The Zeiss Makro-Planar T* 50mm f/2 Canon Mount

This is my favorite lens, so I thought I’d write up some of the reasons why. If you want technical data there is plenty of it on lots of other photography review websites, like,, etc…. I just want to describe my experience with it and show some more subjective strengths of the lens.


First of all, I love the build quality and feel of the lens. The solid metal construction feels very robust, and as much as I never want to scratch the sleek black coating, I’m not concerned about what will happen if I bump the lens. There is no dust sealing, so I wouldn’t have wanted this lens with me when I was in a dusty place, like Afghanistan for example.

The manual focus isn’t a bad feature. Sometimes I like it, sometimes I wish it was AF. Of course, my Canon 5DmkII isn’t that great at autofocus so maybe it actually is better this way. When I get a chance to upgrade to the 5DmkIII or whatever the future 1 series 20 megapixel+ camera is, then I will wish it was autofocus. I bought the EG-S precision focus screen and it does help quite a bit although it is dependent upon the accuracy with which you set your viewfinder dipoter. Using focus confirmation is accurate from f4 upward, at f2 and f2.8 I need a burst of photos to make sure I get one in focus if using focus confirmation. When possible I prefer to use live view at 10x to focus to ensure precision.

When the focus is precise, the images are very, very sharp. I love the detail I can get in a subject’s eyes when doing a tight shot on a face.

2 months old

While this lens is a ‘Macro’ lens, it does perform well at infinity as well, the textural detail in the Epcot ball looks stunning at full size, you can almost ‘feel’ the brushed metal surface, and it looks even better in a large print where I can utilize the full resolution of the file:


And just for fun, here are some other shots that really capitalize on the detail rendered by this lens:

Note, the spider shot is pretty much at minimum focal distance, so this is as macro as it gets. I consider this lens an “environmental portrait” lens for bugs.

Green Spider on White Verbena Flower Quilted-Maple-Guitar-Top

This lens does have some of that “Zeiss 3D pop”, although I’m not a fanatic enough to claim it is “magical”. In any case you can see it does well with the bokeh in creating a sense of depth:

Verbena with Trailing Petunia Background

Many complain that this lens is “too sharp” for portraits, which it definitely can be. At f2, wide open, the spherical aberration is uncorrected enough to get a little of that pleasing glow, but from f2.8 on, it is very sharp, revealing every defect in a subject’s skin.

This was f2, the skin looks fairly even toned, a little bit contrasty but not too bad, with a little softening in post production this would make most clients happy:

1st Month Down!

Here at f4, you can see every little skin flake and crusty around the little guy’s eyes.

Macallen and his Quilt

There is a little longitudinal chromatic aberration. It can be very noticeable in high contrast photos taken at f2, or even f2.8 if the image is very high contrast. However, it isn’t too hard to correct in post processing, so don’t worry about that. I will probably publish a little guide on how to use photoshop to remove it soon.

If you are looking for a 50mm prime, I would highly recommend checking this one out, maybe try renting it at first, but I think that it offers more than the majority of 50mm primes out there today.


Paper Reviews

Papers were printed using an Epson 3880, iMac calibrated with Spyder4Pro, and with the specific paper manufacturers ICC profiles and printing instructions. I did make adjustments based off the soft-proof, although in most instances none were required, at least until the first print came out.

I didn’t realize Canson’s sample pack was only 1-each, so I’m ordering another pack before I start testing the rest of those (I let a couple slip without noticing).

I’ll add more reviews to this thread as I do them so check back every so often!

**Final Note, there are a handful of newborn/maternity photos that have a melissa devoe watermark in the lower right hand corner. I didn’t take those photos, I was the customer for that particular shoot. I only include them so you have a reference for my description of that print/paper combination.


MOAB Colorado Satine 245: I liked the look of the sheen on this semi-gloss paper. I printed an image I didn’t take on it. The deep saturation of the flags colors came out great and the skin tones were also very well rendered. Sharpness was also very good. I selected this paper to be one of my future ‘regulars’ for anytime I need a lighter weight semi-gloss paper. Tone is a touch warm but the gamut appears to handle saturated warm tones so it is very well balanced.


