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09-28-2011, 01:37 AM   #16
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I own said lens and like. I should have posted some samples in the Melbourne bokeh thread.

09-28-2011, 05:06 PM - 1 Like   #17
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QuoteOriginally posted by les3547 Quote
I don't have the Zeiss 85mm, but I considered it at one point. I am a big Zeiss fan, at least of their older glass. However, I owned the newer ZK mount version of their 35mm and was really disappointed in that. The older Contax-Zeiss 28mm and the Zeiss Jena 135mm which I just acquired are fantastic. What I like about them more than anything is their color rendering and contrast which yields a very rich, almost 3D look. The new ZK mount 35mm (my copy at least) did not have it; this Sirens review (for the Sony Alpha, FF) which you likely have seen seems to have a positive opinion of the Zeiss 85mm ZK. He says for example:

"Carl Zeiss Planar T* 85mm f/1.4 ZA is as close to being the perfect portrait lens as one can ever get at the moment of this writing. Every lens mount has one or multiple signature lenses, lenses that would make you remain loyal to the mount or even want to switch from an alternative one. Planar is that lens for Sony Alpha cameras. The lens has a few minor gotchas, some of which like flare and vignetting are benign or can be controlled, while others, like color fringing at wider apertures and somewhat slow AF (slow to those of us accustomed to the latest generation USM speed monsters at least), might annoy some."

The question for me was, is it worth the price? The best price I'd found was from Pop Photo who still sells them on Ebay here, which with shipping to Australia for you (about $52) would come to $1039.

PF members who've read my other comments know I decided on, and often recommend, Voigtlander which I am about to do again. I love Voigtlander for the same reason I love old Zeiss glass . . . color and contrast rendering, but I'd say the VLs are a bit sharper (though it may require a little stopping down to get it). Over the Zeiss for that 85mm range FL I chose the Voigtlander 90mm/f3.5 SL II with its true APO, close-focus design. I also have the Voigtlander 58mm/f1.4, which, when I want major speed or bokeh, is the lens I turn to (you could own both those lenses for the price of the Zeiss).

The VL 58mm is relatively compact, but it isn't as compact as the VL 90mm, which is about 2 x 2.5 inches and weighs only 320g (half the weight of the Zeiss, and shorter and smaller and diameter by about an inch). At 19 inches the VL 90mm also focuses twice as close as the Zeiss (which only gets as close as 39 inches). Like Zeiss, VL lenses are all metal construction (built like tanks), and talk about smooth focusing . . . the smoothest I've ever used, hands down.

Besides rivaling Zeiss in color/contrast production and construction, the VL 90 in particular is the sharpest lens I've ever had the privilege of using. The Siren's reviewer examined the older SL I version of the VL 90 here, but it has the same optics as the newer, more lightweight and compact version. He said:

"Voigtlander APO Lanthar 90mm f/3.5 SL showed very solid overall performance in the field. Images were sharp corner to corner throughout the aperture range on both APS-C and FF cameras (Canon bodies), with accurate but a little bit saturated colors and excellent overall contrast . . . . And speaking of the closeup - the lens sports a pretty short minimum focusing distance - 50cm (1.64ft), which is quite rare in non-macro telephoto lenses. . . .

Chromatic aberration on an APS-C camera was nothing to speak of (thanks to the apochromatic lens element), averaging ~0.3px throughout the frame and across all aperture settings. Quite low even for a medium telephoto lens. . . . On an APS-C body the lens showed basically no vignetting throughout the tested aperture range. Voigtlander APO Lanthar held up very nicely against flare, even at its widest aperture and showed no visible barrel distortion. Color fringing was basically non-existent across the frame. . . .

Consistency is always welcome, and this lens shows one of the most consistent results I have seen so far. Conclusion? Solid, solid, solid - all that comes to mind. The only complaint I can think of is how come Voigtlander did not make this lens a bit faster?"

So there's the thing, do you need the F1.4 speed of the Zeiss? Of course, there is a price to pay for that beyond money, which is bulk, but maybe you don't mind that (I do, which is another reason I love Voigtlander, they are all relatively compact little gems . . . even the VL 180 weighs only 485g! . . . while the heaviest VL, the 125, still beats the Zeiss 85mm in weight at 685).

Some users have mentioned the Zeiss bokeh, but you don't need an 85mm lens to be fast for that since telephotos are generally easy to get bokeh from by getting close to the subject and having enough space behind. The VL 90mm is no exception in this respect, except because you can get so close, it is even easier to do. Below are a few samples that show that, as well as how lovely it renders color and how razor sharp it can be. Whatever you decide, good luck!

