Zeiss introduced its Touit 32mm f/1.8 lens together with the 12mm f/2.8 for Fuji X and Sony E camera mounts in April of 2013. With its 48mm full-frame equivalent field of view, the lens fits the definition of a “standard” lens – a popular focal length for everyday photography needs. In this review, we will take a closer look at the Zeiss Touit 32mm f/1.8 and see how it stacks up against its competitors, the Fuji XF 35mm f/1.4 R, and XF 35mm f/2 R WR.
I only had a chance to use the Fujifilm X mount version of the lens for this review, but its Sony E-mount version is very similar in terms of optical characteristics and overall performance, so most of what I say here applies to both versions.
Zeiss Touit 32mm f/1.8 Review: Introduction
The Zeiss Touit 32mm f/1.8 is a fairly compact and lightweight lens. Comprised of 8 elements in 5 groups, it has a more simplified design compared to its 12mm f/2.8 counterpart but has the same feel and build quality. Zeiss engineers went with a Planar design and avoided using aspherical lens elements to optimize the lens bokeh. Like the high-end Zeiss lenses for larger mounts, the Touit 32mm f/1.8 is coated with the ZEISS T* anti-reflective coating to minimize the effects of ghosting and flare. The lens uses a DC autofocus motor for quick and quiet autofocus operation.
Between the wide-angle Zeiss Touit 12mm f/2.8 and the Touit 32mm f/1.8, I was personally excited about the latter, since I find the standard focal length to be very practical for my photography needs. Having used 50mm primes for many years for shooting portraits and weddings, I knew that I wanted to try the 32mm f/1.8 for commercial work and see how it works out. I already had Fuji’s XF 35mm f/1.4 R at the time to compare with, so I was anxious to see which of the two would be a better long-term investment. With the slower Zeiss priced at $900, I wondered if the Zeiss name was worth the $300 price premium. Unfortunately, my experience in the field didn’t prove it, so I decided to stick with the Fuji as a long-term investment.
Zeiss Touit 32mm f/1.8 Specifications
- Mounts: Fujifilm X and Sony E
- Focal Length (35mm format equivalent): 32mm (48mm)
- Lens Construction (Elements / Groups): 8 / 5
- Angle of View: 48°
- Number of Diaphragm Blades: 9
- Maximum Aperture: f/1.8
- Minimum Aperture: f/22
- Minimum Focus Distance: 0.3m
- Max Magnification: 0.11x
- Weight: 200g (Sony E-Mount), 210g (Fujifilm X-Mount)
- Size: 75 x 58mm
- Filter size: 52mm
Detailed specifications for the lens, along with MTF charts and other useful data can be found on the Zeiss Touit 32mm f/1.8 page of our lens database.
Lens Handling and Build
The build quality of the Zeiss Touit 32mm f/1.8 is nothing to complain about. Holding the lens in hands, one can appreciate the high-quality metal, plastic, and rubber components that were used as part of the lens design. Compared to the Fuji XF 35mm f/1.4 R, it is slightly bulkier and heavier (210g vs 187g), and noticeably more when compared to the XF 35mm f/2 R WR.
I am not a big fan of the rubber rings that Zeiss used on the Touit lenses. I wish they were textured a little for better grip and feel. The rubber attracts quite a bit of dust overtime which was a bit annoying to clean up when traveling. The aperture ring is a bit too loose for my taste, and I found myself often re-adjusting the aperture after taking the lens out of my bag. Zeiss uses the same type of rubber design on its Batis, Milvus, and Otus lines of lenses, but they feel more sturdy and better-built in comparison. Personally, I still prefer the all-metal feel and handling of older-generation Zeiss lenses.
Since this is a focus-by-wire lens, the focusing operation is fully electronic. Once the camera is turned off, the focusing ring easily rotates without any mechanical movements.
The lens name “Touit 1.8/32” is engraved on the front of the lens barrel. The Fuji X-mount version has an aperture ring and “X-mount” engraving near the mount, while the Sony E-mount version has a larger focusing ring, no aperture ring, and “E-mount” engraving in the same area.
The Zeiss Touit 32mm f/1.8 has an all-metal mount. Unlike many modern lenses, there is no rubber gasket to prevent dust from getting into the lens and the camera. On top of that, the lens is not weather-sealed, so you have to be careful when using it in wet and humid environments. Personally, I would not risk shooting with the lens in heavy rain or extreme humidity – make sure to wipe the lens quickly and let it dry out to prevent moisture from getting into it. For the price you pay for this lens, I really wish Zeiss weather sealed it.
A plastic hood is provided with the lens. It is rather large in size, but snaps nicely into place and does not wobble. The hood does a great job at reducing lens flare in daylight conditions, so I would recommend keeping it mounted on the lens at all times.
Although it is certainly nice that the Zeiss Touit 32mm f/1.8 has AF capabilities, it’s focusing performance isn’t up to modern Fuji standards. First of all, the lens has a pretty old and fairly noisy motor. Second, while autofocus performance is generally decent on Fuji X cameras (make sure to apply the latest firmware update), the autofocus speed and accuracy was its biggest weakness for a few years on Sony E cameras. The lens would constantly “hunt” for focus because the lens was not suited for hybrid autofocus systems with phase-detection AF when the lens was initially released.
Unfortunately, it took a while for Zeiss to address AF issues via a firmware update, which upset many photographers who bought the lens early on. When the firmware update finally became available in 2015, one had to send their copy to Zeiss service centers at their cost (Zeiss only paid for the return shipping) to get the lens updated, which was even more disappointing for those residing in other countries without available service centers.
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