70 comments on “Lens Review: Zeiss Touit 32mm f/1.8

  1. I wonder how the touit compares to the ZM 35/2 biogon.
    personally i hardly see 400euros improvment over the sony.
    also the touit hat no 3D POP as far as i see. …

    • Never tried any of the Zeiss rangefinder lenses. I would like to, though I know anything wider than 50mm has serious corner issues on the NEX-7.

      And I agree, given how well the Sony performs, the Zeiss isn’t as good a value. Keep in mind there IS a possibility that I have a really good copy of the Sony and/or a bad copy of the Zeiss. Not sure.

      Like I mentioned, I’m not accustomed to spotting the 3D pop Zeiss lenses are known for, so I didn’t talk about that in the review.

  2. Great review and very consistent (though your images are better than mine) with the results I’m getting with the Touit 32.

    So far, I like the lens quite a bit, but I’m more impressed with the 12mm and the Sony Zeiss 24/1.8E, which remains my go-to lens when I only want to carry one.

    • Thank you Andrew (and again for the images/impressions with your 12mm).

      As the 24mm is about $1100, and the 12mm $1250, I would hope they were at least a little better. 😉

      • I’m happy with all three (and also with the Sony 50/1.8 OSS). The 24 really is special, but then 35mm and 135mm were always my favorite focal lengths in the film days, so it’s natural that I would prefer the 24 on APS-C.

      • Were it not for the plethora of 50mm’s I already have (50mm f/2, 50mm f/1.8, 50mm f/1.4…), I’d test and possibly keep the 50mm f/1.8 OSS by now. Many NEX photographers love that lens. 🙂

  3. Do You plan on testing the sony zeiss e 24 1.8 ? if so even thou they are different focal lenghts the can be compared in shots like the ones u made… so please compare the touit to the e 24

    • Hey Alexander. Unless a reader/camera store sends me a copy to review, I don’t see myself reviewing that lens. For one, it’s already been extensively reviewed by multiple other sites, even on the NEX-7.

      However, the main reason is that I don’t see potential photographs in a wide-angle perspective. The 32mm Zeiss is the widest I own, and it’s plenty wide for all the applications I need it for.

      However, I have followed the Z24 ever since announcement, and have read many of its reviews. It’s still one of the best lenses you can get for your NEX. 🙂

      • In my eye at least, the 24 is a bit better than the 32. Almost no barrel distortion, outstanding bokeh if you can focus close enough and about the best corner sharpness of any lens I’ve ever used, including my Leica R series 35/2.8.

      • Thanks!
        ok , one question then: When u do the sharpness test with abcdefgh… lines:
        – what size are the fonts and
        – what font kind is it and
        – depending on the focal length do you vary the distance on order to get the exact same framing of the lines?

        I know the last one is stupid probably because self explanatory

      • Make sure you check out my lens review style post (linked at top of review), it helps give you a sense of how big these letters actually are.
        -Don’t know the exact font size…
        -…or kind of font
        -Yes, I vary shooting distance to always get full framing.

        Each line of corner letters is about 3/4th an inch wide, so we’re talking about really, really fine detail here. 🙂

      • I have the sel24 so i if u told me the process of how exactly u make the abcdefgh… lines test I could do it and sent u the files for a comparison at least for this part of the review… the thing that really bothers me is the CA of the SEL24 now if I knew the 32 is much sharper then I might get it and sell the 24 …

      • Sure, the link to the file is here: http://www.pbase.com/iangreyphotography/image/82910480. I printed it at a high-quality photostore at an 8×12 size. The file technically prints at “true photo quality” 300 dpi at 12×18 (which would allow me to focus further away from the chart). Unfortunately, the prints I make at that size are useless for testing lenses on the high-res NEX-7. Each shot, at each aperture, is manually refocused to ensure pinpoint accuracy (every now and then, even CDAF can mis-focus in a controlled environment). After that, I import the RAW files to LR4, crop as close as I need to, and export without any post-production.

        To arrange the crops, I use GIMP.

      • OK so I will do it then once we get the new printer. Old one broke a week ago right about the moment when we wonted to print boarding cards/tickets lol. Whithin 10 days I´ll send u the results.

