Zeiss announces new SLR lens family for high-resolution full frame DSLR cameras

After the 50mm f/1.4, 135mm f/2 and a new set of mirroress lenses, Zeiss made another big announcements at Photokina today: they are introducing a new high-end SLR lens product line specially designed for high resolution, full frame DSLR cameras with resolution more than 30MP (Nikon D800, D800E):

"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."

The new lenses will come in both Nikon and Canon mounts and are expected to costs around 3,000 EUR. The first set will contain three prime lenses, more are currently in the planning stage.

This entry was posted in Zeiss and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Trackbacks are closed, but you can post a comment.
  • Finally…

    • St.

      I don’t think Canon will need those, since they don’t have a camera with over 30MPx..

      • lol funny you say that… I haven’t heard of an upcoming 30-something MP Canon but all the talk has been about a 40-something MP model 😀

        Still… I can’t go back to these digital toy cameras after shooting grown-ups cameras 😀

        • Big J

          Don’t think it will be in their best interest (including the consumer) for them creating such a camera with high MP when they don’t have such good sensors in comparison. The 20-22 MP jump was barely noticeable in quality. Chances are it’ll be a ridiculously expensive trainwreck if it were to be released soon.

          • Rudi

            Canon could buy a sensor from Nikon 😉
            (though we won’t like that…)

          • richy

            Why buy them from Nikon when Nikon just buy them from Sony? Just buy direct from Sony! To be fair, whatever secret sauce Nikon have Sony add is pretty amazing stuff. When you look at what Nikon can get our of essentially the same sensor compared to Sony.

            What it boils down to these days is it is hard to buy a bad camera from any of the top 3 firms. You can buy the wrong one for you, but it should still be pretty decent.

          • Big J

            @Richy: Sony produces the sensors not the design. Or else Sony would be having them in THEIR cameras and wrecking Canon also, or probably are, haven’t read too much on Sony besides their A77 and new A99 cameras.

          • tianle

            said sony sensors are produced using Nikon’s lithography expertise. lets just say nikon makes at least parts of its own high quality sensors

        • Big J

          Wonder if that Canon will be named “8D”

    • ll cook Main

      …a lens that costs more than $25,000 ?? WTF

  • fjfjjj

    Finally, a (bit of) an answer about the 55mm Distagon:

    “Due to the high performance required, we were looking for a fresh approach. It is true that the Distagon Predominantly type is found in wide-angle lenses. This is because wide-angle lenses therefore require additional design effort in terms of number and arrangement of lenses. Since we were aiming for the best possible imaging performance for the new family of lenses, we decided to manufacture the 04/01/55 as a Distagon. Due to the number and arrangement of lenses, this lens unit is slightly larger in size and weight but uncompromising in its performance.”

    I wonder what will be the key distinction between this new line from the current ZE and ZF.2 lenses. All are made in Japan. Anyone want to guess who the manufacturing partner is, if not Cosina?

  • JC

    It’s about time to make some professional stuff instead of fool around with small sensor cameras.

    • Wish they started making lenses for people who know how to use cameras, instead of just making them for professionals 😉

      • Pablo Ricasso


  • fotopro

    I’m curious why they used a Nikon D4 body to mount this lens when they are targeting it for 30+ MP count sensors. It would have made sense to mount it on a D800 body. Do you think Nikon is cooking a D4x body that will have a high megapixel count? I’m sure Zeiss may know something already. I don’t think it will be good business for them to produce such a line of lenses that currently one camera in the market can take full advantage of it. If Nikon comes with a D4X body and Canon has already established that their top of the line cameras have merged in one DX1 (18MP), Nikon will have an advantage with the only high megapixel pro body in the market.

    • traveller

      … Or Zeiss mounted it on a D4 body so that it didn’t look so f***ing big?! 🙂

    • balance

      its so the lens wouldn’t make the camera fall over LOL

    • Fishnose

      Nah, it’s just because the D4 looks more ‘pro’ than the D800.

      • GrumpyDiver

        How about a Photoshoped D800 with a grip; there is a seam between the grip and the body in the picture.

        • Aaron

          No there isnt. Thats just the part of the battery tray that lines up with the vertical grip portion…It opens to install batteries.

    • Trialcritic

      The reason for no AF from zeiss for Nikon is Nikon not collaborating with zeiss. Without this, the quality cannot be guaranteed. Nikon wants to sell its lenses.

    • John Richardson

      Their D800 was still for AF repair at the time of the announcement. Maybe?

  • Craig

    Zeiss has to make those smaller lenses for the consumer market. It is what keeps them in business so they can make $4.500USD lenses for professionals.

