A hidden gem? (warning - too many pics)

Started Jul 13, 2016 | User reviews thread
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FBoneOne Contributing Member • Posts: 591
A hidden gem? (warning - too many pics)

I just came back from a couple weeks in France and although this was not a photography trip, the locations were too beautiful to pass. I brought a fairly light kit of Fuji X-Pro1 with a few primes, including the Zeiss Touit 12mm f:2.8

I have to confess upfront. I bought this lens right after I got the X-Pro1 and never really warmed up to it. I could see the technical qualities but I just did not know what to do with the equivalent 18mm field of view and the fairly bulky lens did not really fit the ethos of my Fuji kit. Until this trip where I decided to spend some quality time one on one with the lens and get to know it better - which really means, for me to learn how to shoot with a wide prime.

This trip has really changed my mind on what this lens brings to the table. Yes, it is bigger and bulky than let's say the 18mm or 35mm I also carry, but it's not that much bigger than the 23mm f:1.4 and is smaller than the 56mm f:1.2 - all in all weight and size were never an issue.

Let's start with the obvious, the lens is a top notch Zeiss - so it is very sharp from f:2.8 to f:16 - with a sweet spot from f:4 to f:11 but honestly you can shoot all day at f:2.8 and f:16 and really not see much of a drop. Contrast is superb and so are colors.

What really impressed me was flare resistance (you have to really work at it to make it flare which is precious in a wide angle lens - I have included some examples below), sun stars are really superb (and often eliminate any objection to the flare), and the lens retains tremendous contrast even in backlit conditions.

Obviously you have to control perspective - weird angles will give you weird results - not a lens issue, just reality of that wide a perspective. The wide field of view forces you / incites you to include composition elements in the foreground which really helps building stronger images. Again, not Zeiss specific, but a good practice that is critical for wide angles and helps with all compositions going forward.

Another quality of the lens, thanks to its f:2.8 aperture and great contrast in poor light conditions, it became my go-to lens for darker inside shots. It is easily hand-held down to 1/25s and if you take care to pick your focus point correctly, you will have a fairly deep DOF to work with even at f:2.8

If you were to look for negatives, they'd be fairly minor; first the f:2.8 max aperture makes it hard to get the background OOF - that simply is not the purpose of this lens but with a little creativity you can get there (somewhat). Second, the correction profile included in Lightroom sucks, it overexposes the shots by over 1 stop, but this lens is so good that it really does not need correction, just leave it off and enjoy the nicely saturated colors and detailed shadows. Finally, it is expensive but it can be had on sales quite often which puts it in the same ballpark as the Fuji X 14mm which is its direct competitor.

All in all, I have gained a tremendous respect over the past few weeks for a lens I was actually thinking about selling - shows that practice is key to make something out of those somewhat unconventional lenses.

Deep depth of perspective with limited distortion

Great resistance to flare

f:2.8 can only take you so far for OOF backbrouds

Sun-star and great resistance to flare once again

Yes, you can get funky perspectives if you are not careful (my bad)

But it can work in your favor too

And with care, perspectives can be straightened

With such a wide FOV you have to work with the foreground to fill the shot

Nice colors, and limited diffraction despite the very small aperture used.

DOF is king!

And you can get "some" out of focus background... just not what the lens is designed for.

Yes, you can make it flare - just takes some work!

I love the ability to build directing lines in the composition

Great performer in low light conditions

retention of contrast in crappy light

Hard to tell here but the shadow details are very well retained in this other tricky lighting conditions.

 FBoneOne's gear list:FBoneOne's gear list
Fujifilm X-Pro1 Nikon D750 Nikon D500 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm F4G ED VR Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-120mm F4G ED VR +10 more
Carl Zeiss Touit 2.8/12
Wideangle prime lens • Fujifilm X, Sony E
Announced: Sep 18, 2012
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Carl Zeiss Touit 2.8/12 Fujifilm X-Pro1
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