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Carl Zeiss Planar T* 50mm f/1.4 lens

by Sean Y., 1998


Based on the classic 1896 P. Rudolph design from Zeiss Stiftung, the Planar 50mm lens is a very fast, affordably priced standard lens in the Contax/Yashica SLR mount capable of taking some really great pictures. At 275 g. (9.7 oz.), it can easily be the lightweight default lens on your camera.

Physical Characteristics

Construction is metal, glass, and the standard rubberized focusing grip. The aperture ring (f/1.4-f/16) has full aperture detents although there are half-aperture settings. The focusing scale is marked in both feet (American) and meters (the rest of the world) and has a red infrared focusing compensation mark and depth-of-field scale (even though all Contax SLRs have depth-of-field preview). The only plastic material is the front and rear lens caps (which I assiduously use).

With a 55mm screw-in filter size, you probably won't whine about buying an entire set of filters if this is not your first Contax SLR lens. Lens flare is not a problem; I've tossed two Tiffen ND graduated filters (Cokin "P" mount) in front and still got excellent results when shooting sunsets.

My Planar 50/1.4 was made in Japan and Zeiss claims that it is every bit as good as older German made lenses. The MM-type diaphragm allows for program AE, shutter-priority AE (Tv), aperture-priority AE (Av) and manual mode. The older AE-type diaphragm on certain currently produced Zeiss lenses only supports the Av and manual metering modes; this is solely a function of the diaphragm action and has nothing to do with optical quality.

Documentation

Like all Zeiss lenses, the Planar 50mm comes with a technical data sheet written in English, German, French, and Spanish. There are four sets of curves: two MTF diagrams (f/2.8 and f/5.6), relative illuminance at f/1.4 and f/5.6, and distortion. Specifications (number of elements and groups, exact focal length - 51.8mm for this lens, etc.) are also mentioned.

Performance

Oh yeah, this lens takes some really nice, contrasty pictures. The fast f/1.4 aperture allows for good low-light flashless photography or strong depth-of-field effects. Partially stopped down, this lens is really stellar.

I doubt if I could tell the difference between pictures taken from this lens and those taken from a Leica/equipment/canon/Nikon, etc., but heck, since the main reason for my owning a Contax SLR was to have lenses that said Zeiss, what do I care?

Pricing

It is one of the least expensive lenses in the Zeiss product line. If you're building a Contax/Zeiss SLR system, this is definitely a great way to get started in Carl Zeiss optics.


Copyright © 1997-98 Sean Y. All rights reserved.

Article created 1998

Readers' Comments


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Robert O. Shaw , February 02, 1998; 11:30 P.M.

I'm a 57-year old amateur, with a couple of years of experience as a Marine Corps photojournalist back in the late 1960's. A real hacker, for sure.

In July of 1997 I bought a used RTS II which came with the Zeiss PlanarT* 50mm f1.4.

My first "serious" shoot with the camera was an Antique and Collector's Air Show at Vancouver, WA.. Bright colors. Sharp lines. Shiny contours.

It was August; hot, slight haze scattered cumulus coulds, with Mt. Hood very clear to the east. A perfect day, but no filters! And I was still learning the camera.

I shot a roll of Fuji Reala 100, all hand-held. I was very, very lucky, as 2 out of every 3 negatives were terrific. Even the clouds were contrasty against the blue sky!

Everything in focus was sharp, saturated and very highly resolved.

I picked one shot; close up of an intricate, massive, classic 9- cylinder Pratt-Whitney radial engine to enlarge.

I had the lab take it up to 11x16. When I picked it up, they asked me if I used a Hasselblad; you could read the serial number stamped on the name plate!

When I had it dry-mounted at another lab, the technician asked me what brand of medium-format camera I used "to take that great shot".

No one could believe that negatiive came rom a 35mm SLR.

Forget the medium--format negative stuff. Buy this lens! It is a bargain. A Bargain!

J. Law , March 28, 1998; 04:20 P.M.

Regarding Bokeh on Zeiss Planar 50/1.4

I just picked up this lens, the Planar 50/1.4 AE version, Japanese make. Did the Japanese change the design when they imported it from the Germans?
I just shot a roll entirely at f1.4 and compared them to my Canon EF 50/1.8II.

