Carl Zeiss Planar T* 1.4/85 ZE – First thoughts

by Callan

I bought some new toys last Friday, one of which is the Zeiss 1.4/85 ZE. It’s my second Zeiss lens, after the 1.4/50 which I love using so much. The 85 is more of a portrait lens compared to the 50, but that isn’t too big of a difference. Naturally, it is bigger and heavier than the 50, and boasts an equally impressive build quality – made of all metal and glass. Huge, beautiful chunks of glass. Resulting in that particular Zeiss look I hanker after.

CaKe_Zeiss85_Test-01 - © 2011 Callan Tham/CaKe Images LLP

Here’s another one, at f/2.5, showing all the detail that one would want (and not want, as the case may be):

CaKe_Zeiss85_Test-02 - © 2011 Callan Tham/CaKe Images LLP

With the Eg-S focusing screen installed, it wasn’t difficult to focus. The 85 is a near-replica of the 50 where the focusing ring is concerned: smooth, precise, and has a long throw. It just looks like…a much bigger 50, with the same optical qualities. Warm and accurate colours, pleasing tones, and that manual focus which gives the photographer full control. Not to mention the fantastic micro-contrast and distinctive bokeh.

CaKe_Zeiss85_Test-03 - © 2011 Callan Tham/CaKe Images LLP

In 10 minutes I’ll be taking it on a field test in Chinatown, if it doesn’t start raining. And for those of you who are perceptive enough to notice that I said “toys” in the first sentence of this post, here’s a hint: it’s not the iPhone, or the roll of made-in-China B&W film in the photo below.

CaKe_Zeiss85_Test-04 - © 2011 Callan Tham/CaKe Images LLP

My first thoughts on the Zeiss 85? I love it already. More to come.


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