Anyone using the Zeiss 25/2 with a D800?

Started Oct 2, 2012 | Discussions thread
tashley Veteran Member • Posts: 4,189
Re: Zeiss 25/2 roundup

inasir1971 wrote:

Zeiss 25/2 (actual focal length is approx 25.7mm)

https://dl.dropbox.com/u/53436632/2012-10-21_004767.NEF

https://dl.dropbox.com/u/53436632/2012-10-21_004768.NEF

https://dl.dropbox.com/u/53436632/%2020121021%2000003.NEF

AF-S 16-35 f/4 VR @ 26mm (focused at f/4 with LV)

https://dl.dropbox.com/u/53436632/2012-10-21_004769.NEF

please PM if unable to download files

(the haze is atmospheric and unrelated to the lens)

For comparison, I would suggest downloading the NEFs above including the 16-35 f4 VR. I use sharpening (60, 0.7, 70, 20) in Lightroom with CA corrections on.

Firstly, the earlier shot I posted was at f/8.

The Zeiss 25/2 really does seem optimized for shooting wide open at f/2 in middle distances. It delivers exceptional sharpness and contrast (eg the f/2 building shot in an earlier post) in those circumstances. There is definitely some field curvature (to the rear but less than the 28/2).

However, for landscape at distance including the edges and corners which will require stopping down to f/5.6 or f/8 or even f/11 where diffraction noticeably affects contrast, I think the 16-35 f/4 VR is better. The Nikkor zoom seems more planar and better at f/5.6 or f/8.

Zeiss press release as quoted in Lloyd Chambers' review of Zeiss 25/2:

"the Distagon T* 2/25 is the perfect fit for location photography with dynamic perspectives as well as landscape shots with emphasis on the foreground."

Zeiss themselves seem to restrict landscape use to those with emphasis on the foreground - which I take to mean focus is on the middle distances with infinity in the background. This case from my limited usage of the lens so far seem to be where the lens shines. Performance at infinity does not seem to be as stellar as it is at the middle distances.

We are now perhaps at the stage where any compromises that are made in lens design are becoming apparent. Fast wide lenses and a planar nature would seem to be mutually exclusive for (D)SLRs at least. Bokeh and very high performance also seem to be mutually exclusive - the spherical aberration that is corrected to obtain the higher performance in the 25/2 seems to be what gives the 35/1.4 it's amazing bokeh. In this case, I guess what I am trying to say is that it would perhaps be helpful to see what Zeiss say about what they designed the lens to do as it does exactly that.

As an alternative, the 16-35 f4 VR is very good from 20 to 28 stopped down to f/5.6 or f/8 (note: at 24mm it has no distortion as that is where it transitions from barrel to pincushion distortion). I haven't seen a comparison of the 24 1.4G to the 16-35 f/4 VR.

Thank you again, that is really comprehensive and very very kind of you.

I have decided not to get the lens: wonderful though it is, my most pressing need is for a distant landscape lens that is sharp to the edges, hopefully corners too. If someone made, say, and F4, (even a perfectly made fixed aperture F5.6?) 24mm  which gave up the fast aperture in exchange for low distortion and great sharpness, purely for use as a distant landscape lens and with no other talents, I would snap it up in a moment!

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