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Macro S-Planar or ML Macro

Every now and then I hear questions like "why should I be spending a fortune on a Carl Zeiss S-Planar when I can get an ML Macro 1:2.8 55mm for a fraction of the price?".

this question is valid even more so if you take into account that at a point in time both lenses have been produced next to each other. The design is for both is (unlike the old f4 ML Macro) identical, 6 lenses in 4 groups. The first main difference you notice is that the ML Macro is a native 1:2 whereas the S-Planar reaches to 1:1 (the ML Macro coupled with a 27mm ring will reach 1:1, too, but loses infinity focus).

This all sounds good on paper ... but once you see both lenses next to each other you will immediately note the difference.

On paper the weight difference is "only" 265g but the S-Planar is massive ... the ML is looking quite tiny next to it.

Please have look at the attached gallery to view it by yourself. The gallery is featuring 4 pictures: both lenses focused to infinity, both lenses at 1:2, Planar at 1:1 and a front view. 

So, why not an ML? Yes, the size difference is indeed for many people an argument _for_ the ML ... not really funny mounting a lens on an FX-3 that is bigger than the body as such. Optically the S-Planar has the edge, starting with the lifetime reproduction size by default and ranging via no CAs to splendid contrast and colours - the ML is still very good to excellent and if used on a digital body the advantages of the Planar are vanishing.

So choose whatever you want - you will be satisfied in any case :-).