Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Zeiss to Ship Two New Nikon-Only Macro Lenses in 2007

Nikon users will soon have two new manual-focus, fixed focal-length macro lenses to choose from.

Carl Zeiss says its plans to ship the Makro-Planar T* 2/50 ZF and the Makro-Planar T* 2/100 ZF during the first quarter of 2007. As implied by their names, the first is an f/2 50mm while the second is an f/2 100mm. Available only in Nikon mount, the lenses will list for $1,124 and $1,749 respectively.

Zeiss describes the pair as the fastest macro lenses available for 35mm-format full-frame photography, either film or digital. (Nikon doesn’t offer a full-frame sensor digital body, so the two new lenses will translate into 75mm and 150mm on Nikon digital bodies.) Both focus manually from infinity to one-half life-size, capture a full-frame field of view of about two inches by three inches at their closest focusing distances.

Zeiss says a floating element optical system enables the 2/50 to deliver very high image quality over its entire focusing range. It features eight elements in six groups, focusing down to 9.4 inches. Overall, the lens measures 2.8 inches in diameter, 2.6 inches long, and weighs 1.2 pounds. Like the 2/100, it stops down to f/22 in half-stops and takes 67mm filters.

The 2/100 goes several steps further by employing an optical design originally developed for the Arri/Zeiss Master Prime T* 1.2/100 – an ultra-high performance lens used by cinematographers in Hollywood filmmaking. The design gives the lens optical performance never before available in a still-camera lens, especially at wide apertures and in macro applications, according to Zeiss. The high wide-open sharpness is touted as being an advantage when using selective-focus effects. The lens features nine elements in eight groups, focusing down to 17.3 inches. Overall, the lens measures three inches in diameter, 3.5 inches long, and weighs 1.5 pounds.

Both lenses come in Nikon AI-S mount, complete with meter coupling prong to make them usable on older Nikon film bodies. There do not appear to be CPU electrical contacts in the lens mount, so higher-end Nikon digital bodies will be able to meter with the lenses but lower-end bodies will have limited metering ability.

The two new macros were announced in September at Photokina along with two wide-angles – the Distagon T* 2.8/25 ZF and the Distagon T* 2/35 ZF. Both were supposed to ship during 2006 but U.S. major retailers say they are not yet in stock. Altogether, Zeiss is offering six Nikon-mount manual focus lenses, including a 50mm f/1.4 and an 85mm f/1.4 introduced earlier and already available.

Click here for the Zeiss web page on its lineup of lenses.

Copyright 2007


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