The Zeiss 50 f/2.8 Macro Touit Lens Review. A cracking good lens for any occasion!
You can buy the Zeiss Touit 50 f/2.8 in Sony or Fuji mount HERE.
A few weeks ago B&H Photo asked me if I wanted to test out the Zeiss 50 2.8 Touit Macro lens for Sony E-Mount, and since I am always excited about any lens with the ZEISS name on it, I of course said “SEND IT MY WAY ASAP”! When it arrived I was so busy with other gear reviews that the lens sat in the box for a week or so before I even opened it up.
When I did open the box to check out the lens I saw that it was small, light and fit nicely onto my Sony A6000 and A7s. While this lens is an APS-C lens it will work on the full frame Sony’s using a crop mode. Overall the lens was a great size, not far off from something like a Leica 75 Summicron, but lighter and with auto focus. Coming in at under a grand, or to be more exact, $999., the Zeiss Touit 50 f/2.8 Macro lens is a lens that will bust a wallet but not break the bank, if you know what I mean.
When I started to use the lens I realized that I am not that big into macro shooting, at all. I will occasionally use a Macro lens but the last time I reviewed one was quite a while ago when I wrote about the fantastic Olympus 60mm Macro lens and while I loved that lens I never did buy it because I am just not a Macro shooter. With this Zeiss lens, it appears and looks like any normal lens so I wondered if it would be good for double duty and would be good for shooting any scene, not just macro.
So away I went, shooting it in many different lighting situations to judge the AF speed and sharpness. I was also curious if it would exhibit the famous Zeiss look (rich color, 3D pop, etc) and hold up to the other two Zeiss Touit lenses I reviewed, the 12mm 2.8 and 35 1.8.
So away I went with the Sony A6000 (which is a FANTASTIC camera, read my review HERE) and Zeiss 50mm f/2.8 Touit and shot whatever I cam across that looked interesting to me. When I go out to test a lens or camera I am not out looking to create works of art with the camera but instead I am looking for scenes that will test the lens or camera – maybe something to test low light, bokeh, color or other aspects of the lens or camera. With that said, I do try to at least bring interesting sample shots to the table 😉
The image below was shot at the AZ State Fair and this guy was the person in control of the “CreepShow” ride, a haunted house that was not scary in any way and lasted under 1 minute as a ride through. The funny thing is that I shot this same guy a year ago at the fair, operating the same ride. The Zeiss was set to f/2.8, wide open and it focused perfectly at this distance. The lens is a 50mm lens but on an APS-C it will give you more of an 75mm equivalent, so it has some reach. Even at f/2.8, which I consider to be on the slow side, the lens had no issues on the A6000.
Zeiss lenses and color..two things that go together just as well as peanut butter and jelly.
Click for larger. I was testing to see how the lens would Auto Focus on the moving swing that was quite far from me. Being a Macro lens you would think the lens would be slower than normal to AF…and it is when comparing it to a normal 50mm lens. With that said, it was still pretty snappy on the A6000 and gave me the sharpness and color I was looking for. Click the image for larger view.
Still at the State Fair. I saw this guy doing a performance and lifted the camera and snapped. The lens nailed the focus and I was happy with the result.
This is a Macro Lens Steve!
Lol, yes I know. So far I have shown a few images but none are using the lens as it was made to be used! Yes, this is a Macro lens but what I found is that it also made for a VERY nice 75mm equivalent lens as well! I did do some macro testing but I am horrible with Macro and have maybe shot 75 Macro images in my entire life so while I will talk about this later on, I feel this lens is a jackal and hyde, a lens that is very usable at any distance from you subject. Even for street style photos.
One thing I found that was nice was the Zeiss color. I love Zeiss color. I see it in all of the Zeiss ZM lenses that they make with a Leica mount. Luscious and rich colors that would always POP from my screen, more so than when I used Leica lenses which render in a more cool way. I see Zeiss as rich, warm, and lush. I see Leica as cool, calm, collected. Both have their place and some feel Zeiss is too warm and rich. Others love and adore this look. Thinking about all of this reminds me from a time about 15 years ago when so many would swear there were no differences between lenses. The big photo forum at that time had people arguing almost daily about the Canon lenses and how the L glass was no different from the cheap lenses when it came to image quality. Today it is well-known and accepted that YES, the lens is what gives the character and look to the images and some lenses are spectacular and some are less that wonderful.
For example, some lenses I have tested recently have had dull off-color and some have amazing color. Some are sharp, some are soft. Some have funky Bokeh and others have beautiful Bokeh blur. So lenses are the most important part of your kit when it comes to being a photographer. You are basically painting with light when taking a photo, and the lenses are pretty much your “brushes” and each one will give you a different result..or stroke if you will. Some will render with amazing character, some will be sterile and clean and others will be sloppy. So where does this Zeiss Touit fit in? Well, pretty much just where you think it would. It is clean, sharp across the frame and has the Zeiss punchy color. Nothing unique or magical, just a nice clean lens that will deliver a “correct” image whether you are shooting up close or far away.
Many will say “why isn’t this an f/2 lens”? Well, usually macro lenses are not built for speed. Instead they are built for performance up close and up close, you will want to stop down to f/8 to get some depth of field otherwise it will be tricky to nail the shot.
below is a 100% crop of the image above..
Lately I have been more about the PHOTOS than pumping out 10,000 words in a review. Usually my lens reviews average 2,500-3,500 words but sometimes they are super short and sweet at only 1,000 words. When a lens is so good at what it is built for there is really little to say and very little to knock down about it. Such is the case with this Zeiss Touit 50 2.8. It never failed me, never had an AF miss, and delivered sharp photos full of color and sharpness. Even B&W conversion look fantastic with this combo of A6000 and Zeiss lens. I even pit it against the Leica Monochrom recently in a just for fun poll.
