Zeiss Distagon T* 21mm f/2.8 ZE

Last updated (06 July’12):
– Review by SLRLensreview

The Zeiss Distagon T* 21mm f/2.8 ZE features 21mm at focal length with maximum aperture of f/2.8. The lens construction has 16 elements in 13 groups and has diagonal angle of view at 90 degrees. Closest focusing distance at 8.66″ (22 cm) and has a filter size of 82mm. The Zeiss Distagon T* 21mm f/2.8 ZE lens weighs 1.32 lb (600 g) and it measures 3.43 inches in diameter and 4.29 inches long.

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆ | Latest Price Info

Expert Reviews

Zeiss Distagon T* 21mm f/2.8 ZE Reviews

SLRLensreview reviews the Zeiss Distagon T* 21mm f/2.8 ZE and writes;
“Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 21mm f/2.8 is a fantastic UWA lens that is hard not to recommend. It redefines the benchmark for ultra wides both in terms of the sheer resolving power and color reproduction. Like most wide angles, the Distagon suffers from a number of artifacts like vignetting, distortion and flare. Not much we can do about them, but considering that most of these artifacts can either be avoided or fixed in post-processing, they should not discourage the would be users. “
rating: N/A

Luminous-landscape reviews the Zeiss Distagon T* 21mm f/2.8 ZE and writes;
“On the one hand, it’s physically large and very expensive. On the other, the image quality is simply superb. As good as I’ve ever seen form any wide angle lens, and right up there with Leica’s finest M series lenses. (Please Zeiss – make one in Canon EOS mount so more people can see what a great wide angle lens should be line). Of course the f/2.8 maximum aperture will be important to some photographers, especially since my shooting experience corroborates the MTF charts. This lens is almost as good when used wide open as when stopped down – exceptional performance. Possibly as good as any ultra-wide angle lens ever made “
rating: N/A

Photozone reviews the Zeiss Distagon T* 21mm f/2.8 ZE and writes;
“The Zeiss Distagon T* 21mm f/2.8 is not only a legendary lens – it is also capable of delivering its qualities on today’s DSLRs. The sharpness is already impressive at f/2.8 and it does even get slightly better at medium apertures. Lateral CAs are very low and as such contributing to the high resolution perception. Distortions are also well controlled but if you want to correct the remaining artifacts this may not be all that easy due to the secondary mustache style here. A weakness is the level of vignetting at f/2.8 and, to a lesser degree, at f/4. “
Rating: ★★★★☆

The-digital-picture compares the Zeiss Distagon T* 21mm f/2.8 ZE to Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 and writes;
“So, the review thus far has established the Zeiss 21mm f/2.8 Distagon T* ZE Lens’ top-of-the-line build quality – but that is not what impresses me the most about the ZE 21. Image sharpness/resolution/contrast, even wide open on a full frame body, right into the extreme corners, is what I’m most pleased with. I’ll give the ZE 21 two enthusiastic thumbs-up in this regard. “
rating: N/A

Ephotozine compares the Zeiss Distagon T* 21mm f/2.8 ZE to Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 and writes;
“Well I am surprised to say the least, elated and overjoyed all in one. The Carl Zeiss 21mm f/2.8 was a dream lens that I had speculated was the holy grail of all wide angles, but I am very glad I didn’t buy one, especially now. The Nikon is an exemplary performer in the 21mm focal length, if not a gnats hair sharper when comparing the two, which is a total surprise to say the least. Mark Welsh’s orignial comparison of the Carl Zeiss 21mm and the Nikon 14-24mm showed a distinctive difference, that the Zeiss was still top of the tree, but all I can say from examining my test carefully is that this is not the case with my own Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 and the Carl Zeiss 21mm.”
rating: N/A

Kenrockwell reviews the Zeiss Distagon T* 21mm f/2.8 ZE and writes;
“The focus ring is more heavily damped than Nikon, so it won’t flick end-to-end as will a Nikon, but you can easily focus precisely with just one finger tip. It is wonderful. Cradle the lens in your left hand, and you expression finger can move the focus at the same time. Since the barrel is solid and does not move in and out as do most manual focus lenses, nothing hangs up. The focus ring moves on its own as you solidly hold the rest of the lens. If you run a straight line across the top of your image, it will “pull out” a bit in the corners. It’s better than Zeiss’ 18mm f/3.5. This is complex pincushion distortion. You can try -0.5 in Photoshop’s lens distortion filter, however it leaves some waviness.”
rating: N/A

User Opinions

Zeiss Distagon T* 21mm f/2.8 ZE User Reviews

Class Glass
“My decision to buy the Distagon T* 21mm with ZE was based on several factors, the most important being that with my full-frame Canon 5D Mark II, I was having difficulty finding a wide-angle prime in the Canon range, even amongst its L series, that did not bring with it barrel distortion and/or significant vignetting and curvature when shooting landscapes. And as much as the EF 24-70mm f2.8L is a fantastic lens on the 5D Mark II, it still suffers from some of those traits, especially when used in conjunction with filters. I also found myself wanting to go wider than 24mm. The Distagon 21mm delivers on those fronts. My horizons are not only pin sharp they are flat, and distortion and vignetting almost non-existent.” – by Peter Hill
Rating: ★★★★★

solid performance
“Lens cap: needs some persuasion to click on securely(maybe my piece has a manufacturing issue). Once on it is quite secure. Lack of autofocus(canon version): in manual mode, one must have the correct diopteric setting on the viewfinder to ensure good focus. In auto modes- half clicking the shutter release and turning the focus ring will reveal good focus with the green light indicator in view finder. The pics are very sharp, even on the edges- amazing performance.” – by HVS
Rating: ★★★★★

“How lenses were before economic rationalisation. It seems as though no corners were cut in the manufacture of this amazing lens. Fantastic image quality, sharp, punchy and colourful images. Get close and wide and watch the background go to beautiful softness. Beautifully engineered and a joy to use.” – by NDT
Rating: ★★★★★

The best wide angle lens ever
“This is a great wide angle lens for my full frame Canon 5D. I use it for landscapes so don’t mind the manual focus (it sits on a tripod most of the time). I find that image edges are clean and without distortion. It’s a beautiful lens that creates crisp, clear images from edge to edge. I highly recommend this lens over a wide angle zoom.” – by Bev
Rating: ★★★★★

Nearly Perfect
“Sharp, sharp, sharp. Great color rendition. Amazing contrast. Artsy bokeh that adds interest or distraction, depending upon the viewer. Manual focus is very smooth and solid. Lack of AF is not a problem at this length, since you won’t be doing much sports shooting anyway. Can get darn close to your subject if necessary, for macro-like views.” – by Cowboy Bob
Rating: ★★★★★

Incredibly sharp
“The headline says it all. Whether you are shooting wide angle, portrait or close up, the images are super sharp. Also, the incredible focal distance gives this lens a wide array of uses. This lens is hard to beat in the 21 mm range for flexible wide-angle shooting in low or good lighting conditions producing tack-sharp images with excellent color.” – by John
Rating: ★★★★★

Outstanding Landscape Lens
“Very sharp photos provided you take your time and use good technique. This lens will definitely reveal poor technique–i.e. bad focus or camera shake. Tripod use is mandatory for the best results. Focus is more challenging than it would seem, even when using magnified ‘live view’ focusing technique. Not a great lens for indoor shooting due to the maximum aperture limitation as well as the time required to obtain critical focus manually.” – by azvantage
Rating: ★★★★★

Sharp Elegant Classic
“I bought this lens for landscape photography primarily, but have found it useful for general street shots and architecture as well. I have used the 16-35mm f2.8L II and the 24mm f1.4L II on my 5D Mk II for a while now, but this Distagon makes the best images of all. The pictures it produces are sharp edge-to-edge with hardly noticeable distortion, and the colors really pop. Flare is quite low, even with the sun in the picture. Manual focusing is not THAT difficult — I did it for years until autofocus came along — but I do not use this lens on fast-moving subjects.” – by Whizzard
Rating: ★★★★★

Excellent Detail
“Was pleasantly surprised by the clarity, color detail, and sharpness of this lens. After I used the micro-adjustment feature on my 5D Mark II to calibrate the focus (-10 value) I was able to use the camera’s internal focus signal to assist in manually focus my shots thru the viewfinder rather than always using the LCD.” – by JWGPHOTO
Rating: ★★★★★

You could consider me a Zeiss convert
“I rented this lens and the Zeiss Distagon T* 18mm f/3.5 ZE to compare. While the 18mm was certainly impressive and had a wider field of view, I ended up choosing the 21mm for its versatility, its sharpness, its overall image quality (CA, etc), and build quality. Versatility is rather subjective, but I think I could certainly use the lens for tasks other than landscape photography. The sharpness definitely blew the 18mm out of the water. There was virtually no chromatic aberration when shooting wide-open whereas the 18mm suffers from that quite a bit – nothing software can’t fix but it’s just another extra reason the 21mm is worth the price difference. As for the build quality – the darn thing is entirely metal and glass. Even the lens hood is metal! It seems like such a serious lens that it makes the 35mm f/1.4L – a lens with really good build quality for a Canon lens – feel like a toy in comparison. The weight may bother people and I did list it as a con but it’s really not that bad – especially if you’re taking fantastic images with it!” – by SDC
Rating: ★★★★★

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Zeiss Distagon T* 21mm f/2.8 ZE Sample Photos

Zeiss Distagon T* 21mm f/2.8 ZE Sample Photos @ SLRLensreview.com
Zeiss Distagon T* 21mm f/2.8 ZE Sample Photos @ The-digital-picture.com
Zeiss Distagon T* 21mm f/2.8 ZE Sample Photos @ Pbase.com
Zeiss Distagon T* 21mm f/2.8 ZE Sample Photos @ Pixel-peeper.com
Zeiss Distagon T* 21mm f/2.8 ZE Sample Photos @ Flickr.com


Zeiss Distagon T* 21mm f/2.8 ZE User Manual

Coming soon..

Features & Specifications

Zeiss Distagon T* 21mm f/2.8 ZE Specifications

The Zeiss Distagon T* f/2.8 21mm ZE Lens for Canon EF Mount EOS DSLR cameras is a precision wide angle lens built with a Carl Zeiss T* anti-reflection coating that yields accurate color and professional-quality, high contrast images without any color fringes. It delivers exceptional results under all lighting conditions. With close focusing of only 8.64″ (0.22 m) it is useful for landscape photography and other subjects with dramatic perspectives.

The Distagon T* f/2.8 21mm comes with an EF bayonet (ZE) mount for Canon film and digital full-frame SLRS. The large front filter diameter (82mm) allows for the use of standard screw-in filters when combined with a standard lens shade (included).

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