Hahnemuhle Photo Rag Pearl: Maybe a crossover between semi-gloss and luster. There was nothing wrong with this paper but it just wasn’t interesting and the MOAB Lasal Exhibition Luster was better as a luster paper, and the MOAB Colorado Satine was equally as good a little cheaper so I’ll stick with that.

Hahnemuhle Photo Rag Satin: I liked the texture on this semi-gloss paper, which is very close to a matte really. Sadly the image came out pretty dark and dull. I may try another sheet with a different image but my first impression is that I won’t be using this paper again.

Sunset from Crystal Mountain

Hahnemuhle Fine Art Pearl: This was my favorite semi-gloss from Hahnemuhle, and I could see myself choosing this over Colorado Satine after another test run or two. I really liked the actual feel of the paper.


MOAB Lasal Exhibition Luster: Normally I don’t like luster papers, I bought Ilford Gallerie Pearl before and did not really like it much. However this luster paper is great. I thought it really handled the balance of saturated blue and red tones as well as great Dmax in all the dark clothing. The tone was a little cool but using the ICC profile, combined with the decent gamut size, allowed the skin tones to come out well in the end. While I still consider the luster finish to look rather ‘typical’ and ‘commercial’, anytime I’m making prints for someone who isn’t really into fine art type papers, I will probably use this one. Consequently, it was also selected to be one of my future ‘regular’ papers.


Epson Premium Photo Paper Luster: My first print of this came out looking really desaturated. I had to really increase the saturation quite a bit to get it to match the image as I saw it on the screen. I though that the MOAB Lasal Exhibition luster was much better than this paper overall.

Melissa DeVoe Photography-2 Melissa DeVoe Photography-5

Glossy Smooth:

Harman by Hahnemuhle Glossy Baryta (Regular and Warmtone): This was a really awesome paper. The warmtone is obviously warm especially if you put it next to a neutral or cool paper, so that will likely be a major consideration for what image to print. The gloss is heavy but soft, pretty much the classiest artiest looking gloss I’ve seen. Like most Baryta papers the gamut is large and the sharpness is excellent, the Dmax is also great. This paper was also selected for any future glossy portraits I need to print. I also plan on using the regular version for any future glossy prints of non-people, or for B&W.

Hahnemuhle Baryta FB: This was a really great feeling paper and at first I was really excited to pick this to stock up on but after putting it side by side with other papers, this one definitely has a slight magenta cast to it, at least my sheet did. Of course the areas that were printed on pretty well were corrected by the ICC profile provided, but the white areas were a touch magenta-ish. So I probably will not stock up on this paper.


MOAB Lasal Photo Gloss: A Straight up photographic gloss paper. It is sharp, deep blacks, colorful, and it ends up looking like just about all the glossy prints I’ve gotten from labs. Probably not going to stock any of this just because it’s pretty run-of-the-mill. It does ‘typical’ really well though, so if you need that, it could be a great choice.

Purple Trailing Petunias with White Verbena

Glossy Fiber:

Hahnemuhle Fine Art Baryta: This is a glossy paper with obvious fiber texture. I as far as gamut, dmax, sharpness, it is very similar to Harman by Hahnemuhle Glossy Baryta. The only real difference is that fiber texture that shows through, which works very well for images where an ‘arty’ feel is more appropriate than a ‘photo’ feel. This is the best print I have ever had of this image, and I’ve had it printed by multiple labs on many different papers. This will be my go-to for anytime I want a glossy fiber type paper.

Passing Time

Hahnemuhle Photo Rag Baryta: A more satiny take on the photo rag, which I loved, with a little fiber texture in it. However the ‘Fine Art Baryta’ was just a little better in most every aspect so I would prefer that one to this. However this paper somewhat falls in-between a “semi-gloss” and a “glossy fiber” paper, so I could see myself using this in place of MOAB Colorado Satine after some more testing.

Epson Exhibition Fiber: A great paper in its own right, I can’t really pinpoint why I didn’t like it as much as Hahnemuhle Fine Art Baryta. Maybe because the actual fiber texture was a little too subdued, making it not different enough from Harman by Hahnemuhle Glossy Baryta to be worth stocking. However I can’t really complain about the dmax, gamut, or tone of the paper.

WInter-Creek-Pano-2 1st Month Down!

