Sunday, August 11, 2013

Zeiss Distagon 55mm f1.4 - The Best 55mm Lens in the World?

Since the introduction of the Zeiss Distagon 55mm f1.4 lens, the net is abuzz. Some love it, many question the purpose of such product, and yet others love it but hate the price.  For those who are negative toward the (seemingly) amazing lens, I question why.  If we only produce "good enough" products that most people can afford, the world will be filled with mediocre products. Without these best of the breed products, produced where money is no object, we would not know how far we can go. Sure, most of us will not be able to afford the new lens, but there is a chance that we could afford a used one later on.

The Canon EF 200mm f1.8L is one of the best lenses in the world. It was created to showcase Canon's technical prowess in lens design. Even by today's standards, it's still one of the best, certainly still the world's faster autofocus 200mm lens. I would not have been able to afford it when it was new, but I was able to buy one used. Canon never sold many of these lenses and I am not even sure it they made a profit from this lens, if you factor in the time it took to design and the tools needed to make it. But, I am glad they made it.

Still, many lambasted Zeiss for making such an expensive lens and it won't even autofocus. I am glad they made it a manual focus lens. Every time I think of the EF 200mm f1.8L lens sitting here, and cannot be fixed due to parts shortage, I wish the lens was a manual focus lens; manual focus lenses have a much longer service life. Some of my manual focus lenses are more than 50 years old and they still work wonderfully like the day they were made.

So Zeiss, bring us more lenses that are the best of the best.

Looking South of Yonge Street - Canon 20D IR & Pentax-M 20mm f4 @ f8


  1. I agree, I am glad I have something to aspire to, even if I can't afford it.

    Then I can tell myself "say, this OM lens is nearly as good as that"


  2. The Zeiss corporation makes superb optics indeed, but the simple truth is that you don't need superb optics anymore since all the distortions, corner drop-off, contrast adjustments, and some aberrations are all correctable in software.

    So have fun with your $49 lenses, thats how much I paid for my Nikkor 5.8cm f1.4 lens (the original Nikon F normal) and I am having a blast with it.

    1. Well, many people don't care about optical performance, as long as software can fix it. There is always a penalty when corrected in software. Very bad lenses are not correctable with software. I would like to have lenses that perform well by themselves.

      There is a place for $49 lenses and there is also places for $4900 lenses, just like everything else :)