Sony Zeiss 24mm - What is so special?

Started Mar 26, 2013 | Discussions
DRode
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Sony Zeiss 24mm - What is so special?
Mar 26, 2013

What makes this lens particularly desirable? Ignoring the famous name for a moment, what does this lens bring to the table that makes it worth over $1,000.

I've been fairly impressed with the 35mm f1/.8. It's sharp, fast focuses accurately and low distortion and CA and, unlike the Zeiss, has OSS.

The Sigma 19m and 30mm bracket the 24mm focal length. They are not stabilized either. But they are small lightweight and perform well. The 30mm appears to be especially sharp. Either lens can be had for under $200 and the soon to be released refreshed lenses might be better.

I've seen some images from the Zeiss that were very nice. Some were excellent. However, I've seen excellent images from all of the lenses mentioned above. What I'm trying to understand is what make the Zeiss worth 2x, 3x even 5x as much?

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blue_skies
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Re: Sony Zeiss 24mm - What is so special?
In reply to DRode, Mar 26, 2013

DRode wrote:

What makes this lens particularly desirable? Ignoring the famous name for a moment, what does this lens bring to the table that makes it worth over $1,000.

I've been fairly impressed with the 35mm f1/.8. It's sharp, fast focuses accurately and low distortion and CA and, unlike the Zeiss, has OSS.

The Sigma 19m and 30mm bracket the 24mm focal length. They are not stabilized either. But they are small lightweight and perform well. The 30mm appears to be especially sharp. Either lens can be had for under $200 and the soon to be released refreshed lenses might be better.

I've seen some images from the Zeiss that were very nice. Some were excellent. However, I've seen excellent images from all of the lenses mentioned above. What I'm trying to understand is what make the Zeiss worth 2x, 3x even 5x as much?

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On line, monitor based, reviewing of images make all lenses look similar.

View at your own monitor, at 100%, you begin to appreciate the differences.

Especially with the Nex-7 higher resolving power.

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Cheers,
Henry

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El Matadurr
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Re: Sony Zeiss 24mm - What is so special?
In reply to blue_skies, Mar 26, 2013

blue_skies wrote:

DRode wrote:

What makes this lens particularly desirable? Ignoring the famous name for a moment, what does this lens bring to the table that makes it worth over $1,000.

I've been fairly impressed with the 35mm f1/.8. It's sharp, fast focuses accurately and low distortion and CA and, unlike the Zeiss, has OSS.

The Sigma 19m and 30mm bracket the 24mm focal length. They are not stabilized either. But they are small lightweight and perform well. The 30mm appears to be especially sharp. Either lens can be had for under $200 and the soon to be released refreshed lenses might be better.

I've seen some images from the Zeiss that were very nice. Some were excellent. However, I've seen excellent images from all of the lenses mentioned above. What I'm trying to understand is what make the Zeiss worth 2x, 3x even 5x as much?

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On line, monitor based, reviewing of images make all lenses look similar.

View at your own monitor, at 100%, you begin to appreciate the differences.

Especially with the Nex-7 higher resolving power.

But even then, the Sigma 30 has been tested to resolve even better than the Zeiss.

matthewdurrphotography.com

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DRode
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Re: Sony Zeiss 24mm - What is so special?
In reply to blue_skies, Mar 26, 2013

Thanks Henry. Most images (taken by serious amateurs) are only ever displayed online or on a computer screen. Of those that are printed, the vast majority are never printed larger than 8x10. I fit that demographic pretty well. I might make one large (20x30) print per year.

If I thought significantly greater resolution would have made a difference, I would have upgraded my D300s to a D800. Instead I bought an NEX-6 (and love it).

So, if I can't see the resolution difference without viewing it 1:1 on my monitor or in huge prints from a +24MP file, are there any other reasons to use this lens?

