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12-17-2012, 03:42 PM - 1 Like   #1
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Lens Comparison - Contax Zeiss / Pentax Limited

A number of you might remember a comparison between two wonderful lens; the Contax Zeiss 28 Distagon and the Pentax 31 Limited. If you are interested, here is the link...The reason why I am touching on this again, is a somewhat better means of comparison (at least to me). I thought that I would share it with folks here. Using the same information, the same wonderful images that Les took, but using another tool to compare them with - side by side. To be fair, unfortunate the way the tool is setup, its not a quick & easy, point and click operation. You need to do a bit of work, but I think that its well worth the small effort needed.

First, I'll provide some instructions - and then what I saw, observed or an analysis of sort, across several sets of images....
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To get to the tool, go to ....
  1. Click on the link above, and you will see an image of a cat with a line down the middle. On the line is a small green vertical bar. With your mouse, left click and hold (grab) the bar, and then move your mouse back and forth - left and right.
  2. Got it - Great. That will be the basis for using this tool.
  3. Next we need some images. So in another tab or window, bring up the Shootout thread with the images that Les took using the Contax and the Pentax. What we are going to do, is to load a image from the Zeiss on the left and the Pentax on the right.
  4. Going to the Shootout thread, scroll down until you find two pictures that you want to compare together. I'll use the vineyard image. I am using Firefox, but IE will work somewhat similar. Put your mouse over the image you are interested in, do a right mouse click to get a small menu, with "Copy Image Location", highlight that and click. You now have the image location. Go to the Image scraper and comparison window, put you mouse in the upper right hand side url and do a [Control V] which pastes the URL into the window, then do an [Enter] or [carriage return]. Do the same operation for the Pentax image on the right hand side. Just in case, here are the links to the images...
  5. Now - use your mouse to click on the image URL's in the selection window (the second window just under the URL window on each side.
  6. What you hopefully are now seeing is a comparison of the two images, very similar to the image below (scroll down). You can use the mouse to grab the green bar and move the comparison line back and forth in order to compare the various aspects of the image - rendering, color, IQ, etc.
  7. Rinse and Repeat for additional image sets - steps 4 through 6.
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Observations, Comments & Analysis

Vineyard Images (Images #'s 8 & 9 from the Shootout thread) - This is the comparison down below. I have the Contax Zeiss (CZ) on the left and the Pentax Ltd on the right. To my eye (an there is going to be a lot of personal preference here, this is what I am seeing:
  • Sky - The CZ has a cooler, truer blue (blue with a hint of grey) in the sky. The Pentax has a warmer blue, a lighter blueish hue to the sky. Which one is more true to the actual scene. Well, since I grew up in California and went to school in SLO town (San Luis Obispo to everyone else), the CZ is a bit truer to my eye from being on the coast in central California.
  • Foliage - Going from the bottom of the frame up, the grapevines on the CZ side, tend to have a yellowish hue to them, while the Pentax side tends to have a darker greenish hue to them. Looking at the rest of the scene, the same colors tend to be present for each of the lenses - a bit on the yellowish side for the CZ and more of a darker, deeper green for the Pentax.
Vineyard again - (Image #'s 10 & 11) - The differences I see are not as pronounced as the differences I saw in the above set. The greens of the grape vines are not as different - i.e., less yellow with the CZ lens, however the slight yellow greens are still there in the sunlit areas of the frame. If you move the slider over to the right hand side, you can make a direct comparison of the two images (lenses), in terms of the color. The rendering of the dirt on the CZ side, to me is a bit lighter, with the Pentax being a tad darker.

The Road Scene - (Image #'s 6 & 7) - This is a typical California coast scene with the washed out sky. The handling of the road by the CZ, I see as more grey, while the Pentax pulls more black in the road way (or perhaps, not as much glare that the CZ may be rendering as grey). The brush off to the right hand side, the CZ renders a bit more yellowish, while the Pentax has more of a brownish hue to it. Looking at the Eucalyptus trees to the left, I am seeing better definition and detail to the trunks with the CZ lens, while the Pentax has a much darker, less defined look to it. This is surprising since the Pentax Ltd has a longer focal length, so it should have a slight advantage (31mm to 28mm).

The Flower Scene - (Image #'s 2 & 3) - Since the object (the flower) is much closer, the difference in focal length and thus perspective much more pronounced. The colors in this set, are very similar. The whites, yellow casting along with the rusty reds on the stamens-pistil. The yellow of the Railroad Crossing sign is very consistent, as is the hue of the greens in the main leaves. The main flower, is extremely sharp in with both lenses.

Overall - for me, what did I find. I like how the CZ handles the sky. However, in the Shootout image # 21, the Pentax Ltd matched it for the hue of blue. For the greens, I do like the Pentax a bit better. Overall, there is absolutely nothing not to like about either of these lenses. To have one is wonderful. To have both of them, is fantastic, which creates a minor problem. Which one to use first? .... and with all the lens swapping - keeping the sensor clean. If that is my only worry, then that is easy.
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So, I'll leave it at that for the overview. I did this for several reasons. First, perhaps others may find this Image Comparison tool helpful. I'll off for the next couple of weeks (well other than tomorrow morning - I have to go in for a design review), and I want to take a road trip up to the Grand Canyon later this week, since it snowed up there over the weekend. I am taking these two lenses with me, and this tool helped me to see how each one may "see" and render the scenes.

Also, late the other evening, I just happened to stumble across a Leica R 28/2.8 Elmarit that already had the Leica mount swapped for the Pentax K mount and was reasonably affordable (vintage 1972) - well it put a dent in my paypal account - on par with the Contax and less than the Ltd. That should be in hand in a day or two - hopefully in time for the road trip. That will be 3 different lenses in the focal length that I tend to gravitate to. Three different renderings, colorations, lens characters, sharpness and sets of IQ to be able to use and apply. I am thinking that attached to the K5, just going and taking some images should provide some interesting opportunities to look forward to.



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Last edited by interested_observer; 12-17-2012 at 03:47 PM.
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