Zeiss Tells the Story of Melding Design and Performance in the Upcoming 55mm f/1.4

Zeiss lenses have been around for over 120 years, but admittedly "product design has never been the foremost factor." In designing their new high-end Distagon lenses coming to the market at the end of 2013, Zeiss wanted to really consider aesthetics in the project. "The newly-defined design is intended to reflect the lenses’ unique character and make Zeiss lenses truly unmistakable in the future."

In a blog post, Zeiss goes into great detail explaining how and why design was given a lot of emphasis in the building of the new lens. “Zeiss lenses are known for their technical precision, excellent image performance and ergonomics. That will always be the case because we know photographers’ needs and user circumstances. But our new lenses should also fulfill the highest aesthetic expectations of our customers to become design objects in their own right.”


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I don't want to even try and paraphrase what Zeiss has explained in great detail, there is just too much to cover. I recommend reading it yourself to get a grasp of how much care and precision they are putting into the upcoming 55mm f/1.4 and "the entire new range of mirrorless system cameras, as well as the cine and anamorphic families of lenses. In the future, the new design language will be applied to all further focal ranges of these series, as well as future lenses. The design of the high-end SLR lenses served as the template to develop the ideal form that will characterize how all ZEISS lenses will look in the future."


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For more information and the whole story, head on over to the Zeiss Blog.

[Via Zeiss]

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14 Comments

yellow? seriously? classic zeiss lens look much better

From their blog: "The yellow scale numbers, which like the scales themselves were modeled after professional cinema lenses, are easy to recognize in poor lighting conditions and therefore represent an additional unique feature for camera lenses."

Ive had to zone focus when the metrics were white on black, and the feet scale were blue on black. it was im[possible to see the feets scales quickly in dim light. and i have no idea how to estimate in meters. i would prefer the feets scale to be glow in the dark

Learn math.

I wonder what their "conventional lens" was. That is a whole lot ghosting for a 1.4 lens, must have found the worst. Also the exposures seem blown out in the conventional lens. Still looks like a great lens, but a really expensive lens...

Those shots looked as if they where from a 1970's era Nikkor, as mine is pretty prone to flare & CA as well. I was wondering what the "T-Stop" rating of this lens was - I'm assuming t/1.7 might be the right ballpark. 12 elements is quite a bit of glass to transmit through.

I have one Zeiss lens I bought a year ago and it really is amazing. I hope they can keep this newer breed of lens in line with current Zeiss price levels. The biggest limitation is the manual focus. As long as your subject is fairly static, then Zeiss is great. For sports, weddings, events etc ... I leave the Zeiss at home.

That's not the fault of the lens, but the fault of the user. People didn't use auto focus for years in sports photography now suddenly it's a requirement? Best to just learn to pull focus properly. If cinematographers can do it on manual glass, you can too.

1) cinema cameras are mounted on dollies and cranes and what not
2) cinematographers have a dedicated focus puller (its a person) just just to pull focus, and they pre focus and set focus marks on everything
3) cinematographers orchestrate the movement of everything, photographers generally don't
4) motion pictures are not as focus critical as no one is going to pause a frame just to check its sharpness
5) sports photographers pre-focus and use smaller apertures than f1.4

All your points are moot unless you show some sample images of you pulling focus with an f1.4 lens of something vaguely moving, like an earthworm. I think the only thing you'll pull is your neck muscle.

Yes, because EVERYTHING must be shot wide open. You're an idiot. Also what is MF-confirmation?

I have a 50mm f/1.2 L from Canon and wide open, I do not get anything near as bad as the smaple images shown here. This is a highly flawed/biased video. This lens will probably cost way more than the 50mm L also, without AF. Pointless for me.

that first test picture of a typical lens looked like they used a slow shutter speed and then moved the camera. Well regardless when this lens comes out I'll be in B&H to test it out.

I could listen to that guy talk for hours :)

everything was fine and dandy until the shockingly bad comparison photos. For God's sake the comparison photo was taken with a lens that must be older than a Pentax Asahi SMC 50mm F1.4 or had an element misaligned or had visible camera shake or all of the above.

The lens is good enough to stand on its own and might even compare favorably to the Canon 50mm F1.2 L stopped down. What's the big idea of comparing with some shitty ass image. Terrible taste.

Fast forward to 2013, where is my AF Zeiss? I'm not dropping that cash to hold my breath trying to twiddle with F1.4 worth of DOF. If I miss, it might just get the bad IQ of your comparison image.