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Zeiss 50mm f/2 Makro-Planar T*

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The Universal High-speed Macro
This macro lens provides a normal perspective and allows for close focusing down to 1: 2. The Makro-Planar T* 2/50 uses a new lens design which incorporates fl oating elements to ensure high performance across a wide focusing range. As a result, the lens can be used for non-macro applications and becomes a versatile ‘standard’ lens when used with a full frame camera. The fast f/2 aperture and distortion-free performance enables wide-open photography with a short depth-of-field without compromising the image quality. The Makro-Planar T* 2/50 is available with the F bayonet (ZF) and K bayonet (ZK) lens mounts and is designed for use with full-frame SLR and DSLR cameras. Combined with a DSLR with a 1.5 crop factor, the lens becomes a focal length of 75 mm.

Focal length 50 mm
Aperture range f/2.0 – f/22 (1/2 steps)
Focusing range 0.24 m – infinity
Number of elements/groups 8/6
Angular field, diag./horiz. 45°/38°
Coverage at close range 72 x 48 mm
Image ratio at close range 1 : 2
Filter thread M 67 x 0.75
Dimensions (with caps) ř 72 mm, length 88 mm
Weight 530 g
Camera mounts EF Mount (ZE) F Mount (ZF & ZF.2) K Mount (ZK)


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Registered: Feb 25, 2016
Location: United States
Posts: 0
Review Date: Feb 25, 2016 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharpness, bokeh, image quality, low CA and distortion
Price, size, weight, sensitivity to backlight

An excellent but not perfect lens, as it has numerous minor drawbacks :

f/2 aperture is, photometrically speaking, rather f/2.5
Vignetting (wide open) is high
Sensitivity to backlight is obvious, sometimes inducing an increasing loss of contrast when stopping down from f/2 to f/8 for instance (typical case : shooting a pipe organ case against stained glass windows). Fortunately f/2-f/2.8 are quite good in terms of sharpness, so stopping down does not feel necessary for flat subjects at least.
Coma is not outrageous but still significant (yes, I use it for night shots with good results).
1:2 magnification ratio at best (consider an extension tube)
Slightly warm (yellowish) cast (I own a ZF2) ; the Nikkors 50/1.2 AIS or 50/1.8G are no doubt more neutral
Nine lens blades, but straight ones, yielding nice sunstars but also sharp enneagons from time to time (less nice).

On the positive side, sharpness, bokeh and overall image quality are excellent. Distortion is negligible (but for certain reproduction works). CA is also extremely low, in particular longitudinal CA. While not an APO lens, it comes very close.

Also, while heavy and bulky in the bag, with the camera in hand (Df in my case, most of the time) it balances well and is very pleasant to handle. I use it more often than all other 50mm (AIS or AF) together. | |

Feb 25, 2016
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Registered: Jul 10, 2015
Location: France
Posts: 0
Review Date: Jul 14, 2015 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Very good in nearly all respects
never perfect. Dislikes backlighting.

This is my favourite 50mm lens, in terms of IQ and versatility. Initially I found it unnerving, now I like it a lot. Reasons are:

- Yes, it's macro, but 2:1 only and has some low barrel distortion;
- Yes, it's sharp, but there is some field curvature; stop down to f/4 if corners are an issue (which admittedly is seldom the case);
- Yes, it's f/2, but wide open and optometrically it looks more like f/2.5, and the vignetting is conspicuous (nice for portraits by the way);
- Yes, it's a 50mm, but it feels like a 85mm in terms of size and weight;
- Yes, it works OK against bright light, but better not stop down if you do not want an outrageous blue cast (seems peculiar to the ZF2 version, according to some reviewers);
- Yes, great colours and microcontrast, but you'll get a warmish cast (yellow), it is not that neutral.
- Yes, you get a long focus throw, but between 5m and infinity it is very short;
- Yes, it will deliver good night shots, but you'll get some coma.

On the other hand, there are also good news:
- No, it's not APO, but close to it (low lateral and longitudinal CA)
- No, I'm not an ace at photography, but this lens consistently makes me look like one Wink

It is not the best Zeiss in my lineup, but it is very, very good. Needless to say, this is Zeiss manufacturing quality, and withstood glaciers and geysirs (guess where).

For reference, my second best is the humble Nikkor 50/1.8G, which is more colour-neutral, flares less and has AF. Third is the 50/1.2 AI for its dual personality. The mere fact that the Zeiss got my preference should show that it is actually better than my rants would suggest.

