The Zeiss name has become synonymous with optical excellence, and in particular they have a reputation for making extremely sharp lenses, often at the expense of some other rendering characteristics. With a moderate f/1.8 aperture and a very high price tag, expectations for image sharpness with this lens were very high on my part, and Zeiss has succeeded here. Mostly.
At wide apertures, the Touit 32mm f/1.8 performs very well. Images are very sharp in the image center right from maximum aperture, and even the edges and corners produce fairly decent results at f/1.8. The edges are slightly soft, but still have a fair amount of detail. This is impressive wide open on a standard lens.
Unfortunately, the Touit 32mm doesn’t really get much sharper than that when stopping down. While 85% of the frame remains tack sharp throughout the aperture range, those corners and edges don’t improve much at all at smaller apertures. While the performance is still decent in the corners and edges, it’s not outstanding. If you look at the comparison I did between the Zeiss 32mm and the Fuji 35mm f/1.4, you’ll see that while the Zeiss is notably sharper at wide apertures, the Fuji surpasses it quite handily on the edges and corners at smaller apertures. While this won’t be noticeable in most prints and especially not at web size, it’s a little disappointing given the strong wide open performance and the cost of the lens.
Bokeh is always a subjective thing, and Zeiss bokeh in particular can divide people a fair bit. Wide open, the Tout 32mm f/1.8 produces out of focus areas that are a little busy, but they certainly have some character. Whether you like that character will be up to each individual person. Specular highlights have some bright edges at wide apertures and there is some green fringing that can be seen in certain places as well. The overall effect is somewhat nervous. When stopped down to f/2.8 and smaller, the bokeh smooths out a bit, losing the bright edge and controlling that green fringing better.
One other thing of note is that the lens produces some cone-shaped specular highlights at the edges of the frame wide open. I expect some mechanical vignetting of highlights on extremely fast lenses (which usually show a cat’s eye appearance), but it’s odd to see it on an f/1.8 normal lens, especially producing asymmetric highlights.
Color, Contrast and Chromatic Aberration
Aside from sharpness, Zeiss lenses are known for having what is often termed ‘3D pop.’ That is, the contrast and falloff to out of focus areas adds depth and impact to an image. While the Touit 32mm doesn’t represent this as well as many other Zeiss lenses I’ve used in the past, it does have a very nice strong contrast profile with excellent color reproduction. Images are a little lower in contrast at f/1.8, but the lens still produces plenty of impact at wide apertures. Stopped down, the Touit 32mm f/1.8 puts out very contrasty images with good fine detail and gradation.
Unfortunately, Chromatic Aberration is a bit of a weak spot with the Touit 32mm. The lens produces very visible lateral chromatic aberration, seen as a cyan and magenta fringe that intensifies as you near the image corners. The lateral CA is present at all apertures. It’s worth noting that Lightroom can correct this CA using its automatic chromatic aberration correction tools, so this may be a minor point, though it does affect the edge resolution to some degree.
Distortion, Flare and Vignetting
I’ve seen reports that the Touit 32mm uses in-camera software corrections for distortion and vignetting. However, I don’t generally see these in most instances, and even Capture One seems to be implementing them on this lens. Whether corrected in software or not, the final images show very minimal distortion and minimal vignetting at wide apertures to boot. You shouldn’t need to worry about either in day-to-day shooting.
The Touit 32mm f/1.8 also puts in a good showing in flare resistance. While the included hood eliminates most instances of flare, the 32mm shows good resistance even when the sun is in the frame. When the sun is just out of frame, there is a minor loss of contrast near the light source, but it’s still quite minimal.
10 thoughts on “Review: Zeiss Touit 32mm f/1.8 Planar T* (Fuji X-Mount)”
Thanks for the review! I got mine on order, the Zeiss look is exactly what I’m looking for. Bokeh could be better hopefully but I’m really looking to use this wide open so corners not a biggy for me. I loved the churyard photo very nice color. I’m really concerned on getting phase detect firmware that’s about it.
I got the Zeiss for 720 new by the way.
The aperture ring is smooth or clicky?
mine is clicky
… I own both – the x Mount and the e mont. And beleave me, they are NOT the same. The x is as good as you say, but the e Plays on another lanet!!! This is rellay colour and sharpness …
Ther is now a FW Update for the Fuji System, wich is improving AF Speed and adds ‘Phase Detection AF.
You can find it here: