Best Carl Zeiss Lenses for Filmmaking and Photography - Header - StudioBinder

Carl Zeiss lenses are some of the best for photography and video due to their ability to create images that achieve a rich, 3D look that has become the trademark of many Carl Zeiss lenses.

Camera lenses are a significant investment which requires some serious research before buying. That’s why we’ve gone over each of the Carl Zeiss lenses to show you which should be in your camera bag.

Carl Zeiss Lenses 101

Carl Zeiss lens series

I’m going to briefly break down the Zeiss lens landscape. Zeiss has a few different series of lenses that are compatible with one or more lens mount options, so this list will be separated by manufacturer.

Zeiss Lenses — Batis Series

As long as you find the section that corresponds with your camera’s lens mount (or adapter) you’ll be able to go down the list and find which Zeiss lens seems to fit your specific needs as a photographer or videomaker.

Zeiss also makes cine lenses, but we will not have those in this list. 

For each section, we’re going to list the best Zeiss lenses that correspond with the specified lens mount. That way, you'll know which Zeiss lenses, even if they are from a previous series, are the best for your needs.

The last thing I’ll briefly mention is that Sony teamed up with Zeiss at one point to create a few lenses, specifically the Sony Sonnar and Sony Vario-Tessar which include the Zeiss T* Anti-Reflective coating.

Technically, these are not “Zeiss” lenses, so they don’t make the list. 

Zeiss Lenses for Sony

Best Zeiss lenses for Sony E Mount

Carl Zeiss lenses for Sony have a few different E-Mount series, some of which were released in the last few years. Zeiss lenses for Sony include the Zeiss Loxia series, which are all manual focus only. There is the Zeiss Touit series and Zeiss Batis series, which feature autofocus lenses that use a focus-by-wire system rather than a mechanical focus system.

What does focus-by-wire mean?

Focus-by-wire lenses send electronic messages to the focus ring, whereas mechanical lenses have their focus directly controlled via the focus ring. Many professional filmmakers and photographers frown upon the focus-by-wire setup, but that doesn't mean you should count the Batis or Touits out, because they are still some stellar glass. 

The Zeiss Loxia and Zeiss Batis are full-frame lenses, whereas the Zeiss Touit series is made up of APS-C format lenses, so keep that in mind too.

ZEISS BATIS FOR SONY

Zeiss Batis 40mm f/2 CF lens

This 40mm Zeiss prime is a nice standard lens that features partial dispersion elements that greatly reduce color fringing, distortion, and other aberrations. These features give you sharp, clear, and color-accurate images.  

Most Zeiss lenses have their T* anti-reflective coating, which reduces flare and ghosting, allowing for better images in difficult lighting situations. You have a pretty fast lens here with the max aperture of f/2.

CARL ZEISS LENS SPECS

Zeiss Batis 40mm f/2 CF Lens

  • Max Aperture: f/2
  • Stabilization: No
  • Autofocus: Yes
  • Focal Length: 40mm
  • Lens Mount: Sony E
  • Format Size: Full-Frame
  • MSRP Price: $1,124.00

Zeiss Batis 40mm f/2 Hands On Review | TheCameraStoreTV

Zeiss Batis lenses have an OLED display on the lens barrel, which shows you the focus distance and depth of field range. This is a really nice addition, and they’re illuminated which helps you read in the dark.  

These Zeiss lenses also have autofocus capabilities and are about ⅓ the price tag of the amazing Otus series, and cheaper than the Zeiss Loxia. As far as Zeiss lenses for Sony cameras go, this is a great choice. 

CARL ZEISS BATIS

ZEISS Batis 85mm f/1.8 lens

This 85mm Zeiss prime is a nice telephoto lens that is great for portrait photography. This Zeiss lens has an OLED display on the lens barrel, the T* anti-reflective coating, and image stabilization, which is cool.

CARL ZEISS LENS SPECS

Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Lens

  • Max Aperture: f/1.8
  • Stabilization: Yes
  • Autofocus: Yes
  • Focal Length: 85mm
  • Lens Mount: Sony E
  • Format Size: Full-Frame
  • MSRP Price: $898.00

Sony FE 85mm vs Zeiss Batis 85mm Field Test | TheCameraStoreTV

The price is great along with the f1.8, the image stabilization, and the versatile 85mm focal length make this Zeiss a smart long lens buy.