Lichen at f3.5:



Also at f3.5:



At f4:



Also at f4:



f4:



At f5.6:



Also at f5.6:



At f8:



Also f8:



F8:



At f11 (purposely softened in PP):
Damn you!
I have been debating whether to get the Voigt 90mm or the Pentax 100mm macro. I thought I had it straightened out in my head that I was going to get the Pentax, but after those shots, I am not sure anymore *sigh*
09-28-2011, 05:24 PM   #18
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QuoteOriginally posted by cali92rs Quote
Damn you!
I have been debating whether to get the Voigt 90mm or the Pentax 100mm macro. I thought I had it straightened out in my head that I was going to get the Pentax, but after those shots, I am not sure anymore *sigh*
It is a fantastic lens, but no AF of course and if a true macro lens is important to you, the VL 90mm doesn't quite make it to 1:1 (1:1.8 with the included close up lens, though it is a dandy little c/u lens). I never use the close up lens because I'm not into macro, and the VL 90mm gets me as close as I ever want to get. I found it hard to use AF the few times I've dabbled in macro, so there's no loss there; it's using a lens for general shooting that is the main issue. I like manual focus, so the choice of the Voigtlander for its great color/contrast and resolution was an easy one for me. After the 58mm, it is the lens I use the most.
09-28-2011, 05:33 PM   #19
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QuoteOriginally posted by Flshman Quote
I have front focus with this lens on my K5 but not on my K10. Not sure why and, to be honest, I don't really care because the fine auto-focus feature enables me to make the necessary adjustment.
How do you correct for "front-focus" with AF micro-adjust on a MF lens? By definition, you can't really have front focus on a MF lens, only a mis-calibrated focus screen or a mis-adjusted diopter (as Charlie said).


Last edited by DogLover; 09-28-2011 at 05:55 PM.
09-29-2011, 10:09 PM   #20
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Les, gorgeous shots with the Voigtlander 90mm. It is clearly a lens that can hold its own against the best Zeiss has to offer. However, as an owner of several Voigtlander and Zeiss lenses (including the 85mm f1.4), I would make the following observations for those trying to decide on a lens in this range.

To my eye (I'm sure some will disagree with this), there is quite a difference between the Zeiss and Voigtlander lenses in the way they render a given scene. The Zeiss lenses have very saturated colour, while the Voigts provide what I see as a more subdued--and hence natural--palette. The way they handle scene contrast is different as well. This is not to say that either 'look' is better--just different. Sometimes I prefer the Zeiss look, sometimes that of Voigtlander. It all depends on the situation. (We see this same difference in film stocks.)

Where the Voigtlanders do have a great advantage is in size. The Zeiss offerings are, admittedly, large and heavy. The 85mm is not so bad. But I find the Zeiss 100mm (which I also own) to be a beast. I have several times thought about selling my Zeiss lenses--until, that is, I look at the final images (prints). Then the size seems not so important.

The Zeiss ZKs can be found at a decent price if you look around. I purchased my 85mm f1.4 from Popflash for what I recall was $939 (or something close to that). At the same time a used ('mint') A* 85mm f1.4 was on Ebay for $1,500.

One other thing about the 85mm f1.4. It is not an easy lens to use. In fact, I think it the most difficult lens in my kit. And it's not just the shallow dof at 1.4 that causes problems. This lens (like many high speed lenses with uncorrected spherical aberration) suffers from focus shift. As the lens is stopped down, the plane of sharp focus moves away from the camera a bit--especially at close range. Of course, this is not reflected on screen unless you focus stopped down (which I always do with this lens). If you don't stop down (or use live view) there can be unpleasant surprises.

My 'keeper'rate with my Zeiss f1.4 is lower than with any other lens I own. Still, those images that are in sharp focus are sometimes spectacluar. I would easily classify this lens as the most 'artistic' in my bag.

Whether the Voight 90mm or the Zeiss 85mm is the better choice depends on your needs. Is close-focusing and macro-like capabilities a priority? Then go Voigtlander. Is shallow dof or low light capability more important? No contest here. Then there are the size/price considerations.

One other possibility. I also own the Contax Zeiss 85mm f2.8. This lens, which I use on my Contax S2, is one of the sharpest I own. It is also about the size of most standard 50mm lenses. (Certainly smaller than the Voigt 58mm.) If you want small size, moderate price, and the Zeiss look, you might want to consider this option.

