The Zeiss 21mm Distagon is a legendary lens among SLR shooters. For years, the out-of-production Contax version of the lens sold for $4,000 to $5,000 to be shot mounted on adapters on modern SLR cameras, since it was widely considered the sharpest wide-angle lens ever made. Now Zeiss has remade the 21mm in AF mount with modern anti-reflective coatings. This is the lens many of us have been waiting for since the first ZF lens was introduced 2 years ago.
For those of you who aren’t aware, this is a manual focus lens, but will auto expose and gives full TTL information to cameras of D200 and higher make.
The ZF.2 designation adds a microchip to the lens that automatically lets the camera know time, aperture setting, and manual exposure settings, including those for cameras that are not AI-compatible. Since the lens now transmits the EXIF data photographers no longer need to set the parameters manually. Optically the ZF.2 lenses are identical to the original ZF lenses, so if these functions aren’t important to you you save some money by getting the original ZF mount.
There are several mysteries in life I’m just not able to understand: How were the pyramids built? Why does my wife say “fine!” when she means eat dirt and die? And how come everybody isn’t lining up to shoot with this lens? It really is remarkable – the sharpest resolution in a wide angle I’ve ever seen, and superb microcontrast and color. I loved the original for Contax and this one is every bit as good, perhaps a bit better. It does have the famous ‘mustache distortion’ seen in the original, so its not the best lens for architectural work, but for landscapes and other wide angle shots its just amazing.
If you’re interested in finding good reviews of the various ZF lenses, with in-depth analysis of their strengths and weaknesses, we recommend spending a few dollars and getting Lloyd Chambers online review of the ZF lineup.
- Filter Size
- 82mm (nonrotating front element)
- 1.8 lb
- Minimum Focusing Distance
- 0.75 foot
- Maximum Magnification
- Angle of view: (full frame)
- 90 degrees
- Zoom method
- Image Stabilization
- Focusing System
- Internal focusing, nonrotating, manual
- Aperture Blades
- 8 curved, octragonal shape
- Low Dispersion Elements
- Fluorite Elements
- Aspherical Elements
- Weather Resistant
- Nikon F
- DX, FX
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