The Touit 12mm f/2.8 is a wide angle APS-C autofocus lens made by Zeiss for Fujifilm X-mount cameras (and Sony e-mount). With a super wide rectilinear 99° field of view, this lens is perfect for travel, landscape, and architecture. In my seven months of use, I’ve found that the Touit 12mm is razor sharp and delivers the beautiful color pop Zeiss is well known for.
Not too long ago my primary camera setup was all Sony full frame. In that time, the Zeiss Batis 18mm f/2.8 (review here) rarely came off of my camera. When I made the full time switch to Fuji, I really wanted to find a lens that could fill that massive void in my lens lineup. In my initial research, I narrowed in on the Fuji XF 14mm f/2.8, the Samyang 12mm f/2, and the Zeiss Touit 12mm f/2.8. I almost instantly ruled out the Samyang 12mm, as I owned the Sony version (review here), and much prefer autofocus lenses for candid shots of my son and dogs. It was a tough call between the Fuji 14mm and Touit 12mm, so I ended up buying both second hand to compare. I’ve loved shooting with both, but the Touit 12mm has been my preferred wide angle option for most outings. In this review, I’ll be covering everything that I love about the Touit 12mm f/2.8, as well as a few things that I’ve grown to dislike.
Construction and Handling
The Zeiss Touit 12mm f/2.8 is a well built metal lens that has the same high quality and durable build of my Fuji lenses. The downside of the build on the Touit 12mm is that it has the same bulbous front end design found on the Batis 18mm. This is an area I much prefer the Fuji XF 14mm. The focus ring on the Touit 12mm is smooth and well dampened, but its rubbery surface is a bit of a dust magnet. The stepped and clickable aperture ring on the Touit 12mm has the same rubber finish. The aperture ring moves a little too easy, and I have had a few moments where I pull it out of my bag to find that it has moved a few clicks over. Not a deal breaker for a lens, but annoying while on the go.
The Zeiss Touit 12mm f/2.8 is not a weather sealed lens, which is something I would prefer for a lens that I use almost exclusively outdoors. I have shot the Touit 12mm in a light drizzle without issue, but don’t feel as confident on dusty trails as I do with my Fuji XF 16mm f/2.8 (review here).
On the inside, the Touit 12mm houses 11 optical elements in 8 groups, and has 9 diaphragm blades. The optical elements use the superb ZEISS® T* coating. This anti-reflective coating minimizes flares and other aberrations. The T* (T-star) coating provides
balanced color rendering, contrast, sharpness, and resolution on the Touit 12mm, but isn’t on the level of other Zeiss lenses like the Sony 55mm f/1.8 (review here).
The Touit 12mm f/2.8 provides a 99° field of view, and a full frame equivalent 18mm focal length. The minimum focusing distance is around 7.09 inches or 18cm, which is really nice for getting shots of things close up like food.
The Touit 12mm f/2.8 has no image stabilization and neither does my Fuji X-T3, but with a lens this wide, it doesn’t really matter. When paired with the IBIS of the new X-T4, the XF 16mm f/2.8 will gain upwards of 6.5 stops. I’m looking forward to picking up an X-T4 for this reason.
The plastic lens hood for the XF 12mm f/2.8 is massive and provides very nice coverage and protection. Even when shooting in harsh directional sunlight, this lens hood gets the job done.
The Touit 12mm f/2.8 has a metal bayonet that is just as solid and sturdy as the rest of the all metal lens. I just wish that the Touit 12mm had the same blue weather sealing gasket as the one found on the Batis lineup of lenses.
Released back in May 2013, the Touit 12mm f/2.8 is a bit of a dinosaur in the lineup of X-mount lenses. This really shows with its autofocus performance. But being a wide angle lens, the laggy autofocus isn’t a huge issue, and has proven to be good enough for candid shots of my son and dogs. ‘Good enough’ is okay for some, but as a point of comparison, the XF 14mm is better, and my XF 16mm f/2.8 blows both away.
The Touit 12mm focuses internally and has a faint scratching sound when acquiring focus that will be picked during quiet video scenes. The reason for this is the dated DC motor. Not a huge issue for me, as I don’t shoot much video, but could be an issue for some.
Size and Weight
The metal body of the Touit 12mm f/2.8 comes in at 9.17oz (260g) and measures 3.46″ x 2.68″. This is only an ounce heavier than the Fuji XF 14mm, but the bulbous front end makes it almost an inch wider on the front end.
Specs and Stats
Dimensions: 3.46″ x 2.68″
Weight: 9.17oz / 260g
Filter Thread: 67mm
Focal Length: 12mm APS-C / 18mm Full Frame
Aperture: f/2.8 – f/22
View Angle: 99°
Minimum Focus Distance:7.09″ / 18 cm
Image Stabilization: None
Weather Sealing: None
My critiques of the Touit 12mm are pretty much relegated to the build and handling section, because optically, it is an amazing lens. The Touit 12mm is a very sharp lens, even when shooting wide open. At f/2.8, the the Touit 12mm is already sharp at the center of the frame, and by f/4.0 the results are razor sharp.
To evaluate corner and edge sharpness, the images below show the bottom right corner of a topo map. Shooting wide open at f/2.8, the corners are already pretty sharp, and by f/4, the corners are near perfect.