The Zeiss had rather nicer resolution at f/1.4 and f/1.8 compared to the Canon; saturation was comparable in the focussed areas, and less than the Canon in the out-of-focus areas.

The kicker is that both images showed virtually the same nisen (cross-eye) bokeh problems, viz:

i. Out of focus highlights have a double-image cross-eye look. I didn't get the warm, fuzzy gaussian blur style highlights that I was expecting from all the posts on dejanews talking about the famous Zeiss/Leitz designs.

ii. Catiopteric-style highlights, that is, when they don't double up (when the highlights are more near than far) they exhibit rim-weighted distributions rather than gaussian distribution (brighter at the edges and dim in the centre, vs the desired bright in the centre and dim on the edges.) Looks a lot like flare circles.

I'm curious if anyone else has used Zeiss and gotten the kind of nice highlights that I was expecting -- these were a little disappointing. Should I have shot at f2.8? f8? The idea is to maxmize the minimnal depth-of-field that a f1.4 opening gives you, after all, to GET those nice highlights that I was expecting.

Am I expecting too much? can NO lens avoid the "bright-rim-double-image" problem? Does the 135/2.8 Sonnar or 85/1.4 Planar avoid this problem? Or is there no cure?

Thanks.

s y , April 13, 1998; 03:20 A.M.

My friend and I spent the day taking pictures him with his Zeiss 50mmf/1.4 lens and I with 24-85 Canon lense set at 50mm. We shared the same tripod and used about the same f stops f8 and upwards with same slide film. We viewed the slides with a quality loupe and the conlusion. Yes he had a slightly better contrast or snap. The word I would like to emphasize is slightly better snap. Mind you we weren`t scientific about our test but there was a little difference. He was disappointed because he wanted to blow me away with his prime Zeiss lense. I told him I`ll stick with my Canon lenses because of more choices in lenses and generally speaking prices are better. Maybe it would of been fair if I used a Canon 50mm f1.4 lense both lenses shot wide open and upwards but I have no present interest in owning a 50mm lense and I love my 24-85 Canon zoom. After this test I even love this lense more. Conclusion I think that most people who spend so much on Leica and Zeiss lenses must reinforce their belief that they are getting a superior lense or else they`ll feel like they`ve been had. Yes I`m sure it`s a tad better but it surely isn`t a tad more expensive compared to Nikon or Canon on some of their lenses. Binghum

J. Law , April 13, 1998; 09:50 P.M.

Regarding binghum's comments: Yes, the 24-85 is a good lens -- I have the 28-105 and I have shot regularly with it. A few questions: 1) At what magnification did you examine both slides? I've done some comparisons between my Planar 50/1.4 and the Canon 28-105, and they're both very nice at 4x6 enlargement. Look at the grain under an enlarger, and you will definitely notice some difference in the details. Resolution on the Planar is spectactular -- on the Canon, very good. 2) Try shooting them wide open. The 28-105 wide open is reasonable, nothing amazing. The Planar wide open is ... well, very good. Stopped to f2 or f2.8, and it's unbelievable. Most lenses stopped to f8 will fix a lot of the weird problems -- even some crappy no name lens will do reasonably well at 4x6 enlargement, f8. In fact I'm always surprised at how the disposable single-element plastic lenses do -- they get real pictures!! (Then again, I believe they're fixed at f11 to f16? something like that?) It will be harder to compare the Canon 50/1.4 and the Planar 50/1.4 -- they are both excellent lenses, of course. The 50mm is notoriously easy to make compared to the other ones. 3) Try comparing bokeh. This is one thing that I'm not completely satisfied with on my Planar, (see my previous post) but is scads better than the Canon 50/1.8 II -- out of focus areas on the Canon are completely heinous, whereas on the Planar they are... well... softer. (I have second opinoins on what I posted earlier -- I wasn't comparing similar things.) Not as nice as a long long lens, but much nicer, on the whole. The 28-105 does a pretty good job of taming the funky highlights, but it doesn't exactly make it. Of course, the Planar isn't going to give you BOOM immensely better pictures -- that's up to the subject and content -- and the negative size. Especially colour enlargements off of 6x7 or 4x5 negs are absolutely beautiful (extended tonal/colour range compared to 35mm). And yes, there are some nicely inexpensive Contax lenses -- which I must admit are pretty well priced. Maybe they don't completely compare to Canon prices. Certainly not near Leica prices. Canon 28/2.8: 209 Contax 28/2.8: 332 Canon 35/2: 289 Contax 35/2.8: 282 Contax 35/1.4: 1075 Canon 50/1.4: 350 Contax 50/1.4: ~330 Canon 85/1.8: 379 Canon 85/1.2L: 1,799 Contax 85/1.4: 860 Canon 135/2.8SF: 369 Contax 135/2.8: 395 Canon 200/2.8: 750 Contax 180/2.8: 1250 Used, they can be rather reasonable. It's not that we're paying more for the name (As Mr. Yamamoto noticed, no one knows who is Contax) or for "status" -- it's because we are looking for a particular system that fits. And the Contax system fits. The 167MT body is much more fluent to me than the Elan II -- the AE lock, in specific, is wonderful for my shooting style. Just my $0.02. -Jon

