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Lens review

Carl Zeiss Makro-Planar T* 100 mm f/2 ZF.2/ZE

12 May 2014
Szymon Starczewski

4. Image resolution

The resolution test of the Zeiss Makro-Planar 2/100 was based on RAW files from the Nikon D3x. In that case the decency level is situated near 30-32 lpmm and high quality fixed focus lenses can get as high as 47-49 lpmm. The record belongs to the Zeiss Otus 1.4/55 which, by f/4.0, exceeded slightly a level of 50 lpmm. It’s also worth reminding here an excellent result reached by the Zeiss Apo Sonnar T* 135 mm f/2.0 which managed to approach 49 lpmm.

Let’s see how the Zeiss 2/100 compares here. Its performance in the frame centre, on the edge of the APS-C/DX and full frame is presented on the graph, shown below.

Carl Zeiss Makro-Planar T* 100 mm f/2 ZF.2/ZE - Image resolution

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A very good performance near the maximum relative aperture sticks out immediately – the lens is able to reach almost 39 lpmm there. On stopping down the MTFs increase sharply, reaching a peak of over 46 lpmm by f/4.0. It is still an excellent result but, compared to the record breaking performance of the Zeiss 2/135 and the Zeiss 1.4/55 it seems nothing special. You should also notice that there is a distinct resolution difference between the Zeiss 2/135 and the Zeiss 2/100 at the maximum relative aperture. The first was able to go higher than 45 lpmm and the second cannot exceed 39 lpmm. On the other hand, though, the Zeiss 2/100, by offering you a very good aperture speed, can compete without any problems with other macro 2.8/100 class devices – these are very well done optical instruments, most of them, but noticeably slower.

When it comes to the edge of the frame it would be difficult to complain. Even at the very end, with the lens wide open, the images remain useful. On stopping down to near f/4.0-f/5.6 you see the MTF reaching a high level of 40 lpmm, guaranteeing a good quality of photos. However once again that result is worse than that of the Zeiss 2/135 which, on the edge of the APS-C, was able to get as high as 46 lpmm and on the edge of full frame it approached almost 44 lpmm.

At the end of this chapter we present crops taken from the frame centre of our resolution testing chart photos; they were taken from JPEG files saved along RAW files we used for the analysis above.

Carl Zeiss Makro-Planar T* 100 mm f/2 ZF.2/ZE - Image resolution