Carl Zeiss 21mm f/2.8 Distagon T* 2.8/21

Lens Reviews / Carl Zeiss Lenses i Not yet tested
21mm $1,747
average price
image of Carl Zeiss 21mm f/2.8 Distagon T* 2.8/21

(From Carl Zeiss lens literature)

The new horizon
This legendary super wide angle lens will set new standards in its focal length class. Exceptional color control allows for extraordinary high contrast pictures without any color fringes. Thanks to the Carl Zeiss T * anti reflection coating and its outstanding attenuation of stray light, the Distagon T * 2,8 / 21 provides brilliant results under all lighting conditions. With a close focusing of only 0.22 m (0.72 ft) it is as attractive for landscape photography as for subjects with dramatic perspectives. The Distagon T * 2,8 / 21 with F bayonet (ZF, ZF.2), EF bayonet (ZE) and K bayonet (ZK) is suitable for analog or digital full-frame SLR cameras. The large front fi lter diameter even allows for the use of standard screw-in fi lters when combined with the standard lens shade.

Carl zeiss 21mm f/2.8 Distagon T* 2.8/21

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

10.0/10 average of 5 review(s) Build Quality 10.0/10 Image Quality 10.0/10
  • 10 out of 10 points and recommended by straf (1 reviews)
    solid and sharp

    This lens is outstanding. Mounted on a K5, I could not be more pleased. A great combination.

    reviewed October 25th, 2012
  • 10 out of 10 points and recommended by Bazelmans (2 reviews)
    Contrast, sharpness, colour reproduction, low CA, low fringing, flare suppression, close focusing distance, bokeh, build quality, focusing

    This lens has brought to me everything I wished for. And even more than that. It's better than I could imagine. It's versatile. It's magical. It's a dream coming true.

    I was a little bit afraid of the distortion mentioned by others, but I am very very glad I bought this lens. The distortion is much less than I feared.
    There is vignetting at wide lens openings, but I can't say it is a con, because sometimes it adds to the atmosphere in the photo. And if not, it's easily corrected in PP.

    Like I said, the lens is magic. This "magic" is not easy to explain. It is something you have to discover and then experience yourself.
    A small attempt though? ... Imagine shooting flare free pictures at really close object distances with the lens wide open or nearly wide open, creating beautiful bokeh in combination with exaggerated perspectives, while the object in focus remains razor sharp, full of contrast and rendered in beautiful colours!

    reviewed April 4th, 2012 (purchased for $1,900)
  • 10 out of 10 points and recommended by jtorral (5 reviews)
    Contrast, Sharpness, Lack of distortion, build
    82mm filter can be expensive

    Hundreds of sample images on a canon with thi slens can be found here

    reviewed September 14th, 2010
  • 10 out of 10 points and recommended by telecommuter (9 reviews)
    build quality, unique, detailed color rendering
    no storage bag at this price point? WTF?

    I use this lens on a 1Ds M III, and it took me a very short time to adjust to manual focus. In essence this is a special lens.

    It is special due to the edge to edge sharpness, and the wonderful vibrancy of the colors. I am still some way from dialing in the processing of the RAW images as the degree of saturation and contrast are radically different from my "L" series lenses. My initial results have been too contrasted, and the issue is me, not the lens.

    As many people have posted stunning landscapes with this lens, I opted to shoot a street Carnival and included as many faces/people as I could. I blew a few shots due to not having AF, but I also took more time and took fewer shots - so my hit rate was higher than normal.

    One observation, the lens does not appear to be as wide as it is - that is, it is so linear it is easy to forget it is actually very, very wide.

    The focus mechanism is stupidly precise. I use one finger to focus and there is absolutely no slop or wiggle.

    The lens is all metal, including the hood. The hood "snaps" into place with a positive click, and fits perfectly. This is a huge upgrade from the often slightly-off Canon plastic hoods.

    It remains to be seen if I have been bitten by the Zeiss bug. I am not sure how easily I would be able to adapt my shooting style to 100% manual focus. I need to shoot a bunch more before I form any conclusions.

    Suffice it to say, with a tripod and posed shooting - landscapes or group shots, this is my lens of choice as the results are potentially stunning.

    sample images...

    reviewed June 7th, 2010 (purchased for $1,800)
  • 10 out of 10 points and recommended by tuneintokyo (2 reviews)
    sharp from corner to corner, built solid
    no AF

    The 21mm is by far the best wide angle lens I've used. As all Zeiss lenses this one is manual focus... but that's not a major issue. I'm using it with the Canon 5D MKII and I'm 100% satisfied. Here are a couple shots I took with the lens. I hope you enjoy:

    I would suggest this lens if you don't mind manual focus. If you depend on AF then Zeiss lenses aren't for you.

    reviewed January 20th, 2010 (purchased for $1,750)