s y , April 14, 1998; 02:04 P.M.

I want to say I respect Zeiss and Leica optics. They certainly are a wonderful tool to work with. Initially my friend wanted Zeiss optics he didn`t care if it was mated up with a Contax body. It could of been a Yashica body but the hefty feel of the Contax body convinced him this was the way to go. For me I wanted the fast usm lenses with full time manual focus and so I went with Canon. If any other camera manufacturer offered usm at a better price and equally or better optics I would of went for it. We viewed the slides under a 6x loupe. We agreed on mostly using fstops at around f8 and upwards some shots at f5.6 too for our test. The reason why we chose higher fstops was simply that we knew the limitations of a zoom. You`re correct that even lousy lenses stopped at f8 and upwards can become clean. Also I mostly use my 24-85 Canon lense at f8 and upwards and I wanted to see the differences between his lense and mine. As a reminder my zoom lenses was set at 50mm. The highlights were very similiar with the exception that overall he had a little more snap or punch to the slides. I think very similiar in what you said in regards to your lense test with the 28-105 Canon lenses to the 50mm f1.4 Zeiss lense. I know other parts of the world such as Europe Contax is better known probably because of the old Contax rangefinder cameras. Binghum

Y. Dobon , April 26, 1998; 12:18 P.M.

Readers,

The Canon EOS 50/1.4 is actually more expensive than the Zeiss Planar 50/1.4. Please remember this when considering Binghum's comments about the Zeiss 50/1.4 and its affordability.

s y , May 02, 1998; 10:38 A.M.

Readers and Sean, Wanted Dead Or Alive! A U.S.$275.00 reward for the capture of binghum for making an absurd statement that Zeiss lenses are expensive. I wouldn`t mind using that reward money for more Canon lenses. Hi, Just kidding. I was fully aware that the Zeiss 50mm 1.4 lense was slightly more expensive compared to the Canon 50mm 1.4 lense. My friend who owns this lense mentioned the price to me and also above the View/Add Comments you mentioned the price to be U.S. $ 275.00. Also jon Law from just below my first comment quoted the price of Zeiss and Canon 50mm 1.4 lenses to be a U.S. $20.00 difference. I still stand on what I said in regards to my first posting that generally Zeiss lenses are more expensive than Canon. This comment doesn`t necessarily reflect the Zeiss 50 1.4 lense. Like in life their are always exceptions. Sean I found it amusing when you emphasized the word more in bold type for the Zeiss 50mm lense to be cheaper than the Canon50mm lense. It`s only about U.S. $30.00 difference. If I shopped around to buy a Canon 50mm 1.4 lense their can easily be a price difference of U.S.$30.00 from store to store. Sean I know you wear eyeglasses. Have you ever considered getting Zeiss glasses frames and Zeiss prescription lenses for you frames? WOW! What an ultimate combination Zeiss lenses for your Contax camera and Zeiss prescription lenses for your Zeiss frames. Man you`ll be in Zeiss heaven. Cheers! Binghum

s y , May 02, 1998; 08:59 P.M.

