Carl Zeiss lens for Canon

Started Sep 12, 2012 | Discussions thread
Joseph S Wisniewski Forum Pro • Posts: 34,130
How about Nikon...

Batzorig wrote:

I was reading about the nice colors and contrast of Carl Zeiss lenses. So I started considering to buy Zeiss lens and want to get advise from those who have tried Zeiss on Canon.

My most important type of photography is shooting arts such as paintings and some sculptures (though not a much as the painting). I have a Canon 5D Mark2, and 50mm f1.8 lens. I find that my 50mm lens has a lot of distortion on the edges when taking shots of painting. Also it has a little bit warm tone in every image (though I may be wrong about it). So because of these reasons I want to upgrade my lens, and I do take my art photography seriously.

A "little bit warm tone" can be fixed in post processing. If you use LightRoom, the best way is to get an X-Rite Passport card. That doesn't just do a white balance, it does six shades of gray balance (the "fifty shades of gray" balance is a subject for a different conversation) and 18 other balances, including pigment reds, greens, blues, browns, and flesh tone blends. There's no better way to spend $100 than a Passport, if you're doing art repro.

Now, on to how to spend the next $500, and we're done.

Before I go for a purchase, I need to ask some questions.

1. Is Zeiss lens really worth the price? My 50 mm Canon is only 100$.

For some jobs. I'm very fond of the two Zeiss Makro Planars, but they're $1,200 and $1,800. Not for what you're doing. There are better ways to spend $1,200 or $1,800. I'll come back to that.

2. I don't shoot my painting photos wide open because I want to have focus from corner to corner on painting photos. So I always use f5.6 or higher.

That works, but you'll have less corner problems if you learn to square up a camera and a painting. A laser level set ($40 at Sears) can be a great deal of help with that.

With that in mind does Zeiss lens still out-perform Canon lens even at higher f-stops?

You're talking about the wrong issue. It's not Zeiss vs. Canon, it's macro vs. non-macro.

Any half-way decent 50-100mm macro (Canon, Nikon, Tamron, Zeiss, Voigtlander, Kiron) will shred even the very best "Planar" type 50mm lenses (Zeiss 50mm or 85mm f1.4, Canon 50mm f1.8, 1.4, 1.2, Nikon 50mm f1.4, etc). The Planar sacrifices everything (contrast, color, detail, distortion, etc) for speed. It's not "flat field", which means, even if you square the camera and painting perfectly, if you focus on the center of the painting, the edges and corners will be blurred, that's just the way these lenses are.

By contrast, a 25 year-old Nikon 55mm f3.5 micro-Nikkor macro ($100-150 used, in good condition) is sharp, contrasty, near distortion free, and flat field.

3. Which Zeiss lens has less distortion 50mm Planar T or 85mm Planar T.

Who cares? One may have 3% distortion, the other 4%, but then you compare either lens to an actual macro lens, with 0.2% distortion, and it's night and day. The planars have 10-20x more distortion than a good macro.

Which one is better at taking painting photos? I like the price of the 50mm, but if there is enough difference, I may go for 85mm.

Again, it doesn't matter which of those lenses is better, because neither is suited to this job.

4. If there is a difference in quality between Canon and Zeiss lenses, can't you make up the difference in Light Room or some other image editing software?

Nope, you can't put back what you blur away.

I am asking this because I am not a full time photographer and not all of my photography make money.

Then here...

  • Used 55mm f3.5 or f2.8 micro-Nikkor ($100-200)

  • The adapter to use it on a Canon 5D II is about $40.

  • Passport about $100

  • Laser level about $40

There goes $280-330, and you've cured your color, focus, distortion, etc. problems, and can shoot better, faster.

You didn't say how big your paintings and sculptures are. A 50mm is a good lens for big pieces, 4-6 feet. Smaller than that, and a 100mm is a good lens to have. That's probably another $250 on the used market. Still beats the snot out of paying $1000 or more for the wrong Zeiss.

And, given the budget for the right Zeiss, one of those expensive Makro-Planars, I'd still do something totally different, like the Canon 90mm TS-E tilt/shift macro. That thing solves a ton of problems for situations on-site where you may not be able to maneuver to where you need to be, to be square with the artwork, especially sculptures.

-- hide signature --

Rahon Klavanian 1912-2008.

Armenian genocide survivor, amazing cook, scrabble master, and loving grandmother. You will be missed.

Ciao! Joseph

 Joseph S Wisniewski's gear list:Joseph S Wisniewski's gear list
Canon EOS 5D Mark II Nikon D90 Nikon D2X Nikon D3 Nikon D100 +43 more
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