Carl Zeiss Makro-Planar T* 120mm F/4 CFE

Macro lens • Pro • Film era • Discontinued


MAKRO Macro lens. Designed specially for shooting close-ups of small subjects but can be also used in other genres of photography, not necessarily requiring focusing at close distances. Learn more
T* The multi-layer coating is applied to the surface of lens elements. It boosts light transmission, ensures sharp and high contrast images, minimizes ghosting and flares.
CFE A lens with Prontor shutter. Also compatible with cameras with focal-plane shutter. Electronic databus. Learn more

Model history (3)

Carl Zeiss Makro-Planar T* 120mm F/4 CF1:4.5A6 - 40.8mB60 1982 
Carl Zeiss Makro-Planar T* 120mm F/4 CFi1:4.5A6 - 40.8mB60 1998 
Carl Zeiss Makro-Planar T* 120mm F/4 CFE1:4.5A6 - 40.8mB60 2001 

Features highlight



Production details
Announced:October 2001
Production status: Discontinued
Original name:Carl Zeiss Makro-Planar 4/120 T* CFE
System:Hasselblad V (1957)
Optical design
Focal length:120mm
Maximum format:Medium format 6x6
Mount and Flange focal distance:Hasselblad V [74.9mm]
Diagonal angle of view:36.3° (Medium format)
Lens construction:6 elements - 4 groups
Closest focusing distance:0.8m
Closest working distance:0.6m
Maximum magnification ratio:1:4.5 at the closest focusing distance
Focusing modes:Manual focus only
Manual focus control:Focusing ring
Diaphragm mechanism
Diaphragm type:Automatic
Aperture control:Aperture ring (Manual settings only)
Number of blades:5 (five)
Built-in leaf shutter
Type:Mechanical Prontor
Speeds:1 - 1/500 + B
Physical characteristics
Maximum diameter x Length:⌀83×94mm
Filters:Bayonet-type 60mm
Lens hood:<No data>
Teleconverters:Hasselblad Teleconverter 1.4XE → 168mm F/5.6
Hasselblad Converter 2XE → 240mm F/8

*) Source of data: Manufacturer's technical data.

**) Some basic information is missing in the specification as it was not provided by the manufacturer.

Manufacturer description #1

Hasselblad has just introduced three new CFE lenses for its 6 x 6 medium format precision camera system. These are the Zeiss Makro-Planar T* 4/120 CFE, Zeiss Sonnar T* 4/180 CFE, and Zeiss Superachromat 5,6/250 CFE. These new lenses will replace the previous CFi versions and expand the range of "electric" CFE lenses, which so far included the Planar T* 2,8/80 CFE, Distagon T* 4/40 CFE, and Tele-Superachromat T* 5,6/350 CFE. The optical formulae of the new members of the CFE range are the proven ones of the respective former CFi versions.

A CFE lens in the Hasselblad system incorporates a fully mechanical Prontor central shutter (indicated by the "C" in the designation) with added f-stop simulator electronics and databus connectors (indicated by the "E"), which are utilized by Hasselblad camera bodies with TTL exposure metering systems for data interchange between lens and camera body. These camera bodies include Hasselblad models 202 FA, 203 FE, and 205 FCC (hence the "F" in the lens type name, indicating that it can be conveniently be used with focal plane shutter Hasselblad cameras). These advanced camera bodies now have far more lenses available with which the TTL capabilities of the cameras can be fully utilised.

The quick and convenient way of taking photos with TTL auto exposure can now be had with a wider variety of lenses, 9 to be precise, in the Hasselblad system. Since the 200 series Hasselblad cameras are the preferred types of highly demanding Hasselblad users, who are after the very best, Hasselblad eventually wanted to "electrify" those high-performing lenses that are particularly interesting for customers with top expectations. One particular application will greatly benefit from the new opportunities: Close-up photography. With the new Makro-Planar T* 4/120 CFE any exposure compensation needed due to extension will be accurately detected by the camera's TTL metering system and will automatically be taken care of.

Including the "E" with a CFi lens is not as simple and straightforward as snapping an electronic printed circuit board (PCB) into a lens barrel and add a few gold plated contacts. The main difficulty is this: connecting the PCB, which has to be attached to the central shutter within the lens and has to travel with it during focusing, in a flexible and at the same time durable way to the non-moving gold contacts at the lens bayonet. With the three existing CFE lenses this was rather easy: The short focal lengths of the Planar 80 and Distagon 40 lenses imply relatively short displacement out to minimum focus extension. Standard "flex bands" from the electronic industry could be used to provide the flexible connections. The flex bands hide behind other components in the lens barrel and thus do not reflect stray light.

The situation with the new lenses was more difficult. In each, the shutter can travel considerably during focusing, therefore asking for a very flexible connection. Of course, these connectors do exist. But they are designed for the requirements of the electronics industry only. Optical aspects are not considered at all. As a consequence, their reflectance for incident light is unacceptably high for straightforward use within Zeiss/Hasselblad lenses. A solution for flexible connection had to be developed by both Hasselblad and Carl Zeiss, that performed on the electrical side to Hasselblad's high reliability demands, and that also met all the stray light absorption needs of top notch Carl Zeiss lenses. The new solution for a flex band had to be light absorbing to a very high degree, initially and over several decades, to comply with Hasselblad's long service life philosophy), to endure desert heat, arctic cold, rain forest moisture, salty sea air, vibration, transport in unclimatized aircraft cargo bays during transcontinental flights, and the like. After all this has been tested and verified, Hasselblad is now confident to introduce the new devices within the new CFE lenses.

Manufacturer description #2

This is the must-have lens for every photographer doing serious close-up work. We believe that no studio photographer specialised in advertising, product, food, technical or industrial photography can really do without it. Combined with a motorized Hasselblad SLR or the Hasselblad FlexBody for creative selective tilting of the sharpness zone, the Makro-Planar® T* 4/120 CFE lens is the compact workhorse lens for day-to-day studio work - be it analog or digital.

Optically well-designed makro-lenses like the Makro-Planar® T* 4/120 CFE lens differ from other lenses in two ways.

First: Their performance is optimized for subjects like the one you’re just looking at: A flat page slightly larger than a human head with intricate detail plus color. Which means that the image quality and light distribution is extremely good, even in the corners and even at full aperture. This is exactly what is needed for serious professional copy work of subjects that are smaller than the ones ideally photographed with the Carl Zeiss Planar® T* 3,5/100 CFi lens, e. g. delicate drawings (so the two lenses complement each other very well in the hands of a demanding photographer).

Second: A basic type of lens design is chosen that maintains its performance characteristics very constantly on a high level over a wide range of reduction ratios or distances. Like from half life-size (1:2) to infinity, in the case of the Makro-Planar® T* 4/120 CFE lens.

It is based on the Carl Zeiss Planar® lens design type, which offers very good close-up potential and is therefore also chosen as the basis for the ultra high resolution Carl Zeiss S-Planar® lenses for the micro-lithography, which are - in their new version - called Starlith, the most sophisticated lenses of our day.

Although the Makro-Planar® T* 4/120 CFE lens can and should be used for subjects as small as postcards, the built in focussing helicoil allowes only to focus down to a single page. This has been done for safety reasons: Since most of the Hasselblad SLR cameras in use with professional photographers today do not incorporate TTL exposure metering, we believe that the lens should not easily focus down to such reduction ratios without warning, where exposure compensation is absolutely unavoidable for professional results. Adding an extension ring for closer focussing should remind the photographer to apply the necessary compensation.

The CFE version of the Makro-Planar® T* 4/120 lens allows for fully automatic compensation of exposure in extreme close-up photography provided a Hasselblad camera with built-in TTL exposure meter is used.

Preferred use: Close-ups of all kind, products, industrial, documentation, copy work, digital photography

Typical application


Slow 6x6 medium-format macro lens • Professional model (Top class)

Professional model (Top class)

  • Designed for medium format cameras
  • Compatible with teleconverters

Genres or subjects of photography (2):

Macrophotography • Product photography

Recommended slowest shutter speed when shooting static subjects handheld:

1/125th of a second

Alternatives in the Hasselblad V system

///// Sorted by focal length and speed, in ascending order /////

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35mm full frame

43.27 24 36
  • Dimensions: 36 × 24mm
  • Aspect ratio: 3:2
  • Diagonal: 43.27mm
  • Area: 864mm2


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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, Nikon, Pentax, Sony etc.) are always incompatible. In addition to the mechanical and electrical interface variations, the flange focal distance can also be different.

The flange focal distance (FFD) is the distance from the mechanical rear end surface of the lens mount to the focal plane.

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.

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. 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/4 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 and/or rear lens elements 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.