I`m sorry I meant - I was fully aware that the Zeiss 50mm 1.4 lense was slightly less expensive and not slightly more expensive compared to the Canon 50mm 1.4 lense.

Also I`m not joking that Zeiss frames and Zeiss prescription lenses actually do exist.

Binghum

daniel steinberg , May 18, 1998; 11:35 P.M.

I've owned the zeiss 50 1.4 for 10 years now, and wouldn't use anything else. I've been enlarging prints to 30x40 from my 50 and other zeiss lenses. The 50 is surprisingly easy to find at camera swaps etc. I found one in excellent condition for $95. The sharpness is evident at 30x40, and the contrast is excellent. Not only do I use the lenses for the optics, but they are highly durable. When I hold the contax with 50, it's very well balanced and feels substantial. I once dropped my contax 139 with 50 and it bounced across the pavement. No damage, just a scratch. We're talking metal construction here, no plastic (on the lens). Turning the aperture or focusing ring is an experience in itself. The german lenses did have a smoother feel though, and I think that's why some photographers say they are better. Hope you get something out of this.

Dan

Chris Brown , June 23, 1998; 11:36 A.M.

After reading all info on this web site about Canon, Nikon and Contax, I have not resolved my question of what to upgrade to when I sell my Canon F-1N system. I have all prime lenses using the 52mm filter size:24mm f2, 35mm f2, 50mm f1.4, 85mm f1.8, 100mm f2, and 300mm f2.8 with extenders. Since Canon has discontinued this equipment and is now phasing out support for the body and lenses, I am in the market for a new system. I have handled a Nikon F-5: it feels great and has buttons accessable to my fingers. I have shot the Canon EOS-1N but without quality glass. I do not like the small buttons, but I think the electronic system control of the lenses is very smart: no mechanical links between body and lens. Since my work is very deliberate and not point & shoot, I do not need 8 fps autofocusing. I do need exceptionally sharp images with excellent color rendition and tonal gradations. I am leaning toward the Contax/Zeiss system. Any comments?

Alexey Merz , December 04, 1998; 11:23 P.M.

1. Binghum writes: "Try comparing bokeh. This is one thing that I'm not completely satisfied with on my Planar, (see my previous post) but is scads better than the Canon 50/1.8."

The Canon 1.8 is a cheap consumer lens. The Canon 1.4 has *wonderful* bokeh, probably better than the Zeiss and said to be better than the Leica Summilux-M (f/1.4). If you want to see a 50 with wonderful bokeh, look at the Leica Summicron (f/2) or at the Olympus Zuiko 50/1.8, which is supposedly a close copy of the Leica.

2. As others have pointed out, at optimum aperture most lenses are very good under optimal conditions. But try nonoptimal conditions. Check out how well the Zeiss (or Canon) 50/1.4 lenses suppress veiling flare. Try them at f/1.4 and f/2. At f/5.6 my Nikkor and Lieca 35 mm lenses are indistinguishable except at the extreme corners of the image field. On the other hand, at f/1.4 the Leica is noticably better than the Nikkor at f/2.8. On the other hand, the Leica cost 3-4 times as much as the Nikkor.

3. Film choice is important. Do your tests on Velvia or, better, Kodachrome 64 or 25. Using even 100-speed film, the differences between most lenses are not great.

4. If you don't regularly do these things (shoot wide open, use a weighted tripod, use slow film, enlarge a lot) a better lens will make no difference.

If you want better pictures, then do these things * before* buying a more expensive lens. And of course, if you're basically happy with your pictures, use the money for film!

Nassar Ali Syed , January 05, 1999; 04:15 P.M.

Hi, I would like to say that this lens is a belter. It has an MTF rating of 4.6 (4.8 being maximum) and is the sharpest lens I own. It is definately sharper then my CANON USM 28-105 zoom and even my 100/2.8 Macro (MTF 4.4). I have a web page with Pix fro the ZEISS and also from CANON Lenses. the diference is very noticeable, although it is more so in the full size scans rather then compressed small images posted on the net. Thanks & Rgds!!

