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Zeiss Planar 50mm f/2 ZM M-Mount Lens Review

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Truth be told, I was a little confused on the various 50mm lenses for Leica m mount. Not from a perspective of what was good, as there are many good options. More along the lines of what did I want and how much I wanted to spend.


If money is no object, I think most would say and purchase the venerable Leica branded lenses.


However, for me price is a consideration, but I also want a good option as well. Research and recommendations turned me to once again look at the third party options in the Zeiss and Voigtlander brands.


I was initially leaning toward the Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f/1.5 II, but was not able to find ones used at a reasonable price.


I then came across a used Zeiss Planar 50mm f/2 ZM. The price was right and after much research came to believe that it was a very capable and highly regarded optic.


Disclosure – images were post processed to my liking and in various styles. Some were processed from RAW and others may be custom film simulations that were run in camera.





Full Image above - cropped in image to show detail




A wonderful sized 50mm on the M240, the Zeiss Planar 50mm f/2 feels well balanced.


For the size of this lens, you’d think it would be heavier in hand. While all metal, the weight and size are negligible when compared to other optics in similar focal lengths and apertures.


Aperture and manual focus rings are easy to get to and manipulate. 1/3 stops for the aperture rings are solid and fall into position with a positive click and lock. I’ve had no issues accidentally bumping the aperture ring while out in the field.


My only real issue is to remember that this lens has 1/3 stops while other lenses in my m mount stable are 1/2 stop or full stop.

Focusing is easy, with the ability to just use index and thumb to rotate as needed. Of all the lenses I have, this one falls in the middle for stiffness and dampening. The Leica 90mm being the stiffest and the Zeiss Biogon 35mm f/2.8 being less stiff.




Weather Sealed
Not sure of the level of weather sealing but confident that a light rain or spritz would not hurt this lens at all.


Please, make your own determination through research and use if you feel this lens has the level which you need. Always best to make those decisions for yourself and not trust off someone else’s opinion.



Image Quality
So here is what most want to know. Yes, this is a sharp lens. Like, every aperture sharp. This is usable at f/2 all the way through the aperture range until you hit f/16 when diffraction starts setting in. Take into account the effects of the shallow depth of field when shooting up close but f/2 is very usable.


I would not consider this lens as clinically sharp as the Zeiss Biogon 35mm f/2.8, but it is very, very close.


Bokeh was very smooth and I did not find it busy at all in the initial shooting of the lens.


Character wise, contrast is very similar to the 35mm Biogon. They are good compliments to each other.


Zeiss makes a compelling alternative to the Leica versions of this focal length and aperture lens.








Focus even at f/2 is no problem here. Yes, you need to ensure that you are more exacting than at say f/4 but I had no issues adapting to this lens shooting wide open or otherwise.


The focus ring is well dampened as to be able to make precise adjustments but not too dampened as to be fighting against it. I don’t really use the focusing nub, I’m more of an index/thumb on the ring kind of person.




OIS (Optical Image Stabilization)
This lens has no VR built into it. If stabilization is a requirement, then m mount rangefinders may not be the right system for you. However if you have or like this optic, m mount lenses can be adapted to other cameras with IBIS like Nikon Z, Fuji X or Olympus/OM Digital micro four thirds systems.




Bottom Line
50mm field of view is one of my favorites and I knew that once I was getting the M240 that a 50mm was going to be one of the first lenses.


Zeiss’ Planar 50mm f/2 is a fantastic lens with great wide open performance – honestly so good that stopping down sharpens it up very little. So you can feel free to shoot this thing with confidence at any aperture needed.


Bottom Line = Highly Recommend!



full size image above, cropped image to show detail below







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http://www.visualohio.com | BESTLIGHTPHOTO BLOG | 500px Profile & Pics


I shoot Nikon, Olympus, Minolta, Pentax and Leica.

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