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Zeiss Makro Planar 100/2.8 Owner Comments Wanted



Lucky me, I have newly acquired this lens and am hoping to hear from folks who've owned and used it:

* How have you used it (what subjects in what sorts of settings)?
* Which body(ies) have you used it with?
* How do you support camera and lens when shooting low-lying subjects in the field (e.g., flowers, bugs, etc.)?
* Do you ever use a "light tent" in the field? If so, please describe what you use.
* Have you developed any special techniques for hand-holding it, and what are your cutoff points (f-stop, shutter speed) for hand-holding at high magnifications?

All general observations are also most welcome as well.

FWIW I have an Aria, 139 and RTS 1. Given the lens's heft and length, I'm guessing that it will balance best on the RTS, and of course only the RTS has mirror lockup and a 100% viewfinder image, but the Aria offers far more metering sophistication and flash options, not to mention motor drive, but is quite light compared to this beefy lens.

In any case, I can't wait for the weekend to arrive so I can get out and chase bugs!




I don't own one, but I'm jealous. this of all lenses is my covit object. I've used it one, and I shot this wonderful butterfly on lavender flowers picture (my prize, but alas lost the negs, still have the print). I find that using it for close up, and freezing the bugs motions obviously you need to use a fast shutter speed (i think i shot it at 1/1000).

Congrats on your purchase, sorry I'm no help, others I think will provide more information.



Active Member
Its a great lens!! I don't use it for macro, but because there is no minimum shooting distance, so I can get as close to a subject as I want.

The MP100f2.8 performs better with a hood, the recommended Hood 5 is actually too long if you are doing macro work. I use the Hood 4 and it seems to be enough.

There isn't much else to say as the only comparison is with the 60mm Makro - but that's almost a whole different lens that has a different user in mind ie. working distance, size, weight.

Compared to the 100 f2, shooting portraits wide open - they are also totally different in terms of the effect you get from the different DoF. Stopped down (same f stop eg. f4), shooting at infinity / landscapes, there is no noticeable difference on my prints.

For tripods, the Manfrotto 055 is a very sturdy, economical alternative. Don't forget to get a cable release.


Your RTS 1 doesn't have a 100% viewfinder. The viewfinder in the RTS 1 shows only about 92% of the image and the RTS 2 shows about 97%. Only the RTS 3 offers a 100% view.


Well-Known Member
I always believe my RX do not have 100% viewfinder until I change from a glass wearer to a contact lens wearer. My RX view finder becomes 100%.


to Nicolas:

please could you be so kind and provide more information about contrast and sharpeness provided by both MP 100/2.8 and P 100/2 especially for distance 1-3 meters? I would like to choose some portrait lens and I'm deciding between these twos because of their sharpeness shooting wide-open (as read from their MTF charts) in comparison with P 85/1.4 which should be a little bit soft wide-open (if I understand this MTF bussiness well).




Active Member
Hi Karel,

Just my personal opinion, as I have not done any scientific comparisions between the lenses.

Both the MP 100/2.8 and P 100/2 are wonderful lenses. Both have very good color rendition, no noticable light fall off and excellant color rendition. Where they differ is the depth of field - but that's a function of the f-stop. The f2 is of course significantly brighter and easier to focus.

I think I can summarise best by saying that I use the 85/1.4 and MP100/2.8 most. I shoot mainly architecture, landscape and my family. For family photos and baby photos, I find the 85/1.4 most versatile.

I use an AX and the macro function allows me to focus in close, but the lack of DoF (in macro) makes handhelds tricky. The 85/1.4 suits me when I photography children without flash (in indoor home conditions) and I need absolute speed, not relative DoF (where the 100/2 and 85/1.4 are abt the same at the same magnification)

The MP100/2.8 is sharper than the 85/1.4 across the image. But the 85's lack of sharpness is not a bad thing - its actually very nice for portraits. The MP100 is an AE lens, The MM mode on the 85/1.4 makes using Program mode very useful because of the extreme lighting conditions indoors - moving from a bright kitchen to a dim living room. If you're in a studio, then it's not an issue using AE lenses

Another thiing abt 'softness' - it used to be in vogue to have soft lenses, japanese manufacturers used to makes 'soft-focus lenses' for portraits. Nowadays, we add softars, etc. The 85/1.4 isn't exactly soft (compared to other brands), just not 'super tack sharp' like other zeiss lenses (like the MP100).

Which brings me to the often quoted fact that the MP100 is 'too sharp' for portraits of ladies as it captures facial lines. (I don't care because my subjects are kids, and my wife doesn't mind)

Summary: MP 100/2.8 PROS: very sharp, no minimum focusing distance, good color, even brightness, low distortion CONS: 'too sharp for portraits', less DoF compared to 100/2 or 85/1.4

P100/2 PROS: very sharp (cannot tell the diff vs the MP100 - in real life ie. in the 1-3m distance), good color, even brightness, low distortion CONS: extra working distance over the 85/1.5. Very nice shallow DoF. Easy to focus. Yes it is sharper than the 85/1.4, but Bokeh is also nice.