Nassar Ali Syed , January 05, 1999; 04:17 P.M.

The URL for my page in my above comment is:

http://www.geocities.com/SouthBeach/Boardwalk/2965 /freinds.htm

thanx

Evan Sharma , January 09, 1999; 04:20 A.M.

I would like to mention something which can give you economical results of the highestt grade.

No doubt about it, the ZEISS 50mm/1:1.4 lens is an excellent quality optic, definately in the top three notch as far as Prime 50mm lenses are Concerned with an MTF of 4.5.

The CONTAX cameras share a mount with YAHICA cameras. I own a $175.oo YASHICA FX Super 2000 camera with a ZEISS 50mm/1,4 lens that I picked up a t a special offer for $200.00, By the way the Yahsica Camera came with a 50mm/1.8 Yahica lens as a bonus, a camera bag and a Yahsica Flash. All in all this setup cost me about $375.00!

For this, besides the free accessories I got a sturdy, metal body, with mechanical shutter (No need for batteries) a centerweighted meter, a timer, double exposure facility, and the excellent quality ZEISS optics!!. The results from this ensemble are stupendous!!!, they even cost less then the equivalen manual Pentax system.

You dont need super budgets for a class system, if you cant afford it, then this is the way to go. Later you can add 100mm Yashica or Contax lens to your system.

The money saved can buy you a tripod, cable release, and first rate filters.

By the way I have seen the FX Super 300 advertised for about $75.00 used!!!

Thanx & Rgds

Dave Kemp , January 20, 1999; 06:14 P.M.

For anyone interested in the Contax Carl Zeiss Planar T* 50/1.4 lens, the Feb. 1999 issue of Popular Photography contains an intriguing article/comparative test: "The Great 50/1.4 Shootout" (p. 66), in which this lens is pretty comprehensively tested against the comparable lenses from Canon, Leica, Minolta, Nikon, Pentax, and Schneider. Details of the tripartite testing procedure are given. The results were that the Zeiss lens "delivered the best overall image quality of any of the seven 50/1.4 SLR lenses in our test group." (The runners up were the Canon EF and the Leica Summilux-R.) Clearly this is one hell of a lens.

Krisnarit C , February 12, 1999; 01:45 P.M.

Try it in with Velvia with no filter. Compare the color to other lens. I have used canon for 6 years with EF 24/2.8,35/2,50/1.8,100/2,200/2.8L,80-200/2.8L with velvia. The first roll with 50/1.4 Planar, the first time my friend liked the color of my picture. They said that the color is vivid and clear. Those are the eyes of people who did not spend much time take pictures. I think that there must be some things more to judge a lens more than Sharpness and Contrast. I did not mean that Contax is better than canon. Tastes of people are different.

wayne chiu , April 20, 1999; 03:38 A.M.

There is more nature feeling when looking at the pictures of planar1.4/50 than Canon EF50/1.4 especially facing backlight or sidelight. EF50/1.4 could be said which is one of best 50mm/1.4 lenses on color,resolution and contrast. The only one factor EF can't catch up with Zeiss,Leica or Schenider is the Feeling Of Real Nature's image. I think it must be for the sake of Coating Technology.

But Planar50/1.4 is still can't compare to Leica's. Leica has highest color standar and their lenses' coating up to 8 layers for the glass of air-to-face. Zeiss Planar50/1.4 is outstanding at f/4-f/8 and is no good (can be detected with Flare Occurred)at f/1.4-f2.0 and normal at f/2.8. EF50/1.4 is almost same with Zeiss BUT no flare can't be detected by our nake eyes though contrast is still lower at f/1.4-2.0. I think EF50/1.4 builds (I Tested) the highest resolution at F/5.6-8 from all 50/1.4 lenses.

Leica's newest(1998) R50/1.4 is the BEST 50mm lens When you need working at full aperture which Qulity almost same with F/4-5.6's Qulity produced by Planar or EF 50/1.4.

