Carl Zeiss Touit Distagon 2.8/12mm T* Review

4.5
June 6, 2013 | Mark Goldstein |

Introduction

The Carl Zeiss Touit Distagon 2.8/12mm T* is a new ultra-wide-angle prime lens for Fujifilm X-series and Sony NEX compact system cameras. Offering a focal range of 18mm in 35mm terms, is the Carl Zeiss Touit 12mm a worthy addition to the XF and NEX lens ranges? Read our Carl Zeiss Touit Distagon 2.8/12mm T* review to find out...

The Carl Zeiss Touit Distagon 2.8/12mm T* is a new ultra wide-angle autofocus lens for Fujifilm XF and Sony NEX compact system cameras. The Carl Zeiss 12mm F2.8 lens boasts an angle-of-view range similar to that of an 18mm lens in a 35mm system. Other highlights include a close-focus point of 18cm, nine aperture blades for an almost circular bokeh, and an optical formula that comprises 11 elements in 8 groups including two floating aspheric lenses and three lens elements. The Carl Zeiss Touit Distagon 2.8/12mm T* lens is priced at £950 / €920 / $1,250 in the UK, Europe and the US, respectively. The only difference between the Sony and Fujifilm versions is that the latter features a traditional 1/3-step aperture ring.

Ease of Use

The Carl Zeiss Touit Distagon 2.8/12mm T* is a relatively compact prime lens, at least when compared to its DSLR equivalents, but it's still quite a bit bigger than a comparable Micro Four Thirds wide-angle lens, for example. As you can see in the pictures below, it complements the Sony NEX-5R quite well, feeling just a little front-heavy. It more than matches the camera body in terms of its build quality thanks to the mostly metal design, with less important parts made in high-quality plastic in order to reduce weight.

Carl Zeiss Touit Distagon 2.8/12mm T*The Carl Zeiss Touit Distagon 2.8/12mm T* lens attached to the Sony NEX-5R camera

Carl Zeiss Touit Distagon 2.8/12mm T*The Carl Zeiss Touit Distagon 2.8/12mm T* lens attached to the Sony NEX-5R camera

Carl Zeiss Touit Distagon 2.8/12mm T*The Carl Zeiss Touit Distagon 2.8/12mm T* lens attached to the Sony NEX-5R camera

Carl Zeiss Touit Distagon 2.8/12mm T*The Carl Zeiss Touit Distagon 2.8/12mm T* lens attached to the Sony NEX-5R camera

Carl Zeiss Touit Distagon 2.8/12mm T*The Carl Zeiss Touit Distagon 2.8/12mm T* lens attached to the Sony NEX-5R camera

The Carl Zeiss Touit 12mm lens boasts a metal mount, high-grade plastic barrel and non-rotating 67mm filter thread. The focus ring is generously wide, smooth in action without being loose, and despite having a completely smooth surface, surprisingly tactile. There are no “hard stops” at either end of the 18cm-infinity focus range.

Carl Zeiss Touit Distagon 2.8/12mm T*Side of the Carl Zeiss Touit Distagon 2.8/12mm T* lens

Carl Zeiss Touit Distagon 2.8/12mm T*Side of the Carl Zeiss Touit Distagon 2.8/12mm T* lens

The Carl Zeiss Touit Distagon 2.8/12mm T* lens doesn't feature any distance and depth of field scales on the barrel, making it less suitable for manually pre-focusing if you find that the autofocus system is slowing you down. The focusing ring has a nice progressive action that makes manually focusing a pleasure rather than a chore.

Carl Zeiss Touit Distagon 2.8/12mm T*The Carl Zeiss Touit Distagon 2.8/12mm T* lens with the hood fitted

The Fujifilm XF version of the Carl Zeiss Touit 12mm lens has a traditional aperture ring on the lens barrel, which allows you to set the aperture in 1/3 steps, complete with aperture markings on the lens barrel. The Sony E system version that we had in for testing doesn't feature the aperture ring.

