Carl Zeiss’ Distagon T* 18mm f/3.5 And Distagon T* 21mm f/2.8 Lenses; Open Wide, Wider Still…That’s It! Page 2

The photographer not used to working with Zeiss lenses may be initially surprised at the weight of these lenses, but they will also be impressed by their precision construction. These are solidly built optical devices combining the finest materials and construction along with optical designs that are time tested and even legendary. What Zeiss has provided is an alternative to other third-party, mostly zoom, lenses where their goal of achieving optical perfection never leaves the top of the company’s to-do list. If you’re looking for the best optical performance in these focal-length ranges and don’t mind focusing, you won’t find better lenses at any price.

(Top): I shot this “normal lens” benchmark image with a tripod-mounted Canon EOS 5D and an EF 50mm f/1.8 lens. To get the maximum depth of field an Aperture Priority (Av) exposure of 1⁄320 sec at f/16 and ISO 320 was used.
(Center): This wider view was captured with the Distagon T* 21mm f/2.8 and an exposure of 1⁄250 sec at f/16 and ISO 320 to match the benchmark image.
(Bottom): This much wider view was captured with the Distagon T* 18mm f/3.5 and an exposure of 1⁄400 sec at f/16 and ISO 320 to match the benchmark. If you look at the trees on the left and right edges of the frame, it’s clear that the additional angle of view doesn’t really add much area to the image but if you’re shooting in a tight space it could be priceless.

The Other Side Of Wide
Carl Zeiss recently introduced the Distagon T* 28mm f/2 ZE lens that’s an ideal companion to the Planar T* 85mm f/1.4 and Planar T* 50mm f/1.4 I previously tested and will be similarly useful for available light photography. The Distagon T* 28mm f/2 is compact and uses retrofocus construction, delivering a 74? field of view that’s great for full-frame cameras but dissolves to 44.8mm (equivalent) for Canons with a 1.6x multiplication factor. Floating elements help produce high imaging performance from close-ups to infinity and with its 11” close focusing you can make sharp close-up images of even tiny objects. The wide aperture opening can be a big help with depth-of-field control when you want to separate a subject from the background. With its fast maximum aperture it’s ideally suited for shooting HD video due to its wide focus rotation, superb image quality, and minimal breathing. Breathing occurs when a lens’ optics change the apparent focal length slightly when shifting mechanical focus. The price tag is around $1000 but the 58mm filter size will help save a few bucks when purchasing a polarizer.

Technical Specifications
Distagon T* 21mm f/2.8
Focusing Range: 7.92” to infinity
Number Of Elements/Groups: 16/13
Filter Thread: 82mm
Accessories: Metal lens hood included
Camera Mounts: F Mount (ZF), EF Mount (ZE), and K Mount (ZK)
Price: $1540

Distagon T* 18mm f/3.5
Focusing Range: 11.8” to infinity
Number Of Elements/Groups: 13/11
Filter Thread: 82mm
Accessories: Metal lens hood included
Camera Mounts: F Mount (ZF), EF Mount (ZE), and K Mount (ZK)
Price: $1290 (Canon mount, price varies per mount)

Here the Distagon T* 18mm f/3.5 lens was used on two different cameras but placed on the same tripod at the same location. In the top photograph, the camera was a full-frame Canon EOS 5D with a basic “sunny 16” exposure of 1⁄125 sec at f/16. For the below image, I mounted the 18mm lens on an EOS 50D that has a lens multiplication factor of 1.6x and while it obviously maintained the perspective of an 18mm lens, the angle of view as captured was equivalent to a 28.8mm lens.

For more information, contact Carl Zeiss MicroImaging, Inc. at: