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Introduction

Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 25mm f/2.8 was one of the first lenses "new generation" SLR lenses the company introduced around 2006. The new lineup replaces the Contax branded one, which was discontinued after Kyocera, a joint holder of the brand name, exited the camera business in early 2000. The lens was initially introduced in ZF, ZK and ZS variants for Nikon, Pentax and M42 mounts respectively. Carl Zeiss later announced that it will also support Canon mount, although the 25mm variant has not been released yet. Most recently (end of 2009), Carl Zeiss also announced a revised ZF2 mount, which basically adds a CPU to the otherwise still manual lens to allow passing certain information down to the camera. Surprisingly, Distagon T* 25mm f/2.8 was absent from the list of intended ZF2 candidates, which leads many to believe that Carl Zeiss intends to introduce a redesigned version of the lens sooner rather then later. The lens is widely available these days from a variety of camera and lens resellers, going for ~US$800.

The optical construction of the lens consists of 10 elements in 8 groups (compared to 8 elements in 7 groups for the old Contax version). The build quality as with other Zeiss lenses is simply superb. Metal barrel, metal knurled focusing ring and knurled aperture ring. The lens is fairly small and compact, measuring 64 x 90mm (2.5 x 3.54in) and weighing 480g (1.05lb). The barrel extends during focusing adding another inch or so to the overall length. The lens has an incredibly short minimum focusing distance - at 17cm (0.6in), Distagon T* 25mm f/2.8 bests some of the dedicated macro lenses here! The aperture ring stops down from f/2.8 to f/22 in half f-stop increments (although one can expect a fully electronic aperture mechanism for Canon mount). The filter thread is 58mm.

 

The manufacturer's box includes Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 25mm f/2.8 lens, front and rear lens caps, metal lens hood, manual and warranty card. The 25mm Distagon was designed for traditional 35mm cameras and as such when used on APS-C type cameras with 1.5x crop factor, the field of view of the lens will resemble that of a 38mm lens on a full frame body. The lens tested in this review was a Nikon ZF version, which can be easily adapted to a number of alternative mounts, including Canon EF/EF-S and Four Thirds systems  using readily available adapters. Within the scope of this review, the lens was tested on a full frame Nikon D3, as well as APS-C type Canon Digital Rebel XTi and full frame Canon 5D and Canon 5D Mk2.

 

Summary
Lens Composition 10 elements in 8 groups
Angular Field 80 degrees
Minimum Focus 17cm/0.6in
Focusing Action MF
f-stop Scale f/2.8-f/22, manual
Filter Size 58mm
Lens Hood Metal (included)
Weight 480g/1.05lb
Dimensions 64x90mm/2.5x3.54"
Lens Case N/A