Harman by Hahnemuhle Glossy Art Fiber (Regular and Warmtone): These papers were pretty good; the Dmax wasn’t as much as I anticipated. The warmtone looked great for portraits and the regular worked well for general purpose. This is another case of it just wasn’t quite as nice for me as Hahnemuhle fine art baryta.

Matte Smooth:

MOAB Lasal Photo Matte: This paper can be printed double sided, which is a plus. It was a great paper with a really nice smooth texture, a little thin, the tone is slightly cool, and with little else to differentiate it from other smooth matte papers, I probably wont buy this on the regular.

A cat sits in a crib. _MG_0586

Hahnemuhle Photo Rag Ultra Smooth: This paper is definitely smooth, very smooth! It renders detail really well. The Dmax is good, and I thought it did well with the gamut on both the cool and warm tones. I still like Epson Hot Press a little better but I could see trying this again some day.

Snowy Winter Lakeside Sunset

Epson Hot Press Bright: This was my favorite smooth matte paper. I liked the detail and depth of the blacks and I liked the color rendition. The skin tones were a touch light but this was the bright version of the paper. I picked photo 1 because of the black shirts so I knew the skin tones weren’t going to be perfect. Photo 2 was a show stealer on this paper, the clouds were spectacular on the bright white and the gamut handled every shade of blue and green with ease. The sharpness was equally fantastic, looks like you could dive in. The weight and feel of the paper is also great.

_MG_6256 South Pacific Paradise

Epson Hot Press Natural: Pretty similar to the bright version but the skin tones in this photo came out much more naturally. I will probably keep a stock of bright only, since I will usually use a textured paper for portraits.

A New Life Begins

Harman by Hahnemuhle Matte Cotton Smooth: This paper had a slight magenta cast to it when printed even with the provided ICC, so I can’t say I will be inclined to order it in the future, since I can’t custom profile.

Fortress on the Hill

Matte Slightly Textured (Rag Type):

Hahnemuhle Bamboo: This was a neat paper that worked well with skin tones and had a pleasing ragish texture. Detail was rendered well. Aside from the ‘cool’ factor of being made of bamboo, it wasn’t different enough from Hahnemuhle Photo Rag to make me want to keep using it over that one.

Macallen and his Quilt

Hahnemuhle Photo Rag: This paper had very similar traits to the bamboo but just slightly less warm and somewhat smoother. The detail was rendered just a touch better and the cool tones came out slightly better thanks to the more neutral paper color. While this particular style of paper isn’t my favorite I’ll probably use this paper if I ever get a request for prints of this type. I picked this shot because the green in the shirts was waaaay out of gamut, but with perceptual intent it came out just fine.


Hahnemuhle Photo Rag Bright White: I obviously printed this image to see how brilliant the flowers would appear with the ‘bright white’ paper. I was happy with the Dmax of the really dark background, the handling of the really saturated greens and purples, but I was most impressed by the rendering of the white flowers and how the spider maintained its translucent appearance. My only issue was that this paper is pretty smooth for a rag and for smooth papers I like Epson Hot Press Bright/Natural.

Green Spider on White Verbena Flower

MOAB Somerset Enhanced Velvet: The actual appearance of the image was good, but the paper feels a little chalky. I didn’t like it as much as Hahnemuhle photo rag, and since this isn’t even a category of paper I really like I probably won’t be buying more.

Macallen-23 Green Spider on White Verbena Flower

MOAB Entrada Rag Natural 300/190gsm: A dual sided rag that really works well. I really liked the thickness and feel of this paper. I may have to have another face-off between this and the Hahnemuhle photo rag someday, especially considering the price advantage and dual sided print capability. The 190 is slightly less textured and doesn’t hold up as well to heavy ink lay. I tried color and black and white on the winter scene and both worked really well.

1st Month Down! Boat in Crystal Clear Bahamas Water Winter-Pano

MOAB Entrada Rag Bright 300/190gsm: A dual sided rag that really works well. I really liked the thickness and feel of this paper. I may have to have another face-off between this and the Hahnemuhle photo rag someday, especially considering the price advantage and dual sided print capability. This bright version did well with more saturated bright colors like a sunset. The 190 is slightly less textured and doesn’t hold up as well to heavy ink lay.

