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Carl Zeiss 50mm F2 ZK Makro-Planar T*

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5 22,123 Thu January 26, 2017
Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
100% of reviewers $882.00 9.80
Carl Zeiss 50mm F2 ZK Makro-Planar T*

Filter Size: 67mm
f/Stop Range: 2-22
Minimum Focus Distance: 6.4" (0.24 m)
Magnification: 1:2
Angle of View: 46
Groups/Elements: 6/8
Length: 2.5" (65mm)
Maximum Diameter: 2.8" (72mm)
Weight: 1.1 lb (530 g)
Mount Type:
Price History:

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Site Supporter

Registered: April, 2015
Location: Wisconsin, USA
Posts: 2,757
Lens Review Date: January 26, 2017 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $600.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Great Bokeh, Sharp, Zeiss Colors & Micocontrast
Cons: Front cap
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    Camera Used: K1   

It's dark and snowing outside, so I just took a few test shots with my new Zeiss 50/2 Makro Planar in the house.

Attached is a shot of an old lens on top of my cabinet. Shot handheld at f/2 with my K1. I forgot to put on vibration reduction, so not very sharp at this slower shutter speed.

Anyway, the Zeiss 50/2 certainly seems to exhibit typical Zeiss colors. The bokeh balls are smooth without a distintive outside ring and no onion skin effect in the center.

It is amazingly lightweight and has a very long focus throw. The front lens is so deeply recessed, I'm not sure if I will even bother using it's metal lens hood.

I was not surprised to find a bit of the famous Zeiss purple fringing at high contrast edges.

I like the smooth transition from in focus to the out of focus background. I suspect because of that I'll likely be often using this lens wide open, or stopped down a click or two.

Site Supporter

Registered: January, 2011
Location: 5th floor
Posts: 1,520
Lens Review Date: August 1, 2016 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $750.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: IQ, unique bokeh, build quality, flexibility
Cons: No AF, cost, weight, no weather sealing

I had been eyeing this lens for a long while now.

That silver rim always looked so cool to me, adding a bit of flair to the camera that it attaches to. It is looking mighty fine on K-1 right now.

To have it and to be able to use it for the first time is like having sex with that girl you have been eyeing for a while. I don't mean to be inappropriate here, but that really is the best analogy.

Knowing that there is no AF, you wonder how it feels to turn that barrel as you peak your focus. It is heavy, almost to the point of making you think that there is perhaps something is wrong. Then you quickly realize that this is how it is supposed to be - heavy but buttery, allowing you to turn at a very consistent rate, so that you can anticipate when to stop turning as you hone in to focus. The ribs on the the turn dial feel just right on the belly of your thumb and index fingers, and having to be precise is just a reminder, not a task to be achieved.

The lens is quite heavy. It can well be a weakness in terms of portability, but that is not what this lens is all about. The weight of the lens is not the result of the compilation of all parts, but rather precisely purposeful so that it can create just the right head heaviness so that holding steady is again an afterthought, not a difficult chore that requires extra effort.

I see the same set of principles between medical and non medical Zeiss optics. The philosophy seems to be, "how best can a lens isolate an object?" That unique Bokeh is evident and similar in their medical optics, and certainly seem to have carried over to consumer optical products. This lens in particular reminds me of when I am in the operating room, focusing in on a small blood vessel while presenting the surroundings in the least harsh manner. The subject as a result pops out, adding what it seems like some sort of a weird 3D effect. I find this aspect of zeiss optics very seductive.

This strange booked rendition certainly adds to the sharpness and the lore of the lens. It seems to enhance it few notches. IQ of this lens I don't think anybody should complain. If you cannot get a sharp shot with this it is not the lens fault, but only your own. But I will say that in some ways the lens is a bit finicky for my taste in that it took a bit of getting used to as far as getting shots that were completely satisfactory. But most macro lenses are that way, at least that is how I see it.

