Why Zeiss Lenses for Nikon or Canon have no AF

In case anyone is wondering (I know I was) why Zeiss don’t make AF lenses for Nikon or Canon, here’s the real reason.

Due to international licences, it is not possible at the moment for companies outside Japan to offer AF lenses with EF- or F – mount. So we will concentrate on high-end manual focus lenses with those mounts within the next future.

Best regards

Carl Zeiss Lenses Team


I’d been thinking it was a technical difficulty, or (more darkly) because of some secret exclusivity agreement with Sony, but it turns out it’s a protective trade issue for the lens makers in Japan- well, at least that’s how I read it. A real shame, as I’d like more usable Zeiss lenses, MF being really hard on a conventional DSLR unless you add a special focusing screen and even then it’s probably hard to be as accurate. That’s not to say there isn’t a joy and beauty in manual focus photography, where you get that more involved in taking a photo, or that MF lenses aren’t (duh) much better for this. I’d just like the option to throw on a Zeiss prime and have some fun shooting with it.

I am thinking of getting a Zeiss 35mm f/2 for my Nikon usage, and just doing my best to MF it. The colour and contrast I see from these lenses is really out of this world and quite different from Nikon’s own output. I don’t say better, but different and the unique and high quality rendering would be worth having. Of course, many would simply say better, but I will have to wait and see.

Meanwhile, we do have this good news. Alongside their high end MF announcements, there are some Zeiss lenses planned for mirrorless systems, which I presume means NEX and M4/3. Even if they aren’t nearly in the same league as their full-frame cousins, they may retain enough characteristics to give that special, Zeiss touch. Certainly, my experience of my 25mm f/1.4 ‘Pana-Leica’ has shown me a scaled down version of a great maker’s lens can give impressive results, in many ways better than the usual. Let’s hope something good comes of this and it’s more than just name branding.

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