Carl Zeiss lenses: Reviews by Photozone

Started Apr 8, 2007 | Discussions
amarkin Regular Member • Posts: 372
Carl Zeiss lenses: Reviews by Photozone

Carl Zeiss fixed focal length lenses have been reviewed by Photozone. All 3 of them. And all have received average and below averages reviews. What's more is that these lenses are MF and cost twice as much as everything else in that range.

CA on 50mm f/1.4 suprised me. Of all companies, one would think Carl Zeiss could have produced a better 50mm lens.

What do you make of these reviews?

http://photozone.de/8Reviews/lenses/zeiss_zf_25_28/index.htm
http://photozone.de/8Reviews/lenses/zeiss_zf_35_2/index.htm
http://photozone.de/8Reviews/lenses/zeiss_zf_50_14/index.htm
http://photozone.de/8Reviews/lenses/zeiss_zf_85_14/index.htm

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Nikons: D50, N80. Nikkors: 20-35 f/2.8 AFD, 50mm f/1.4 AFD, 85mm f/1.8 AFD

Kent J
Kent J Senior Member • Posts: 2,378
What are you reading?

amarkin wrote:

Carl Zeiss fixed focal length lenses have been reviewed by
Photozone. All 3 of them. And all have received average and below
averages reviews.

Did you READ them?

Not that I necessarily put a lot of stock in these testers, but how in the WORLD did you come up with "average or below average"?

50mm:

"In fact the Zeiss beats all comparable Nikkors and sets a new (center) resolution record on the D200. It is quite safe to state that the Zeiss easily outresolves the 10mp Sony sensor. "

25mm:

Similar to the Zeiss 50mm f/1.4 the Distagon produces breathtakingly high center resolution figures straight from the max. aperture setting. At f/4 and f/5.6 the center quality matches or exceeds the limits of the 10mp D200 sensor. "

35mm:

"Quality-wise the Zeiss Distagon ZF T* 35mm f/2 is a little superior compared to its its sister lens, the Distagon T* 25mm f/2.8, and it easily outperforms the corresponding Nikkor AF 35mm f/2. The resolution in the center is about as good as it gets on the Nikon D200."

85mm

"The price tag of the Zeiss comes almost as a surprise - at 1200 € US$ it costs about the same like the (optically slightly inferior) Nikkor AF 85mm f/1.4D. If you can live with its manual focusing approach you don´t need to go any further - highly recommended! "

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-Kent

Life is too short for slow glass.
http://www.pbase.com/kjoosten

 Kent J's gear list:Kent J's gear list
Nikon Df Nikon AF-S Nikkor 300mm f/4D ED-IF Nikon AF-S Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G ED Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G Nikon AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.4G +15 more
OP amarkin Regular Member • Posts: 372
Re: What are you reading?

I've been reading the results. Now, what have you been READING?

THe conclusions only?

Check out on CA, vignetting. Yes, the lenses, especially the 50mm is sharp. But where it is sharp? READ the chart. I don't think these are better than Nikkors: 50mm 85mm AFD even though it Carl Zeis is sharper at the centre at several f stops. Plus, these are mF lenses.

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Nikons: D50, N80. Nikkors: 20-35 f/2.8 AFD, 50mm f/1.4 AFD, 85mm f/1.8 AFD

MarcV
MarcV Veteran Member • Posts: 3,955
Re: What are you reading?

Optically superior or not, I'll never understand why they couldn't just include the simple screw driver AF mecanism...

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Marc Vandenhende

 MarcV's gear list:MarcV's gear list
Olympus XZ-1 Panasonic LX100 Nikon D100 Nikon D200 Nikon D300S +10 more
Kent J
Kent J Senior Member • Posts: 2,378
Re: What are you reading?

amarkin wrote:

I don't think
these are better than Nikkors: 50mm 85mm AFD even though it Carl
Zeis is sharper at the centre at several f stops.

The review SAYS they are better. Again, I don't put any particular stock in these reviewers. I'm only reading back what the reviews say and pointing out that you are concluding the opposite.

