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Review of the Low-Distortion Zeiss 15mm f/2.8 Distagon T* Lens

The Zeiss 15mm f/2.8 Distagon T* is an ultra-sharp, full frame lens that controls distortion much better than its other ultra-wide peers.

The Zeiss 15mm f/2.8 Distagon T* is an ultra-sharp, full frame lens that controls distortion much better than its other ultra-wide peers. The natural proportions of this lens, despite its angle of view, lends itself well to architecture photographers. The relatively close focus of 0.25m (10”) also makes this lens a great option for those shooting in tight spaces, particularly for real estate.

Finally a Filter for a 15mm

In comparison to similarly-wide lenses, the consensus so far is that the Zeiss 15mm outperforms the best of them in terms of sharpness and distortion control. Another advantage of the Zeiss 15mm has over, say, the Canon 14mm f/2.8 II or the Canon 8-15mm f/4 is that this lens comes with a front threaded filter ring that accepts a 95mm filter. This and the built-in metal hood provide more protection for the bulbous glass that is natural for a lens of this focal length. The large front element makes this one of the largest wide angle primes available on the market today.



Full Frame Design but Crop Frame Compatible

While this lens is designed for full frame cameras, it can still be used on crop sensor cameras – your angle of view being the equivalent of a 24mm on a 1.6x crop camera. At f/2.8, this lens is handy in lower light situations and stops all the way down to f/22. With a 9-blade diaphragm, the Zeiss 15mm produces smooth bokeh that is very surprising on a lens this wide.

Zeiss 15mm f.2.8 Distagon’s Distortion Control

The distortion control on this lens is evident in the following test shots. The domed ceiling of Westfield San Francisco Center is pretty much how the eye sees it looking straight up. The interior shot of a rustic crêperie shows obvious stretching on the edges but is still impressive given that the entire restaurant is captured. In the third image, we tested the limits of the lens’ focusing distance (10”). This photo was taken about 1 foot away from the bamboo. As you can see, there is very little barreling. Lastly, an environmental portrait example in a small space.


Additional Observations on the Zeiss 15mm f/2.8

  • This lens is heavy (nearly 2 lbs) but the front element is shielded by the built-in metal hood. Add a filter for extra protection.
  • When pointing this lens downward, the metal slip-on cap falls right off, which is annoying.
  • Pay attention to your posture when shooting with this lens. Any shift in one direction or another could mean the difference between a distortion-free shot and a skewed one. You may not notice these slight distortions until you get the images on your computer.
  • This is a manual focus only lens. You maybe find yourself using Live View a lot with this lens to help ensure that your shot is sharp  (I relied on Focus Assist in the viewfinder).
  • This lens is NOT weather sealed.

If you don’t mind the hefty weight and manual only focusing, this lens would be a great addition in the camera bags of photographers interested in architecture, real estate, interiors, landscape, and night sky shooting.

Tags: , , , Last modified: June 17, 2020