85/1.4 PROS: very fast lens, good color, even brightness, low distortion CONS: the nice bokeh is not a CON. only have good things to say abt this lens.

Just my $0.02

cheers, Nicolas

BTW: I'm looking to sell my 100/2 if anyone is interested - it doesn't see much use lately. Its in perfect condition and Made in Germany. Asking price is whatever the market is nowadays.


Well-Known Member
Nicolas, I, and I think others,may find your comments regarding DOF rather confusing. DOF is a function of reproduction scale and f stop only. Consequently a 21mm lens and a 500mm have identical DOF for a given f stop at a given reproduction ratio. The MP100 at full aperture has greater DOF than the P100/2 at full aperture when focussed at the same distance simply because it has a smaller maximum aperture.(f2.8)This is a result of the physical properties of optics and you can't change that !


> DOF is a function of reproduction scale and f stop
> only. Consequently a 21mm lens and a 500mm have identical DOF for a
> given f stop at a given reproduction ratio.

I'm affraid this is not completely correct. I was also surprised to discover,
that DOF is a function of reproduction scale and _absolute_ --- not
_relative_ aperture (that is f-stop).

Because magnification ratio equals approximately F/D, where F is a focal
length and D is a distance from camera to a subject, and hyperfocal
distance equals (F*F)/(c*f), where c is a circle of confusion, and f is
an f-stop, you get M=F/(cf), or equivalently f=F/(Mc). So at given
focal length F, magnification ratio M and circle of confusion c, you
need to stop down your lens to F/(Mc) to get everything from your
subject to infinity sharp (that is to obtain COC c at infinity). Now assume
that M is constant, and you double the focal length. To get the same
DOF you need to double f-stop!

So to obtain the same DOF at the same magnification, you should stop down
21 mm lens to, say, f/2.8, and 500 mm lens to about f/64. Strange, but
seems to be true...

This also explains, why medium format cameras have relatively shallower
DOF. If you take two standard lenses, say 1.7/50 (for 35mm camera) and
2.8/80 (for medium format), then they have nearly the same DOF when
wide open.

This is a real problem with small sensor digital cameras. Recenty Sony
introdued a new model equiped with CZ Sonnar 2-2.8/7.1-50 which, as
they say, corresponds to 28-200 lens for 35mm camera. In fact, when
DOF is concerned (not the amount of light reaching the sensor), it
corresponds to 8-11/28-200 lens. For such a small sensor, to have a
lens comparable with, say, 1.4/85, you need a 0.35/21 lens. I'm not sure
if it is physically possible to build such a fast lens.

Assuming that that what I wrote above is true, I think the main reason
for building full-frame digital cameras will not be compatibility with existing
systems, but problems with limiting DOF when using small sensors.



I'm sorry Tomasz, but you've missed something in your logic. You say you are doubling focal-length F, but keeping M constant. But you said M=F/f, which means you have to double your distance. This is why you get the same DOF for the same magnification and same focal ratio. You then confuse things further with your comparison of 35mm and medium format standard lenses. The magnification is not the same for the 50mm and 80mm lenses even though the field of view is the same, because the image in the medium format camera is larger (i.e. larger magnification).
On the other hand, your thoughts about smaller digital formats are nearly right, for the same reason that things cancelled out between 35mm and medium format - you have confused magnification with field of view. The DOF you'll get with the Sony will be the same as a 35mm camera with a 200mm lens set to F/11, but the brightness of the image is the same as at f/2.8. This could be viewed as a big advantage of digital. Your calculations are right about the DOF compared with the 85mm at f/1.4 though - to get so slim a DOF with a 21mm lens is practically impossible.
I hope this helps. :)


Well Mark, I'm not convinced. The problem is
that hyperfocal distance depends on THE SQUARE
of the focal length, so doubling the focal length
you need to increase your distance FOUR TIMES to get the same DOF,
while to keep magnification constant you need
to increase your distance only TWICE. This suggests
that changing the focal length you cannot keep both magnification and DOF constant at the same time.

From the other hand I shot two portraits using two
lenses 2.8/50 and 2.8/135, both wide open. I framed both pics so that the head of my subject filled the whole frame (so mag was the same, I
needed of course to move back using 135 lens to
increase the distance). I really do see a huge difference in DOF in both pictures. In picture
taken with 2.8/135 distant backround is
completely blurred, while on the other picture
there is a recognizable, but soft image.
(Unfortunately I haven't got them scanned.)



Well-Known Member

It is quiz time.

Could this photo be taken by Makro-Planar 100 2.8 ?

The other possibility is Apo-Makro-Planar 120mm f4, the one for Contax 645.

I will come back with the answer.

Opinions welcomed.


Well-Known Member
nice portrait! a too complicated question at Web-quality 800x742 pixel at 96 ppi resolution for me.
It could be a couple of other lenses als well to make the quiz even more complicated.
- like Voigtlander APO-Lanthar SL Series Macro 2.5/125 in Contax Yashica mount or a 6x6 Zeiss Planar 2/110 adapted to Contax/Yashica or ... :)


Well-Known Member
Let us stay within the two lenses.

Let us wait for more opinions before I come back with the answer.