Carl Zeiss Classic Distagon T* 28mm F/2 ZE / ZF / ZF.2

Wide-angle prime lens • Digital era • Discontinued


T* Multi-layer anti-reflection coating is applied to the surfaces of lens elements. This anti-reflection coating increases light transmission, eliminates flare and ghosting, and maintains color consistence among all lens models.
ZE The lens is designed for Canon EOS 35mm SLR cameras but can be also used on APS-C SLR cameras.
ZF The lens is designed for Nikon 35mm SLR cameras but can be also used on APS-C SLR cameras.
ZF.2 The lens is designed for Nikon 35mm SLR cameras but can be also used on APS-C SLR cameras. The lens features a built-in CPU which is used to transfer metering data from the lens to the camera.

Model history

Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 28mm F/2 [AE, MM]A9 - 80.24mE55 1974 
Carl Zeiss Classic Distagon T* 28mm F/2 ZE / ZF / ZF.2A10 - 80.24mE58 2007 


9 blades

Optical design:
35mm full frame
Canon EF [44mm]
Nikon F [46.5mm]
75.4° (35mm full frame)
10 elements in 8 groups
Floating element system
On Canon EOS APS-C [1.59x] cameras:
35mm equivalent focal length:
44.5mm (in terms of field of view)
35mm equivalent speed:
F/3.2 (in terms of depth of field)
Diagonal angle of view:
On Nikon D APS-C [1.53x] cameras:
35mm equivalent focal length:
42.8mm (in terms of field of view)
35mm equivalent speed:
F/3.1 (in terms of depth of field)
Diagonal angle of view:
Diaphragm mechanism:
Diaphragm type:
Aperture control:
None; the aperture is controlled from the camera (Canon EF)
Aperture ring (Manual settings only) (Nikon F, ZF version)
Aperture ring (Manual settings + Auto Exposure setting) (Nikon F, ZF.2 version)
9 (nine)
Focusing modes:
Manual focus only
Manual focus control:
Focusing ring
Physical characteristics:
580g (Canon EF)
500g (Nikon F)
⌀72.4×72mm (Canon EF)
⌀64×68mm (Nikon F)
Screw-type 58mm
1502-002 - Bayonet-type round
Not available

Sources of data

  • Manufacturer's technical data.
  • SLR lenses: Perfection from Carl Zeiss booklet (PUB. EN_10_025_148III).
  • ZEISS lenses for SLR cameras booklet (PUB. EN_10_025_0020II).

Manufacturer description #1

This compact, moderate wide-angle lens is optimized to reduce stray light and reflections and is well suited for difficult lighting conditions. The combination of focal length and lens speed makes it suitable for a broad spectrum of applications. In the half-light of dawn or at dusk, or in interior spaces, the Distagon T* 2/28 lens is the perfect companion for the more daring photographer. It is at its best when the lights are low. Without forcing itself into the foreground, it discovers and highlights the details that would otherwise be lost in the dark.

Manufacturer description #2

Distagon T* 2/28 SLR Lens from Carl Zeiss

High-speed wide angle puts everything else in the shade

OBERKOCHEN/Germany, 2007-09-17.

A new high-speed, wide-angle lens complements the advanced SLR line of lenses from Carl Zeiss for analog and digital 35 mm single lens reflex cameras. With an aperture of 1:2.0 and 28 mm focal length, the Distagon T* 2/28 lens is the ideal bridge between the existing wide-angle lenses with 25 mm and 35 mm focal lengths. It is available as the Distagon T* 2/28 ZF for cameras with the F bayonet and Distagon T* 2/28 ZK for cameras with a K mount. This lens is among the most high-speed optics for these focal lengths and is thus ideally suited for taking pictures in unfavorable lighting conditions. Equipped with manual focus, a high-quality metal casing and floating elements, it provides demanding photographers with a creative, top-class tool with lasting value. As a result, the performance potential of the lens is also available throughout the entire image field even with professional digital cameras featuring full format sensors.

28 mm lenses are primarily used for landscapes, architectural photography and excellent, short-range portraits. It is particularly suited for picture taking indoors – even in natural light. The high image quality down to the close focus range of 0.24 m extends the application range of this lens to include photography of small objects.

The use of floating elements ensures equally impressive image quality in the close-up range as well as at larger distances. With the initial aperture of 1:2.0, photographers enjoy greater creativity through flexible use of the depth of field. This enables them to effectively separate the subject from the background at full aperture and achieve a strong 3D effect. If needed, they can also use the full definition of short focal length optics with smaller apertures over a wide range. High image quality is provided under all conditions despite the extremely high speed.

With its numerous, outstanding properties, the Distagon T* 2/28 from Carl Zeiss is a multi-purpose lens. Thanks to the standard F and K bayonet connections, it can integrated into the corresponding camera systems – with limited compatibility on a case-by-case basis with simple camera models.