  4. Good review although it took me a while to work out why the image samples look so poor on my iPad. It looks like they are still in ProphotoRGB which produces weird desaturated colours on non colour managed browsers. They look great on the MacBook but then I rarely browse the Internet on that these days 🙂

    • Well shoot, that’s a shame it doesn’t work well cross-platform. When I’m working with my RAW files in Lightroom 4, colors only match what I’ve been editing if I export in ProPhotoRGB. In standardRGB or AdobeRGB, yellows never turn out right (heavily de-saturated), in my file system or online. It’s odd, because some websites don’t support the expanded colorspace. My photos on G+ look much better than they do on Facebook for this reason. Thanks for pointing that out, I’ll put an addendum to my “Lens Review Style” and some of my reviews letting my readers know this.

  5. Great job on the review. I rented the Touit for about a week now. My first impressions weren’t all that great. But the more I used it the more I became attached to its sharpness. The only other lens I could compare it to is my Minolta 50mm 1.4. The colors definitely look better on the Zeiss. The biggest turn off for me with this lens is the auto focusing. It’s slow and hunts for the focus point. Is it worth the 900 bucks? That’s a tough one. I probably won’t get it because of the auto focus. We’ll see how I live with out the lens. I may go for Sony’s 35f18.

    • Thanks, Lee. That high-sharpness (and low aberrations) will be something to miss if you go for the Sony—especially if you are shooting with a NEX-7. However, the Sony is by no means a bad lens with its better focusing and stabilization. If you’re looking for a copy, we may have to talk. 😉

      • Actually, yes. 🙂 I regretfully still have not listed the lens on eBay. If you haven’t been able to tell from the lack of posts lately, I’ve still been pretty busy with a multitude of obligations.

  6. Thanks Matthew for the thorough review. Having the SEL35 that I like, and the PEN F 38 that I adore, I was never truly tempted by the Zeiss (not to mention I find their price tags ludicrous). Yup, sharpness seems MUCH improved over the SEL (which is no sharpness queen by any mean), but I doubt it outdoes the PEN F… The AF in the SEL is acceptable without being impressive, so anything *below* that performance is not something I’m interested in. Furthermore, being a shallow DOF nut, the not so compelling bokeh is also a dealbreaker. So overall I definitely won’t be looking further into this lens, but thanks for the very well done review.

    • Glad you liked the review, Marla. I have never used the much-revered PEN F lenses (nor will I, as their prices are starting to soar!), though I have heard special accolades towards the 38mm. Keep in mind that the 38mm is a full-frame lens, so it’s relatively easy to have better corner sharpness against a lens of APS-C design.

      Keep in mind that while AF performance is a little worse speed-wise and a lot worse noise-wise than the Sony, Zeiss sent a press blurb a couple months ago that a firmware update for the lens would be available this month. How/if it improves autofocus, I don’t know (but I’ll update the review with it if it does change anything on the NEX-7).

      I’m a shallow depth-of-field junkie myself, which is why I tend to go telephoto for my photography. I knew going into the Zeiss that shallow depth-of-field would only exist in special cases in my photographs (close-focus or wide-open at medium distances). What I needed the Zeiss for was great sharpness wide-open for my candid assignments at work, as well as tack-sharp performance for landscapes (which it has in spades at f/5.6). Though the bokeh isn’t as smooth, the complete and total lack of aberrations both in the in- and out-of focus areas make it the winner for me.

      But! It’s not a lens for everyone, and I understand that. 🙂

    • Hi there Gabriel. The sheer amount of reviews of the wonderful little Sigma 30mm put me off wanting to review that lens any time soon (especially with me getting into full-frame land soon with the A7/A7r!). However, from all that I’ve read from reviews and other photographers, the Sigma is a great lens that resolves detail very well even at f/2.8. Sharper than the Sony, but a little behind the Zeiss. Bokeh on the Sigma is a little harsh, too. If you don’t mind the slowish f/2.8 speed, then it’s a lens to consider, given the very affordable price.

  7. I’m very interested in how this Zeiss lens compares to the Sigma 30mm f/2.8. That lens is dirt cheap, it gets a lot of praises and it’s tested extremely well on dxomark.com. I think the optical results can come uncomfortably close to the Zeiss.