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EinsteinsGhost
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Re: Sony Zeiss 24mm - What is so special?
In reply to El Matadurr, Mar 26, 2013

El Matadurr wrote:

blue_skies wrote:

DRode wrote:

What makes this lens particularly desirable? Ignoring the famous name for a moment, what does this lens bring to the table that makes it worth over $1,000.

I've been fairly impressed with the 35mm f1/.8. It's sharp, fast focuses accurately and low distortion and CA and, unlike the Zeiss, has OSS.

The Sigma 19m and 30mm bracket the 24mm focal length. They are not stabilized either. But they are small lightweight and perform well. The 30mm appears to be especially sharp. Either lens can be had for under $200 and the soon to be released refreshed lenses might be better.

I've seen some images from the Zeiss that were very nice. Some were excellent. However, I've seen excellent images from all of the lenses mentioned above. What I'm trying to understand is what make the Zeiss worth 2x, 3x even 5x as much?

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On line, monitor based, reviewing of images make all lenses look similar.

View at your own monitor, at 100%, you begin to appreciate the differences.

Especially with the Nex-7 higher resolving power.

But even then, the Sigma 30 has been tested to resolve even better than the Zeiss.

matthewdurrphotography.com

Not necessarily true.

SLR Lens Review (Resolution): Sony Zeiss 24mm f/1.8

SLR Lens Review (Resolution): Sigma 30mm f/2.8

And a part of the added cost also comes from build, Zeiss licensing, faster lens at a wider focal length.

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DRode
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Re: Sony Zeiss 24mm - What is so special?
In reply to El Matadurr, Mar 26, 2013

Great point.

El Matadurr wrote:

But even then, the Sigma 30 has been tested to resolve even better than the Zeiss.

matthewdurrphotography.com

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Astrophotographer 10
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Re: Sony Zeiss 24mm - What is so special?
In reply to DRode, Mar 26, 2013

Have a look at posts by Joachim Wulfer. He posted under "best zeiss lens for Nex". Do a search and it will come up.

He shows examples of both Zeiss and Sigma. In that case it was Contax g Zeiss 35mm I think and Sigma 30.

The main difference was the much better colour rendition of the Zeiss. Whether that is true for the 24/F1.8 Zeiss others will have to comment.

Greg.

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Philip Corlis
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Re: Sony Zeiss 24mm - What is so special?
In reply to DRode, Mar 26, 2013

There is so much more to any lens than its raw resolving power. Optical design, lens coatings, internal light suppression and so much more add up to any lenses total character. Beyond resolving power one should also consider the way the focused portions of the image rolls off into the Bokeh and of course the Bokeh itself. Along with that the microcontrast, and the color rendition add to a lenses character. I'm sure real lens experts could expand greatly on this list. I can only speak from my experience as a photographer.

Lets face it - there are plenty of well designed lenses out there, but only a handful can honesty command top dollar with plenty of people willing to stand in line to get their hands on a copy. They have names like Zeiss, Schneider, Leica, Zuko, and well... you get the idea.

If you really think there is no difference, I suspect you've never actually shot any of the truly great glass out there.

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jack scholl
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Re: Sony Zeiss 24mm - What is so special?
In reply to DRode, Mar 26, 2013

Good reference source . . . check the 24mm section.

http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/cameras/sony_nex_7_rolling_review.shtml

Jack

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Jerry R
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Re: Sony Zeiss 24mm - What is so special?
In reply to El Matadurr, Mar 26, 2013

Hi contrast resolution patterns are not what is representative of the imaging information in the real world. Low contrast chromatic resolution is what makes the Zeiss "special".

Just got back from NY with picks from the C3 & 24mm Zeiss and D5100 with the Nikon D5100 and 85mm, f/1.8 & 50mm,f/1.4 lens. Same sensor in both lenses and the Nikon lenses are excellent.

The Zeiss images jump out even on a monitor.

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blue_skies
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Re: Sony Zeiss 24mm - What is so special?
In reply to DRode, Mar 26, 2013

DRode wrote:

Thanks Henry. Most images (taken by serious amateurs) are only ever displayed online or on a computer screen. Of those that are printed, the vast majority are never printed larger than 8x10. I fit that demographic pretty well. I might make one large (20x30) print per year.