Jul 14, 2015
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Registered: Aug 12, 2011
Location: Canada
Posts: 1107
Review Date: Nov 5, 2014 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $950.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Outstanding open performance, great colours, micro-contrast & bokeh, flexible in application
Manual-focus lens = difficult in live-event situations for mere mortals

Though the Zeiss lens is a manual-focus lens & limited in live-event settings, to me it represents the best-available option to Canon shooters at the 50mm focal length. The aforementioned 50L produces to-die-for output most of the time from f/1.6 to f/2, but severe/complex field curvature hampers the focusing accuracy of the lens at close portrait distances. Sigma 50mm options, while sharp, lack character & also present additional AF-consistency issues to booth.

With 2:1 (50% reproduction) macro capabilities & outstanding image quality at all apertures & subject distances, the Zeiss 50MP represents a flexible all-purpose lens. Wide-open, the extreme edges are uncorrected & show slight softness, making the lens favourable for natural environmental portraits. At the center of the frame, the lens is already very sharp at f/2 & bitingly so at f/2.8. In both studio (f/5.6 – f/8) & macro situations (f/8 – f/16), the Zeiss 50MP is sharp & consistent across the frame, boasting a natural but distinct sense of that Zeiss micro-contrast.

Sample Photos can be seen at:

Nov 5, 2014
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Peter Kotsa
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Registered: Nov 1, 2007
Location: Australia
Posts: 268
Review Date: Oct 31, 2014 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Build, colour, macro

Best 50mm macro I have tesed
Even though it is not autofocus, the image quality and colour more than makes up. Great piece of glass here

Oct 31, 2014
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Registered: Aug 9, 2009
Location: Canada
Posts: 74
Review Date: Jul 31, 2014 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,280.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Easy to use. Great build - I can pass this lens to my grandchildren! Delivers as expected. Focus ring nicely damped. The images...... enough said.
Cost - not a full negative but you get what you pay for. It is larger in size that most of the other 50mm macros that I have but its compacts to a smaller size for traveling.

Again, the good reviews this lens had prompted me to buy one to try. The lens feels solid like the old style Takumars and Canons, unlike many of the newer lenses with lots of plastic in them.
The focus ring is damped and to me has a nice solid feel to it. It does not shift when you are letting it go. The large angular rotation makes it easy to precisely focus on a target.
A maximum F2 aperture is great when using the lens for portraits but the F8, 11 and 16s are what I use for macro. Very minor chromatic aberration noticed at F2 - in situations where I believe that it would be hard to avoid.
No major bad points that I can find. I have had then lens for 9 months and it is a pleasure to use it.

Jul 31, 2014
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Peter Kirk
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Registered: Sep 25, 2004
Location: Australia
Posts: 312
Review Date: Jul 15, 2014 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharpness, bokeh, colour, Build quality
would have been nice to be 1:1, but happy regardless

Brilliant and very sharp macro lens. I purchased this as a standard 50mm and thought the macro capability is just a bonus. After having the 50mm ZE 1.4 lens, this f2 Macro is in a completely different league. Much better resolution even wide open and much better bokeh on the macro.
Very happy with this purchase.

Jul 15, 2014
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Registered: Apr 11, 2013
Location: United States
Posts: 0
Review Date: Jun 25, 2013 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,200.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Color rendition, IQ, built like a tank
The lens cap is really a joke

I was always looking for a small macro for Canon FF. The old Canon 50mm is ok, but the built is not great, and the color rendition didn't do it for me. This one is my first Zeiss lens, and it is incredibly sharp and renders colors excellent. The f2 is a great plus. The manual focus is absolutely exact, and the focus throw is perfect for me. I am a Botanist, and am normally using a Canon 100mm L for macro, but when I don't do dedicated expedition-macro work this lens is perfect. Great to travel around with! The lens is much heavier for its size than one would think - really built like a tank. The lens cap is a joke however - immediately replaced it with a Canon cap.

Jun 25, 2013
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Registered: Feb 18, 2010
Location: United States
Posts: 2530
Review Date: May 11, 2013 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Great up close and far away. Focus ring is smooth. Built better than any Canon L lens - though, it lacks weather sealing - and is all metal. Front element is set back quite a bit and small. Just stupendously sharp and contrasty wide open.
No red dot to figure out where it enters the mount. Metal hood scratches if you look at it wrong. Pretty dense lens, could see it sliding out of my grasp more easily than other lenses I have. Metal focus ring digs into my fingers over time. No AF - but everyone looking at this lens knows it. The focus throw between MFD and infinity is 300 degrees, from 2ft to infinity is roughly 30 degrees - that isn't a whole lot to play with.

