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Optical difference between Zeiss Planar 1.4/50 MM and AE version



I've just gone thorough archive and there are many claims that there is no difference (optical) between MM and AE version of Planar 1.4/50 - but one (or more) posts noted differences in bokeh. Also I'm curious if the apperture luminae are of the same shape or different when looking into lens from the front.

Thanks a lot,



Hi Karel opticaly they are the same but I think you will find that the MM version has more diaphram blades hence it forms a better approximation of a circle hence in theory should produce a better bokeh.
hopp this is of some use John.


Well-Known Member
John is right about the blades.... can't say if the bokeh is noticeably different! I guess "out-of-focus" elements of the photos will look different... which you prefer is up to you!

Other factors.... the mount is different.... it is said to "mark" the camera mount less, being uncoated stainless steel. Some have commented that it is slightly....stressing slightly, less robust than the AE mounts.

The internal anti-reflection coating is different too. On one Japanese website, I saw two excellent photos of the interior of 85mm 1.4 MM and AE. The author said that MM's have a superior "acid etch" coating which improved internal reflection supression, and hence improved contrast. He implied this was true for all MM's.

Don't worry, AE or MM, both are probably capable of far more than most photographers' can squeeze out of them!

Cheers, Bob


> (quoting Bob) Don't worry, AE or MM, both are probably capable of far more than most > photographers' can squeeze out of them! (end quote)

Well put Bob. I think sometimes we split hairs about zeiss lenses, old and new. How does that saying go? A good photographer can make a great image from inferior gear, but a bad photographer can't necessarily make a good image from the best equipment. A little knowledge and technique go a long way. (I'm still working on it myself!) -Lynn


Well-Known Member
Thanks, Lynn

I once had a visit by the chief photographer from the Natural History Museum of London.

It was very interesting to hear what he had to say about Zeiss and other 35mm camera lenses.

Without trying to sound too elitist, he seemed somewhat amused by the antics of the public and professionals in the popular photo mags to try to compare 35mm lens quality, when, as he quoted, we do not always use the best film stock possible, kept under the correct conditions, seldom shooting on a rock-solid tripods under carefully controlled lighting conditions and then have the film processed by Joe Bloggs! We then view the prints on paper that cannot portray the qualities of the neg, or use inferior equipment to project our slides, he said!

Viewed like this ... I had a whole different outlook on my photographic ability, after that visit, or, at least my ability to make comparisons between different equipment!

I took what he said seriously ... I had previously seem his output ... albeit very specialize ... it was impressive, to say the least and he’s often published in the Natural History and Conservation press.

Won’t get me to give up my Zeisses though! But, I am happy to shoot with my Tamrons and budget lenses too!

Cheers, Bob

p.s. Oh! I did invest in some top-notch projection lenses and a better screen after his was worth it!


I own the 50/1,4 MM but never tried the AE version. From my personal experience, it is indeed an excellent lens. So I believe whether MM or AE, the quality shouldn't differ much. Just my two cents.