Carl Zeiss Touit Distagon 2.8/12mm T*Front of the Carl Zeiss Touit Distagon 2.8/12mm T* lens

Carl Zeiss Touit Distagon 2.8/12mm T*Front of the Carl Zeiss Touit Distagon 2.8/12mm T* lens

Carl Zeiss Touit Distagon 2.8/12mm T*Front of the Carl Zeiss Touit Distagon 2.8/12mm T* lens

Carl Zeiss Touit Distagon 2.8/12mm T*Rear of the Carl Zeiss Touit Distagon 2.8/12mm T* lens

Carl Zeiss Touit Distagon 2.8/12mm T*The Carl Zeiss Touit Distagon 2.8/12mm T* lens fitted with the supplied lens hood fitted

Carl Zeiss Touit Distagon 2.8/12mm T*The Carl Zeiss Touit Distagon 2.8/12mm T* lens alongside the Sony NEX-5R

Carl Zeiss Touit Distagon 2.8/12mm T*The Carl Zeiss Touit Distagon 2.8/12mm T* lens in hand

In terms of accessories, the lens ships with a large plastic petal shaped hood. Curiously for such a premium lens, there's no lens bag included.

Focal Range

Carl Zeiss Touit Distagon 2.8/12mm T*

The Carl Zeiss Touit Distagon 2.8/12mm T* lens has a wide angle of view of 99 degrees.

Distortion

Carl Zeiss Touit Distagon 2.8/12mm T*

The Carl Zeiss Touit Distagon 2.8/12mm T* exhibits just a little barrel distortion, as you can see in the photo above, but it's a lot better than you would expect from a 18mm equivalent lens.

Focusing

The Carl Zeiss Touit Distagon 2.8/12mm T* lens has an internal focusing (IF) system with a fairly quiet linear motor. In practice, we found the auto-focus to be accurate but a little hesitant on the Sony NEX-5R, with a noticeable lag before locking onto the subject. Thanks to the IF mechanism the front of the lens does not rotate on focus, which is very good news for anyone looking to use the lens in conjunction with a polariser or graduated neutral density filter.

Flare

With the generously sized lens hood fitted, we could only produc flare in the picture by pointing the lens directly into the sun! The following examples show the worst flare effects that we could produce.

Carl Zeiss Touit Distagon 2.8/12mm T* Carl Zeiss Touit Distagon 2.8/12mm T*

Chromatic Aberrations

Chromatic aberrations, typically seen as purple or blue fringes along contrasty edges, are not really a problem with the Carl Zeiss Touit Distagon 2.8/12mm T* lens, as shown in the examples below.

Carl Zeiss Touit Distagon 2.8/12mm T* Carl Zeiss Touit Distagon 2.8/12mm T*

Macro

The Carl Zeiss Touit Distagon 2.8/12mm T* is not a macro lens, but you can focus quite closely. The close-focus point is at 18cm from the sensor plane. The following example illustrates how close you can get to the subject, in this case a CompactFlash card.

Carl Zeiss Touit Distagon 2.8/12mm T*Close-up performance

Bokeh Examples

Bokeh is a word used for the out-of-focus areas of a photograph, and is usually described in qualitative terms, such as smooth / creamy / harsh etc. Carl Zeiss have paid attention to this aspect of lens use, employing a 9-segment diaphragm with rounded blades for pleasing bokeh. In our view, their efforts have been very successful for such a wide-angle lens - see the examples below.

Carl Zeiss Touit Distagon 2.8/12mm T* Carl Zeiss Touit Distagon 2.8/12mm T*
   
Carl Zeiss Touit Distagon 2.8/12mm T* Carl Zeiss Touit Distagon 2.8/12mm T*

Sharpness

In order to show you how sharp this lens is, we are providing 100% crops on the following page.

Entry Tags

review, wide-angle, lens, compact system camera, mirrorless, csc, fujifilm, f2.8, wide angle, fuji, prime, x-e1, nex, xf, x-pro1, x, carl zeiss, Sony, e-system, 12mm, zeiss, Sony E, Carl Zeiss Touit Distagon 2.812mm T*, 12

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