This lens will be available for shipping by the end of 2007

Manufacturer description #3

Distagon T* 2/28 ZF Wide-angle Lens from Carl Zeiss

A Photographer's Favorite Tool for Industrial Applications

OBERKOCHEN/Germany, 2007-11-06.

Carl Zeiss has introduced a high-speed, wide- angle lens to meet even the highest demands. The Distagon T* 2/28 ZF – a top-of-the-line lens for challenging industrial applications – is now available. It represents the traditional quality features of high-end lens design: optimum resolution, color fidelity, and a precise mechanical design – combined with optical elements made entirely of glass.

The high maximum aperture of 1:2 and the 28 mm focal length make the Distagon T* 2/28 ZF ideal for industrial applications. It features excellent speed and – due to the complex floating element design – outstanding imaging performance over the entire focusing range.

The ZF lens series from Carl Zeiss is suitable for cameras with F-bayonet (AIS generation) mounts and full-format sensors, thus meeting the standard for high-resolution industrial cameras. The strong, all-metal mechanical system for precise focusing and the reliable aperture setting also meet the high requirements for industrial applications. In addition, the Distagon T* 2/28 ZF offers an exceptionally good price/performance ratio.

Manufacturer description #4

The Expert for Half-light

Carl Zeiss presents the Distagon T* 2/28 with EF bayonet

OBERKOCHEN/Germany, 2009-10-12.

The breaking dawn is a special time for photographers. When the early-morning sun reluctantly chases away the still-glistening dew on the trees, this delicate transition between night and day creates moments of calm and anticipation. But without a tripod at hand, these shots will only succeed with a lens that can handle intense light.

Carl Zeiss today introduces the wide-angle lens Distagon T* 2/28 ZE with EF bayonet, suitable for all analog and digital EOS camera models. With an initial aperture opening of 1:2, it is among the most light-intense of its kind in its focal length. From landscape photography at dawn to interior shots with weak lighting and close-up portraits, the Distagon T* 2/28 ZE offers photographers plenty of room for creativity when a tripod is not used. Following the recent introduction of its two ultra-wide-angle lenses, the Distagon T* 3,5/18 ZE and the T* 2,8/21, the new Distagon T* 2/28 ZE is Carl Zeiss’ first moderate wide-angle lens with EF bayonet.

Despite its high light intensity and complex retro-focus construction, the Distagon T* 2/28 ZE has a compact build. These characteristics make the lens a highly versatile and performance-driven tool for all types of photographers. Even with its wide angle, the lens enables photographers to play fully with an image’s depth of focus. With a wide aperture opening, for example, one can effectively separate the motif from its background. With a small aperture opening, photographers can use the sharpness of the lens system for the entire image range. The floating elements design guarantees high imaging performance each time, from close-ups to infinity, enabling the photo- grapher to make razor-sharp close-up images of even the tiniest objects. Thanks to the Carl Zeiss T* anti-reflective coating and meticulously crafted lenses, the new Distagon T* 2/28 ZE deals effortlessly with reflections and stray light. Brilliant pictures work every time, even under tough lighting conditions such as a breaking dawn.

ZEISS Classic series

Full-frame manual focus lenses developed for ambitious photographers and their wide diversity of applications: macro, landscape, architecture, portrait, journalism, fashion and beauty. Enjoyed an outstanding reputation with photographers all over the world for many years. Characterized by classic appearance and high optical performance. Offer an excellent entry into premium class photography.

  • Fast apertures and legendary bokeh;
  • Robust, all-metal design;
  • 1/2 f-stop intervals with easy-to-feel lock-in positions and exact photometric graduation in ZF.2 lenses;
  • Extremely accurate manual focusing.

From the editor

Optically the lens is based on Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 28mm F/2 lens designed for the Contax RTS series of 35mm film SLR cameras.