50mm:

"The price tag of the Zeiss is almost surprisingly affordable at 499EUR (about 650US$) ... which is still twice the price of the corresponding Nikkor AF lens which is only marginally inferior. "

85mm:

"The price tag of the Zeiss comes almost as a surprise - at 1200 € US$ it costs about the same like the (optically slightly inferior) Nikkor AF 85mm f/1.4D."

When the reviewer say the Nikkors are slightly/moderately INFERIOR, I think we can conclude they think the Zeiss are slightly/moderately SUPERIOR. I'm not trying to state my opinion here, I was just confused that you would post links to these reviews, and then conclude the opposite.

Each person has to conclude what is important to them in lens characteristics and whether that makes one particular lens "better" than another. Vignetting and 1.2 pixels of edge CA on a wide angle lens are not that big a deal to me. High center resolution and build quality are. And yes, these are expensive lenses, so if you want to sacrifice optical quality for cost, making it a "better" lens for you, that's fine, too.

Yes, they are. If that is a deal breaker, why even be concerned with optical performance?

Now, this IS my opinion: I actually own the 1.4/50mm Planar and found it optically better than the 1.4/50mm AFD Nikkor which I subsequently sold. Manual focus works for how I wanted to use the lens and I was willing to pay the price for it.

By the way, here's a quote from photographer Roger Hicks in this Month's Shutterbug (on reviewing the Zeiss 2/50mm Makro-Planar, the 2/35mm Distagon and the 2.8/25 Distagon):

"If you still like "real" manual-focus SLRs, these lenses are as good as the best ever made, and better specified than most of the best ever made."
--
-Kent

Life is too short for slow glass.
http://www.pbase.com/kjoosten

 Kent J's gear list:Kent J's gear list
Nikon Df Nikon AF-S Nikkor 300mm f/4D ED-IF Nikon AF-S Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G ED Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G Nikon AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.4G +15 more
Kent J
Kent J Senior Member • Posts: 2,378
Re: What are you reading?

MarcV wrote:

Optically superior or not, I'll never understand why they couldn't
just include the simple screw driver AF mecanism...

...plus CPU chip, plus electonic contacts, plus cams instead of focusing helixes....
--
-Kent

Life is too short for slow glass.
http://www.pbase.com/kjoosten

 Kent J's gear list:Kent J's gear list
Nikon Df Nikon AF-S Nikkor 300mm f/4D ED-IF Nikon AF-S Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G ED Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G Nikon AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.4G +15 more
Xiaomage Contributing Member • Posts: 546
principle of the thing

Zeiss can do AF, as we can see with Sony/KM lens releases. They're not doing it with the ZF because the ZF lineup is targeting a different market. Sure, the nostalgic crowd may not be the biggest market, but it definitely does have its following. The reasoning may come from a few different sources (economical, legal, etc.), but the end result is what it is.

To put in an AF screw with enough slop to be useful on consumer DSLR motors would detract from the simplicity and perceived precision of manual gimmick-free lenses that largely appeal to the folks who still use the FM2 and F3. I agree with this approach, though electronic meter coupling would have been a cool touch (akin to the 45p).

People bitch a lot about these lenses without buying or using them. Yes they're expensive. No they're not perfect. Get over it. Buy them if you want them and don't buy them if you don't. It's not that complex. Nikon (the company that makes the cameras that people on this forum usually talk about) also happens to make a few nice lenses which are often cheaper (except the 85/1.4 Nikkor which is about the same or slightly more expensive here than the 85ZF).

I don't own a ZF yet, but I may in the future--particularly if they offer something compact and unique. I like their lenses, but they don't really offer anything I want yet (in terms of focal length and size).
--
Robert.
Idealism is precious.

MarcV
MarcV Veteran Member • Posts: 3,955
Re: principle of the thing

I think they could sell a lot more if they would just add AF and metering...

Xiaomage wrote:

Zeiss can do AF, as we can see with Sony/KM lens releases. They're
not doing it with the ZF because the ZF lineup is targeting a
different market. Sure, the nostalgic crowd may not be the biggest
market, but it definitely does have its following. The reasoning
may come from a few different sources (economical, legal, etc.),
but the end result is what it is.