Vignetting and Distortion
Vignetting and distortion can be a major problem with wide angle lenses, but not so with the Touit 12mm. There is a minor amount of barrel distortion that is easily corrected in post, and vignetting is minor at f/2.8 to f/4. By f/5.6 to f/11 (where I use this lens most), the vignetting isn’t noticeable at all.
The autofocus on the Touit 12mm f/2.8 is a little noisy and can hunt in low light and when focusing on subjects close to the camera. For most lenses this would be an issue, but for an ultra wide angle, I don’t really mind. Most of the time I’m shooting at f/5.6-f/11, so almost everything in the frame is in focus. The struggles occur when shooting wide open at close subjects in low light. I notice the autofocus limitations most while traveling, as I take a lot of environmental portraits and candid shots. In these situations, slightly slow autofocus still beats out manual focus.
When putting together a lens review, I usually just take pictures for 6-12 months and then pull favorites from my Capture One and Lightroom catalogues for each review section. When putting together this review for the Touit 12mm, I realized that I didn’t have any photos showcasing the lens’ bokeh quality. Like most photographers using a wide angle lens, I don’t find bokeh and subject separation to be a part of the standard workload. I actually had to take the Touit 12mm out for a quick photoshoot to grab a few bokeh samples for the small handful of readers that will care.
First off, I’ll say as I always do, I see bokeh in two ways: It’s either a compliment to the photo or its a distraction. I’m not interested in onion rings, cat eyes, aberrations, or astigmatisms, and steer clear of technical evaluations of bokeh. To get a good test of my compliment vs distraction evaluation, I’ve taken a few sample photos with busy backgrounds. In these photos and others, I find that the out-of-focus area is busy and pretty distracting. This is to be expected from such a lens, and probably won’t sway anyone’s purchasing decision given the intended use of a wide angle.
Real World Performance
If this is the first Trail to Peak lens review that you’ve read, you’ll notice I focus on real world performance, and have no use for graphs, charts, or pixel peeping. My reason is simple: real world photo samples are what ultimately influence my purchasing decisions on new lenses. It’s important for me to see how a lens performs in situations that are similar to how and where I shoot. I also like to see when photographers post photos using a style of shooting I’d like to learn from. As a landscape photographer that spends most of my time on hiking trails, it helps me a lot to see photographers of street, studio portraiture, real estate, etc., talking about how the quality of a lens compliments their style of shooting. I’ve learned a great deal from these reviewers and am very grateful that they take the time to share their experience. For that reason, I want to cover my personal experience with the Zeiss Touit 12mm f/2.8 in the situations I’ve used it most: environmental portraits, street, travel, landscape, and handheld shots in low light. Obviously there can be a lot of crossover in these categories, but I will address each one separately below.
Wide angle lenses with a 12mm (18mm full frame) focal length are not usually used for portraits, since they capture so much of the background and require a photographer to get really close to a subject. Wide angle focal lengths can also lead to some distorted facial features that can be distracting and unflattering. For my personal use, I tend to keep portraits with wide angle lenses on the environmental side of things, where my intended subject is part of the story in a larger background. The center and edge sharpness of the Touit 12mm wide open really helps me capture scenes this way, and has made it a solid performer when called upon.
When you think of street photography lenses for the Fuji X system, the 18mm, 23mm, 35mm, and 50mm are probably the first focal lengths that come to mind. Their speed and versatility make for great options when capturing life on the street. I love using my XF 35mm f2 (review here) and 50mm f/2 (review here) while traveling and have captured some amazing photos with them. While on a recent trip in Thailand, I started using my XF 16mm f/2.8 (review here) for street shooting and liked the perspective enough to give the Touit 12mm a go. I wasn’t a fan of its performance in wide open spaces, but in tightly packed markets, it was able to provide some really interesting photographs that wouldn’t be possible with a longer lens.
Travel, Architecture, and Landscape Photography
Landscape, architecture, and travel photography is the sweet spot for the Touit 12mm f/2.8, and is the category I use this lens for most often. The Touit 12mm provides corner to corner sharpness and relatively distortion free images which is perfect for temples, large buildings, and mountains. I will say that I find 12mm (18mm) a little too wide as a general purpose hiking lens, as it captures a little too much foreground for my taste.
Low Light Handheld
The Touit 12mm f/2.8 can leave a little to be desired when available light is limited, especially when considering it is the same price and size of the faster Fuji XF 16mm f/1.4. That being said, 4mm makes a big difference at the wide end, so the much cheaper and smaller Samyang 12mm f/2 is a better comparison. Given my use, I still prefer the autofocus of the Touit over the one stop of speed gained on the Samyang. Comparisons aside, the Touit 12mm has gotten the job done in low light when I need it to, but it has often left me wanting something faster.
The Touit 12mm f/2.8 comes in a $999, but I can’t imagine anyone paying this price for a new one. This lens has been out since 2013, so there are many used copies on the market. I picked mine up for $500, which is a much more appropriate price. On the positive side, the Touit 12mm is a razor sharp performer from corner to corner, has decent autofocusing ability, and is very well built. On the negative side of things, the aperture ring could use a little more resistance, and the bulbous size of this lens makes it a pain to travel with. If you’re in the market for a super wide angle lens with autofocus, a second hand Touit 12mm makes for a great option. If you can live without autofocus, go with the Samyang 12mm f/2, and if you don’t need to go as wide as 12mm, check out the XF 14mm f/2.8, XF 16mm f/2.8, or XF 16mm f/1.4.