Lenses with similar focal length

Sorted by manufacturer name
Nikon F mount (76)
Chinar 28mm F/2.8 [M.C]
aka Hanimex Automatic 28mm F/2.8
A7 - 70.40m⌀52
Chinon 24mm F/2.5 Multi Coated
aka Auto-Alpa 24mm F/2.5 Multi-Coated
A10 - 90.25m⌀55
Cosina Voigtlander Color-Skopar 28mm F/2.8 Aspherical SL II NPancake lensA7 - 60.22m⌀52 2012 
Cosina Voigtlander Color-Skopar 28mm F/2.8 Aspherical SL II SA7 - 60.15m⌀52 2021 
Cosina 24mm F/2.8 MC Macro
aka Carl Zeiss Jena II 24mm F/2.8 MC Macro
A7 - 70.19m⌀52
Cosina 28mm F/2.8 MC Macro
aka Carl Zeiss Jena II 28mm F/2.8 MC Macro
aka Vivitar 28mm F/2.8 MC Wide Angle
A5 - 50.22m⌀49
Irix 30mm F/1.4A13 - 110.34m⌀86 2021 
Kino Precision Kiron 24mm F/2 MCA8 - 80.30m⌀55 1980 
Kino Precision Kiron 28mm F/2 MCA8 - 80.30m⌀55 1980 
Kino Precision Kiron 28mm F/2.8 MCA? - ?0.30m⌀55 1980 
Nikon AI-S Nikkor 24mm F/2.8A9 - 90.30m⌀52 1981 
Nikon AI-S Nikkor 28mm F/2.8A8 - 80.20m⌀52 1981 
Nikon AI-S Nikkor 24mm F/2A11 - 100.30m⌀52 1981 
Nikon AI-S Nikkor 28mm F/2A9 - 80.25m⌀52 1981 
Nikon AI-S Nikkor 28mm F/3.5A6 - 60.30m⌀52 1981 
Nikon Series E 28mm F/2.8A5 - 50.30m⌀52 1979 
Nikon Nikkor-N[·C] Auto 24mm F/2.8A9 - 70.30m⌀52 1967 
Nikon Nikkor 24mm F/2.8A9 - 70.30m⌀52 1975 
Nikon AI Nikkor 24mm F/2.8A9 - 90.30m⌀52 1977 
Nikon AI Nikkor 24mm F/2A11 - 100.30m⌀52 1977 
Nikon Nikkor-H Auto 28mm F/3.5A6 - 60.60m⌀52 1960 
Nikon Nikkor-H[·C] Auto 28mm F/3.5A6 - 60.60m⌀52 1968 
Nikon Nikkor 28mm F/3.5A6 - 60.30m⌀52 1975 
Nikon AI Nikkor 28mm F/3.5A6 - 60.30m⌀52 1977 
Nikon Nikkor 28mm F/2.8A7 - 70.30m⌀52 1974 
Nikon AI Nikkor 28mm F/2.8A7 - 70.30m⌀52 1977 
Nikon Nikkor-N[·C] Auto 28mm F/2A9 - 80.30m⌀52 1970 
Nikon Nikkor 28mm F/2A9 - 80.30m⌀52 1975 
Nikon AI Nikkor 28mm F/2A9 - 80.30m⌀52 1977 
Panagor 28mm F/2.8 Auto PMCA7 - 60.30m⌀49
Panagor 28mm F/2.5 Auto Type 1A8 - 70.30m⌀62
Panagor 28mm F/2.5 Auto [PMC] Type 2A8 - 70.30m⌀67
Panagor 28mm F/2 Auto PMCA8 - 80.30m⌀55
Panagor 24mm F/2.5 Auto PMCA? - ?0.30m⌀55
Quantaray 28mm F/2.8 MCA? - ?0.30m⌀49
Sigma MF 24mm F/2.8 Super-Wide Multi-Coated IIA8 - 70.18m⌀52 1988 
Sigma MF 28mm F/1.8 Aspherical II ZENA9 - 80.30m⌀58 1994 
Sigma MF 28mm F/1.8 Aspherical Multi-Coated ZENA9 - 80.30m⌀58 1990 
Sigma MF 28mm F/2.8 Mini-Wide Multi-Coated II
aka Quantaray 28mm F/2.8 Multi-Coated
A6 - 60.22m⌀52 1985 
Sigma MF 28mm F/2.8 Multi-Coated H.L.A8 - 70.22m⌀52 1984 
Sigma MF 24mm F/2.8 Super-Wide Multi-CoatedA7 - 70.18m⌀52 1981 
Sigma MF 28mm F/2.8 Mini-Wide Multi-Coated
aka Pentacon Prakticar PM 28mm F/2.8 MC
A7 - 60.22m⌀52 1978 
Sigma[-XQ] MF 28mm F/2.8 Filtermatic Multi-CoatedA8 - 70.35m⌀52 1978 
Sigma[-XQ] MF 24mm F/2.8 Filtermatic Multi-CoatedA10 - 80.25m⌀62 1978 
Sigma-Z MF 24mm F/2.8 [Multi-Coated]A10 - 80.25m⌀62 1975 
Sigma-Z MF 28mm F/2.8 [Multi-Coated]A7 - 60.40m⌀62 1975 
Soligor C/D 28mm F/2 P (s/n 1xxxxxxx)A8 - 70.23m⌀58 1974 
Soligor G/S 24mm F/2.5 Auto MC (s/n 3xxxxxx)A9 - 70.30m⌀55
Soligor G/S 28mm F/2.5 Auto MC (s/n 3xxxxxx)A8 - 80.30m⌀52
Soligor C/D 28mm F/2.8 MCA7 - 60.40m⌀58
Soligor C/D 28mm F/2.8 (s/n 1xxxxxxx)A7 - 70.30m⌀52
Soligor Wide-Auto 28mm F/2.8 (s/n 1xxxxxxx)A7 - 60.30m⌀58
Soligor C/D 28+35mm F/3.5+3.8 Dualfocal MCA9 - 90.40m⌀52 1981 
[Auto] Tamron-F 28mm F/2.8A7 - 70.25m⌀52
Tokina SL 28mm F/2.8A5 - 50.30m⌀49
