First Impressions of Carl Zeiss ZF.2 100/2 T* Makro-Planar

After having used and owned "only" Nikkor lenses for the past 12 years, I just got my first "pirate" lens. I have never been tempted by other brand lenses - I have been a Nikkor-man all the way, but that changed last week.


Introduction
Micro Nikkors has always been legendary for their optical quality and I have owned the AFD 105mm 2,8 micro, AFD 200mm 4,0 micro and until recently the AFS 105mm 2,8 VR lens. I have been very fond of the latest micro Nikkor and really liked the optical quality and especially the "bokeh" subject isolation, it was much smoother than the longer 200mm Micro, which I sold when I got the VR 105mm lens.

Then you ask why sell the VR 105mm lens, the answer to this is really simple: I just want the best equipment money can buy and at the moment the Zeiss 100mm f/2,0 lens is simply superior and it is plainly an addictive lens!. I'm getting tired of modern lenses and the Zeiss lenses exudes quality and aesthetic minimalism, unlike the flimsy, plastic, gold-ringed Nikon equivalents.

Performance
The Zeiss 100mm lens is a super selective macro lens with biting sharpness, unbeatable bokeh due to an optical design with 9-blade iris with circular shape. It's also the first photo lens with ARRI/ZEISS Master Prime optics from Hollywood´s movie industry, enabling exceptionally selective focusing with beautiful out-of-focus zones. It has superior optical performance wide open from infinity to the close-focus limit and the precision focusing makes it easy to achieve extraordinarily selective image sharpness for the key elements of the subject.

The big aperture is also of practical value; focusing at 1/2 life size loses approximately 1 stop. An f/2 lens become an f/2.8 lens an important threshold when trying to focus accurately. Of course the ability to use a shutter speed that is twice as fast compared with Nikon and Canon macro lenses is also very useful as well.





Summary
After a week with this little gem I'm convinced that a year from now I will own at least a couple of other Zeiss ZF.2 lenses. I really like the handling and TOP-NUTCH QUALITY of the lens - in short I like everything about this lens and I will soon forget the outrageous price. This lens has Spirit and is made with passion.

Rating: Build Quality: 10/10 - Handling: 10/10 - Optical: 9/10


Conclusion - Pros:

+ Distortion free
+ Jaw-dropping optical performance
+ Corner-to-corner sharpness
+ T* coating (flare control)
+ Lateral Chromatic Aberrations are extremely well controlled
+ King of bokeh! (Out of focus image rendition)
+ Manual focusing with a smooth feeling of high precision
+ Long-life all metal with precision mechanics
+ This is a true 100mm, also at half life size (1:2)
+ Durable compact design

Conclusion - Cons:

- Magnification of only 1:2 - (1:1 with Nikon PN-11 Extension tube!)
- Vignetting is quite high at f/2 on FX - same as Nikkor VR 105mm at f/2.8!
- Manual focus only! - I don't use autofocus for macro work anyway!
- Out-of-focus highlights is not perfectly circular but has the "cat's eyes" effect
- The "flimsy" front lens cap - replace it with a Nikon cap!


Out-of-focus highlights is not perfectly circular but has the "cat's eyes" effect.

First Impressions of Nikon AFS 35mm 1,4G

10 comments:

  1. Thanks Becky, I love shooting macro and this lens is just amazing!

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    Replies
    1. Hey Jesper, Ive been a fan for a while now. Do you know if this lens can be mounted with a teleconvertor?

      Thanks,
      Chris

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  2. Hi Chris

    I have no experience with teleconverters together with this lens, would be nice if Zeiss made a 1,4X converter to this lens, sometime in the future.

    My current Nikon TC-14E II converter is only for AFS Nikkor lenses, but if Nikon someday come with a TC-14E III, I will rebuilt the old converter so it can fit lenses like my PC-E 85/2,8 and Zeiss 100/2 lenses.

    Thanks
    Jesper T.

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  3. February 24, 2012 - Updated with new images and layout!

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  4. Hi, Jesper, could you give me any ideas how to do the process of Nikon PN-11 using with Carl Zeiss 100mm markof2 because I have a problems with this. could you help mw to solve it out,

    thanks
    Pong

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    Replies
    1. Dear Pong

      Well, first of all you need to use a camera that support lenses without CPU, like a D3/4, D700/800/600, D300, D7000.

      The lens itself has a CPU, but the PN-11 only has a manual aperture coupling, so the you need to un-lock the aperture dial on the lens. The next thing is to tell the camera that you are using a manual lens "non-CPU lens data"

      I hope that this helps!

      Happy New Year to you and all the best.

      Jesper T.

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  5. Hi Jasper,
    great review! Together with the 50mm Makro Planar review, it is helping me to make an important decision: which one will be my next lens? I just got a Canon 60D as a X-mas gift with the standard 18-135. I expect to take many macro photos (from carnivorous plants I have [just like the Drosera you shot at the 50mm review] and some bees I have at home) but also portraits (I have a 5 month-old boy), both indoors and outdoors.
    I like the reviews on the 100mm MP, but I worry with its narrower angle of view (25o vs 45o of the 50mm MP) and also the distance I'll have to be to shoot the portraits (I expect to shoot many portraits indoors).
    What is your opinion on these topics?
    Thanks a lot and congratulations on your awesome site.
    Mario

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  6. Hi Mario

    Congratulations with your new camera. Yes the 100mm would be difficult to use for indoor portraits on a crop camera, simply to narrow in its view!. I use the 50mm on my Nikon D7100 crop camera and it is great but maybe to short for portraits?. You might also consider the inexpensive Tamron AF 60mm f/2 SP Di II LD [IF] Macro as a start lens, which has excellent sharpness, which is typically what you want in a macro and portrait lens.

    All the best
    Jesper T.

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  7. Hi Jesper,
    sorry for the delay in answering.
    Thank you very much for your opinion. I decided I'll try and find these lens to borrow or rent. These way I can test them in my real life experiences and decide which one is worth the investment.
    Thanks and congratulations for your site and pictures!

    Mario

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