For autoFacus, you should choose EF50/1.4 For Nature Feeling from good coating but have ecomnomic price,you should choose Planar50/1.4 For every thing is the Best especially working at F/1.4, The New Leica R50/1.4 is yours.

Alexey Merz , June 18, 1999; 10:18 P.M.

RE: the Leica 50/1.4. The older (6-element) lens was recently replaced by a newly computed (7-element) version. Bear in mind that the vast majority of the published tests, including almost all of the comparison tests, use the old version.

A thorough review of the new Leica R 50/1.4 and comparisons with the Zeiss (including MTF curves) can be found at:

http://www.imx.nl/photosite/leica/leicahome.html

Robert Ober , July 12, 1999; 03:44 P.M.

I have been using the Contax system since '76 - I was a wide eyed teen and actually bought into the cheeper line of Yashica equipment then - sad thats is pretty much gone. At the time I hung out taking pictures with a bunch of people - most everyone had Nikons. We went on trips together, and they were all surprised that my yashica gave at least the quality of image as theirs. (some preferred its colour) I eventually upgraded to contax/zeiss, and was shocked at what a difference it made. I do my own B&W enlargements, and it was very quickly clear that this was my best lens. I also have a few medium format cameras (6x6), and this lens will give them a good run for their money. My other lenses will not - but this lens yes, with good film that can capture the detail. Thats the trick. Over the counter film can't take advantage - it needs to be pro film really, or excellent slide film. I find it hard to believe many lenses could match the image subtlety this lens can produce. (and its a 1.4, no less).

Wolfram Schnuebbe , October 15, 1999; 05:55 P.M.

If you ever come to Rome, you will visit the "Piazza de Spagna". Well, stay with your back right to the Spanish Embassy, take your 24-85 Canon zoom adjust it to 35mm f3,5 put a Kodak Elite Chrome 100 in your camera and take a picture of that obelisc in front of the church on the top of the stairs (watch the pickpockets and don't use a tripod). When you are back home, take an 8x loupe and tell me, what the letters on the base of the obelisc tells you. I will tell you, what my Vario Sonnar 35-135 mm says - after a one-meter-crash on 2000-years-old roman asphalt. - You might as well take the subway to "Ostia Antiqua" and leave the station, move over that blue bridge and go to that wonderfull restaurant at the right corner of the entrance to "Ostia Antiqua". Go in and enjoy it (it is not expensive) and don't muse on cameras and all that stuff. That's what live is all about! Wolfram Schnuebbe, 16 Oct. 1999

Wayne Chiu , October 26, 2000; 08:50 A.M.

Carl Zeiss Planar T* 50mm f/1.4 lens has a worst problem that is "Distortion"aberration when nearing the subject!

Mark Mitchell , January 11, 2001; 06:54 A.M.

Wayne, you must have got a bad example. "Distortion"aberration when nearing the subject"? I've used several 50 1.4's and all were absolutely fantastic - no distortions at all, near or far. Your sounding like a leica bigot.

Victor Rem , February 21, 2001; 12:23 P.M.

Last year I did a comparison between 50mm Planar f1.4 and a Yashica af 50mm f1.8 prime. Wide open zeiss (@f1.4) beat the stopped down af lens (@f8) easily. Colors differed a little bit, and sharpness difference was obvious. I'm back to mf (yashica/zeiss) world...

Frank Bunnik , June 20, 2002; 06:02 A.M.

I own this lens for about 10 years. It has never failed me. I like it very much, although for my kind of photography I use the 2.8 135mm more often. I do not care about MTF charts. The difference between 4.4 points, 4.6 points or even 4.8 points may show up in a labtest, in reality you will not notice it. Labtests are nonsense.

The lens is tagsharp, gives a very nice bokeh. An excellent 50mm lens, available secondhand at very low prices now that almost nobody wants a 50mm anymore.

Frank

edwin leh , July 11, 2002; 09:26 P.M.