    • Hey Nick! A comparison between the two lenses would be great, but there’s already a plethora of Sigma 30mm reviews out there that dig into the nitty-gritty of what the lens can do. If someone were to send me a lens to try out, however, I may still give it a go.

      No lie, the Sigma definitely presents a better value. But, it is 1.3 stops slower than the Zeiss, isn’t built as well, and seems to have a bit more issues with CA. Apples and oranges.

      One quick note, don’t put any amount of stock into DxOMark test numbers. Their controlled-environment tests (which they don’t even release their method to the public) do not translate to photographic applications. Always trust reviews with real photographs. 🙂

    • Owned the 50mm, but only for a couple days to resell it for a friend. From what I’ve seen and read from it, it’s just as capable a lens as the 35mm. Glad the review helped you out.

  8. Great review you got here..
    Hi Matt, i need help with your insight..
    I have the 24mm f1.8 n im considering to get either touit 32mm f1.8 or Voigtlander For Leica M 35mm F/1.2 II ASPH Nokton with voigtlander lens adapter.
    Some people say that the touit 35 is basically the same sharpness n quality with the 24 sonnar, just different focal length, what do you think?
    If it is indeed about the same, then would u prefer to just get the voigtlander with the adapter if you were me to get a higher quality lens for nex6?
    Some theory suggest that using lens with adapter will greatly reduce its quality, apart from just manual focus and manual apperture..
    Again, if you were me, which path would you choose? Touit or voigt?
    Many many thanks for the help! Appreciate it =)

    • The Touit’s sharpness is on par or better than the Zeiss 24mm. Though I do not own the 24mm, tests I have read on multiple reviews show the similarities. This is to say that both the Zeiss lenses are nice and sharp for any real-world application.

      I am not familiar with the Voigt, at least not much more than that it is a super-fast 35mm. From what I remember, it is not so great until f/2, but from then on out it performs as you would expect a high-quality fast 35 to perform. Read up on some reviews and photographs before you come to a conclusion.

      As far as adapters affecting image quality, only the very low-quality made-in-china adapters (around $30 or less) may give you problems with either light leakage or misalignment. Look for some well priced adapters like the Fotodiox PRO line or something similar to start and go from there if you take the Voigt route.

      Good luck!

  9. Thumbs up for this review!! Thank you very much Matthew. Appreciate it very much!
    Assuming that you like to take pictures of a crawling baby… What would be the preferred lense? Touit or Sony? Read lots of comments, that the autofocus of the Touit is (by far) not as fast as the focus of Sony SEL. However, would the Autofocus of Touit be fast enough anyway? I am looking to use the lense with alpha 6000…
    Thank you again

    • Hello there Timo, glad you like the review. To my knowledge, the Touit 32mm currently can use the PDAF points of the a6000, which is leagues faster than the CDAF of my NEX-7. Though the Sony will likely get you slightly faster results, the Touit will be more than fast enough for a baby. Just make sure to check that the firmware on the camera and lens is up to date and you should be set!

  10. What a superb in-depth review Matt, thanks a lot for your hard work. Kinda wish I’d found your site before I invested in the Sel35f18 for my A6000 as it probably would’ve swung me towards the Zeiss. Now the firmware update for the Zeiss is available I’m still very tempted to make the switch …

    • Hey! Glad you liked the review. Even when the lens was 900 dollars new, I still thought it to be a better value than the Sony lens, as long as video and a lot of low-light work wasn’t on your slate of image-making (OSS). With the prices they go now, combined with the firmware update, there’s more reason than ever to go the Touit way. 🙂

  11. Thank you for your awesome reviews!

    The 32mm Touit is now on sale at B&H for $499 which is only a $50 difference from the SEL35F18. I own an a5000 and was looking to upgrade my kit 1655pz. With the price now at $499, would it be a clear choice over the SEL35F18?

    • Oh. WOW! Thanks for letting me know on this. I thought the Touit was a better buy than the Sony even at $900. At only $50 more it’s a no-brainer now. Go for it!