To put in an AF screw with enough slop to be useful on consumer
DSLR motors would detract from the simplicity and perceived
precision of manual gimmick-free lenses that largely appeal to the
folks who still use the FM2 and F3. I agree with this approach,
though electronic meter coupling would have been a cool touch (akin
to the 45p).

People bitch a lot about these lenses without buying or using them.
Yes they're expensive. No they're not perfect. Get over it. Buy
them if you want them and don't buy them if you don't. It's not
that complex. Nikon (the company that makes the cameras that
people on this forum usually talk about) also happens to make a few
nice lenses which are often cheaper (except the 85/1.4 Nikkor which
is about the same or slightly more expensive here than the 85ZF).

I don't own a ZF yet, but I may in the future--particularly if they
offer something compact and unique. I like their lenses, but they
don't really offer anything I want yet (in terms of focal length
and size).
--
Robert.
Idealism is precious.

-- hide signature --

Marc Vandenhende

 MarcV's gear list:MarcV's gear list
Olympus XZ-1 Panasonic LX100 Nikon D100 Nikon D200 Nikon D300S +10 more
BasilG Veteran Member • Posts: 6,553
Re: Carl Zeiss lenses: Reviews by Photozone

From these reviews, it's clear that Klaus absolutely loves those lenses. I don't know why you read the reviews the way you do...

BG

Xiaomage Contributing Member • Posts: 546
not everything

Not everything needs to be about sales. Yes they're nice to have when playing the justification game, but I don't think Zeiss is banking much on the ZF line (if you want Zeiss AF, Sony's got 'em). Nikon has offered lots of oddball products and limited releases with high price tags in the past (rangefinders anyone? UV Nikkors? FM3a and 45p? tip of the iceberg...), so these days when Nikon is whoring itself out more to the consumer market, it's nice to see a company offer something that stands out as not being clearly intended for the masses.
--
Robert.
Idealism is precious.

OP amarkin Regular Member • Posts: 372
Re: principle of the thing

For a RF camera I'd buy Carl Zeiss lenses. For a DSLR - no.

PS: I don't know why people are making fuss about my comments. I have
read many technical reviews for different lenses from different manufactuers.

I don't even need to read a conclusion, often the data from the tests is enough to see lenses' pro & cons.

Of course, data from various sources has to be collected and looked at. The images themselves need to be examined too.

Anyway, I think MF lens from Carl Zeiss is for a niche market.
--
Nikons: D50, N80. Nikkors: 20-35 f/2.8 AFD, 50mm f/1.4 AFD, 85mm f/1.8 AFD

Pavel S Regular Member • Posts: 159
Sample pictures - superb lenses!

Looking at the sample pictures incuded in the "test reviews", I dare to say the lenses are really good. I do not see any particular issue with the CA. It is there, but well under controll.

I would like to see some more "artistic" pictures though, to reveal the lenses "character" in full.

fpessolano Senior Member • Posts: 1,132
Question to owners

For who has both the 25 and the 30, how do they compare?

From photozone (first shot) I see quite some CA on the 25 ... which is the only one I was looking for replacing my dear AIS 28 (despite the look out f the lenses seems quite different).

Francesco

****************
webpage: http://www.thefoodtraveller.com

Pavel S Regular Member • Posts: 159
Re: principle of the thing

amarkin wrote:

Anyway, I think MF lens from Carl Zeiss is for a niche market.

And there was never any doubt about it. Same with Leica M8...

anotherMike Veteran Member • Posts: 8,635
Re: principle of the thing

They can't just add the AF - my understanding is that:

a) while the basic Nikon lens mount is in public domain, the AF part of the mount is not and Nikon did not license them that.

b) they (Zeiss) were getting some interest in folks who used manual/film Nikons and were concerned about the availability of Nikon manual focus lenses at the time a year or two ago that Nikon announced that most of the MF line were being discontinued. That means there's a potential market - users of MF lenses with updated designs. Example: if you have an FM2 body, even the new and amazing exotic 200/2 AFS VR ED G won't be of much use on your body - it has no aperture ring. The 105/2.8 VR macro - same thing. Your choice is either one of the older MF nikons or one of the Zeiss ZF designs.

