneven color in the sky, distortion, hood

Light loss in corners of about 1 stop in the corners upto F5.6. At F3.5 the loss adds noise to the image. There is distortion for straight lines, not really noticeable for landscapes. Hood does not allow you to easily rotate a slim polarizer. The hood mounts in multiple ways but only one way is correct. When you mount the hood look through the viewfinder to confirm it does not block out part of the scene. Watch out for unevenly lit skies in the final image.

Only use slim mount filters otherwise it will cause vignetting.

Good contrast like other Zeiss lenses, color is excellent, does excellent closeup shots. Controls flare and CA extremely well. Excellent center sharpness.

For IR shooters hotspots with RG715 starting at F8 and F5.6 with a B+W 093.

Knowing the shortcomings of this lens is half the battle. This lens can deliver some outstanding images and I like what it can producs for landscapes and extreme closeups. If you are looking for edge to edge sharpness wide open with no light loss get a 14-24. If you are into IR, get the 1st version of the Leica 19mm. If you like landscapes and Zeiss drawing, colors or extreme closeups this is the one for you. My copy is the ZF version and I use an adapter to mount it on a Canon when needed.



Apr 15, 2010
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Lotusm50
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Registered: Sep 26, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 6228
Review Date: Apr 2, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,240.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Excellent center sharpness, Zeiss color, contrast and pop, compact size, build quality, image characteristics consistent with rest of Zeiss ZF/ZF/ZK lenses.
Cons:
light falloff and corner sharpness at larger apertures.

Whether you like this lens or not depends on what you expect from it. It is a significant improvement over the older Zeiss 18mm f4.0 for Contax. However, it does not reach the exceptional standard reached by the ZF/ZE 21mm. It is not a wider version of the 21mm Distagon. Then again it is not designed to be. It is designed to be less expensive and more compact and therefore certain compromises were made. Like most ultra wide angles, it shows an average amount of field curvature -- not out of the ordinary for an 18mm lens, it's just not as corrected as the 21mm. It needs f5.6 or even f8 to get the extreme corners sharp -- but is fine to the edges of the frame. Light falloff could be better wide open -- probably a function of keeping the design small. It is, perhaps the smallest modern 18mm out there. It is dwarfed by the Nikon 14-24, the Zeiss/Sony 16-35 and the Zeiss/Contax 17-35 an the Canon 16-35 LII. It won't be as sharp into the corners as the Nikon 14-24, but many will find the typical Zeiss color and pop of the ZF 18mm to produce a nicer image. All in all, this is a very good lens, but not an exceptional one. It is not without flaws -- tradeoffs for price and size. If you like Zeiss lenses and their imaging characteristics in general, there is a good chance you will like this lens. One wonders if Zeiss might have been better designing a larger, more highly corrected, lens that would sell for $2000, rather than this compact tradeoff for $1240. I think there would be many that would prefer the later. Zeiss obviously thinks that this lens, as designed, will suit the needs of many other buyers -- sufficient to produce the lens. Which side of that design choice are you on? That will determine whether this lens is for you, or not.

Apr 2, 2010
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Zeiss 18mm f/3.5 Distagon T*

Buy from B&H Photo
Reviews Views Date of last review
10 22178 Jun 25, 2013
Recommended By Average Price
90% of reviewers $1,247.00
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating
9.90
8.13
8.6
18mm