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Zeiss 50mm Makro Planar

A True Jack of all Trades

It’s true we’ve changed 50’s again, we are now very proud owners of the Zeiss 50mm Makro Planar!  This lens is truly a jack of all trades and is undoubtedly our favorite walk around lens of all times. Carl Zeiss had originated the Planar design back in 1896 and while it has an old school design, most modern 50mm lenses of today had been derived from this design.

While we have only had this lens for a short amount of time we have been able to run it through it’s paces.  It’s small size and built in hood make it easy to take virtually anywhere.  Therefore it has gotten a lot of face time over the summer!  This lens is sharp & contrasty in just the right places, and the colors and bokeh it can render are sure to amaze!

While this lens is priced at roughly $400 under Canon’s 50mm L 1.2 as of this writing, it is no lackey. In fact we feel that this lens is much sharper and in most situations superior to Canon’s model. However, it does not come without a trade-off. This lens is manual focus only. While this might deter some, with practice manual focus can be achieved incredibly well!

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Awe Inspiring Environmental Portraits

Our favorite uses for this focal length are environmental portraits and this lens does not disappoint in even the slightest.  In portrait situations where you have time to slow things down, you can get your subject framed and focus the lens correctly it simply amazes.  Wide open @ f2 its still very sharp if you achieve proper focus, and even if you miss a little it has an almost 3d look that can make slightly out of focus shots still look on target.  We have notice  a similar effects from our other Zeiss lenses as well.

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Macro Capabilities & Color Fringing

In addition to the manual focus this lens tends to exhibit a lot of purple color fringing when shot wide open.  Once you have stopped the lens down to f4 the color fringing is pretty much gone, however we like to turn up the volume and tend to shoot it wide open! Generally speaking while it happens frequently, it hasn’t been a real issue for us as it’s relatively painless to fix in Lightroom.  However, small manual fixes like this add up and eventually overall workflow time could suffer.

The makro capabilities of this lens make it extremely useful for photographing wedding day details.  While it’s only capable of 2:1 ratio it renders images with such pristine clarity that you can always crop in post production to achieve a closer look should it be required.  However, its wider angle view than most typical 100mm macro’s makes it great for shots of the cake, flowers, or virtually any other wedding day decoration you might come up against.

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 Awesome lens with many applications

All in all we love this lens and use it almost everyday, not just every wedding day. Its ability to render sharpness at practically all apertures and the unique look the glass creates is something we just can’t live without.  If you are considering the standard Zeiss 50mm Planar against this one spend the extra money.  While we did like the general look of Zeiss’s standard 50 it was nowhere near as sharp as this lens.  In the totally hypothetical “What if you could only have one lens” situation.  This is it. Hands down.  The true jack of all trades and even approaching mastery of some!

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*Past Love: We no longer carry this lens in our bag. While the sharpness and colors on this lens are sublime the manual focus nature made us think twice about using it on wedding day. We still own it, but no longer use it on wedding days.

More Resources

Are you interested in learning more about this lens? There are lots of great useful resources all of the web to help us photographers achieve our photographic dreams! We have included some of the articles and resources that were helpful for us when researching our own gear purchase.

Zeiss – 50mm ZE Tech Specs

Dustin Abbott’s – Review of the 50mm Makro Planar