The road to nirvana

My journey into Photography, Horology, and Audiophilia

Zeiss Planar T* 85mm f/1.4 ZF.2

First post: January 23, 2014


I think I'm infected by manual focus lenses. Since my acquisition of my first manual focus lens, I've added this Zeiss glass to my arsenal.

I've never own any lens in 85mm focal lenght, until now. I am excited!

There is no local distributor so I ordered from my favorite Hong Kong shop, New Sankyo. The order was placed Wednesday and arrived the following day as usual.

I was quoted HK$7,900 for the lens which turned out cheaper than getting it from the USA, that retails for US$1,283.

The specifications lifted from the official website are shown below-

Focal length 85 mm
Aperture range f/1.4 – f/16
Focusing range 1 m – ∞
Number of elements/groups 6/5
Angular field, diag./horiz./vert. 29°/24°/16°
Coverage at close range 36 x 24 cm
Filter thread M 72 x 0.75
Dimensions (with caps) ø 77-78 mm, length 85-88 mm
Weight 570 g

The PDF brochure is available from the Zeiss website here.

Initial impressions

This lens is beautiful! I also like the anodized metal hood mount in front of the lens that makes a nice accent with the Df.

Surprised about the size to weight ratio, and I thought it was as heavy as the Df. I was close. The Df weighs in at 710g while the Zeiss is 570g. That is over a kilogram for the combination, making the pair of the Df and Voigtländer 28mm f/2.8 my lightest as 890g.

Without the clear tape pulling back the Df, it will tilt forward

Despite the size, I am surprised at how thin is the area (marked with the depth of field) to grip the lens during mount/unmount. It is just about twice as thick as that of the Voigtländer which is pancake lens!

There is a tiny black dot which is used to align to the body during mounting. When attaching the hood,simply align big white dot to the tiny black dot on the lens and turn it until until it locks.

With the supplied metal hood


This is the 2nd iteration of this lens for Nikon F-mount, thus labeled ZF.2 and features a chip that allows communication with the camera body.

I prefer to use the aperture ring of the lens instead of the command dial, and the Nikon Df allows that. Simply go to f7 Customize command dials and set Aperture settings to OFF. I saved this setting as part of the other custom settings that I called "Pure photography" in bank B. The aperture ring locks at f/16, should you wish to use the command dial to set the aperture.

The focus indicator dot on the Df viewfinder will tell me if it has locked focus on the subject. At f/1.4, care must be taken as the focus indicator may indicate focus but I have to ensure the subject is indeed in focus. A focusing screen (currently not possible on the Df) could help. Having a focus ring so smooth, alber tighter that the Voigtländer, makes focusing really ergonomic and precise.

One of the things I find handy with this lens is that it has a depth of field scale. This would make calculating the hyperfocal distance so easy.


I find the packaging of good quality and comes with warranty leaflet, instruction manual, and test certificate.

General features that I like

  • Build quality
  • Precise focusing from the high-quality mechanism
  • Color rendition

Pure photography

Together with the Voigtländer pancake lens, I now have two manual focus lenses that I would like to take advantage to hone my photography skills.

Of the the positive finding was that the distortion is negligible.

This lens is sharp at center wide open. The edges may be a little less so, if you're pixel peeping.