Tokina SL 24mm F/2.8 [II]A7 - 70.19m⌀52
RMC Tokina 24mm F/2.8
aka Tokina SL 24mm F/2.8 [I]
A8 - 80.27m⌀52
RMC Tokina 28mm F/2.8
aka Voigtlander Color-Skoparet MC 28mm F/2.8
A5 - 50.30m⌀52
Vivitar Series 1 28mm F/1.9 Auto VMC (s/n 37xxxxxx)A9 - 80.30m⌀58 1976 
Vivitar 24mm F/2 [Auto] [MC] Compact (s/n 22xxxxxx)A8 - 80.30m⌀55 1978 
Vivitar 28mm F/2 [Auto] [MC] Compact (s/n 22xxxxxx)A8 - 80.30m⌀55 1978 
Vivitar 28mm F/2.5 Auto Type 2 (s/n 22xxxxxx)A8 - 70.30m⌀67
Vivitar 28mm F/2.5 Auto Type 1 (s/n 22xxxxxx)A8 - 70.30m⌀62 1969 
Vivitar 28mm F/2.8 MC Compact [I] (s/n 28xxxxxx)A7 - 70.30m⌀49
Vivitar 28mm F/2.8 MC Compact [II] (s/n 42xxxxxx)A7 - 70.30m⌀49 1983 
Vivitar 28mm F/2 MC Close Focus (s/n 28xxxxxx)A8 - 70.23m⌀49 1983 
Vivitar 28mm F/2.8 MC Close Focus (s/n 28xxxxxx)A5 - 50.23m⌀49
Vivitar 24mm F/2.8 MC (s/n 9xxxxxxx)A7 - 70.19m⌀52
Vivitar 24mm F/2.8 AutoA8 - 70.13m⌀58 1976 
Vivitar 28mm F/2.5 Auto "Bright Band" (s/n 22xxxxxx)A8 - 70.30m⌀62 1968 
Vivitar 28mm F/2.8 Auto "Chrome Nose"A8 - ?⌀52 1966 
Vivitar 24mm F/2 MC Compact (s/n 28xxxxxx)A8 - 80.30m⌀52
Carl Zeiss Classic Distagon T* 25mm F/2 ZE / ZF / ZF.2A11 - 100.25mE67 2011 
Carl Zeiss Classic Distagon T* 25mm F/2.8 ZF / ZF.2 / ZK / ZSA10 - 80.17mE58 2006 
ZEISS Otus Apo Distagon T* 28mm F/1.4 ZE / ZF.2A16 - 130.30mE95 2015 
ZEISS Milvus Distagon T* 25mm F/1.4 ZE / ZF.2A15 - 130.25mE82 2017 
Canon EF mount (6)
Cosina Voigtlander Color-Skopar 28mm F/2.8 Aspherical SL II NPancake lensA7 - 60.22m⌀52 2012 
Irix 30mm F/1.4A13 - 110.34m⌀86 2021 
Samyang 24mm F/1.4 ED AS UMC
aka Bower 24mm F/1.4 ED AS UMC
aka Rokinon 24mm F/1.4 ED AS UMC
aka Walimex Pro 24mm F/1.4 ED AS UMC
M13 - 120.25m⌀77 2011 
Carl Zeiss Classic Distagon T* 25mm F/2 ZE / ZF / ZF.2A11 - 100.25mE67 2011 
ZEISS Otus Apo Distagon T* 28mm F/1.4 ZE / ZF.2A16 - 130.30mE95 2015 
ZEISS Milvus Distagon T* 25mm F/1.4 ZE / ZF.2A15 - 130.25mE82 2017 
Interchangeable mount (22)
Sankyo Kohki W-Komura 28mm F/3.5 [Unidapter]P6 - ?0.40m⌀55
Sankyo Kohki W-Komura 24mm F/3.5 [Unidapter Auto]A7 - ?0.26m⌀52
Sankyo Kohki W-Komura 28mm F/3.5 [Unidapter Auto]A8 - ?0.30m⌀52
Komuranon 24mm F/2.5 K·M·CA11 - 80.26m⌀58 1974 
Komuranon 28mm F/2.5 K·M·CA9 - 70.30m⌀58 1974 
Sigma[-XQ] MF 24mm F/2.8 Filtermatic [Multi-Coated] [YS]A10 - 80.20m⌀62 1972 
Sigma MF 28mm F/2.8 Widemax [Multi] [YS]A7 - 60.30m⌀62 1970 
Soligor Wide-Auto 28mm F/2.8 (s/n 1xxxxxxx) [T-4]A7 - 60.30m⌀58
Soligor Wide-Auto 24mm F/2.8 (s/n 1xxxxxxx) [T-4]A8 - 70.30m⌀67
Soligor 28mm F/2.8 [T]P6 - 63.5 ft.⌀58
Mir-10A 28mm F/3.5 [T]
aka МИР-10А 28mm F/3.5
P8 - 70.20m⌀67
Tamron 24mm F/2.5 01B [Adaptall-2]A10 - 90.25m⌀55 1979 
Tamron 24mm F/2.5 01BB [Adaptall-2]A10 - 90.25m⌀55 1987 
Tamron 28mm F/2.5 02B [Adaptall-2]A7 - 70.25m⌀49 1979 
Tamron 24mm F/2.5 CW-24 [Adaptall]A10 - 90.25m⌀55 1976 
Tamron 28mm F/2.8 CW-28 [Adaptall]A7 - 70.25m⌀52 1976 
Auto Tamron 24mm F/3.5 [Adapt-A-Matic]A8 - 60.25m⌀72 1971 
Auto Tamron 28mm F/2.8 [Adapt-A-Matic]A7 - 70.22m⌀62 1969 
Auto Tamron 28mm F/2.8 [Adapt-A-Matic]A7 - 70.22m⌀58 1972 
Vivitar 28mm F/2.5 [T]P8 - 70.30m⌀62
Vivitar 28mm F/2.8 Auto (s/n 37xxxxxxx) [T-4]A7 - 60.30m⌀58 1968 
Vivitar 24mm F/2.8 Auto (s/n 37xxxxx) [T-4]A8 - 70.30m⌀67
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Chromatic aberration

