Lens maker Carl Zeiss showed off two new prime lenses for Sony NEX and Fujifilm X mirrorless compact system cameras at a press event in New York City this week. The 12mm f/2.8 and 32mm f/1.8 are the first models in a new line of autofocus CSC lenses that Zeiss has named after a small Brazilian parrot, the touit. Optimized to work with the Sony and Fuji APS-C-sensor-based CSCs, the two lenses offer fields of view that are roughly equivalent to those of 18mm and 49mm lenses on a 35mm or full-frame digital camera. Both optics feature the company’s T* antireflective coating.
While the 32mm lens is based on Zeiss’ Planar optical design and the 12mm is based on Distagon, the Touit lens line represents a bit of a departure from Zeiss’ previous offerings. Not only do they incorporate autofocus, but their internal mechanisms are made of metal and plastic instead of all metal, in keeping with the lightweight cameras they’re designed to work with. The Touit packages also include plastic lens hoods instead of metal ones.
In our brief experience with the lenses thus far, we found that their moderate weights let them balance nicely with the compact Fuji and Sony camera bodies and made them painless to carry, while still providing a satisfying heft. The lens barrels also have a clean design that makes them feel comfortable in the hand, with smoothly operating rubber-coated focus rings. The Fuji-compatible lenses also incorporate a nicely integrated aperture ring, while the aperture is controlled via the camera body in Sony’s system.
Thanks to Zeiss’ close collaboration with the camera manufacturers, both lenses support in-camera image-correction functions that ameliorate minor imperfections such as brightness fall-off around the edges of images. Their tight integration with the camera system also creates the need for a bit of attention on the part of photographers: These lenses are recommended for use with Sony NEX cameras with firmware version 1.02 or later, or Fujifilm X cameras with firmware version 2.03 or later. Zeiss warns that using the lenses with older firmware versions will create autofocus problems. The company also points out that the autofocus motor used in the Touit lenses isn’t perfectly silent—something to keep in mind if you do a lot of video shooting.
Both new Touit lenses will be in stores by early June. The 12mm f/2.8 will carry a list price of $1,250, while the 32mm f/1.8 will sell for a slightly more palatable $900. Zeiss also plans to add a 50mm f/2.8 macro lens to the Touit line in late 2013.