For quite some time now photography enthusiasts have been very eager to know what Carl Zeiss has in store for Sony E-mount and Fujifilm X-mount cameras. Ever since the legendary optics manufacturer announced that it will be making autofocus lenses for the two mirrorless camera systems, they’ve never stopped receiving requests for more details on their blog. What’s the big deal, you may ask? Well, the only photographers able to enjoy autofocus Carl Zeiss lenses were Sony Alpha and NEX users. The rest of the world had to make do with manual focus lens lineup. Carl Zeiss has been known for their extremely high quality optics for many decades, but avoided implementing AF motors, which many consider an essential in a modern lens. DSLR shooters are still left wanting, but Sony NEX and Fujifilm X series owners will now have a chance to enjoy possibly some of the sharpest optics around (assuming CZ lives up to its name).
The new CZ Touit Lenses
Carl Zeiss states that “Touit” (that’s how the line is named) is designed to take full advantage of the size potential offered by APS-C sensor mirrorless cameras. The new lenses are designed to be much more compact than their SLR counterparts. I, for one, am very glad to see such an initiative. We are yet to see if what Carl Zeiss promises turns out to be true. Fujifilm has been doing a pretty good job at keeping its lenses reasonably small, but quite a few Sony NEX lenses are rather large and feel poorly balanced when mounted on minuscule NEX cameras.
Some light has been shed on two new upcoming CZ lenses. First is the wide-angle T* 12mm f/2.8 lens. Featuring an aperture ring on the X-mount version, 67mm filter size and 11 elements in 8 groups, this lens will face stiff competition from Fujifilm’s own XF 14mm f/2.8 lens in its X-mount incarnation. The new Touit lens is said to focus down to 0.18m (0.59ft) and weight 260g (Sony NEX) and 270g (Fujifilm). The lens features Carl Zeiss T* anti-reflective coating and 9 rounded aperture blades. Floating elements should ensure superb close-focus performance.
The other lens is normal T* 32mm f/1.8 and, while also featuring aperture ring on X-mount version, it has a 52mm filter size as well as 8 elements in 5 groups. It will focus down to 0.37m (1.21ft) and will compete against the excellent XF 35mm f/1.4 lens in Fujifilm lens lineup. Touit 32mm f/1.8 weights 200g and 210g in Sony E and Fujifilm X-mount respectively. T* coating completes the package.
Carl Zeiss promises usual high build quality standards with metal casing and comfortable manual focus rings. Sony NEX versions will not feature aperture rings. Click here to read more about the two upcoming Carl Zeiss Touit lenses for Sony Nex and Fujifilm mirrorless camera systems on CZ’s official lens blog.
It is also worth mentioning that there are some rumors about another potential lens – the Touit 50mm f/2.8 Makro-Planar. Supposedly, it should be announced later this year. Until that time comes, though, it’s no more than a rational expectation. There is no information about this particular lens on the Zeiss blog yet.
Exact pricing has not been announced yet, but expect something in the region of $1000, with some lenses cheaper or more expensive. Carl Zeiss is a premium brand and, as such, there is, quite literally, a high price to pay for owning their lenses. Even with that in mind, there are a lot of manufacturers these days able to design world-class optics that don’t cost an arm and a leg. Fujifilm is also notable for its film-day lenses and current XF lineup consists of solid performers. Nasim played with the Fuji lenses when reviewing the X-Pro1 and he was impressed (hopefully reviews of those lenses will follow soon).
Legendary name aside, Carl Zeiss will have to try very hard to impress and tempt photographers away from current offerings.