ZEISS LOXIA FOR SONY

ZEISS Loxia 35mm f/2.4 lens

This 35mm Zeiss prime is basically a standard lens, and is the first Loxia on the list. It has the mechanical focus, but no autofocus capabilities. The Zeiss Loxia bokeh is better than the Batis, and more durable.

CARL ZEISS LENS SPECS

Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2.4 Lens

  • Max Aperture: f/2.4
  • Stabilization: No
  • Autofocus: No
  • Focal Length: 35mm
  • Lens Mount: Sony E
  • Format Size: Full-Frame
  • MSRP Price: $1,169.00

 Zeiss Loxia 35mm Lens Review | Jay SonyAlphaLab

Loxia Zeiss lenses have the T* anti-reflective coating to reduce flare and ghosting and allows for better images in difficult lighting situations. The f/2 aperture is sweet, the lens quality is great, and the price is nice. 

ZEISS TOUIT FOR SONY

Zeiss Touit 50mm f/2.8 Macro Lens

This is hands down one of the best Zeiss lenses for Sony shooters, and that’s because it is both versatile, unique, and priced really well. Despite this being an APS-C format lens, this is the only macro option from Zeiss for Sony cameras, and the picture quality is really amazing.

CARL ZEISS LENS SPECS

Zeiss Touit 50mm f/2.8 Macro Lens

  • Max Aperture: f/2.8
  • Stabilization: No
  • Autofocus: Yes
  • Focal Length: 50mm
  • Lens Mount: Sony E
  • Format Size: APS-C
  • MSRP Price: $899.00

Zeiss Touit 50mm Macro Lens Review | Jay SonyAlphaLab

The APS-C makes this a 75mm-equivalent prime, and you can use it for portraits, or for close-up macro photos and video. It has a life-size 1:1 maximum magnification ratio and a minimum focusing distance of 5.9". 

This Zeiss lens has the T* anti-reflective coating, a floating elements system to keep consistent image quality, and a DC autofocus motor that gives you fast and quiet focusing performance.

ZEISS BATIS LENSES

ZEISS Batis 25mm f/2 lens

This 25mm Zeiss prime is a nice wide-angle lens with the same partial dispersion elements. This Zeiss lens has the T* anti-reflective coating, and the OLED display on the lens barrel, as with all of the Batis series. It's a good price for a wide-angle Zeiss lens with autofocus.  

CARL ZEISS LENS SPECS

Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2 Lens

  • Max Aperture: f/2
  • Stabilization: No
  • Autofocus: Yes
  • Focal Length: 25mm
  • Lens Mount: Sony E
  • Format Size: Full-Frame
  • MSRP Price: $1,064.00

Zeiss Batis 25mm Lens Review | Peter Lindgren

Zeiss Batis Telephoto

ZEISS Batis 135mm f/2.8 Lens

This 135mm Zeiss prime is a nice telephoto lens with partial dispersion elements. This Zeiss lens has the T* anti-reflective coating, and the OLED display on the lens barrel. The price will get you though, and the 135mm length isn’t as versatile as many of the other lenses on this list.

CARL ZEISS LENS SPECS

Zeiss Batis 135mm f/2.8 Lens

  • Max Aperture: f/2.8
  • Stabilization: No
  • Autofocus: Yes
  • Focal Length: 135mm
  • Lens Mount: Sony E
  • Format Size: Full-Frame
  • MSRP Price: $1,529.00

Best portrait lens for Sony | LA Love Creative

These Zeiss lenses also have autofocus capabilities and are about ⅓ the price tag of the amazing Otus series, and cheaper than the Zeiss Loxia. As far a Zeiss lenses for Sony cameras, this is a nice choice.  

Carl Zeiss Lenses For Canon

Best Zeiss lens for Canon EF Mount

Carl Zeiss lenses for Canon EF mounts can either be part of the various classic series or part of the newer Zeiss Milvus and Zeiss Otus series. 

It’s important to note that none of the Zeiss lenses for Canon have autofocus, which means they’ll all require you to manually focus. The Zeiss Otus lenses are absolutely amazing, but they come with a price, and a heavy one at that, so you’ll want to keep that in mind as well.