If I thought significantly greater resolution would have made a difference, I would have upgraded my D300s to a D800. Instead I bought an NEX-6 (and love it).

So, if I can't see the resolution difference without viewing it 1:1 on my monitor or in huge prints from a +24MP file, are there any other reasons to use this lens?

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There is no native 24mm prime lens available for the E mount. You can only get the 19mm or 30mm Sigmas. Practically, the three lenses are all fairly sharp, but the f/2.8 limitations on the Sigmas plays into low light capabilities, especially since all these lenses lack OSS.

I have traveled with the Nex-7 with both Sigmas, as well as the Nex-7 with the kit 1855 lens and the E24Z. These were just private snaps - nothing for publishing, etc. Guess what? The pictures from the trip with the kit and E24Z lens are nicer than those from the trip with both Sigmas.

I stopped traveling with the Sigmas. Actually, I don't use them that often any more. I still use the E24Z and the newer E35 - as the latter one has OSS (video, low light).

So, in essence, the E24Z is still on an island by itself with no real alternatives. Even if using the LA-EA2 adapter, there is no good lens to choose from.

I do expect to start using the upcoming E20 lens, for compactness reason, perhaps coupled with the 1650P kit zoom lens, as this makes a fairly small setup. Maybe throw in the E35 for comfort, I will see.

I also see no AF 24mm E mount lens on any other manufacturer's roadmap. With a Nex-6, you can get e.g. a Voigtlander 21mm, or a Contax 28mm, as MF alternatives, with high IQ, but these are different IQs.

Or you can resort to not using the 24mm FL as a prime lens, and cover it with any of the zoom lenses. This way, it becomes a 'higher f-stop' FL, and you would use e.g. the E35 as a low light/shallow DOF lens.

I believe that there is room for a more modestly priced 24mm E mount lens. It should be f/2.0 with OSS, but it would compete head-on with the E24Z. The Sony Zeiss lens is very good at what it does, but comes with a price tag that is a bit unreasonable. At the time, one 'perfect' prime was highly desirable, and we are glad that Sony delivered this in the E24Z. But forcing everyone to add a $1k+ lens to a $500 camera is a bit of a stretch.

I have been comparing the E24Z with the Zeiss ZM 35, and the E24Z is really a very good lens. It shows in many different things, not only IQ. It is probably worth its price. But not having a second option is a hindrance, imo.

And as some have noticed, the E24Z is not good for stitching, as the 24mm FL has (natural for this FL) distortion near the edges.

The E24Z is best mated with the Nex-7. But a $300, or less, high IQ 24mm lens for a Nex-3N would be a nice-to-have option as well.

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Henry

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EinsteinsGhost
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Resolution
In reply to Philip Corlis, Mar 26, 2013

Philip Corlis wrote:

There is so much more to any lens than its raw resolving power...

Also worth noting is that the 24mm f/1.8 out-resolves the Sigma 30mm f/2.8 in the SLR Lens Review (links posted above), so suggesting that the Sigma 30/2.8 out-resolves the Zeiss 24/1.8 is debatable.

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lowincash
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Re: Sony Zeiss 24mm - What is so special?
In reply to DRode, Mar 26, 2013

I used the Zeiss 24 on the NEX 7 when it first came out. At the time the Zeiss 24mm was the only good lens for the camera it seem. I bought the lens and it was my only lens for a while and I like it a lot, sharp images and very nice contrast and fast to focus (in good light). At $999 when I bought it, my wallet was hurting for a while.

Would I buy this lens again? No, especially now at $100 more. I'm very happy that there's more lenses to choose from now and I would not spend so much on a prime lens anymore. If the Sony 35mm f1.8 lens had came out at the same time, I would have gotten that over the 24. The 24 is a great lens but I feel it's too overpriced.

