Carl Zeiss has plans for new 85mm and a wide angle f/1.4 high-end lenses

In the above video, Carl Zeiss representative confirmed the company's plans for new high-end 85mm and a wide angle f/1.4 lenses similar to the Distagon T* 1,4/55 (fast forward to the 1:15 mark). This is how the new product line was described few months ago:

"This is about lenses for full-frame (36x24mm) SLR cameras with manual focusing capability. This family of lenses is geared towards delivering uncompromising image quality for demanding users. The lenses are perfect for high-resolution, full-format digital cameras with more than 30 megapixels such as D800. The combined performance approaches that of medium format systems. If you shoot with the largest aperture, cameras with smaller number of pixels also benefit from much better image contrast."

Here is another related video interview with Carl Zeiss:

Video recap from Megapixel:

  • All other things being equal you can potentially decrease the size of a lens by 20-30 percent when going from Full Frame to APS-C and about 30-40 percent when moving to micro 4/3 – but this really depends on the type of lens.
  • The point of developing the new Carl Zeiss 55mm f/1.4 is to bring unprecedented performance in open apertures. The lens design is actually made of a combination of two different lenses and is a new, first of its kind for a 50mm lens.
  • The new 82mm front element was designed to produce sharpness across the entire frame.
  • Don't expect any AF capable lenses from Zeiss in the foreseeable future for Canon/Nikon.
  • Zeiss can add a stabilizer to manual focus lenses but this will degrade the optical quality of the lens to a degree (it will require some freedom of movement from the optical elements) and so not something Zeiss plans to do anytime soon.
  • Zeiss highly recommends that you use a focusing screen when using a MF lenses – this is because the conventional focusing screen of digital cameras isn't ideal for manual focus (we can surly attest to that).
  • Our final question had to do with a hypothetical size of a 50-100mm f/2 lens compared to the more conventional 70-200mm f/2.8. The answer – we are looking into a heavier and larger design and not something most people would like to carry or pay for…
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  • RakSiam

    That 135mm 2.0 looks pretty awesome

  • Jorma

    Ummm….?

    “Zeiss highly recommends that you use a focusing screen when using a MF lenses – this is because the conventional focusing screen of digital cameras isn’t ideal for manual focus….”

    • Jer

      With a matte finish focus screen free of clutter one will be able to instantly achieve critical maximum focusing like photographers used to do in the olden days;^)

    • benjamin

      while they technically should have said ‘focusing screen optimized for manual focus’, its true that stock screens are in no way ideal for fast manual focus lenses. the canon S-type screen is the best i’ve used so far (in a d700 ><) and allows me to shoot very quickly with manual lenses.

      • http://genotypewritings.blogspot.com/ genotypewriter

        Did you have any issues with the thickness that you had to deal with when using it on the d700?

    • benjamin

      while they technically should have said ‘focusing screen optimized for manual focus’, its true that stock screens are in no way ideal for fast manual focus lenses. the canon S-type screen is the best i’ve used so far (in a d700 ><) and allows me to shoot very quickly with manual lenses.

  • http://Flickr.com/inthemist InTheMist

    They need to be working on autofocus. All this great glass is being limited to a niche market by this old MF tech.

    • `/1nc3nt

      Olf MF lenses cannot be compared with CZ lenses, it’s the reality.

      AF implementation is more on legal issues than technical

      • http://genotypewritings.blogspot.com/ genotypewriter
        • Zorgborg

          I wonder if they are being truthful about “international licenses” and only japanese companies being eligible for Canon/Nikon AF licenses. Most Zeiss lenses for 35mm photography are after all manufactured in Japan by Cosina.

          I suspect it has as much to do with Zeiss’ low volumes not being sufficient to justify the license costs as compared to large volume makers like Tamron, Sigma etc.

          • http://genotypewritings.blogspot.com/ genotypewriter

            “Most Zeiss lenses for 35mm photography are after all manufactured in Japan by Cosina.”

            And Nikon lenses are made in Thailand. The difference is the name they finally go under.

            Also if Zeiss actually made this premium line with AF, it’ll raise more questions for them to answer about the lack of AF in their normal zf/ze line. So I also think it’s not entirely a matter of licensing here, although it could be the only thing they can’t get around even if they tried.

          • Pixyst

            Which Nikon lenses are made in Thailand? Certainly not the pro-grade ones.

