Zeiss has never been a company to disappoint. They consistently make fantastic manual focus lenses, and they now make lenses with just about every popular lens mount. Today they announced a new, ultra-expensive lens, the 15mm F/2.8 in ZF and ZE mounts. The internal design seems to be an improvement over the original Zeiss 15mm f/2.8, which was made for Zeiss Ikon and Leica M cameras. That lens, at $4600, makes this lens look like a bargain.
Here's the announcement video from Zeiss:
Video is no longer available: www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=FuBybxN8XCc#!
It's a beautiful piece of engineering, but the price is sure going to scare quite a few people away. This isn't necessarily a lens that filmmakers should save up hard-earned money for. On full frame it's a specialty lens - one step away from a Fish-eye. On APS-C, it's going to look like a 24mm lens would on full frame - which at f/2.8 is slow for the amount of money you'd be paying. This is really going to be a lens that you're going to rent when you need it, unless you have a lot of money to blow - then by all means it looks to be one of the best performing 15mm still lenses ever made, and distortion is low considering just how wide this lens is. If you're trying to put together a cinema set of primes, then this is the best performing and fastest prime you're going to find from Zeiss for Super 35mm sized sensors.
The price is kind of a sore subject. Previously the 100mm f/2.0 macro, 21mm f/2.8, and the newer 35mm f/1.4 were the caps of the ZF/ ZE group at just under $2,000. But this new 15mm makes all of them seem cheap with a hefty price tag of approximately $3,000. That brings me to the next question… What about the CP.2? Zeiss has successfully transformed almost every ZE/ZF.2 lens into a cinema friendly and very capable CP.2 and the 15mm will likely be no exception. However, it’s price tag will likely be exceptional if the past is any indication. Another draw back to the ZF/ZE 15mm is the very large front hood.
It will be interesting to see if they introduce a CP.2 version of this lens. That's really the market that I see being interested in this lens - cinema people looking for a wide PL lens at a decent speed for a lot less money than many other PL lenses. I'm still waiting for a 24mm f/1.4 or a 28mm f/1.4 from Zeiss in the ZF or ZE mount. That will be a serious performer and a sweet spot for wides on full frame cameras like the Canon 5D Mark III and Nikon D800.