Last edited by Byrd-2020; 09-29-2011 at 10:56 PM.
09-29-2011, 10:42 PM   #21
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QuoteOriginally posted by Byrd-2020 Quote
Les, gorgeous shots with the Voigtlander 90mm. . . .
There is quite a difference between the Zeiss and Voigtlander lenses in the way they render a given scene. The Zeiss lenses have very saturated colour, while the Voigts provide what many see as a more subdued--and hence natural--palette. The way they handle scene contrast is different as well.
Thank you for the kind words. I don't have enough experience with Zeiss to be very certain of much, but regarding the saturation of color, my experience matches yours with the lenses I have. I love the color rendering of the Zeiss. I don't know if you saw it, but a friend loaned me his FA 31mm LTD in order to do this shootout between it and a Contax-Zeiss 28mm. They both were great lenses, but my tastes leaned toward the Zeiss (I thought the FA 31 was closer to the Voigtlander look). If the Contax-Zeiss 85 is anything like the 28mm, it should be a beauty.

Besides my recent acquisition of the Zeiss Jena 135 (which I haven't had time to test much yet, but my first impression is that it has great color rendering), the only other Zeiss experience I've had is with the ZK 35mm (also bought from Pop Flash). I don't know if I had a bad copy, but mine rendered color washed out, and it felt like I was using a brick. Fortunately I was able to return it (I bought the VL 40 instead . . . a great little lens BTW).

I have found it very easy to get the kind of color I want from Voigtlanders with just a little PP work in Lightroom 3, so that combined with their relative compactness (along with the expense of some of the Zeiss glass) has made the Voigtlanders my main lenses for my kit. Right now an open spot in my kit plans is at 24mm; I really envy the Sony users who Zeiss made a fantastic (according to the Photozone review) 24mm for; I'd buy that in a heartbeat if came in K mount. Oh well, maybe the upcoming Samyang will be a good one.
09-30-2011, 12:55 AM   #22
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QuoteOriginally posted by Byrd-2020 Quote
One other thing about the 85mm f1.4. It is not an easy lens to use. In fact, I think it the most difficult lens in my kit. And it's not just the shallow dof at 1.4 that causes problems.
I feel the same way. Its weight might contribute to something too.

I was a bit disappointed by its sharpness wide open. It's not bad, but it's not amazing either. There is something special to its rendering, but it's subtler than my means of expressing it.

One thing I would say, given that we're discussing 85mm lenses: the Samyang 85/1.4 is definitely worth a look. I got the Zeiss because it was available before the Samyang and Voigtlander, but I'm wondering if a better use of money is to just get the other two lenses for the price of the Zeiss. The Zeiss Planar is a great lens and one of the sharpest lenses I own (stopped down a bit) next to the Voigtlander Nokton, but I never felt it offers as good a value as the Nokton. Wide open, I don't think it's stellar next to the Samyang, and I wouldn't expect it to beat the Voigtlander when stopped down either. So Samyang+Voigtlander might be a better investment. The minimum focusing distance of the Zeiss is also disappointing at 1m (same as the Samyang, but worse than Jupiter or Mitakon, not to mention the Voigtlander).

Some samples:

f/1.4:


f/2:


f/4:


f/1.4:
11-01-2011, 10:56 PM   #23
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Good Evening,

I saw this thread on the "Recently Liked Posts" list and thought that I might comment, especially since I saw Les' wonderful images - absolutely fantastic shots. I was looking for a moderate telephoto for landscape shots, and picked up a Auto Tak 85/1.8. I liked it a lot, but with the M42 adapter I was always fishing the adapter out of my K20 when changing lenses - in the evening/night (not recommended in the dark). I came across the Contax Zeiss 85/2.8 and was able to pick it up and changed the mount. I have been VERY happy with both, obviously doing landscapes. I don't have a VL, so I really can't compare or comment. For the price, I think that its very difficult to go wrong with the Contax. Also, the Contax 85/1.4 does go for around $600. Leitax has a M42 mount for it, so it would be about half the price of a Zeiss ZK, and physically probably the same size. It's a rather large lens. I am extremely impressed with my Contax Zeiss lenses. I really like the old glass - essentially everything about them. You do give up some speed and the aperture reporting, though.

I was up at Sedona a couple of weeks ago - an only shot with the 28. I should of had the presence of mind to use the 85, so that I would have had something to post here - maybe next time.




Last edited by interested_observer; 11-03-2011 at 08:11 PM.
11-03-2011, 02:27 AM   #24
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What is this, Optical Pornography?
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