ZEISS OTUS FOR CANON

ZEISS Otus 55mm f/1.4 ZE Lens

The Zeiss Otus 55mm is the cheapest of all the Otus Series lenses for Canon, and it has a scorching max aperture of 1.4. The Zeiss Otus gives you edge-to-edge sharpness and low field curvature, and it has the Zeiss lens has the T* anti-reflective coating that makes Zeiss lenses so unique.

CARL ZEISS LENS SPECS

Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 ZE Lens

  • Max Aperture: f/1.4
  • Stabilization: No
  • Autofocus: No
  • Focal Length: 55mm
  • Lens Mount: Canon EF
  • Format Size: Full-Frame
  • MSRP Price: $3,552.00

Sigma 50mm Art Vs Zeiss Otus 55mm | Jared Polin

The Otus lenses are really durable and heavy. These Zeiss lenses are basically the equivalent of a cine lens, but are technically built and labeled as photography lenses.

If you have a choice between the Otus and the Zeiss cine lenses for a rental situation, go with the cines for the increased focus throw.

CARL ZEISS OTUS

ZEISS Otus 28mm f/1.4 ZE Lens

The Zeiss Otus 28mm is almost $1000 more than the 55mm, and it shares the same max aperture of 1.4. The Zeiss Otus gives you edge-to-edge sharpness and low field curvature, and it has the Zeiss T* anti-reflective coating that makes Carl Zeiss lenses so unique.

CARL ZEISS LENS SPECS

Zeiss Otus 28mm f/1.4 ZE Lens

  • Max Aperture: f/1.4
  • Stabilization: No
  • Autofocus: No
  • Focal Length: 28mm
  • Lens Mount: Canon EF
  • Format Size: Full-Frame
  • MSRP Price: $4,491.00

ZEISS Otus Lens Family | ZEISS Camera Lenses

The Otus lenses are really durable and heavy. These Zeiss lenses are basically the equivalent of a cine lens, but are technically built and labeled as photography lenses. 

ZEISS MILVUS FOR CANON

ZEISS Milvus 85mm f/1.4 ZE lens

The Zeiss Milvus series has a set of super-speed lenses, which include this 85mm prime. It also has standard speed lenses which fill in some of the more “unusual” focal lengths with much slower apertures.

CARL ZEISS LENS SPECS

Zeiss Milvus 85mm f/1.4 ZE Lens

  • Max Aperture: f/1.4
  • Stabilization: No
  • Autofocus: No
  • Focal Length: 85mm
  • Lens Mount: Canon EF
  • Format Size: Full-Frame
  • MSRP Price: $1,427.00

Zeiss Milvus 85mm | ZEISS Camera Lenses

This is one of the best Zeiss lenses for Canon users because it’s good for portrait photography, and has the Zeiss T* anti-reflective coating.

ZEISS PLANAR LENSES

ZEISS Planar 50mm f/1.4 ZE lens

The amazing thing about this Zeiss Planar 50mm prime lens is the price tag. This is a really high-quality lens with a super fast f/1.4 rating that allows for really great low-light performance and shallow depth of field.

CARL ZEISS LENS SPECS

Zeiss Planar 50mm f/1.4 ZE Lens

  • Max Aperture: f/1.4
  • Stabilization: No
  • Autofocus: No
  • Focal Length: 50mm
  • Lens Mount: Canon EF
  • Format Size: Full-Frame
  • MSRP Price: $652.00

Zeiss Planar 50mm | Raymond Setiadi

If you watch the video above, you can see how the image produced is actually more 3D than you get with the Milvus. Both are great lenses, but the Planar is about $400 cheaper and in many cases, a better lens.

CARL ZEISS MILVUS

ZEISS Milvus 50mm f/1.4 ZE lens

Just because the Zeiss Planar gets you some really great 3D images for a smaller price, that doesn’t mean the Milvus series isn’t a great choice.

The Zeiss Milvus 50mm f/1.4 is a really sharp lens, and the cheapest of the Milvus lenses. A go-to if you want really sharp photography.

CARL ZEISS LENS SPECS

Zeiss Milvus 50mm f/1.4 ZE Lens

  • Max Aperture: f/1.4
  • Stabilization: No
  • Autofocus: No
  • Focal Length: 50mm
  • Lens Mount: Canon EF
  • Format Size: Full-Frame
  • MSRP Price: $1,079.00

Zeiss Milvus 50mm | Exploring Filmmaker

Carl Zeiss Lenses For Nikon

Best Zeiss lens for Nikon F Mount

Carl Zeiss lenses for Nikon F mounts can either be part of the various classic series or part of the newer Zeiss Milvus and Zeiss Otus series. 