Trapped Sunset The Old and New

Canson Rag Photographique 210 gsm: I liked this rag paper. The image turned out really stunning, soft and perfect for the subject matter. It has some good ‘pop’ to it for a matte paper and is very pleasant. I will probably do a little more head to head against the Hahnemuhle photo rag.


Epson Velvet Fine Art: I thought this was a bit chalky in the hand, and was really a quite nice paper but I thought it wasn’t just anything special, and I liked the feel of the Hahnemuhle photo rag better. This was a photo I didn’t take. **Update, I tried the below photo with this paper and loved the image. The first image was fairly high key and I guess I never tested the dmax of this paper. The second image really pushed the blacks and color gamut, and I was very impressed with the outcome. The paper still feels chalky, but the image itself is beautiful. Considering this paper is on the cheaper side of all that I have tested, My opinion of it has definitely improved.

Macallen-15 A Perfect Landing

Epson Cold Press Bright/Natural: Both of these papers produced good images but I wasn’t so sure about their feel. They were a little more than ‘lightly textured’, but not quite ‘heavily textured’. A somewhat compromise between rag style and true textured mould-made paper. The bright was my favorite; it did well with the snow and the highlights in the image of the branches. The natural was too dark, and with an already dark image of the cat, it looked dull. I will probably stick to Hahnemuhle photo rag for this paper style. **Update I tried a more high-key image with some very bright whites on the Cold Press Natural. The beach picture turned out better than the cat one. The lack of brighteners in this paper really did well by the delicate textures in the flower and shell. I get the feeling that these papers are just a little picky about what you put on them. I still think there are better papers in this category, but I’m glad I found an image that printed out well on this paper.

Printed on Natural


Printed on Bright


Printed on Natural

Low Tide Discoveries

MOAB Somerset Museum Rag: This paper was okay, nothing stunning and not that distinguishable from other offerings in the category. It was fine but just didn’t do anything special. Black were a little dull/chalky for my taste compared to the performance of some of the other papers. it did a good job of warming up the skin tones in this cold winter day’s photo, as well as this one from Kandahar, Afghanistan.

_MG_1012 IMG_5799

Matte Very Textured:

Hahnemuhle German Etching: In the middle range of the ‘heavy texture’ spectrum, this paper was really great. Even with the texture the detail was fantastic and the colors equally pleasing. The brightness and dmax created enough contrast to make images pop in an unexpected way for a matte paper. The weight and feel give the print a sense of authority. Honestly I couldn’t pick a favorite between this and museum etching, so I had my wife pick and she picked museum for my future regularly-stocked paper of this category, although I haven’t tried the Canson types in this category yet. This was a picture I didn’t take.


Hahnemuhle Museum Etching: Slightly smoother than German Etching, this paper was also a touch warmer. Maybe the transition of tones from black to white in this paper is a little more pleasing than with German Etching. Overall really hard to choose, but maybe a little better for general use since the texture is a little less extreme. I will probably stock this paper for anytime I need a heavily textured matte paper but don’t want the texture to steal the show from the image.


Hahnemuhle William Turner: Very heavily textured but I was wowed when this print came out. The detail in the print across the tonal range was excellent and the contrast, gamut, and ‘pop’ of this paper were impressive and surprising given its heavy texture. I was impressed I could clearly see the pattern on the little kids shirtsleeve in the bottom left corner. The texture might be a little much to just use this for every single matte print I make, but I definitely plan on keeping this in stock for my personal prints and for anyone who likes heavy texture.


Harman by Hahnemuhle Cotton Matte Textured: This was actually really great B&W paper but the darkest blacks didn’t hold as much detail as the other Hahnemuhle papers so I decided I wont stock this paper. The feel is great though and I liked the warm tone quite a bit, but since I can impart that warmth to the papers with better shadow detail, this paper doesn’t quite make my cut.



Harman by Hahnemuhle Canvas 450 gsm: Nice and warm for portraits, good feel and flexibility. Canvas texture is moderate, less texture than MOAB Anasazi, a little more than Canson, about the same as Hahnemuhle Daguerre and just a touch less than Monet. Detail is shown well, gamut is nothing special, and the blues and teals in this image were outside of it and you can tell that those out of gamut areas flattened out compared to the digital file.

