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Nikkor 50/1.2 AIS vs Zeiss 50/2 Makro-Planar ZF.2

Frederico L , Jan 18, 2013; 04:31 p.m.

I already have a Nikkor 50/2 H.C. Auto (AI converted) and a Nikkor 50/1.8G but I am thinking of adding one more 50 to the bag.
Despite of large differences in max. aperture and price, can anyone compare Nikkor 50/1.2 AIs with Zeiss 50/2 Makro-Planar if shooting at F2 and smaller? I’m interested in knowing how they perform in terms of color rendition, boken and sharpness. Thanks.


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Keith B , Jan 18, 2013; 04:39 p.m.

Don't have a Nikon 50/1.2 but have had the Zeiss for a few years. The Zeiss is excellent on "sharpness", different but equally as good--compared to similar vintage Nikon Ai(S) lenses--- on color, but bokeh might be the Zeiss' weak point IF you are super critical and particular about bokeh. Try before you buy.
One note: Based on actual samples of the Zeiss ZF 50/2 and ZF.2 50/2 that I have examined, Zeiss apparently changed the AR coating with the ZF.2 model, and not for the better. The newer coating results in a yellower color cast, and blue-colored flare where the older ZF version had more neutrally colored flare. Yes, that's right, Zeiss made it worse.

Michael Bradtke , Jan 18, 2013; 04:52 p.m.

I have the 50mm f/1.2 AI-S and if you are going to shoot it at f/2 don't waste your money. Its sharp enough at f/2 and has good out of focus renditions but my 50mm f/2 is sharper at f/2 then my 50mm f/1.2 is.

Andy Murphy , Jan 18, 2013; 04:57 p.m.

I have the AIS 50 f1.2 but not the Zeiss. With 9 blades the Nikkor's bokeh is okay at f2 and I like it right up to f5.6 where I get very good results. And, on a DX, it is a 75 mm f1.2 lens. Cary Jordan tested Seven 50mm lenses for Nikon's F-mount, including the Zeiss 50mm f1.4 Planar ZF2 lens which Nikon Rumours carried with the date November 3, 2011.

John Hinkey , Jan 18, 2013; 05:14 p.m.

Get the 50/1.2 to shoot it at f/1.2. At any other aperture it is bested by the 50/1.8G that you already have. I thought I'd get rid of the 50/1.2 once I got my 50/1.8G, but the look at f/1.2 is very much worth having it around, though I don't use it quite as much as I used to once the G came along.


Frederico L , Jan 18, 2013; 05:49 p.m.

When you said “my 50mm f/2 is sharper at f/2”, which lens are you referring to? A Nikkor f/2 of a Zeiss f/2?

Jack Kozera , Jan 18, 2013; 05:59 p.m.

Frederico, I have both of them and I agree with Michael; the 50/1.2 AI-s is very sharp at f/2 and even sharper stopped down, but I feel it was meant to be used wide open in low light. If you're looking for a fast lens, well 50/1.2 it is. If you plan to use it at f/8, say for landscaping, 50/1.2 AI-s it is.
Said that, Zeiss MP has very short MFD, if you need it, and it's a great lens for short to mid distances, especially in bright(er) light where 50/1.2 AI-s would flare.
Still not sure which one to get? :) Consider Leica Summicron-R 50 E55 as your 3rd lens.

Owen O'Meara , Jan 18, 2013; 06:31 p.m.

You might take a quick look at the Nikkor 50 1.4D. This is a very shape lens at 2.0 with wonderful color saturation and broke. It is a much better bargain than the 1.2 .


Rodeo Joe , Jan 18, 2013; 07:33 p.m.

For years I've had a 55mm f/1.2 Nikkor S-C, and believed the pundits that it was a poor lens compared to the 50mm version, so always hankered after the later 50mm f/1.2. Well, recently I found one at a reasonable - but not bargain - price and bought it. What a mistake!

Quite frankly, it's probably the worst 50mm Nikkor that's ever passed through my hands. Wide open I consider it unusable because of the low contrast, flare, coma and residual spherical aberration. The "look" is just that of a very poor lens compared to what I get from the old 55mm version. Stopped down the 50mm f/1.2 isn't that brilliant either. My advice - Don't waste your money.

I know it's not all about sharpness with a lens like this, but below is what you can expect from it in the centre of the field at f/1.2 on a D800. The edges are even worse BTW.

Who designed this thing? Holga?

Michael Bradtke , Jan 18, 2013; 08:12 p.m.

Fredrico I am talking about the Nikkor 50mm f/2.0 Mine is the Nikkor H with a factory AI conversion kit installed.

Joe your 50mm f/1.2 sucks, mine is much better wide open then that. You might think to have it looked at as it may be a little out of adjustment. My 50 f/1.2 is better at f/1.2 then my 55 f/1.2 is.

And again Fredrico if you are nopt buying the 50 f/1.2 to shoot at f2 or fater then save your money.

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