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I only shoot JPEG =]

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onfocus
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Re: Sony Zeiss 24mm - What is so special?
In reply to lowincash, Mar 26, 2013

As others have stated, the Sony ZA 24mm is an excellent lens - very sharp, contrasty and great color rendition, with a pleasant Bokeh (which is not the hallmark of Zeiss lenses). Also, the very close minimum focusing distance is great feature. I never liked the color renditions of Sigma lenses.

Besides the expense, my biggest negative is the unacceptable amount of CA this lens produced with the NEX 7, even when stopped down. Hence I sold it.

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Jerry R
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On focus, CA with the 24mm & the C3 is minimum.
In reply to onfocus, Mar 26, 2013
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onfocus
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Re: On focus, CA with the 24mm & the C3 is minimum.
In reply to Jerry R, Mar 26, 2013

That's interesting, Jerry, compared to my experience with the NEX 7. However, I shoot RAW, whereas with JPG the CA will be corrected in-cam. Maybe that is the reason?

Jerry R wrote:

On focus, CA with the 24mm & the C3 is minimum.
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Jefenator
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Re: Sony Zeiss 24mm - What is so special?
In reply to DRode, Mar 27, 2013

IME the SEL24 brings a few things to the table.

For starters, there's speed. Folks will pay a real pretty penny for that extra stop and a third over 2.8 and I can see why - I really enjoy having the extra speed and shallow focus depth. (I love the Sigmas too but f/2.8 does seem a bit workmanlike, especially in a normal-range prime...)

Then there's the character. I find the SEL24 has great personality with lots of "snap". There's some contrast and vitality that my legacy 24s don't seem to have, along with an organic quality the Sigmas don't quite have.

I'd say the Sigma 30 is slightly more clinically sharp but the SEL24 is still great.

The build quality is worth something, and don't forget the close focus capability.

Would I like to see it go for less? Sure, but compared against other good fast wide primes for other systems, I think the price and size point is actually not too bad.

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BruinBlue
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Re: Sony Zeiss 24mm - What is so special?
In reply to onfocus, Mar 27, 2013

onfocus wrote:

Besides the expense, my biggest negative is the unacceptable amount of CA this lens produced with the NEX 7, even when stopped down. Hence I sold it.

This was an annoyance for me too until Lightroom 4. Both purple and green CA gone with a single checkbox. 95% of the time, requires no other slider tweaks. The lens profile for the 24mm is quite good also.

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bill hansen
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Re: Sony Zeiss 24mm - What is so special?
In reply to DRode, Mar 27, 2013

DRode - I don't think the whole advantage of any of these lenses is in their resolving power. The Sigma 30 is very sharp in the middle, but there's noticeable fall-off toward the sides and corners unless the lens is stopped down to 5.6 or 8. The big advantage I see in the Zeiss lens is its color, which I think is far superior to the Sigma. Also, the Zeiss seems to have a wonderful microcontrast which I haven't seen in the Sigma. Possibly a careful photographer could compensate for the color and microcontrast during processing. From what I've seen, the Zeiss is capable of producing significantly more impressive images. But the biggest question of all remains - am *I*capable of taking advantage of the superior qualities of the Zeiss?

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El Matadurr
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Re: Resolution
In reply to EinsteinsGhost, Mar 27, 2013

EinsteinsGhost wrote:

Philip Corlis wrote:

There is so much more to any lens than its raw resolving power...

Also worth noting is that the 24mm f/1.8 out-resolves the Sigma 30mm f/2.8 in the SLR Lens Review (links posted above), so suggesting that the Sigma 30/2.8 out-resolves the Zeiss 24/1.8 is debatable.

Perhaps I should've stated that it depends on the sample variation. Interesting to see those two SLRLensReview links. I do know Zeiss lenses with those T* coatings do a lot to help with the mentioned micro-contrast.

Apologies for sounding like I said the Sigma was clearly the better lens. They are in two completely different classes to begin with.

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