Macallen and his Quilt

MOAB Anasazi Canvas Matte: I picked this image to test gamut in the purple area and the whites. Love the way the whites came out, it’s a pretty neutral canvas, and the purples did okay but I think that if there was more detail in those highly saturated areas it may not have worked as well. The texture on this one is the heaviest, and it can seem a little ‘mechanical’ compared to the other canvases.

Verbena with Trailing Petunia Background

Hahnemuhle Daguerre Canvas: This canvas was moderate in texture. It came out a bit cool toned during soft proofing on screen so I bumped up the red and green channels a little in curves, and it corrected it nicely. Maybe this one wasn’t meant so much for color portraits. It was pretty similar to the Harman canvas aside from the cool tone. I think the blacks/dmax isn’t quite as good here but I’m going to run another set of images to see which one wins. Overall not bad but the Monet was the best of the bunch for me.

1st Month Down!

Hahnemuhle Monet Canvas: This was my favorite canvas. It had a ‘clarity’ to it that was probably a result of better contrast. The white is whiter and the blacks were blacker. It was slightly less sharp but the image just had more punch. This one required no adjustments during soft proofing and came out great, so it is an easier canvas to use IMO. Definitely try this one, I’m excited to run some 17×22 sheets of this and get them on the walls.

1st Month Down!

Canson Photo Art HD Canvas: This canvas has such a thick coating it seems almost smooth. It also would turn out to perform poorly on my initial run through. I tested an image of my son against an American Flag backdrop, not my photo so I can’t link it, but it was the same one I used on MOAB Colorado Satine. The skin tones came out really yellow even though the white in the flag came out just fine. The sharpening algorithm from Nik Sharpener Pro designed for canvas was way too strong, the print had artifacts. This was probably a result of the intense coating on the canvas. I will try this again with a matte-paper sharpening and see if it gets better, but that still doesn’t solve the color issue.



MOAB Moenkopi Uryu: I really wanted to like this paper and it took two test prints to get it how I liked it. Definitely needed images to be of a lower contrast and fairly light to work well. Tried the hat picture first (one I didn’t take, mostly tones mid-histogram) and it was okay, but I thought it came out looking very dull and dark. One the second color blanket image (shown) I deliberately used curves to clip about 4% of the highlights and brighten the overall image. This worked much better. The gamut is fairly small but perceptual rendering intent worked very well to keep it looking natural. Despite the heavy fibers woven throughout, it actually retains detail much better than the Kozo. The paper definitely becomes part of the image more than regular paper so I will only be using this for prints that I specifically want the paper to feature heavily in the presentation, and only on images that are medium-high key.

Macallen and his Quilt Macallen-14

MOAB Moenkopi Kozo: I also really wanted to like this paper but even after two test prints trying to capitalize on the papers strengths, I didn’t like it. Anything on the bottom half of the histogram blocks up and is overly dark and has little to no detail. Sharpness is lost across all tonal ranges no matter how heavily sharpened. The deer picture was a total disaster; no detail and the snow came out looking like dirty gray side-of-the-highway snow. The winter panorama came out better for the light areas, but the trees lost all detail and became a dark band across the image. If I ever take a picture that is very high key and all in the top third of the histogram, I’ll try it again, but this paper has definitely earned its ‘specialty’ label by not working well for almost anything.

The Quiet of Winter Winter-Pano

MOAB Slickrock Metallic Pearl: Unique as a metallic paper for inkjet printing. Gamut is great, sharpness is great, and tone is somewhat neutral. Pretty cool paper for the right images, I thought this image turned out very, very well. Even after a saturation boost (added after soft-proofing) the image was slightly toned down than on screen, so this paper is a little bit of a saturation suck, but that is easy to overcome. I will continue to use this for anything that would look good in metallic.


Harman By Hahnemuhle Fine Art Duo: Made for two sided printing, it came out great, nothing spectacular but if I ever needed two sided prints I would absolutely use this.

Passing Time The Mosque Entrance

Hahnemuhle Photo Rag Book and Album: A dual sided version of their photo rag that doesn’t have nearly as much texture as their regular photo rag. I prefer a heavier paper but this might get picked if I need a dual sided matte paper someday.

Curves _MG_0675 Macallen and his Quilt Macallen and his Quilt