          • http://genotypewritings.blogspot.com/ genotypewriter

            Some pro Zeiss lenses aren’t made in Japan and they’re made in Germany… there will always be exceptions. I haven’t checked the “made in…” label of the entire Nikon line-up but I’m guessing a good majority of modern lenses are made outside of Japan.

          • http://www.gradyphoto.com/ Pete Grady

            The Zeiss lenses I had for my Contax G2 were made in Japan. They were absolutely superb…probably the best glass I’ve ever used.

          • http://genotypewritings.blogspot.com/ genotypewriter

            Unless there were non-Japanese made lenses by the same manufacturer for the same camera, we can’t say for sure that they were good/bad because they were not made in Japan. Strictly speaking, we can only say that the Japanese version was better than the one that was made in the other country… not even all other countries. Strictly speaking they need to be at least lenses of the same level too.

            At the end of the day we can’t make gross generalisations like that anymore like people did in the past.. people are a bit more aware nowadays :)

          • http://www.gradyphoto.com/ Pete Grady

            OK, but they are making AF lenses for Fuji x-mount, so WTH?

        • Jim

          Well, that is telling isn’t it. So it is basically Japanese protectionism that is preventing them releasing an AF version. Well, with manual focus popular for video, Zeiss are having the last laugh.

          • http://genotypewritings.blogspot.com/ genotypewriter

            They’re also releasing AF lenses for Sony Nex and Fuji X mount under their own name. Who knows… maybe Canon will give in for their Eos M. With the popularity of mirrorless and especially if mirrorless is going full frame, people might not care about zeiss not making AF Dslr lenses. Even if Zeiss made them, they wont be good at AF like Canon’s and Nikon’s own lenses for AF demanding applications.

      • http://Flickr.com/inthemist InTheMist

        Sigma lenses are illegal?

    • http://genotypewritings.blogspot.com/ genotypewriter

      Or you could learn to manual focus :)

    • Andy

      They obviously have the technology to make AF lenses but I wonder if they have agreements with Sony that prevent them from making AF lenses for other cameras.

  • http://Flickr.com/inthemist InTheMist

    They need to be working on autofocus. All this great glass is being limited to a niche market by this old MF tech.

    • `/1nc3nt

      Olf MF lenses cannot be compared with CZ lenses, it’s the reality.

      AF implementation is more on legal issues than technical

      • http://genotypewritings.blogspot.com/ genotypewriter
        • Zorgborg

          I wonder if they are being truthful about “international licenses” and only japanese companies being eligible for Canon/Nikon AF licenses. Most Zeiss lenses for 35mm photography are after all manufactured in Japan by Cosina.

          I suspect it has as much to do with Zeiss’ low volumes not being sufficient to justify the license costs as compared to large volume makers like Tamron, Sigma etc.

        • Jim

          Well, that is telling isn’t it. So it is basically Japanese protectionism that is preventing them releasing an AF version. Well, with manual focus popular for video, Zeiss are having the last laugh.

      • http://Flickr.com/inthemist InTheMist

        Sigma lenses are illegal?

    • http://genotypewritings.blogspot.com/ genotypewriter

      Or you could learn to manual focus :)

    • Jopa

      On f/1.8 and below is very hard to auto focus on the exact subject you want, MF is definitely better especially with A99 EVF zoom feature.

  • Jim

    The problem is Canon are at work undermining them – 5D mark III has no interchangeable focus screen.

  • Emph66

    It seems that the other manufactures have now equaled or surpassed
    in some instances the optical quality of
    current Zeiss lenses. This new line will likely significantly raise the performance
    standard putting Zeiss at the top of the heap so to speak. Should be
    interesting to see the test results and image samples of this new line.

  • Adam

    C-Z’s 85mm 1.4 is a beautiful piece of engineering.
    However, no AF = not buying it!

  • scioc

    Just to be repetitive: wonderful lenses, but why without AF?

  • tedtedsen

    i ust pucased my first Carl Zeiss 85mm 1.4 planar for my d800 verey Nice collors and contrast but sharpnes not Sharp as my 85mm sigma and defentley not shatp as the nikor 85mm g i was focusing in the wievfinder is the screen better for MF sorrey for my bad inglish

  • Kynikos

    To anyone who has both the Otus and the 135/2:

    I understand you can’t rank lenses across focal lengths, and much about lenses is subjective (Bokeh…), but is the 135/2 Otus-like in terms of overall quality standard?

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