  12. So it looks like the price has come down to be almost equal to the Sony. Does that now change your POV?

    • A reader last week mentioned the same thing. Now that the Touit is only $50 more than the Sony, it’s a must-buy if someone is comparing the two, unless they absolutely prioritize having OSS (shaky hands) or silent focusing (useful only for video, you’ll never find the Touit’s focusing a bother even in quiet situations).

  13. Matt, now that they released the update. Does it support the full PDAF? Unlike the Sigma just being in the center. Thanks

      • With that low cost, really debating on both. The quieter motor would be nice for video – and with a baby on the way, that’s a definite use case scenario.

      • I always should preface the quieter autofocus thing to mention that if you “really” want to get good audio, you should be using an external mic anyway off-camera, but with a baby on the way I can understand you wanting a simpler approach that can get you great results too. What’s nice is that you can’t go wrong either way.

  14. Great review! For your comparison between the Sony and the Zeiss, are the images from the Zeiss Touit corrected for distortion or not? Thanks.

  15. Hello Matt. Appreciate your insights and reviews. I’m the proud owner of the 12mm and 32mm Touit’s, as well as the FE 55mm Zeiss. I’m trying to position myself for a potential move to FF later, with an interest in using both FF and APS-C formats. I’m looking to add something in the ~35mm and ~135mm FF equivalent for my a6000 and am considering the Batis lenses. However, their availability is quite limited. As it relates to 35mm FF equivalent, would you suggest the Batis 25mm over the SZ 24mm? Thanks in advance.

    • Hey there Chris, your only hope for getting that 135mm FF format natively on aps-c is the batis 85mm, unless you want to go my route with a manual focus lens like the Nikon 85mm 1.4 (that Zeiss Otus though…if money wasn’t an object…).

      Regarding the batis vs SZ, the Sony is a lot older lens design that just barely managed to squeak out the detail from the NEX-7’s sensor. Reviews often complained about its lack of corner sharpness and CA’s. From what I’ve seen of the batis, it has much better build quality, holds its own wide open even in the corners, and seems to have much less CA. That OLED display looks neat too. If you get a deal on a used 24mm, you couldn’t complain, but I would go for the Batis.

    • I have read a few reports on the new Sigma. It is a decent lens after f/2, but at f/1.4 especially it has some sharpness and purple fringing problems that are a bit hard to correct. If speed is what you need though, it’s a good alternative, though there is not much difference between f/1.8 and f/1.4 in real-life use. If the wide aperture is not important, I still recommend that cheap Sigma 30mm f/2.8 that is great for pocket shooting. I do wonder how the new Sony 50mm f/1.8 e-mount lens (full-frame) on an A7 compares to the zeiss on aps-c, though.

      • I have an a7 and the 50mm 1.8 (new one) and it has some purple fringing also. Trying to find the best portrait lens for the a6000, but without spending the money on the Zeiss 55mm.

      • That’s a shame, though for the price I knew there would be shortcomings. You may want to take a look at the lenses Mitakon offers, but getting that separation at an equivalent 85mm focal length is tough without spending some cash. That’s why I like the legacy 85mm primes. They still give a good long portrait look of ~135mm, and have great separation. They can also be had on the cheap by comparison.

      • However, I’ll let you in on a little secret that I haven’t posted on the main site yet…I’ve just put an order in for that Laowa 105mm f/2 STF lens for Nikon mount. I saw ephotozine’s review and I couldn’t wait any longer, haha. It’ll be the first lens I’ve bought in well over a year, can’t wait to review it.

  16. Great review, Matthew! Just out of curiosity now that the review is a couple years old, did the Zeiss firmware update change any of the negative characteristics you experienced? I know the AF speed/functionality was improved by the firmware update, but I’m not sure if the other things mentioned in this review would be affected by firmware.

    Thanks! I actually have an incoming lightly used 32mm Touit for my a6000. I can’t wait!

    • Hey there Tony! Glad you liked the review, hard to believe it’s been a couple years already. Unfortunately the firmware update was only for the PDAF models, so the functionality on my NEX-7 was unchanged. From reports I have read, though, the AF is a bit snappier and hunts less with the new firmware on a6000 and up. Hope you enjoy it! It’s still a trooper of a lens for me.

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