Oh no, a poor Touit 2.8/50M sitting on a book shelf all by its own! This post continues the series where I share my thoughts on all lenses I’ve used during this year. In previous posts I’ve already discussed the Loxia 2/50, the Touit 2.8/12 and of course the Batis 1.8/85, so please be sure to check them too if you haven’t already. But today’s post is about Touit 2.8/50M which is a great and versatile macro-lens for APS-C Sony cameras, but also the only lens in my setup that I didn’t use much at all during the year. Why is that? Read on to find out.
The Touit 2.8/50M is one of those lenses I have owned myself already before this project (the Touit 2.8/12 is the other one). I have, of course, already shot with this lens earlier, but I wanted to include it in this project as I wanted to cover the Zeiss ground as much as I could. Now later on it seems it was a bit imprudent decision as I really haven’t used the lens so much that it would have been some benefit to you – my apologies, really. But as I have made this decision in the first place, I owe it to you to share my insights regarding this great lens. So here it goes.
The Zeiss Touit 2.8/50M is a versatile lens which acts as a high quality macro lens with 1:1 magnification ratio and also as a short telephoto lens with a 75mm field of view which is suitable for portraits and such. When I was still using the Nex-5N I thought that this lens was a bit large to go with the tiny 5N-body, but now with the Sony A7 it seems actually a quite compact lens – what this contradiction really shows is a size difference between full frame and APS-C systems. The Touit 2.8/50M shows good sharpness (although not great) wide open and recovers full resolution & contrast and good corners approximately at f/5.6 where the sharpness too is excellent. Being a macro lens the Touit 2.8/50M resists very well the usual diffraction which happens at small apertures and even apertures like f/16 are actually quite good for macro work (but on the contrary the diffraction works the normal way with the standard focusing distances).
Regarding the optical quality the Touit 2.8/50M is great. I don’t recall I have ever seen any chromatic aberrations with it (even longitudal CA) which is quite exceptional for a 50mm lens. The distortion is also handled very well as there is essentially none (again, a high quality Planar design). In normal telephoto use the bokeh is average (it’s a relatively slow Planar design compared to many faster lenses and therefore shows a little nervousness), but when you get to macro distances the background can be melted away in a very satisfying way.
Personally for me the Touit 2.8/50M has always been a lens with such great and unique colors. It was really a revelation as I had used my other lenses for years with Nex-5N and once I tried the Touit 2.8/50M for the first time I knew right away that the colors were different (but it took couple of months more to convince myself that they were indeed better). It’s always difficult to describe how one experiences such a complicated and tricky subject as colors, because we are easily deceived by our eyes and subjective perceptions. In my experience it doesn’t make much sense to compare single pictures from different lenses when trying to get a feel how their characteristics differ (for a scientific work, it’s of course another story). Instead it’s much more reasonable to compare something new to something you know already very well – this way you have your own experiences, taste and subjects working as a reference point to which you can use to contrast the differences. To me, the colors seem more vibrant than with any other lenses (other Zeiss lenses included), but not oversaturated or unnatural at all, just very well defined with great tonality. The next one is pure speculation, so take it with a huge pile of salt, but maybe the colors something those Zeiss engineers did on purpose because this is a macro lens and targeted to subjects of nature, therefore bringing a bit of extra to the pictures. But then again, I really don’t know. All I know I experience the same ‘wow, those colors’ every time I use this lens as I did some years ago – and with the things of aesthetics one really needs to trust his own perception rather than online reviews or such.
So, if the lens is so great, why haven’t I used it practically at all during this year? Well, one reason is that I’m not much of a macro photography guy as my photographic vision is targeted to other directions. I’ve done some macro work earlier, and even enjoyed it, but I don’t here it ‘calling’ to me. If I leave the macro work out of my repertoire it makes the Touit 2.8/50M essentially a short telephoto lens in my setup. But there is also the Batis 1.8/85 in my setup, which is, not only a whole stop faster with better bokeh, but also a full frame lens compared to Touit 2.8/50M. The Batis 1.8/85 gives me a 24mp file in Sony A7 as the Touit 2.8/50M only gives 10mp file, and while ‘the megapixels don’t matter’ it does matter to me as bigger files are easier to edit and just look better even resized. And to be honest, there was an effect of novelty working here too which favoured the Batis 1.8/85 against the Touit 2.8/50M in many situations. In short, the Touit 2.8/50M is, unfortunately, ‘the supplanted lens’ in my setup.
To me this tells a story, not about one being better or worse lens (for example I consider the Touit 2.8/50M to have better colors than the Batis 1.8/85), but about the oversized setup with overlapping tools. I have already mentioned earlier that my current setup have been too big as I haven’t utilized all the lenses fully – the Touit 2.8/50M being a prime example. I have always had a great belief in creative limitations and taking this into account I have to admit that I scrape too many lenses together in this project. Reconsidering ‘the perfect setup’ I’m willing to say that using only three (or maybe even just two) lenses might be a good measure which would still offer possibilities as well as limitations – just don’t ask me which lenses those would actually be as I still have a real love for the Touit 2.8/50M.