With the release of Zeiss lenses for Fuji and Sony’s NEX, many owners of Fuji’s X system have been wondering whether the new Zeiss Touit 12mm f/2.8 Distagon is worth the nearly $400 price premium over Fuji’s already outstanding 14mm f/2.8. I reviewed the 14mm f/2.8 last month, and I’ve found it to be one of the very best ultra-wide lenses for any system, and the very best ultra-wide I had used to date. However, if there’s one company that is known for outstanding wide-angle design, it’s Zeiss. Their 21mm f/2.8 for full frame cameras (originally for the Contax/Yashica mount, later re-released for Canon and Nikon) is widely considered the best wide-angle lens ever made. Their recent 15mm f/2.8 is also extremely highly regarded.
I have the Touit 12mm in hand for a week for review. (Edit: Full review of the Touit 12mm is now up) In addition to that full review, I wanted to pit the Zeiss 12mm against Fuji’s 14mm. Obviously, if you have a preference in focal length, that will likely be more important than some of the optical differences here…if you really need the wider field of view offered by the Zeiss, then that should be your route. I personally find, for a prime lens, the slightly longer focal length of the 14 is slightly more usable day-to-day, but when you need the width, you need the width.
Both lenses have a very solid build quality, and both are made predominantly of metal. While the Fuji 14′s focus and aperture rings are also metal, the Zeiss takes a different approach, using a very grippy and soft rubber for both rings. The aperture ring on the Zeiss feels better, with less play and similar resistance to the Fuji 14mm, while the Fuji’s manual focus feel is far superior, with the focus clutch mechanism to provide a true distance and depth of field scale. I am not a fan of the focus ring on the Zeiss 12mm, as it provides very little tactile feedback, and the texture of the ring is a little bizarre.
They are somewhat similar in size. The Zeiss is very slightly longer, but it flares at the end, and that small difference in diameter makes a big difference in how they feel on the camera. While the Fuji 14mm is not small for a mirrorless lens, it is relatively compact and fits well in bags and balances well on the camera. The Zeiss 12mm, with its large hood and wide diameter feels very large on the camera, and the extra width of the lens makes it much harder to deal with in smaller bags that I use for my mirrorless kits. The Zeiss is heavier than the 14mm, but the weight isn’t much of a factor with either lens.
Next, let’s take a look at a direct head to head comparison.