It’s important to note that none of the Zeiss lenses for Nikon have autofocus, which means they’ll all require you to manually focus. The Zeiss Otus lenses are absolutely amazing, but they come with a price, a heavy one to be sure, so you’ll want to keep that in mind as well.

ZEISS OTUS FOR NIKON

ZEISS Otus 55mm f/1.4 ZE lens

The Zeiss Otus 55mm is the cheapest of all the Otus Series lenses for Nikon, and it has a scorching max aperture of 1.4. The Zeiss Otus gives you edge-to-edge sharpness and low field curvature, and it has the Zeiss T* anti-reflective coating that makes Zeiss lenses so unique.

CARL ZEISS LENS SPECS

Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 ZE Lens

  • Max Aperture: f/1.4
  • Stabilization: No
  • Autofocus: No
  • Focal Length: 55mm
  • Lens Mount: Nikon F
  • Format Size: Full-Frame
  • MSRP Price: $3,552.00

Zeiss Otus 55mm | Matt Granger

The Otus lenses are really durable and heavy. These Zeiss lenses are basically the equivalent of a cine lens, but are technically built and labeled as photography lenses. If you have a choice between the Otus and the Zeiss cine lenses for a rental situation, go with the cine lenses.

NIKON ZEISS OTUS

ZEISS Otus 28mm f/1.4 ZE Lens

The Zeiss Otus 28mm is almost $1000 more than the 55mm, and it shares the same max aperture of 1.4. The Zeiss Otus gives you edge-to-edge sharpness and low field curvature, and it has the Zeiss T* anti-reflective coating that makes Carl Zeiss lenses so unique.

CARL ZEISS LENS SPECS

Zeiss Otus 28mm f/1.4 ZE Lens

  • Max Aperture: f/1.4
  • Stabilization: No
  • Autofocus: No
  • Focal Length: 28mm
  • Lens Mount: Nikon F
  • Format Size: Full-Frame
  • MSRP Price: $4,491.00

ZEISS Otus Lens Family | PhotoShelter

The Otus lenses are really durable and heavy. These Zeiss lenses are basically the equivalent of a cine lens, but are technically built and labeled as photography lenses.

ZEISS MILVUS FOR NIKON

ZEISS Milvus 85mm f/1.4 ZE lens

The Zeiss Milvus series has a set of super-speed lenses, which include this 85mm prime, but also some standard speed which fill in some of the more “unusual” focal lengths with much slower apertures.

CARL ZEISS LENS SPECS

Zeiss Milvus 85mm f/1.4 ZE Lens

  • Max Aperture: f/1.4
  • Stabilization: No
  • Autofocus: No
  • Focal Length: 85mm
  • Lens Mount: Nikon F
  • Format Size: Full-Frame
  • MSRP Price: $1,427.00

Zeiss Milvus 85mm | Matt Granger

This is one of the best Zeiss lenses for Nikon users because it’s good for portrait photography, and has the Zeiss T* anti-reflective coating.

CLASSIC ZEISS PLANAR

ZEISS Planar 50mm f/1.4 ZE lens

The amazing thing about this Zeiss Planar 50mm prime lens is the price tag. This is a really high quality lens with a super fast f/1.4 rating that allows for really great low light performance and shallow depth of field.

CARL ZEISS LENS SPECS

Zeiss Planar 50mm f/1.4 ZE Lens

  • Max Aperture: f/1.4
  • Stabilization: No
  • Autofocus: No
  • Focal Length: 50mm
  • Lens Mount: Nikon F
  • Format Size: Full-Frame
  • MSRP Price: $652.00

Zeiss Milvus 85mm | Christopher Frost Photography

This is one of the best Zeiss lenses for Canon users because it’s good for portrait photography, and has the Zeiss T* anti-reflective coating.

CARL ZEISS MILVUS

ZEISS Milvus 50mm f/1.4 ZE lens

Just because the Zeiss Planar gets you some really great 3D images for a smaller price, that doesn’t mean the Milvus series isn’t a great choice.

