Just Touit – Zeiss Touit 12mm

An appalling pun and my final conclusion is probably a little more balanced with respect to the subject of this post, the Zeiss Touit 12mm. Its equivalent focal length is 18mm, which is very wide indeed. High level, this is a very good lens and if you like 18mm equivalent you should consider buying it for your Fuji X camera. I haven’t tried the NEX version (having sold all my NEX gear) but I would be willing to bet it looks good in a similar manner on the 16mp sensors and not so good on the NEX-7.

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Those who have seen my previous post will realise I was very happy with the results from the 32mm. I wasn’t sure about my initial results with the 12mm but it’s grown on me significantly. Readers hopefully realise that I’m a WA lens addict and I love to play with perspectives. None of the shots here are corrected for perspective/keystone issues and I’m happy with that (though I might not be for a different subject)!

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In honesty I can lose myself in a walk with a UWA, and that’s exactly what happened the other day when I had intended to test both Touits but ended up just shooting with the 12mm the whole time.

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The 12mm has some bad features compared to the Fuji 14, it has softer corners at wider apertures, it isn’t optically corrected for distortion and it is expensive. There is no question that fans of the 20-21mm focal length shouldn’t really go for the Zeiss.

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So it’s a Turkey? No way, it’s a very fine lens with some different design choices from the Fuji, that’s all. If you want the widest possible UWA then go for this lens. By definition it is wider but it is also a fine lens in its own right and I still suspect the centre is a hair sharper than the Fuji. It’s possible I’m wrong and what I’m seeing is really increased saturation or sharpness in the centre from the Zeiss, nonetheless the results are undeniably attractive (for me at least).

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I noted that it is electronically corrected for distortion, it suffers from a tiny bit of barrel distortion that is easily seen in Capture One by reducing the distortion correction slider. It’s the correction of this distortion that exaggerates the softer corners at lower apertures. But the corners aren’t bad at all, they just aren’t as good as the Fuji 14 (which is actually praise of a sort).

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Focus speed is about the same as the Fuji 14mm, that’s to say mostly quickish for the system. I think I may be in the minority but I like the look of these lenses. They are smart and the rubber rings allow for more precise control than I’m used to with fly by wire Fuji lenses. Note that the aperture ring is a little looser on the 12 as compared to the 32mm (the 32 is clearly better/stiffer than the other fuji lenses, the 12 is about the same).

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When I look at the results it’s clearly optically better than two other mirrorless UWA lenses I’ve used, the 9-18mm Olympus for M43s and the 10-18mm Sony NEX. It’s a sharper lens and has better corners and edges than either. Arguably it is better than the 7-14 for M43s as it handles flare better and takes filters, though I still think the 7-14 is a better lens across the frame (though I think the Zeiss is sharper in the centre).

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The only reason this lens doesn’t deserve superlatives left and right is the existence of the Fuji 14mm. If the Fuji didn’t exist or was a little bit more average, the 12mm would be a must buy lens, as it is it’s a very good lens that’s not as good primarily because of variations in sharpness in the corners. However there is no question in my mind that a person wanting the widest lens available shouldn’t hesitate in buying the Zeiss instead of the Fuji 14.

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Taken with my Fujifilm X-Pro1 and Carl Zeiss Touit 12mm lens.

UPDATE 21 June: See my thoughts on the Zeiss Touit 32mm here

6 thoughts

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  5. Nice photos and certainly nice lenses. But tell me the logic of Zeiss offering lenses that are basically the same as the Fuji’s when they could have offered a fast 23mm or 56mm and had the Fuji people eating them up?

    • There aren’t as many fuji users as Sony NEX users. That’s the logic. So when designing the follow up to the Zeiss 24mm for e-mount zeiss decided to adapt those lenses to work for other systems. M43s made no sense given the sensor size, but Fuji X at least has a user base. So what these are, is adapted lenses designed for the NEX system. No one is going to design dedicated lenses for fuji other than fuji themselves.

      That said, they are excellent and the 32 in particular is at a level above the Fuji 35mm. It’s one of those lenses like the 75mm oly for m43s that astounds you with its sharpness and contrast.

      To be frank, if this means fuji x users get access to the only* lenses worth having for Sony NEX, who cares?

      *sweeping overgeneralisation

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