Zeiss 100mm f/2 Makro-Planar

I’m always on the lookout for interesting lenses, so a little while ago I rented the Zeiss 100mm f/2 “Makro-Planar” lens. It’s actually a Nikon lens, so a Nikon -> Canon adapter came along for the ride as well. This made shooting it quite an interesting affair. The adapter is purely mechanical, so one had to manually set the aperture on the lens and of course manually focus as well.

The first thing that hit me when taking it out of the box was that it’s quite a substantial lens – the barrel and lens hood are all metal, I can’t recall a single part that was plastic. The focus ring was very smooth and precise with no play in it whatsoever.

And when you nail the focus, the lens is incredible. But the focus is the tricky bit, especially wide open with a razor-thin depth of field. Click the thumbnails for actual-pixel crops from this tiger and this shot from the Small Strobes workshop.

What struck me most about the lens however was how buttery smooth it drew anything not in focus:

You really want to look at the larger version, if not the full size version. The way that this lens “draws” is really the most desirable and distinctive aspect of it, in my opinion.

Compared to the Canon 100mm f/2.8 Macro (which is one of my very most favorite lenses): The Zeiss is a tiny bit sharper, a full stop faster, but manual focus and only goes up to half life-size magnification. Oh, and it’s also about $1,000 more expensive too!

I won’t be buying the lens immediately but, much like the Canon 24mm f/1.4L II, it’ll be staying in my mind. If I didn’t already own the Canon 100mm macro, I’d be looking to buy it a lot sooner.