    You don’t really thing they could stay in business just making the pro lenses do you?

    Now if Zeiss would just learn what AF is……….for us with old eyes.

    • kkk

      They know how to. They are already doing AF for Sony Alpha. I wonder why they don’t do it for other mounts.

      • Rolleiflex

        Sony did all the housing and AF works. Zeiss only designed the optics.

      • jake

        these Sony Zeiss are not even designed by Zeiss it is just tested and certified by CZ , any one can read original Sony Zeiss announcement here in original non-translated version of texit know that.

        in fact , these Sony ZA lenses are made in Sakai , this means they are made by KM.

        that’s why I call them fake Zeiss.

        • Rolleiflex

          I thought you also said the Cosina Zeiss lenses are fake as well. I think the best way for you is to commission Zeiss to make lenses for you with the “Made in Germany” engraving.

        • Sky

          they are designed by zeiss, if you’d read zeiss papers you’d know that. They even got ZA lenses on their website.
          Sony manufactures only housing and AF system according to Zeiss requirements.
          Also – don’t full yourself that ZE or ZF lenses are fully manufactured by Zeiss – they are, all of them, made by Cosina to some degree – in most cases: whole lenses are Cosina with Zeiss design (just like Sony with Zeiss design), in some cases it’s based on Cosina components (eg. glass). Closest to “true” Zeiss lenses are these for M-mount.

          Jake – don’t spread FUD if you obviously don’t know nothing about the topic.

        • Pablo Ricasso

          Not only are they fake Zeiss, they’re fake lenses made with fake glass!!!
          The pictures look sharp but it’s just a cheap optical trick.

          • Fishnose

            No, it’s an expensive optical trick. Very expensive.

      • Calibrator

        Zeiss said in an interview in a German photomag that they’d love to do AF lenses for Nikon and Canon but they wouldn’t let them (or something to that effect).

        • Craig

          Who won’t let them? Canon and Nikon? If that is the case it make little sense since Tamron/Tokina/Sigma all make AF lenses for C and N.

          • It’s a Japanese thing, apparently.

            Besides, Sony’s paying Zeiss for those ZA lenses. Sigma, etc. aren’t paying Canon, etc.

          • Pablo Ricasso

            I think they meant that they actually want to do it correctly. You know, so it doesn’t get crippled on next years better camera that has the implementation of the proprietary trick that is up someone’s sleeve…

          • Scorpius

            Only japanese companies are allowed to make A,F glass for canon or Nikon… i mean if Carl Zeiss did make A.F glass for these brands then Canikon would lose a fortune a sales..

          • but they also lose money from Sigma and Tamron

        • How do Sigma and Tamron do it?

          • richy

            By reverse engineering the AF. This has lead to issues in the past, noteably for Sigma when quite a lot of their older lenses didn’t work on newer digital cameras (they worked fine on canon film cameras).

            There are unwritten agreements between companies like Canon and Nikon, Canon could have made a 12-24 and 200-400 a long time ago and sold a lot of them. When they release the 200-400 it will have a built in TC and cost a lot more than the Nikon. Those two companies take great care not to get too similar to each other in their offerings.

            Nikon did work with Fuji for a while, with Fuji paying Nikon for technology. I can’t remember the deal with Kodak and Nikon \ Canon, not sure if someone else remembers the specifics but I would expect IP to have been licensed. Sigma \ Tamron et al get left alone as long as they stay under the radar. As soon as they start offering like for like products that undercut on price the rug gets pulled from under them. Didn’t Sigma get sued for their implementation of OS?

  • Musouka

    I first read this as “Zeiss announces new SLR family” but then immediately said “wait a minute, aren’t they copying Nikon with the red line under the shutter?” 8D

    Wonder if that would ever happen…

  • Ahadina

    I hope they realize that if they want to charge 3000 EUR then they better come with some autofocus!

    • jake

      I prefer it MF and I really do not care for AF or weather sealings.
      but they better be made in Geramany real Zeiss.

  • Zeus

    These should be amazing! Though can’t imagine a lens being much better than the current 100mm Macro f2. That’s the best lens I have ever shot through.

    • jake

      if you think the 100ZF2 is really amazing , then try the Leica 125f2.5 for S mount , you will be shocked and I mean really really love it.

      after all all ZF ZE ZA line zeiss lenses are fake Zeiss even not made in Germany.

      • Rolleiflex

        I feel sorry for you going around ranting “Fake Zeiss.” Your life must be extremely boring.

        • jake

          It is boring; some may even say pathetic. I don’t have a girlfriend or any real hobbies. I still live with my mom. I also have a small penis.