This is pretty much a lens that is German engineering produced and presented by Japanese. The best of both worlds in this particular pair is very hard to beat in this industry. Even Leica will be hard pressed to create something equal or superior. If you run into this lens you should consider buying it just because of the fact that you ran into it. You won't see this lens in flesh that often.
Loyal Site Supporter

Registered: February, 2009
Location: Ireland
Posts: 1,687
Lens Review Date: June 9, 2013 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $1,010.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Micro-Contrast, Sharpness, Bokeh, OOF rendering, Build Quality, Focus Feel, Pure Flexibility
Cons: Lens Cap.. Minor quibble

I've had this around a month now. I was looking for something that could sit in alongside my A50 f/1.2 and seeing as I enjoy fast glass thought I might as well get the fastest close focus 50 It has since caused me to reevaluate every lens through a different view point as regards optical quality. Simply put this lens is astounding quality both optically and from a build perspective.
Focusing has a firm damped feel to it that is fantastically precise. It does not have the silkiness of a good Takumar for instance but you just get a feeling that in 20 or 30 years it will still be the same. The same effect will be felt with the supplied bayonet hood.
Sharpness is a given, this lens is designed for it full stop, all the special qualities that Zeiss optics are renowned for are all there, sharpness, micro contrast, flare resistance (well you should not expect more flare as the front element is deeply recessed) and also the OOF rendering is superb with a beautiful graduation between In focus and OOF.

As you can probably make out by now, i'm pretty much in love with this lens, it feels like typical German over engineering in your hand.
Veteran Member

Registered: April, 2010
Location: Tennessee
Posts: 2,054
Lens Review Date: March 22, 2011 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $950.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Construction, IQ, Focus Feel
Cons: Cost, Flimsy Pinch-Cap

I saw the other review posted for this lens, and I agree with most of it, with just a couple of dissensions.

1) While the pinch-cap is flimsy and entirely inappropriate for a lens of this quality, I actually find the metal hood extremely easy to use and love the positive click it gives when attaching it.

2) The focus ring is a model of simplicity and high-performance. It's one of the things that makes this lens such a pleasure to use. I can see where it would be cold to the skin in cold weather, I just haven't used it in such conditions. I would just wear a glove on my focusing hand and keep on rollin'. I seriously wouldn't want to change anything about focusing this lens.

It is true that all ZK's tend to underexpose on Pentax, but once you're aware of it and compensate, it's a non-issue.

This 50/2 and the 100/2 essentially have the same IQ and differ only in FL. That IQ consists of legendary sharpness and clarity, along with some of the most vivid colors you will ever see your camera produce. It is mesmerizing. The rendering style is closer to the DA limiteds rather than the warmer FA limiteds. Bokeh style is somewhat unique to Zeiss, and the best way I can think of to describe it is "soothingly nervous." I know that sounds like an oxymoron, but if you see it, you'll know what I mean. Plenty of examples of images taken with these lenses available on the net, in various mounts. All mounts are optically identical.

These things truly are built like tanks (except for the pinch-caps), and I find the weight reassuring, it's all part of the Zeiss experience.

I actually wish Zeiss had not called these lenses "makros", since the most common criticism that they receive is that they are not true macros since they can only do 1:2, not 1:1. If you need 1:1, this is not your lens. I couldn't care less about it and wish they had just called them "close-focus" to eliminate that apparent gripe.

I have several Pentax limited lenses that I am quite fond of, but these Zeiss' will spoil you for anything else. They are the Rolls-Royce of lens-makers.
Site Supporter

Registered: January, 2011
Location: The Canadian WetCoast
Posts: 379
Lens Review Date: March 14, 2011 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $1,100.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Impeccable IQ & construction
Cons: Underexpose with K7 & K5, metal focusing ring hard to grip

I am repeating here most of the attributes with the 100mm f/2 ZK Makro-Planar T* that I wrote in another review. Optically & construction wise, this lens is a solid "10" and because it is smaller (hood as well), lighter and has a wider angle on a dSLR, I end up using this lens way more than the 100mm. I am amazed at how much I can crop with the images from this lens without noticeable lose in IQ.

The less than "10" aspects on this lens are:

"7" in ease of use in lens hood & front cap. Very hard to attach & detach

"8" in focusing because the focusing ring is a milled metal design. It is very cold & hard to grip.

"9" in exposure compatibility with K-r, K7 & K5. All ZK lenses need to dial in +0.5 to avoid underexposure.
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