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09-01-2008, 11:35 AM   #1
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Zeiss ZK LBA - pics, notes, thoughts?

Well, it felt about time I though to compile a thread for the growing few of us with examples of this line to have an easy to reference place to extol the virtues, lament the woes and show the goods of our Zeiss ZK line glass. Being relatively uncirculated, I eagerly await to see and hear everyones thoughts, feelings and pics on theirs and look forward to sharing what I find about my own and hope it helps others feel comfortable to take the leap of faith.

Without further ado



As many may know, the new Zeiss manual SLR lenses (ZK, ZS, ZF) are manufactured by Cosina in Japan under the supervision of Zeiss. Cosina also produce the Voigtlander line, which could well have inspired Zeiss's collaboration and re-entry into this market. Their builds are very similar as one can see.

As with the Voigtlanders, the Zeiss all operate as 'A' lenses, allowing full metering and aperture control from Pentax digital bodies. With Pentax in-body SR, the ZKs are able to take advantage where the ZF (Nikon) line cannot and thus, find themselves in a sweet spot on the K-mount. With their universally wonderful precise, smooth damped manual focusing I personally love the K20D, Zeiss combo.

Now on to the lenses!


Last edited by thePiRaTE!!; 09-01-2008 at 12:33 PM.
09-01-2008, 12:01 PM   #2
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As some may recall, I had been waiting months for my T*85/1.4 to come in and it finally did just in time for a two week vacation to British Columbia. I had an opportunity to use it under various circumstances and quickly learned its limitations and to enjoy the lens within its capabilities.

Because I am still editing more than 300 pictures from this trip, I'll make a multi-part disclosure of the various aspects of this lens over time.

My first instinct is to open a lens up - to 1.4 in this case, get as close as I can to something and make bokeh. The lens at close distances and wide open gives a diffused contrast to things, very 'dreamy'.







It was apparent to me this lens was different to anything I was used to before it. With a minimum 1m focus distance, ultra-flat distortion characteristics (hence the the name Planar, meaning plane, or flat) and ultra-wide aperture at a short telefocal range - I discovered the lens was strong at 'big bokeh', granting larger subjects the sort of background seperation normally seen with much smaller subjects and opening my eye to a wider range of subjects to inflict bokeh on than I previously knew.





My first conclusion was that the T*85 and probably most fast 85s in general seem to be more in their element spying human sized subjects. As I move closer or to smaller subjects, I'd consider the Voigtlander Nokton as the little brother in almost all respects to the Planar.
09-01-2008, 03:36 PM   #3
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You are really the boke master. I agree that the larger the subject most often finds the background further away producing the softer dreamy thing.
I so enjoy your committed approach to the discovery of each lens varying characteristics. You are a credit to this forum.
gary
09-01-2008, 07:29 PM   #4
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curious have you had a chance to try the 25mm Zeiss? I saw it on B&H and was curious if you had a chance to play with it

09-01-2008, 07:34 PM   #5
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good work getting some more LBA posts rolling.
the bokeh on the 85 at 1.4 is very impressive and pleasing; the lens is extremely tempting but it's not AF (but for you i guess that's a requirement ).

hope you have more contributors, but the rarity of zeiss and the lack of value (Esp compared to the Voigt's) will make this more of an exclusive thread
i remember seeing a quote from the cosina prez saying that voigt and zeiss stuff were very similar except for the price tag.
09-01-2008, 10:54 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by gtmerideth Quote
You are really the boke master. I agree that the larger the subject most often finds the background further away producing the softer dreamy thing.
I so enjoy your committed approach to the discovery of each lens varying characteristics. You are a credit to this forum.
gary
Well thanks! I found it tricky to sum up how I felt about these lenses without having some of them in stores to try, I hope it helps others make a decision.

With the 85, its plane of focus at 1.4 is very thin and the subject further out. Its tricky to hit focus wide open and waiting on either side of just in focus is a soft diffusive glow. On Jamie's hair in the above pic, you can see the plane of focus realized, where on the edges of the big fuzzy ball, it looks like its glowing. That happens less up 'til 2.8 where it ceases entirely, but if you want it (as I do) then its a cool side effect to enjoy wide open.

