Carl Zeiss Planar 50mm f2 T* ZM (with sample photos)

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.

Planar without the lens hood.

Straight view from the front of the camera. The small size causes no viewfinder blockage.

Modern but very stylish design and top notch build quality.

Close-up from the controls.

View from straight up.

Sample shots

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.

Carl Zeiss Planar 50mm f2 T* ZM with Leica M6 and Kodak Tri-x 400.

Carl Zeiss Planar 50mm f2 T* ZM with Leica M6 and Kodak Tri-x 400.

Carl Zeiss Planar 50mm f2 T* ZM with Leica M6 and Kodak Tri-x 400.

Carl Zeiss Planar 50mm f2 T* ZM with Leica M6 and Kodak Tri-x 400.

Carl Zeiss Planar 50mm f2 T* ZM with Leica M6 and Kodak T-max 400.

Carl Zeiss Planar 50mm f2 T* ZM with Leica M6 and Kodak T-max 400.

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!

Pekka

Graphic designer and a 35mm film photography enthusiast. I enjoy straight photography on natural/available light and in-camera techniques. I'm inspired by early and mid-1900's classic photojournalism, street photography and documentary photography. Currently shooting mainly with Leica M6, and Olympus OM-4.

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