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Zeiss announces fast--but not cheap--15mm lens

The widest-angle model in the Distagon family will ship in May for nearly $3,000 to those who covet the German lensmaker's products.

The Distagon T* 2,8/15
The Distagon T* 2,8/15 Carl Zeiss

Carl Zeiss, a premium maker of camera lenses, announced a new wide-angle model today, a 15mm F2.8 model that should ship in May for $2,948.

The Distagon T* 2,8/15 has 15 lens elements.

The Distagon T* 2,8/15 joins other members of the Distagon family with fixed focal lengths of 18mm, 21mm, 25mm, 28mm, and 35mm. The 15mm model should be particularly desirable for people serious about architectural and landscape photography--subjects that need a wide shooting angle and that often afford enough time for manual focusing.

With a price that high, it's not something a lot of customers will be able to afford. But the German lensmaker--boosted by a solid position in the cinema lens business--maintains a significant position among aficionados and pros willing to pay for Zeiss's sturdy build, optical quality, and premium reputation.

The lens has 15 optical elements, including two aspheric elements and glass with "abnormal partial dispersion to provide an extraordinary correction of chromatic aberration," Zeiss said. Chromatic aberration occurs naturally when different colors of light travel slightly different paths through a lens, resulting in fringes of color in high-contrast areas especially near the periphery of the photo.

Zeiss also asserts that distortion is "extremely well controlled," something that can be hard with very wide-angle lenses prone to making parallel lines bow outward like the sides of a barrel.

It's got a close-focus distance of 25cm, and with no autofocus--common with Zeiss lenses--you'll be doing the focusing yourself. It weighs 730 grams for Nikon SLRs and 820g for Canon SLRs.

A built-in lens hood protects the lens, but it still accepts 95mm-diameter screw-on filters.

The Distagon T* 2,8/15
The Distagon T* 2,8/15 Carl Zeiss