Zeiss debuts Touit lenses for Sony, Fuji mirrorless cameras


posted Friday, May 3, 2013 at 4:03 PM EDT

In the world of optics, few names command quite the respect of Germany's legendary Carl Zeiss AG. The Zeiss logo and brand appear on more than a few fixed-lens cameras aimed at enthusiasts, and the company also offers a variety of SLR lenses for the dominant Canon EF and Nikon F lens mounts.

Until now, Zeiss hasn't directly offered any mirrorless-specific lenses, limiting itself to a cooperation with Sony for the E-mount Sonnar T* E 1,8/24 ZA lens. At the Photokina show last year, though, the company announced that it was working on a new autofocusing lens family for compact system cameras. Not surprisingly, the announcement generated quite a bit of excitement from mirrorless fans thrilled by the promise of a smaller, lighter lens with Zeiss' famed image quality.

The Carl Zeiss Touit 2.8/12 lens, shown mounted on a Fujifilm X-Pro1 (left) and Sony NEX-7 (right) camera body.

As the release of the first Zeiss mirrorless lenses draws closer, the company has revealed further details on its first offerings, including their new branding. Zeiss' lenses will be available only for the Sony NEX E-mount and Fujifilm X-mount, and optics for both mounts will be sold under the Zeiss Touit brand, pronounced "Too-It." At launch, there will be two optics to choose from, both primes: a 12mm f/2.8 yielding an 18mm-equivalent focal length, and a 32mm f/1.8 equivalent to a 48mm optic on a 35mm camera. In the interests of reducing weight, the lens designs include both metal and plastic parts.

The Carl Zeiss Touit 2.8/12 has 11 lens elements in eight groups, including two aspherics and three anomalous partial dispersion elements, and sports Zeiss' T* vapor-deposited, anti-reflective coating on all surfaces. 67mm filter threads are available on the front of the lens. A nine-bladed iris provides for apertures from f/2.8 to f/22, and an aperture ring is provided on the X-mount variant of the lens. Focus is possible to as close as 7.1 inches (18cm). The E-mount optic weighs 9.2 ounces (260g), and the X-mount version weighs 9.5 ounces (270g). Both versions have dimensions of 2.68 inches (68mm) in length by 3.5 inches (88mm) in diameter.

The Carl Zeiss Touit 1.8/32 lens, shown mounted on the same two cameras.

The other optic which will be available at launch is the Carl Zeiss Touit 1.8/32, which has a simpler eight element, five group design, and again boasts T* coatings on all surfaces. A smaller 52mm filter thread is provided, and the nine-bladed aperture allows a range of f/1.8 to f/22, with the X-mount version again providing an aperture ring. This lens focuses to as close as 14.6 inches (37cm), and weighs 7.1 ounces (200g) in its E-mount form, or 7.4 ounces (210g) for the X-mount variant. The E-mount version is 2.3 inches (58mm) in length, and the X-mount version is 2.4 inches (60mm) long. Both have a diameter of 3.0 inches (75mm).

These two initial lenses will be followed by a 50mm f/2.8 macro lens towards the end of the year. No information has yet been provided on pricing and availability for either of the initial Touit lens models.

The two Touit lenses in X-mount form. The E-mount versions for NEX cameras are similar, but lack the aperture rings.