a hands on review
Let me begin by saying I could have written this entire review in this one sentence: "The Zeiss Touit 12mm and 32mm are two of the best lenses I have ever tested -- resolution is exceptional, distortion is non-existent, look and feel are pro-quality perfect."
With that out of the way, let's move on to see what drove me to this conclusion.
|A Zeiss 12mm Touit lens mounted on a Fuji X-Pro1 with the 32mm Touit beside it.|
|Zeiss Touit 2.8 12mm lens and Touit 1.8 32mm lens with lens hoods in place|
|Zeiss Touit 2.8 12mm lens and Touit 1.8 32mm lens with hoods removed|
The first practical test I put the lenses through is my brick wall test, the results of which are below. Download links are supplied below so you can judge the results for yourself. It was right after performing this test that I realized I was witnessing something special with these lenses. As you can see from the results, there is no visible distortion -- practically no vignetting, no bowing of lines, and the corners are sharp even at wide open apertures.
Zeiss Touit 12mm f/2.8 Distagon lens
The 12mm focal length of the Zeiss Touit is equivalent to 18mm in full frame and has a 99° angle of view. It weighs in at 9.17oz (260g) with a minimum focus distance of 7.09" (18cm), a 67mm filter size, and apertures of f/2.8-22. By comparison, this is shorter than the Fuji 14mm lens which is equivalent to a 21mm lens with an 89° angle of view. My review of the Fuji 14mm lens can be seen here.
|Download each of the Zeiss 12mm Touit high res tests using the links below.|
Below are some downloadable files from the Zeiss Touit 12mm lens, which should demonstrate its very high resolution and low distortion.
|I chose most of these subjects because their texture demonstrates the resolution capabilities of the lenses. This photo was taken with an f/5.6 aperture. Click here to download a hi res version of this file.|
|Taken at f/5.6. Click here to download a hi res version of this file.|
|A super wide angle lens such as the Zeiss 12mm is often used to obtain a sweeping perspective tying the foreground to background with the lens placed close to the foreground object and focus placed forward also. In this type of shot it is very important to have a sharp image in the front corners. This shot demonstrates that capability. It was shot at f/8 with focus placed on the protruding bolt. Even in the front corners the image is sharp. Download a hi res version by clicking here.|
|This photo of a red caboose was taken at f/8. Click here to download a hi res version of this file.|
|Another example of using a super wide angle lens to relate a foreground subject to a background. Taken at f/8. Click here to download a hi res version of this file.|
Zeiss Touit 32mm f/1.8 Planar lens
The 32mm focal length of the Zeiss Touit has a 48° angle of view. It weighs in at 7.41oz (210g) with a minimum focus distance of 1.21' (37cm), a 52mm filter size, and apertures of f/1.8-22. This is a little shorter than the Fuji 35mm lens and gives the Zeiss a bit more of a slight wide angle effect. It is equivalent to a full frame 48mm.
|Download each of the high res Zeiss 12mm Touit tests using the links below.|
I was also able to perform a comparison set of tests on the Fuji 35mm lens below. I think you will see that the corners of the Fuji lens are softer at the more open apertures.
|Download each of the high res Fuji 35mm tests using the links below.|
Below are some downloadable files from the Zeiss Touit 32mm lens, which should demonstrate its very high resolution and low distortion.
|A super sharp image of nautical rope taken at f/11. Click here to download a hi res version of this file|
|Strawberries at the farmer's market taken at f/8 Click here to download a hi res version of this file.|
|At f/11 the resolution of this image is amazing. Click here to download a hi res version of this file.|
|Street scene shot at f/7.1 Click here to download a hi res version of this file.|
|This is about as close as the 32mm lens will go. The shorter 48mm equivalent focal length gives the perspective a slight wide angle rounding affect when used close in like this.|
|Shot wide open at f/1.8.|
|Also photographed at f/1.8. Click here to download a hi res version of this image.|
I began by stating that the Zeiss Touit lenses were two of the best lenses I have ever tested, and hope that the sample images presented above show why I reached that conclusion. These are truly professional grade optics with exception resolution across the image plane, and no noticeable distortion.
If I had to pick one thing to complain about on these lenses it would be the tiny blue dot Zeiss uses as an index to align the lens when mounting it on the camera. I can see that the blue dot is an attempt to match the color of the Zeiss logo, but there is a reason most companies use a red dot. It is easier to see. The blue dot is not only too small, it is barely visible. So that's it -- my one tiny complaint.
We cannot help but draw comparisons between the Zeiss lenses and their similar Fuji X counterparts. Truth is the Fuji lenses are really very good, but the bottom line is that the Zeiss lenses are better. Is this difference worth the extra cost of $1250 for the Zeiss 12mm vs $899 for the Fuji14mm, or $900 for the Zeiss 32mm vs $599 for the Fuji 35mm? Naturally, this depends upon your own standards and the particular uses you have for these focal lengths, and also upon the fact that they are slightly different focal lengths. With wide angle lenses in particular, just a small change in focal length can make a big difference in angle of view.
|This comparison shows the slightly wider angle focal length of the Zeiss 32mm on the left as compared to the Fuji 35mm on the right.|
It will be interesting to see what other lenses Zeiss will be adding to the Touit series. The quality of these lenses is a real game changing upgrade for mirrorless camera systems.
|A late afternoon shot with the Zeiss Touit 32mm lens at f/8.|
|Taken with the 32mm Touit at f/4. Click here to download a hi res version of this image.|
|Taken with the 12mm Touit at f/5.6. Click here to download a hi res version of this image.|
A special thanks to Jeff Hirsh of Fotocare for supplying the Zeiss Touit lenses for these tests. If you are a pro photographer in NYC you probably already know Jeff. If you don't, you should. He has been supplying professional photographers in New York's photo district for years. His shop is located between 5th & 6th Avenues at:
41 West 22nd Street
New York, NY 10010