The image below will give you an idea of the Bokeh at f/2.8…
Finally..up close performance. As I said, I am no macro shooter but the lens will focus to about 6″ and give you a 1:1 ratio. Shooting six inches from your subject is pretty insane and this is when you need to take lighting into consideration as being so close will cause shadows, which is why many Macro shooters use ring lights and various lighting sources to brighten up the subject, extract more detail and avoid shadows. I shot enough up close to realize this lens really has no big weakness. If I had to complain about something it would be that the Auto Focus is a tad slow when shooting up close, but all macro lenses are like this so it is not a fault at all. Just how it works. 🙂
click images below for larger view and you can see the 100% crop in the 2nd image below.
My final thoughts on the Zeiss Touit 50 f/2.8 Macro Lens
So after carrying around this lens on my Sony A6000 for a couple of weeks I have to say that I really like this lens. If I was a macro shooter, it would be mine. If anyone out there is looking for a fantastic Macro lens for their Sony E-Mount camera, look no further than this guy right here. At $999 you get the Zeiss name, Zeiss performance and a small, light and well made lens. I tested it on my Sony A7s as well and it was just as fantastic as it was on the A6000 but with even richer color. It had to shoot in crop mode though because this is not a full frame lens. Even so, for APS-C Sony NEX or A series owners, this is a solid lens and I can not imagine anyone being disappointed in it.
Highly recommended if Macro is your thing, or if you want a nice 50mm f/2.8 for general use AND macro.
You can buy the lens in Sony E Mount or Fuji Mount at B&H Photo by clicking HERE.
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Steve, how would you compare the Sony E 50/1.8 OSS with this Zeiss Touit 50/2.8 Macro? I’m looking for a nice portrait prime for my A6000. I’m not interested in macro. The Sony is a bargain, has f/1.8, OSS, is smaller and as little to no problem with flare. From the sample images I found, the Touit doesn’t render volume/depth Zeiss-like (missing 3D pop). But I didn’t found many samples at all. There’s also the Sony 55/1.8 which is a technically beast. And there’s the Sigma 60/2.8 which has bad flare control (limited backlight useage) and very busy bokeh. I also consider to maybe switching to fullframe one day. 250 € bucks for the Sony 50/1.8 with APS-C is not a big deal. The 55/1.8 for 900 bucks which I could use on a future FF, is than worth considering. The Touit for APS-C only and for 900 bucks must be really good. On the other hand, my most used lens for the A6000 is the 24/1.8 ZA which is also APS-C only and also 800 bucks.
What do you think, Steve? Is the Touit worth it considering the 50/1.8 or the 55/1.8?
My fave 50 for sony is the Loxia. Other than that Id go 55 1.8.
Thank you very much for your prompt and on point recommendation. And you’re right! I dug a little bit more into the 55/1.8 and it is essentially what I was looking for. And it’s future-proof.
The Loxia is more character and is able to deliver excellent images, but the missing AF limits its usage with fast moving objects for me. I have a couple of old Zeiss MF lenses on my A77 (with M42-adapter). I like the look they create, I like the slow-paced use of MF … but when people run around in front of my 135/3.5 it’s difficult to nail the focus 🙂
Those 2 lenses are your favorite even on the APC size sensor on a6000
I’m not big into macro, but your pics make me want this lens for non-macro use. Given the alternatives currently available for the A6000 in 50mm, is this still looking good for general use? I am a Zeiss 12 and 32mm user.
Seems like the Planar T 50mm 1.4 might be a better bet if you’re not interested in the macro. Any thoughts?
Is it the right time to buy this lens? I see they have issues on zeiss.com website, also supply availability.
I agree, color rendition is what makes leica different.
Foe some reason, Touit seems to be better on Sony than Fuji…
not true, Zeiss+ fuji colors rock, thank you
I have the Fujifilm 56mm f1.2 lens. If like you, I seldom need macro capabilities, wouldn’t you consider the Fuji to be a better buy. It’s razor sharp and I think it costs about the same; and the only thing I’d love to know is how they compare in size and weight?
Sorry Steve or Brandon, I should have said “Fujinon 56mm f1.2 lens.” Also I looked up the weights and the Fujinon 56mm is 4 oz heavier, although they’re about the same length. For the 4 oz, I’d rather have the f1.2, especially since the 18-55mm f2.8-3.5 zoom is so sharp, and at 50mm and it’s only a half-stop slower.
There is no point buying the 50 macro on the Sony as well if you don’t need the close focus. There is the great and stabilised Sony E 50 1.8 APS-C lens on e-mount as well as the superb FE 55 1.8 Sony Zeiss full frame lens.Today even more choice with the Zeiss Loxia 50 2.0. So there are 4 native 50 on e-mount already, great choice!
This topic looks really great though and I’d buy it for macro, but as I use an A7r I will wait for the announced FE 90mm 2.8 Sony G OSS macro lens.This will also be a great”first” portrait lens for the e-mount.
I’d be really happy if you could test that when it’s out early next year (march?) although it’s not a Zeiss. 90mm should also be even better for macro+OSS for easier handheld stopped down macros. FOR THE review I would be very interested in the general rendering for portrait use though! Great pictures as always Steve, keep up the good work!
The Zeiss wil render differently in color and bokeh and sharpness, it is all personal preference as to what look one wants. This lens doubles as a macro and standard lens, and it is excellent. Better made than the Sony lenses as well (I have them all). At the end of the day it is personal preference. Some will want the Zeiss, some will want the Sony, some will want neither.
Great review! Thank you.
I was re-reading the Touit-reviews just a while earlier by coincidence, I was too quick to dismiss them when they came out (bokeh…) but the more I look, the better I like them. This one looks great too!