There are two kinds of chromatic aberration: longitudinal and lateral. Longitudinal chromatic aberration is a variation in location of the image plane with changes in wave lengths. It produces the image point surrounded by different colors which result in a blurred image in black-and-white pictures. Lateral chromatic aberration is a variation in image size or magnification with wave length. This aberration does not appear at axial image points but toward the surrounding area, proportional to the distance from the center of the image field. Stopping down the lens has only a limited effect on these aberrations.

Spherical aberration

Spherical aberration is caused because the lens is round and the film or image sensor is flat. Light entering the edge of the lens is more severely refracted than light entering the center of the lens. This results in a blurred image, and also causes flare (non-image forming internal reflections). Stopping down the lens minimizes spherical aberration and flare, but introduces diffraction.


Astigmatism in a lens causes a point in the subject to be reproduced as a line in the image. The effect becomes worse towards the corner of the image. Stopping down the lens has very little effect.


Coma in a lens causes a circular shape in the subject to be reproduced as an oval shape in the image. Stopping down the lens has almost no effect.

Curvature of field

Curvature of field is the inability of a lens to produce a flat image of a flat subject. The image is formed instead on a curved surface. If the center of the image is in focus, the edges are out of focus and vice versa. Stopping down the lens has a limited effect.


Distortion is the inability of a lens to capture lines as straight across the entire image area. Barrel distortion causes straight lines at the edges of the frame to bow toward the center of the image, producing a barrel shape. Pincushion distortion causes straight lines at the edges of the frame to curve in toward the lens axis. Distortion, whether barrel or pincushion type, is caused by differences in magnification; stopping down the lens has no effect at all.

The term "distortion" is also sometimes used instead of the term "aberration". In this case, other types of optical aberrations may also be meant, not necessarily geometric distortion.


Classically, light is thought of as always traveling in straight lines, but in reality, light waves tend to bend around nearby barriers, spreading out in the process. This phenomenon is known as diffraction and occurs when a light wave passes by a corner or through an opening. Diffraction plays a paramount role in limiting the resolving power of any lens.


Doublet is a lens design comprised of two elements grouped together. Sometimes the two elements are cemented together, and other times they are separated by an air gap. Examples of this type of lens include achromatic close-up lenses.

Dynamic range

Dynamic range is the maximum range of tones, from darkest shadows to brightest highlights, that can be produced by a device or perceived in an image. Also called tonal range.

Resolving power

Resolving power is the ability of a lens, photographic emulsion or imaging sensor to distinguish fine detail. Resolving power is expressed in terms of lines per millimeter that are distinctly recorded in the final image.


Vignetting is the darkening of the corners of an image relative to the center of the image. There are three types of vignetting: optical, mechanical, and natural vignetting.

Optical vignetting is caused by the physical dimensions of a multi-element lens. Rear elements are shaded by elements in front of them, which reduces the effective lens opening for off-axis incident light. The result is a gradual decrease of the light intensity towards the image periphery. Optical vignetting is sensitive to the aperture and can be completely cured by stopping down the lens. Two or three stops are usually sufficient.

Mechanical vignetting occurs when light beams are partially blocked by external objects such as thick or stacked filters, secondary lenses, and improper lens hoods.

Natural vignetting (also known as natural illumination falloff) is not due to the blocking of light rays. The falloff is approximated by the "cosine fourth" law of illumination falloff. Wide-angle rangefinder designs are particularly prone to natural vignetting. Stopping down the lens cannot cure it.


Bright shapes or lack of contrast caused when light is scattered by the surface of the lens or reflected off the interior surfaces of the lens barrel. This is most often seen when the lens is pointed toward the sun or another bright light source. Flare can be minimized by using anti-reflection coatings, light baffles, or a lens hood.


Glowing patches of light that appear in a photograph due to lens flare.

Retrofocus design

Design with negative lens group(s) positioned in front of the diaphragm and positive lens group(s) positioned at the rear of the diaphragm. This provides a short focal length with a long back focus or lens-to-film distance, allowing for movement of the reflex mirror in SLR cameras. Sometimes called an inverted telephoto lens.


A photographic lens completely corrected for the three main optical aberrations: spherical aberration, coma, and astigmatism.

By the mid-20th century, the vast majority of lenses were close to being anastigmatic, so most manufacturers stopped including this characteristic in lens names and/or descriptions and focused on advertising other features (anti-reflection coating, for example).

Rectilinear design

Design that does not introduce significant distortion, especially ultra-wide angle lenses that preserve straight lines and do not curve them (unlike a fisheye lens, for instance).

Focus shift

A change in the position of the plane of optimal focus, generally due to a change in focal length when using a zoom lens, and in some lenses, with a change in aperture.


The amount of light that passes through a lens without being either absorbed by the glass or being reflected by glass/air surfaces.

Modulation Transfer Function (MTF)

When optical designers attempt to compare the performance of optical systems, a commonly used measure is the modulation transfer function (MTF).

The components of MTF are:

The MTF of a lens is a measurement of its ability to transfer contrast at a particular resolution from the object to the image. In other words, MTF is a way to incorporate resolution and contrast into a single specification.

Knowing the MTF curves of each photographic lens and camera sensor within a system allows a designer to make the appropriate selection when optimizing for a particular resolution.

Veiling glare

Lens flare that causes loss of contrast over part or all of the image.

Anti-reflection coating

When light enters or exits an uncoated lens approximately 5% of the light is reflected back at each lens-air boundary due to the difference in refractive index. This reflected light causes flare and ghosting, which results in deterioration of image quality. To counter this, a vapor-deposited coating that reduces light reflection is applied to the lens surface. Early coatings consisted of a single thin film with the correct refractive index differences to cancel out reflections. Multi-layer coatings, introduced in the early 1970s, are made up of several such films.

Benefits of anti-reflection coating:

Circular fisheye

Produces a 180° angle of view in all directions (horizontal, vertical and diagonal).

The image circle of the lens is inscribed in the image frame.

Diagonal (full-frame) fisheye

Covers the entire image frame. For this reason diagonal fisheye lenses are often called full-frame fisheyes.

Extension ring

Extension rings can be used singly or in combination to vary the reproduction ratio of lenses. They are mounted between the camera body and the lens. As a rule, the effect becomes stronger the shorter the focal length of the lens in use, and the longer the focal length of the extension ring.

View camera

A large-format camera with a ground-glass viewfinder at the image plane for viewing and focusing. The photographer must stick his head under a cloth hood in order to see the image projected on the ground glass. Because of their 4x5-inch (or larger) negatives, these cameras can produce extremely high-quality results. View cameras also usually support movements.

135 cartridge-loaded film

43.27 24 36
  • Introduced: 1934
  • Frame size: 36 × 24mm
  • Aspect ratio: 3:2
  • Diagonal: 43.27mm
  • Area: 864mm2
  • Double perforated
  • 8 perforations per frame

120 roll film

71.22 44 56
  • Introduced: 1901
  • Frame size: 56 × 44mm
  • Aspect ratio: 11:14
  • Diagonal: 71.22mm
  • Area: 2464mm2
  • Unperforated

120 roll film

79.2 56 56
  • Introduced: 1901
  • Frame size: 56 × 56mm
  • Aspect ratio: 1:1
  • Diagonal: 79.2mm
  • Area: 3136mm2
  • Unperforated

120 roll film

89.64 56 70
  • Introduced: 1901
  • Frame size: 70 × 56mm
  • Aspect ratio: 5:4
  • Diagonal: 89.64mm
  • Area: 3920mm2
  • Unperforated

220 roll film

71.22 44 56
  • Introduced: 1965
  • Frame size: 56 × 44mm
  • Aspect ratio: 11:14
  • Diagonal: 71.22mm
  • Area: 2464mm2
  • Unperforated
  • Double the length of 120 roll film

220 roll film

79.2 56 56
  • Introduced: 1965
  • Frame size: 56 × 56mm
  • Aspect ratio: 1:1
  • Diagonal: 79.2mm
  • Area: 3136mm2
  • Unperforated
  • Double the length of 120 roll film

220 roll film

89.64 56 70
  • Introduced: 1965
  • Frame size: 70 × 56mm
  • Aspect ratio: 5:4
  • Diagonal: 89.64mm
  • Area: 3920mm2
  • Unperforated
  • Double the length of 120 roll film

Shutter speed ring with "F" setting

The "F" setting disengages the leaf shutter and is set when using only the focal plane shutter in the camera body.

Catch for disengaging cross-coupling

The shutter and diaphragm settings are cross-coupled so that the diaphragm opens to a corresponding degree when faster shutter speeds are selected. The cross-coupling can be disengaged at the press of a catch.

Cross-coupling button

With the cross-coupling button depressed speed/aperture combinations can be altered without changing the Exposure Value setting.

M & X sync

The shutter is fully synchronized for M- and X-settings so that you can work with flash at all shutter speeds.

In M-sync, the shutter closes the flash-firing circuit slightly before it is fully open to catch the flash at maximum intensity. The M-setting is used for Class M flash bulbs.

In X-sync, the flash takes place when the shutter is fully opened. The X-setting is used for electronic flash.

X sync

The shutter is fully synchronized for X-setting so that you can work with flash at all shutter speeds.

In X-sync, the flash takes place when the shutter is fully opened. The X-setting is used for electronic flash.


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Image stabilizer

A technology used for reducing or even eliminating the effects of camera shake. Gyro sensors inside the lens detect camera shake and pass the data to a microcomputer. Then an image stabilization group of elements controlled by the microcomputer moves inside the lens and compensates camera shake in order to keep the image static on the imaging sensor or film.

The technology allows to increase the shutter speed by several stops and shoot handheld in such lighting conditions and at such focal lengths where without image stabilizer you have to use tripod, decrease the shutter speed and/or increase the ISO setting which can lead to blurry and noisy images.

Original name

Lens name as indicated on the lens barrel (usually on the front ring). With lenses from film era, may vary slightly from batch to batch.


Format refers to the shape and size of film or image sensor.

35mm is the common name of the 36x24mm film format or image sensor format. It has an aspect ratio of 3:2, and a diagonal measurement of approximately 43mm. The name originates with the total width of the 135 film which was the primary medium of the format prior to the invention of the full frame digital SLR. Historically the 35mm format was sometimes called small format to distinguish it from the medium and large formats.

APS-C is an image sensor format approximately equivalent in size to the film negatives of 25.1x16.7mm with an aspect ratio of 3:2.

Medium format is a film format or image sensor format larger than 36x24mm (35mm) but smaller than 4x5in (large format).

Angle of view

Angle of view describes the angular extent of a given scene that is imaged by a camera. It is used interchangeably with the more general term field of view.

As the focal length changes, the angle of view also changes. The shorter the focal length (eg 18mm), the wider the angle of view. Conversely, the longer the focal length (eg 55mm), the smaller the angle of view.

A camera's angle of view depends not only on the lens, but also on the sensor. Imaging sensors are sometimes smaller than 35mm film frame, and this causes the lens to have a narrower angle of view than with 35mm film, by a certain factor for each sensor (called the crop factor).

This website does not use the angles of view provided by lens manufacturers, but calculates them automatically by the following formula: 114.6 * arctan (21.622 / CF * FL),


CF – crop-factor of a sensor,
FL – focal length of a lens.


A lens mount is an interface — mechanical and often also electrical — between a camera body and a lens.

A lens mount may be a screw-threaded type, a bayonet-type, or a breech-lock type. Modern camera lens mounts are of the bayonet type, because the bayonet mechanism precisely aligns mechanical and electrical features between lens and body, unlike screw-threaded mounts.

Lens mounts of competing manufacturers (Canon, Leica, Nikon, Pentax, Sony etc.) are always incompatible. In addition to the mechanical and electrical interface variations, the flange focal distance (distance from the mechanical rear end surface of the lens mount to the focal plane) is also different.

Lens construction

Lens construction – a specific arrangement of elements and groups that make up the optical design, including type and size of elements, type of used materials etc.

Element - an individual piece of glass which makes up one component of a photographic lens. Photographic lenses are nearly always built up of multiple such elements.

Group – a cemented together pieces of glass which form a single unit or an individual piece of glass. The advantage is that there is no glass-air surfaces between cemented together pieces of glass, which reduces reflections.

Focal length

The focal length is the factor that determines the size of the image reproduced on the focal plane, picture angle which covers the area of the subject to be photographed, depth of field, etc.


The largest opening or stop at which a lens can be used is referred to as the speed of the lens. The larger the maximum aperture is, the faster the lens is considered to be. Lenses that offer a large maximum aperture are commonly referred to as fast lenses, and lenses with smaller maximum aperture are regarded as slow.