I thought I would hate this lens but a good friend of mine kept pestering me to buy it since I was looking into other 50mm lenses. Tried the 50L and hated the unreliable beast on my 5D2. canon 50 1.4 has too many reliability issues. 50 1.8 is a great value but not what I was looking for. The sigma 50 has mechanical failures out the wazzoo and notoriously bad AF so I skipped past that after my experience with the 50L... which left me with all of 2 options when it came to using a 50mm focal length: buy an M9 and a summilux 50 or give this 50 MP a try. Glad I tried the 50MP because I just saved a boat load of money.

This lens is stunningly sharp wide open. I have had it for nearly a week at this point and am very much infatuated with the quality of the photos this lens is able to produce. It renders skies in a very painterly manner compared to my canon lenses. Speaking of rendering - I have no flipping clue what "3D" or "microcontrast" means but this lens definitely gives images a good bit of extra pop that differentiates it from anything I have used in the past except for the 135L which is similar but lacks the definition that this lens is able to produce. I was worried about not having enough subject isolation at f/2 wide open but it is definitely able to pull it off in most circumstances. I never knew that buying a lens from a different manufacturer would lead to such major differences in the photos I am able to take.

Anyway, there are a few negatives that people seem to skim past:
- the focus throw for the usable street photography range is a paltry/pathetic 30 degrees. That is absurd in a manual focus lens that boasts 300 degrees of focus ring rotation. I understand it is a macro lens but good god man, does it really need 270 degrees from 2 ft to MFD?! Beats me, but it takes great flower photos.
- All metal sounds awesome. It looks pretty slick and feels great to pick up for the first time and have the cool-to-the-touch metal feel. But metal scratches significantly more often and more noticeably than plastic. Especially the hood. Clearly Zeiss hasn't learned from Apple's terribly thin anodizing aluminum experiences.
- Same note as above, metal focus rings feel good at first but can really dig in for the long haul (1 hour into holding this lens and I was pretty happy to set it down for a bit).

Outside of those problems, I really enjoy using this lens. It is nice to slow down and manually focus everything on days when I just want to relax and take photos. I doubt i'll ever use this for event or concert photography but I am sure it would work well if I didn't suck at manually focusing so much. As of early 2013 - this is by far the best 50mm available in a native EF mount if you do not absolutely need AF. Even if you do need AF, give this little fella a try and experience a totally different kind of photography.

Highly recommended.

May 11, 2013
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Registered: May 18, 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 101
Review Date: Jan 3, 2013 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Build quality, color rendering, resolution
lens cap design (sic)

In my case, the challenge in using primes exclusively is forcing me to work the lens, and not fret the focal length.

My game, unless on a paid gig, is to pick one lens and use it. I love the 50mm length and consider it to be my most safe choice if I honestly do not know what I will be shooting.

Not much to add to what others have said. The Zeiss look, to me, is real and the subtle color and contrast rendering is what makes it work in my world. Having macro capability is a fun option.

Splendid manual focus as the knob is large and smooth, without any semblance of play.

Highly recommended for high resolution, warm tones and scientific build quality.

Some examples...

Jan 3, 2013
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Keith B.
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Registered: Jun 6, 2010
Location: United States
Posts: 918
Review Date: Dec 12, 2012 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: ZF: Great all-around 50mm f/2 lens. ZF.2: Coating changes reduce niceness. Get a ZF if you can.
ZF.2 "chipped" version has AR coating changes that reduce resistance to flare, add blue flare to backlit shots. Color transmission also affected: ZF.2 has heavier greenish-yellow cast. Too bad

If you get a chance to compare a ZF version of this lens against a ZF.2, you'll prefer the ZF.

Dec 12, 2012
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Registered: Sep 13, 2007
Location: United States
Posts: 819
Review Date: Nov 16, 2012 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Zeiss color and contrast.
Warning: may lead to a Zeiss habit.

I finally found a 50 that I really like!

I used the Canon 50 1.4 for a while, then the Canon 50 1.2. Both lenses produce excellent photos, but neither clicked with me like some other Canon lenses.

I took a chance and went for the Zeiss. Glad I did.

The lens is super versatile. Landscape, macro, street, portrait. Anything you would use a 50 for, this lens is up to the task.

I'm really enjoying MF as well. No need to worry about focus points, or focusing and re-framing. Just use your eye and hand to focus on whatever part of the frame you prefer.

