Zeiss announced that they will be releasing several of their manual focus lenses in a Canon EOS compatible lens mount. While the lenses are manual focus, all other aspects of lens operation are electronically linked to the camera body. The camera can set the lens aperture, and so these lenses can be used in any exposure mode, including aperture priority. These lenses have a “ZE” designation (presumably standing for Zeiss EOS).
In addition, though the lenses are manual focus, the Canon EOS “green dot” focus confirmation light will operate, as will the focus confirmation “beep” (if set), so users don’t have to depend on their ability to judge focus on the viewfinder screen in order to get sharp images.
Two lenses should be available this year (October 2008), They are the Planar T* 50mm f/1.4 ($660) and the Planar T* 85mm f/1.4 ($1170). A Distagon T* 21mm f/2.8 is also planned for 2009. No price has been announced for the Distagon, but I’m guessing somewhere around $1600.
At least now those who aren’t satisfied with the image quality of the Canon 50/1.4, 50/1.2L, 85/1.8 and 85/1.2L primes will have an alternative. The Zeiss lenses are often valued by their owners for high sharpness along with smooth bokeh. Both the 50/1.4 and 85/1.4 have been available in other mounts (Nikon-F, Pentax-K and M42 screw mount) for some time and they have generally met with an enthusiastic reception by users.
Zeiss Press Release
Oberkochen Germany, September 15, 2008—Carl Zeiss is expanding its successful line of SLR lenses: ZE lenses with EF bayonet for all analog and digital EOS camera models. As with all EF lenses, the new ZE lenses from Carl Zeiss transfer all information exclusively via electronic contacts. This means that all exposure modes such as programmed auto exposure, shutter priority, aperture priority and manual setting are supported. The camera’s automatic focus confirmation also remains available to an unlimited extent with these manual focus lenses. With digital SLRs, the lens data and all exposure data can also be accessed via the camera’s EXIF file. Even E-TTL flash metering is supported. The first lenses to be available will be the Planar T* 1.4/50 ZE and the Planar T* 1.4/85 ZE in the last quarter of this year. Further focal lengths will be added to the line within the next few months. Recommended retail price of both lenses: