Carl Zeiss Touit 1.8/32 review

The Zeiss Touit 1.8/32 is a fast, sharp lens for Sony and Fujifilm mirrorless cameras, but it's more expensive than the competition.
Photo of Carl Zeiss Touit 1.8/32

The Carl Zeiss Touit 1.8/32 ($900 list) is a fast lens that delivers a standard-angle field of view when paired with Sony NEX or Fujifilm X mirrorless cameras. The lens barrel is all metal, save for a rubberized focusing ring, as you would expect from a Zeiss lens. The Touit 1.8/32 delivers impressive sharpness and captures a lot of light, but if you’re willing to sacrifice some sharpness you can save some money and get the Sony 35mm f/1.8 Prime Lens for NEX cameras, or the Fujifilm 35mm f/1.4 XF R ($599) for Fuji X cameras.

The lens measures 3 by 2.6 inches (HD) and weighs about 7.4 ounces. The Fuji version features a physical aperture ring, which is required to control aperture on X cameras, but the Sony version doesn’t have one. A lens hood is included; it’s plastic and can be reversed when not in use. It uses 52mm filters and can focus as close as 11.8 inches. That’s in the same ballpark as the Fuji 35mm (11 inches) and the Sony 35mm (11.9 inches) lenses. There’s no optical stabilization, which is something you get when you opt for the Sony 35mm lens.

I used Imatest to check the sharpness of the lens when paired with the Sony Alpha NEX-5N. The lens is very sharp; even at f/1.8 it exceeds the 1,800 lines per picture height that we require for an image to be considered sharp. The center-weighted score at f/1.8 is 1,853 lines, and edge performance is decent at 1,615 lines. Stopping down to f/2.8 increases the overall performance to 2,082 lines, and edges are about 100 lines better there. At f/4 the sharpness stays steady at 2,084 lines, but edges improve significantly to 1,862 lines. The lens is sharpest at f/5.6; it records 2,114 lines there. Distortion is noticeable; there’s 1.8 percent barrel distortion, which will make straight lines appear to curve out. The Sony 35mm lens isn’t as sharp wide open; it scores 1,523 lines at f/1.8 and doesn’t cross the 1,800 line mark until f/2.8. At f/4 it runs neck and neck with the Zeiss in terms of sharpness. The Sony lens doesn’t exhibit any barrel distortion, but if you opt for the Zeiss that’s easily corrected using Adobe Lightroom.

If you’re willing to open up your wallet, the Zeiss Touit 1.8/32 will reward you with sharp images, even when shooting at a wide aperture. This lets you capture photos with shallow depth of field, and also take photos in dim light. If you’re a NEX shooter you can opt for the Sony 35mm f/1.8 as an alternative; it’s half the price and adds optical stabilization, but it’s not as sharp. We haven’t yet tested the Fujifilm 35mm f/1.4 XF R, but it’s less expensive and is capable of capturing more light when shot wide open.


Verdict
The Zeiss Touit 1.8/32 is a fast, sharp lens for Sony and Fujifilm mirrorless cameras, but it's more expensive than the competition.
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