Okay! Enough has been said about the Zeiss 50mm f/1.4 . Could anybody comment about the Zeiss planar T* 50mm f/1.7 lens? I purchased a used Zeiss planar 50mm f/1.7 to go with my Yashica FX-3 2000 Slr camera, but was disappointed with the quality of pictures it's giving me. It seems that Zeiss f/1.7 lens doesn't give much depth of field even at relatively small aperture (e.g. f/11 to f/5.6). For example, subject are in focus but background would be blurred. My other Nikkor non-AI 50mm f/1.4 under the same situation would have given sharp subject including background as well. Maybe I am expecting too much from this lens? Does anybody have the same experience as I did?

Ray Generoso , February 08, 2005; 02:58 P.M.

"Does anybody have the same experience as I did?"

Yes, everytime my distance to the subject, and the subject's distance to the background, changes.

Claire Senft , May 06, 2005; 12:37 P.M.

I have 40+ years of experience in photography. I own a Contax RTSIII and several lenses. One of those lenses is a 50mm Planar. I have taken sone photos at f1.4 that have startled me. The combination of the vacuum back, which will be most noticeable at wide apertures, and the optical quality in the lens itself left me absolutely delighted. I make no claims of this lens being better than any other merely that it is a very fine optic.

Vincent DiPietro , May 24, 2005; 04:24 P.M.

This lens is so fine. It has been in the family for nearly 30 years and still it performs like a gem. Keep your digital wonders and your plastic auto focus lenses, the CZ 50 1.4 along with so many other Zeiss C/Y mount lenses are still at the top of the class.

Guy Hammond , November 02, 2005; 09:50 A.M.

I had the lab take it up to 11x16. When I picked it up, they asked me if I used a Hasselblad
Robert Shaw's story just doesn't ring true; the lab had his slide. They knew it was 35mm. Why would they even talk about a medium format camera? I don't doubt that Zeiss lenses are good, but this is just hype.

David Fung , November 30, 2005; 10:10 P.M.

Have this lens for well over a year, and using it both with film and digital via an EOS adaptor. I found it to perform excellently over all occasions and in all uses. When I use it opened up (around 1.4 or so), it draws in a softer, but I think, more intimate and personal manner then does say my Canon lenses. When stopped down, it is wonderfully sharp, and to my eye, has a certain rendering quality that I really like. It is built very well, and I think the optics are very good. An excellent lens to use as truly, an all round lens.

ben conover , January 20, 2006; 05:55 P.M.

The Planar costs alot of money compared to a Mamiya 50mm lens. The Planar has rubber rings which deteriorate and need replacement, the mamiya lens is all metal. The Planar has painted numbers, the mamiya has engraved numbers. The Planar is Japanese, the mamiya is also japanese. The Mamiya is just as good as the planar, except the planar is a stop faster. Oh yeah, I can't tell the difference between Leica, Zeiss, Contax'Yashica, Mamiya, Pentax, Olympus, Pentax, Rollei, or any other 50mm lens in a normal print size.

Can you?

The Planar costs about $200 on ebay.

The Mamiya nc1000s slr with 50mm and 28mm lenses costs $100 (including shipping)

What happened to reality?

Elia Freddi , January 22, 2006; 06:32 A.M.


(Lucky SHD 400, Planar 50/1.4, Contax Aria)

I own this lens since 2004. Before I had some Yashica lens (50/1.9 and 50/1.4) and the Planar 50/1.7. This one has been reported to be one of the sharpest lenses ever built, but not mine (maybe the previous owner is guilty...). For this reason I decided to look for the 50/1.4. I have found it on ebay for less than 100 Euro - a real bargain! Then I made a lots of pics to understand its personality. It's a little bit soft at full open diagphram with a very very nice progressive passage from in-focus to out-of-focus. Stopping down the performace are boosted, the lens gets very very sharp. Very handy the possibility to put in focus down to 45 cm, by far better than the 55 cm of the 50/1.7. No idea about the colors, in the last years I shot almost only in BW. You can find a pic I made at short distance and full open lens (the quality on the screen is poor, sorry).

If someday I will pass to digital, I will go for Canon just for the possibility to re-use my Contax lenses. I like them really a lot!

ben conover , March 15, 2006; 03:33 P.M.