The Zeiss Milvus 50mm f/1.4 is a really sharp lens, and the cheapest of all the Milvus lenses, so it's good if you want really sharp photography.

CARL ZEISS LENS SPECS

Zeiss Milvus 50mm f/1.4 ZE Lens

  • Max Aperture: f/1.4
  • Stabilization: No
  • Autofocus: No
  • Focal Length: 50mm
  • Lens Mount: Canon EF
  • Format Size: Full-Frame
  • MSRP Price: $1,079.00

Zeiss Milvus 50mm | Exploring Filmmaker

Carl Zeiss Lenses For Fujifilm

Best Zeiss Lenses for Fujifilm X Mount

Carl Zeiss lenses for Fujifilm have only one X-Mount series known as the Zeiss Touit series, which have autofocus capabilities. These lenses use a  focus-by-wire system rather than incorporating a mechanical focus.

What does focus-by-wire mean?

Focus-by-wire lenses send electronic messages to the focus ring, whereas mechanical lenses have their focus directly controlled via the focus ring. There are a lot of professional filmmakers who frown on the focus-by-wire setup, but don’t count the Touits out.

The Zeiss Touit series is completely made up of APS-C format lenses, so consider how this will work with your setup, which is probably Fujifilm.

CARL ZEISS TOUIT

Zeiss Touit 50mm f/2.8 Macro lens 

This is hands down one of the best Zeiss lenses for Fujifilm shooters, and that’s because it is both versatile, unique, and priced really well. Despite this being an APS-C format lens, this is the only macro option from Zeiss for Fujifilm cameras, and the quality is really amazing.  

CARL ZEISS LENS SPECS

Zeiss Touit 50mm f/2.8 Macro Lens

  • Max Aperture: f/2.8
  • Stabilization: No
  • Autofocus: Yes
  • Focal Length: 50mm
  • Lens Mount: Fujifilm X
  • Format Size: APS-C
  • MSRP Price: $899.00

Zeiss Touit 50mm Macro Lens | TobyHorn

The APS-C makes this a 75mm-equivalent prime, and you can use it for portraits, or for close-up macro photography. It has a life-size 1:1 maximum magnification ratio and a minimum focusing distance of 5.9". 

This Zeiss lens has the T* anti-reflective coating, a floating elements system to keep consistent image quality throughout the focus range, and a DC autofocus motor that gives you nice focusing performance.

Zeiss Touit For Fujifilm

ZEISS Touit 32mm f/1.8 lens

The Zeiss Touit 32mm is a 48mm-equivalent prime. It has a great f/1.8 max aperture which allows you to shoot in low-light situations.

CARL ZEISS LENS SPECS

Zeiss Touit 32mm f/1.8 Lens

  • Max Aperture: f/1.8
  • Stabilization: No
  • Autofocus: Yes
  • Focal Length: 32mm
  • Lens Mount: Fujifilm X
  • Format Size: APS-C
  • MSRP Price: $648.00

ZEISS Touit 32mm f/1.8 Lens | TheCameraStoreTV

The Touit series have the T* anti-reflective coating, along with the DC autofocus motor so you have options to switch back and forth from autofocus and manual focus. The price and f/1.8 make this a nice lens.

ZEISS LENSES TOUIT SERIES

ZEISS Touit 12mm f/2.8 lens

The Zeiss Touit 12mm has an 18mm-equivalent field of view. The f/2.8 max aperture is nice, but a tiny bit underwhelming, and that along with the price is why this is the bottom Zeiss lens on the Fujifilm list.

CARL ZEISS LENS SPECS

Zeiss Touit 12mm f/2.8 Lens

  • Max Aperture: f/2.8
  • Stabilization: No
  • Autofocus: Yes
  • Focal Length: 12mm
  • Lens Mount: Fujifilm X
  • Format Size: APS-C
  • MSRP Price: $899.00

ZEISS Touit 12mm f/2.8 Lens | Pixelcatcher

This 12mm has the DC autofocus motor so you have options to switch from autofocus and manual, as well as T* anti-reflective coating. 

UP NEXT

Cinematography tips and techniques

So, now you have a better idea of Carl Zeiss lenses for Sony, Canon, Nikon, and Fujifilm. Why not check out our post on cinematography techniques. This guide will show you a bunch of lighting setups and helpful tips for taking your footage to the next level.

Up Next: Cinematography Tips and Techniques →
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