          • Calibrator

            > I also have a small penis.


            No, honestly, LOL.

  • Nobody Special

    As was said by genotypewriter; ‘finally’.

    For myself as a R glass owner who needs a body for the glass – yes, the M is out as our ‘R solution’ – and while I actually like it, it still comes down to price. So, with Ziess making it’s announcement of building high-end lenses it gives any of us another choice – and when spending that kind of money, regardless of the system, choice is really, really good for everyone.

    • PVS

      you should try http://www.leitax.com/ before you spend more $$$.

    • Speaking of choices, have you tried your R lenses on a good Canon body?

      • They work great on the 5D series but some R lenses hit the mirror. This is not an issue on the 1 series afaik.

  • Hank Carter


    Too big. It’s a 50mm for Pete’s sake, not a can of marmalade.

    Take a look at Leica. They can make a killer 50 that isn’t the size of a can of tomato sauce.

    • If you stop hanging out in places like the digital preview forums you’ll know that Leica’s current 50s are all for mirrorbox-less cameras. This has a huge impact on size. Plus these are specialty lenses… the compact/regular 50s are going to be around too.

      • Hank Carter

        First off I have almost exclusively shot Leica M for the past 15 years, so I know the system very well. Do you even own a Leica?

        The Summicron-M and Summilux are variants of the double-gauss design, which is commonly used in SLR lenses. Nothing special going on there that would relegate their design to cameras without a mirror box.

        Leica also had the Leica R reflex series. The optical formula of many 50 Summicron and Summilux lenses for the R system is identical to their M counter part. The second generation Summilux-R 1.4/50 still is a benchmark design and it is not the size of a jar of jam.

        There is no valid reason for the current trend of lenses growing to ridiculous proportions. Personally I don’t want to have to lug around a backpack to carry 3-4 primes and two bodies. I’m a photographer, not a Boy Scout.

        Manufacturers may be resorting to this strategy, because it is easier to manufacture to higher tolerances, if you are not miniaturizing. Part of it may also be marketing, because a lot of dilettante photographers use the size of their gear to make up for other short comings.

        • Saying you’ve been shooting Leicas for 15 years as something good is like bragging about being in the second grade for 15 years.

          Also saying lenses of the double-gauss kind are similar is like saying a vehicles with 4 wheels are similar. It’s a gross over simplification. There are massive variations between d-g lenses. R and M lines may have had identical lenses in the longer lengths like in the 90s but certainly not in anything around or below 50. If they were identical, the M lenses would need to be approximately 19mm physically longer than the corresponding R lens. Can you give me examples? What did you learn shooting a system for 15 years? 😀

          Again, if you’re tired of carrying big lenses who told you to buy these? Stick to the regular Zeiss range. Or use you R lenses with adapters… Unless it makes you feel inferior or something next to someone with a bigger 50mm lens, I don’t see the problem.

          • Hank Carter

            You know, for someone who claims to be a researcher and educator in the field of science you come off as very immature.

            But I am a patient person.

            Here is a link to Erwin Puts Leica Lens Compendium. It’s the old version, but should clear up a few things for you.


            Good luck and try sleeping without the nightlight for a change.

          • GrumpyDiver

            No, the M and R Leica lenses are not the same at shorter focal lengths; they can’t be. In the M cameras the back of the lens is very close to the shutter, whereas in the R line you have to clear the mirror, so the lenses sit well forward of the focal plane. The diameter of the R lenses is pretty close to other comparable manual focus lenses for (D)SLRs.

            The super long lenses (the ones that required the Visoflex attachment on the M cameras) can go both ways. My f/6.8 400mm Telyt is an M lens with an R adaptor that I stil occasionaly use on my R3 cameras. The also made an R version, and the lens mount (and the name) were the only two differences.

          • @Hank Carter

            In Leica land, Erwin Puts bends light, apparently.

            You have much to learn Hank but before that you need to be willing to learn. Let me know once you are ready…

  • Genotypewriter get off the computer ready & go find a real job.
    I’ve had enough of your pussy stinking up the basement.

    • Let me guess… you’re 65+ ? Your taste in humor reeks of old lol

  • Most of the premium Nikkor lenses are super sharp at f/4. I am sorry, but if you need 30+ mpix, you should probably be using a medium format. That said, having AF is a must for me. I could have the best lens made and still come up soft without AF on that size body. I am not saying these lenses won’t be sharp and contrasty. I am simply saying that it is hard to beat some of the newer Nikkors, like the 85mm 1.4G at f/4. Maybe you might be able to add a little contrast (I think it is really good as is), but outside of marginal border gains, I don’t see the point. If you have 30 something mpix don’t use the borders so much, and crop it tighter in post. I think that is a more logical use of the extra pixels on the body type. I have had 2 lenses out of 6 that had slight centering defects though. I have learned to do a setup test of any new lens. The quality control is just not what it needs to be for these high res sensors.