Ok, I ended buying the Zeiss Planar 50mm 1.4 MM, but I think I prefer the Pentax 1.4 just because I do, and it's waaaaay cheaper.

Cheers.

Terry Farrell , May 10, 2008; 02:12 P.M.

HI,

I am about to bid on a Nikon mount Zeiss 50mm F1.4 on ebay. Any advice RE price please.

Cheers

emmanouel pateros , May 27, 2008; 05:57 P.M.

I hear some people here and I think I will forget what I know in optics theory. I am a professional physicist and for the first time of my life I hear that a canon zoom lens can outperform a zeiss prime. If somebody finds a short zoom of the pro series (Nikon, Canon) that costs at least 3000 euros, it is possible to reach the quality of a prime like Helios 58mm f/2. If you shoot a lens with f/1.4 maximum aperture at f/8 you are not in "the powerfull range" of the lens. A zoom lens at f/8 and f/11 is at its best aperture. The best aperure for a f/1.4 lens is 3 stops over f/1.4 around f/4 to f/5.6. If you stop it further its resolution falls but the dof is increased. The next time you make the tests shoot the canon at f/5.6 and whatever prime 50mm lense at f/5.6 (even the cheapest Helios 44-2 58 f/2) and check the results to tell me again. ONLY ZOOMS THAT COST OVER 3000 EUROS CAN OUTPERFORM IN SOME OCATIONS EVEN A CHEAP PRIME. NOT THE CZ PLANAR !!! I did that test with a 40 years old, dusty, hanimar 135mm f/2.8 almost uncoated and a vivitar series 1 80-200 f/2.8 in mint condition. The vivitar came second of course. It is impossible a zoom lens to reach a prime. If this was the case then the people would buy a superzoom and solve their problems !!

Norman Peters , July 06, 2008; 03:17 A.M.

I have just bought a Planar 50mm f1.4 to use on a Canon digital body. I already have a range of 50mm (or so) MF lenses - Super Takumar, Super Multi Coated Takumar, SMC Takumar (ranging across f1.4, f1.8 f2 right on down to an old Auto Takumar 55mm f2.2, which I love); Tomioka 55mm f1.2; Helios 58mm, and a CZJ Tessar. I will shoot some pix when I pick up the Planar and let you know my opinion of the Planar compared to these wonderful old lenses.

Adi Arifin , August 11, 2008; 02:57 A.M.

Having myself moved from Nikon for obvious reasons, I immediately disappointed by the cheap Canon EF 50mm F/1.8 MK II. It was by far inferior to its Canon counterpart. I was preparing myself to go for the four times more expensive Canon EF 50mm F/1.4 when I got an offer of a used Carl Zeiss Planar T* 50mm F/1.4. It was a Contax mount sold in a package with CY-EOS converter.

After a week of thinking and researching online resource I finally decided to take Carl Zeiss Planar T* 50mm F/1.4. I am prepared to surrender auto focus convenience for optical excellence. Beside, I am not using fixed focal lengths when speedy works needed.

I have been using a number of different 50mm lenses, Nikon AI F/1.2, Nikon AIS F/1.4, Nikon AIS F/1.8, Nikon AF F/1.4D, Nikon AF F/1.8D, and Canon EF F/1.8. I am impressed by this Carl Zeiss lens start from the first time I felt it in my hands. All metal construction felt sturdy in the hand whilst rings (focusing and diaphragm) were silky smooth.

Lenses are all about optical performance. Unfortunately I had no clue in writing technical reviews. But compared to all those 50mm lenses I earlier mentioned, Carl Zeiss was the definite winner. Focus precision, sharpness, flare, and bokeh were the considerations I was looking at.

Axel Cordes , January 27, 2009; 09:04 A.M.

The reason I would prefer the Zeiss would be the 'meter' metering - I think it can be very well pre focused using the scale, which is not really the case with the Canon 50-1.4, right?

If some of you have experience on that matter it would be fine to hear the pro and cons.

Thanx Axel

Meir Samel , February 23, 2009; 04:50 P.M.

I have the Planar Lens in Mediam fomat.....f80/2.8


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