Or use AF confirm. In this case, the only difference is your hand is replacing the AF motor. Probably saves battery life. I've started using MF on my AF lenses since owning a Zeiss. Sometimes it's the best focus method, so a good skill to have.

Lastly, the detail this lens picks up is stunning.

Here is my set of 50MP photos:

Nov 16, 2012
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Registered: Aug 28, 2005
Location: N/A
Posts: 655
Review Date: Sep 29, 2012 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $900.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharp, build quality, color and contrast
Silly front cap

Excellent overall lens. Its sharp, has nice contrast and color. Its also very versatile since it can be used for macro and for landscapes. It reminds be of the Zeiss 35mm f2 in terms of rendering only this is a bit less contrasty in a good way. Easy to focus as well.

Sep 29, 2012
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Registered: Sep 24, 2008
Location: Canada
Posts: 916
Review Date: May 31, 2012 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,189.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Amazingly sharp wide open, Manual focus is not even the slightest drawback
Nothing except the lens cap clasps protrude of the side of the cap. One accidental touch and its gone.

My rating of 9 reflect the stupid lens cap, otherwise it absolutely blows away any other 50mm I have ever used.

May 31, 2012
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Registered: Apr 19, 2006
Location: Canada
Posts: 768
Review Date: Apr 12, 2012 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,300.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Superb color, great contrast, stupid sharp

By far, the best 50mm lens I ever mounted on Canon DSLR body ... and trust me I tried them all (Canon 1.2/1.4/1.8), Contax Zeiss, Sigma and Summilux-R 50mm f/1.4. No glitches, no issues, no negatives ... just plain awesome lens!

Two quick samples 5 minutes after I took it out of box:

Apr 12, 2012
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Registered: Oct 20, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 551
Review Date: Feb 18, 2012 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,300.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: The usefulness of 50mm with the ability for macro when needed. Edge-to-edge sharpness wide open.
While the typical Zeiss focusing ring dampening is present, the 5m to infinity portion of the focus ring turn feels the slightest bit "loose" and makes distant focusing difficult.

With all the benefits and similarities of the Zeiss 100mm Makro-Planar f/2, the shorter focal length gives broader field of view with all the benefits of 1:2 magnification.

Fringing is present wide open in high-contrast lighting scenarios, but this lens particularly shines in low-contrast lighting portraiture.

Bokeh and rendering style, as many people rank with Zeiss lens, is exceptional and possesses the smoothest in-to-out of depth-of-field transitions seen.

Feb 18, 2012
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Registered: Feb 6, 2005
Location: N/A
Posts: 29
Review Date: Oct 12, 2011 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Colors, bokeh, sharpness, low light photography; a precision product that is a pleasure to use.
Makes you wish more lenses were like this, or that you could afford more of them.

I bought the Zeiss Makro-Planar 50mm f/2 for my Canon 5DmkII about 6 weeks ago and have enjoyed it immensely. I fretted a long time beforehand about whether to go with a Canon 50mm product or the Zeiss f/1.4, but the former did not get good reviews and the latter, while cheaper than the Zeiss f/2, was not rated well wide open. I finally decided to go all the way for the Makro-Planar and very glad I did. All the positives agree with those stated by other reviews here. Shoot wide open or just down to 2.8 or so, and the images look great. Where I may contribute is in addressing some of the concerns. First, potential difficulty focusing manually near infinity. I solved that by getting the Eg-S Super Precision Matte Screen. While it was a bit nerve-wracking to install, when done I realized it was no big deal, and had found several web sites on line (just google) with lots of pictures to help me through. The better screen helps a lot with manual focus. Though the view is darker with your f/4 lenses, you get used to it quick. Another potential concern is owning a lens with a macro design, but you are doing general photography. I have come to appreciate that being able to do macro anytime you are doing other work is not a bad thing. Also, the macro perspective at 50 mm is very different from that what you get with the typical 100mm macro. The ability to shoot wide open and at fairly high ISO on the 5DmkII greatly expands the hours of the day where you can do photography without a tripod. If you travel a lot and can't haul the metal or carbon fiber, this lens opens up the world.

Many of these were taken with the Makro-Planar f/2, my first big outing with the lens (please leave comments if inclined):

Oct 12, 2011
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Zeiss 50mm f/2 Makro-Planar T*

Buy from B&H Photo
Reviews Views Date of last review
29 71895 Feb 25, 2016
Recommended By Average Price
100% of reviewers $1,163.50
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating

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