    • GfK

      I reckon, this new lens-line perhaps gets postponed or even cancelled.
      Their target group is really really small.

    • Davide


      Why pay 3,000 dollars for a MF prime, while Nikon makes incredibly sharp, AF lenses for 200 (f/1.8) or 1000 (f/1.4).

      Is Zeiss quality really so amazing?

      Can anybody share websites with comparisons between Zeiss lens and the same focal length/aperture by Nikon?

      • You have to understand a bit more than being able to read the focal length and the f number off a lens to understand what Zeiss is getting at here.

        What they’re doing is not something commonly seen before. Zeiss’s current lenses are pretty ordinary and most are not better than Canons and Nikons. But this particular 55 1.4 Distagon is a whole different thing. If you’re not in the market for it, leave it alone…

        • GfK

          so you think innovation alone (bigger circle as you mention)
          is enough to hold this lens-line to the market ?

    • Pablo Ricasso

      You just said yourself…

      “The quality control is just not what it needs to be for these high res sensors.”
      What better reason could there be for a line of max quality glass?

      “I am sorry, but if you need 30+ mpix, you should probably be using a medium format.”
      Some people do. Some people want to carry less, spend less, or both. By the time these come available the D800 might be selling in the low 2000 dollar range and medium format will still be bulky and expensive. There will also be more cameras like the D800 in the future. A full frame sensor with the pixel density of the D3200 would be more than 54 megapixels. I think you can expect at least that much in the future, because 24 is an improvement on 16, even with some average glass…

      “That said, having AF is a must for me.”
      Focus confirmation, or zoom in using live view.

    • `/1nc3nt

      I sold my AF-S lenses for Carl Zeiss lenses. Sometime I use R lenses too. Nikon lenses except their macros have resolution problem with D800. This is something you only can tell once you enlarge your shots, not something from lab tests.

      I think the new CZ lenses are a bit exaggerated, but worth to try.

    • `/1nc3nt

      I sold my AF-S lenses for Carl Zeiss lenses. Sometime I use R lenses too. Nikon lenses except their macros have resolution problem with D800. This is something you only can tell once you enlarge your shots, not something from lab tests.

      I think the new CZ lenses are a bit exaggerated, but worth to try.

  • I think a manual focus lens is uttermost useless to obtain a detailed picture at open aperture, and I do not see any kind of practical application for this lens.

    The depth of field is a direct function of the diameter of the disk across which you are willing t0 accept a point to be projected. The smaller the pixel, the more important it is to focus precisely. An open 50mm 1.4 has a depth of field which is almost non-existant – at 1 m distance, you can’t get both the eye and the eye lashes into focus anymore (even with my 12MP D300s).

    Modern SLRs have nothing which would help you focus manually, like a split focus or microprism screen. So to focus precisely, the only thing you can do is to mount the camera onto a tripod and measure the distance with a yardstick.That sounds like studio and product photography – but there, I do not see why you would work with a lens wide open.

    So even if this lens did miracles in terms of resolution and does great in the laboratory – could anybody explain a real-life situation of a working pro where it would yield any benefit over a good Nikon prime?

    • Pablo Ricasso

      You still have focus confirmation. You can also zoom in and look. It’s a bit of a pain, but as far as I can tell it’s even better than using a split screen, when you have time to.

      I think these are going to be for people who want to take medium format kind of pictures on a smaller camera. Medium format also has a narrow depth of field. You also don’t need to shoot at full aperture. Sometimes I think the majority of people don’t understand that last one…

    • `/1nc3nt

      There is a technology called live view and if used with manual focus can deliver maximum result with your output. Better than your split focus nor microprism screen.

      People who do photography seriously and tried high-end lenses will tell you a different point of view. You have to try it first. I am tired explaining this to people.

  • Those Zeiss lenses are absolutely ridiculous – 3.000 € for a lens, “that ics capable of a > 30MP sensor” – what is with the ZF.2 lenses – they cost > 1.000 € an know they aren´t good anymore. It sounds fpr me like all of the existing Zeiss lenses ara only a huge promise – an nothing more.

  • Jack

    No AF, no buy.

    • Big J

      They’re meant for video more than likely. They have an incredibly smooth auto-focus the Zeiss lenses made on Nikon and Canon mounts.

  • Kalinich


  • is it really happening this year??

  • Back to top