Carl Zeiss Planar 50mm f2 T* ZM (with sample photos)
I recently acquired this beautiful Carl Zeiss Planar 50mm f2 T* ZM lens for my Leica M6. I’ve been actually looking for a 50mm lens for a while now within a suitable price range. I previously shot with Leica Summaron 35mm f2.8 (built in 1960), but when the time came to swap it for a 50mm, I had to basically find something that wouldn’t cost me an arm and a leg but something that would still provide a premium image quality. I would’ve of course been very interested in 50mm Summicron, which this lens is often compared to, but even the second hand ones that I was able to find, were still considerably more expensive, thus out of my reach. I was happy to settle with the Planar and it certainly didn’t disappoint!
I was basically in the market for a well built, optically good 50mm f2 lens for Leica M-mount. Small size was also a concern and preferably a lens that wouldn’t cause viewfinder blockage. Initially I was hoping to find a true vintage glass for retro rendering, but that wasn’t the main concern at all. This Zeiss Planar 50mm f2 was announced in 2004 so it’s definitely not a vintage lens as such. It is a modern product, but the rendering is really beautiful. I haven’t really missed the look from older lenses at all.
In a nutshell, I can tell you that this lens is extremely well made. It has that precision machining feel to it. The focusing and aperture rings feels very smooth and solid. I can actually focus this lens much faster than my old 35mm Summaron, because this has, not just the focusing nob, but a conventional focusing ring as well, with a good grip. Almost perfect ergonomics and very smooth user experience.
Aperture ring clicks in third stops, which requires a bit getting used to, since I’m used to counting the clicks to figure out at which f-stop I’m at, without having to look the lens.
The lens comes also in black, which would have been better looking with a black M6, but the chrome version looks really handsome as well. It actually looks nicer on the M6 than my old 35mm Summaron, because these are both modern products. A vintage lens on M6 looks ok, but this is definitely a better match, since they both follow a similar kind of form language in their design.
Here’s also few samples shots I’ve made so far. I mostly shoot black and white film, but I’m planning to do a test on my digital Fujifilm X-E2 as well. For film shooting this lens is rather superior, as you can see from the sample photos.
Like I mentioned, I acquired this lens quite recently but I’ll update the sample photo selection as I go along. This is at the moment my main shooter, which means new photos should start piling up in no time. In the mean time, enjoy these samples!