In low-light situations, having a wider maximum aperture means that you can shoot at a faster shutter speed or work at a lower ISO, or both.

Floating element system

Provides correction of aberrations and ensures constantly high image quality at the entire range of focusing distances from infinity down to the closest focusing distance. It is particularly effective for the correction of field curvature that tends to occur with large-aperture, wide-angle lenses when shooting at close ranges.

The basic mechanism of the floating element system is also incorporated into the internal and rear focusing methods.

Closest focusing distance

The minimum distance from the focal plane (film or sensor) to the subject where the lens is still able to focus.

Closest working distance

The distance from the front edge of the lens to the subject at the maximum magnification.

Magnification ratio

Determines how large the subject will appear in the final image. Magnification is expressed as a ratio. For example, a magnification ratio of 1:1 means that the image of the subject formed on the film or sensor will be the same size as the subject in real life. For this reason, a 1:1 ratio is often called "life-size".

Manual diaphragm

The diaphragm must be stopped down manually by rotating the detent aperture ring.

Preset diaphragm

The lens has two rings, one is for pre-setting, while the other is for normal diaphragm adjustment. The first ring must be set at the desired aperture, the second ring then should be fully opened for focusing, and turned back for stop down to the pre-set value.

Semi-automatic diaphragm

The lens features spring mechanism in the diaphragm, triggered by the shutter release, which stops down the diaphragm to the pre-set value. The spring needs to be reset manually after each exposure to re-open diaphragm to its maximum value.

Automatic diaphragm

The camera automatically closes the diaphragm down during the shutter operation. On completion of the exposure, the diaphragm re-opens to its maximum value.

Fixed diaphragm

The aperture setting is fixed at F/2 on this lens, and cannot be adjusted.

Number of blades

As a general rule, the more blades that are used to create the aperture opening in the lens, the rounder the out-of-focus highlights will be.

Some lenses are designed with curved diaphragm blades, so the roundness of the aperture comes not from the number of blades, but from their shape. However, the fewer blades the diaphragm has, the more difficult it is to form a circle, regardless of rounded edges.

At maximum aperture, the opening will be circular regardless of the number of blades.


Excluding case or pouch, caps and other detachable accessories (lens hood, close-up adapter, tripod adapter etc.).

Maximum diameter x Length

Excluding case or pouch, caps and other detachable accessories (lens hood, close-up adapter, tripod adapter etc.).

For lenses with collapsible design, the length is indicated for the working (retracted) state.

Weather sealing

A rubber material which is inserted in between each externally exposed part (manual focus and zoom rings, buttons, switch panels etc.) to ensure it is properly sealed against dust and moisture.

Lenses that accept front mounted filters typically do not have gaskets behind the filter mount. It is recommended to use a filter for complete weather resistance when desired.

Fluorine coating

Helps keep lenses clean by reducing the possibility of dust and dirt adhering to the lens and by facilitating cleaning should the need arise. Applied to the outer surface of the front lens element over multi-coatings.


Lens filters are accessories that can protect lenses from dirt and damage, enhance colors, minimize glare and reflections, and add creative effects to images.

Lens hood

A lens hood or lens shade is a device used on the end of a lens to block the sun or other light source in order to prevent glare and lens flare. Flare occurs when stray light strikes the front element of a lens and then bounces around within the lens. This stray light often comes from very bright light sources, such as the sun, bright studio lights, or a bright white background.

The geometry of the lens hood can vary from a plain cylindrical or conical section to a more complex shape, sometimes called a petal, tulip, or flower hood. This allows the lens hood to block stray light with the higher portions of the lens hood, while allowing more light into the corners of the image through the lowered portions of the hood.

Lens hoods are more prominent in long focus lenses because they have a smaller viewing angle than that of wide-angle lenses. For wide angle lenses, the length of the hood cannot be as long as those for telephoto lenses, as a longer hood would enter the wider field of view of the lens.

Lens hoods are often designed to fit onto the matching lens facing either forward, for normal use, or backwards, so that the hood may be stored with the lens without occupying much additional space. In addition, lens hoods can offer some degree of physical protection for the lens due to the hood extending farther than the lens itself.


Teleconverters increase the effective focal length of lenses. They also usually maintain the closest focusing distance of lenses, thus increasing the magnification significantly. A lens combined with a teleconverter is normally smaller, lighter and cheaper than a "direct" telephoto lens of the same focal length and speed.

Teleconverters are a convenient way of enhancing telephoto capability, but it comes at a cost − reduced maximum aperture. Also, since teleconverters magnify every detail in the image, they logically also magnify residual aberrations of the lens.

Lens caps

Scratched lens surfaces can spoil the definition and contrast of even the finest lenses. Lens covers are the best and most inexpensive protection available against dust, moisture and abrasion. Safeguard lens elements - both front and rear - whenever the lens is not in use.