There is a place for a niche player in lenses - the Zeiss offers a choice - if you want the feel of a MF lens (an AF lens by nature of AF has to have a different MF feel) and want a definite different rendering of things in terms of image quality (note I did not say better, I said "different" - my view currently is that some of the ZF lenses are worth looking at and some are not at all better than the comparitive offering from Nikon) then the ZF line is definitely an option for you.

-m

ddk Veteran Member • Posts: 3,661
Licensing

I asked Zeiss's US director about AF, F mount lenses and he said that Nikon wont license them.

david

MarcV wrote:

Optically superior or not, I'll never understand why they couldn't
just include the simple screw driver AF mecanism...

-- hide signature --

Marc Vandenhende

ddk Veteran Member • Posts: 3,661
Re: Carl Zeiss lenses: Reviews by Photozone

BasilG wrote:

From these reviews, it's clear that Klaus absolutely loves those
lenses. I don't know why you read the reviews the way you do...

I think that amarkin is envious...
david

BG

ddk Veteran Member • Posts: 3,661
Re: Question to owners

fpessolano wrote:

For who has both the 25 and the 30, how do they compare?

Color & contrast is almost identical between the two. The 35mm is sharper but I find 28mm's fov has other uses. The 25mm focuses incredibly fast, it just needs a touch, making it ideal for street & faster paced photography. Here are a couple of comparative samples, I should mention that aside from some mild usm applied to the eyes, I don't sharpen the images in or out of camera.

35mm
http://www.pbase.com/ddk/image/76005912

25mm
http://www.pbase.com/ddk/image/76007027

From photozone (first shot) I see quite some CA on the 25 ... which
is the only one I was looking for replacing my dear AIS 28 (despite
the look out f the lenses seems quite different).

I haven't come across any serious CA with either one. You should realize that CA has to do with the camera sensor as well. The same lens will return differing results when it on different cameras. A few months ago someone had posted some 35mm images with really bad CA, I did the following test shooting against the sun to test CA for myself. You be the judge, the 25mm is very similar to the 35 in this respect on my camera, Fuji S5. I posted these images up on another ziess thread before but here they are again:

100% crop

david

Francesco

****************
webpage: http://www.thefoodtraveller.com

fpessolano Senior Member • Posts: 1,132
Thanks

My case is D200 and the 25 looks really interesting. I saw you previous posts and I quite like what I saw from most zeiss, apart from the 85 (personal taste).

I should get to try the 25 myself I guess and decide.

Thanks.

ahh ... BTW do you use the standard Fuji or have you got something like the Katz Eye to it?

Francesco

****************
webpage: http://www.thefoodtraveller.com

ddk Veteran Member • Posts: 3,661
Re: Thanks

fpessolano wrote:

My case is D200 and the 25 looks really interesting. I saw you
previous posts and I quite like what I saw from most zeiss, apart
from the 85 (personal taste).

I wonder what it is that you don't like about the 85, here are a couple different from what lowfreq's images, again no sharpening or pp of any kind besides downsizing, out of camera jpegs:

http://www.pbase.com/ddk/image/75974891/original

http://www.pbase.com/ddk/image/75974876

I should get to try the 25 myself I guess and decide.

Thanks.

ahh ... BTW do you use the standard Fuji or have you got something
like the Katz Eye to it?

I don't like split screens, never did. I installed a matt Katz Eye screen in my S3 but I honestly don't see any difference, which to their credit KatzEye did warn me before purchasing. I find S5/D200's screen & finder with the DK-21m eyepiece adequate if not ideal. There's also Brightscreen that offers a wider range of screens, I had one with microprism center installed in my Kodak slr/n but I found it more difficult to focus than the original matt screen. I mostly shoot portraits and I found anything in my line of vision very annoying, including all the focus/metering boxes in fov.

david

Francesco

****************
webpage: http://www.thefoodtraveller.com

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