QuoteOriginally posted by gokenin Quote
curious have you had a chance to try the 25mm Zeiss? I saw it on B&H and was curious if you had a chance to play with it
I do have the 25 yes, here were a couple of shots from the same trip -

Distagon 25mm, close-focused @ f2.8




Distagon 25mm @ f4


QuoteOriginally posted by k100d Quote
good work getting some more LBA posts rolling.
the bokeh on the 85 at 1.4 is very impressive and pleasing; the lens is extremely tempting but it's not AF (but for you i guess that's a requirement ).

hope you have more contributors, but the rarity of zeiss and the lack of value (Esp compared to the Voigt's) will make this more of an exclusive thread
i remember seeing a quote from the cosina prez saying that voigt and zeiss stuff were very similar except for the price tag.
Sadly I feel you are right with the low contribution probability, also the similarity to the (better priced) Voigtlanders.

I did see several other mentions of the Zeiss lately and now that I have two, hopefully its enough to slowly get the ball rolling (looks over at Tcom and Angelodn ;0) I also recall someone mentioning they had the 35/2 some time ago.

As for value, I would say for those to whom this type of lens is of interest, even the Zeiss are a reasonable value. The Voigtlanders are simply an exceptional value (or were when available). Second hand prices for similarly spec'd 85mm lenses to the T*Planar version are equal to or higher in price for example.
09-01-2008, 11:44 PM   #7
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wow what a nice set of lenses, i wish i could afford those. can i ask though: do you have to set the SR manually on those lenses, setting the focal lengths? or is it also automatic?

do you also use a a split focusing screen or just the regular one?

thanks
09-02-2008, 12:01 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by soccerjoe5 Quote
wow what a nice set of lenses, i wish i could afford those. can i ask though: do you have to set the SR manually on those lenses, setting the focal lengths? or is it also automatic?

do you also use a a split focusing screen or just the regular one?

thanks
I agree! A lot of thinking and passion (along with metal) went into these lenses, I'm proud to have supported them in their current form.

As with all 'A' ready, non-AF lenses, focal range must be input upon start-up. In some cases the exact focal range is not incremented and cannot be selected (25mm becomes 24, 125 becomes 120, 90 becomes 85) though this doesn't seem to cause any grief other than to exif data.

I personally use only the regular screen. I've considered some of the advantages and disadvantages of the alternatives yet for what I'm doing, the standard screen seems alright.

K.

09-02-2008, 12:11 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by thePiRaTE!! Quote
I agree! A lot of thinking and passion (along with metal) went into these lenses, I'm proud to have supported them in their current form.

As with all 'A' ready, non-AF lenses, focal range must be input upon start-up. In some cases the exact focal range is not incremented and cannot be selected (25mm becomes 24, 125 becomes 120, 90 becomes 85) though this doesn't seem to cause any grief other than to exif data.

I personally use only the regular screen. I've considered some of the advantages and disadvantages of the alternatives yet for what I'm doing, the standard screen seems alright.

K.
I see. thanks, buddy
09-02-2008, 12:26 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by thePiRaTE!! Quote
I'm really jealous
09-02-2008, 04:35 AM   #11
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very nice, thanks for sharing.

pity is bedtime here, makes me want to grab the voigt's and go outside
09-02-2008, 05:28 AM   #12
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think its time to start saving for that 25mm pics look really good will have to look at my collection as well and see if anything there needs a new home but not sure about that yet may just have to wait till I save the money.
Thanks for the picks Pirate and kickstarting that horrible LBA again
09-02-2008, 07:34 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by frank Quote
I'm really jealous
And I of you! Too bad we don't live closer I remember a year ago, I signed up for the ClubSNAP forums - my first camera forums and considered to buy a 50/1.2 you were selling at the time. It would have been my first or second lens, don't recall for sure.

QuoteOriginally posted by philmorley Quote
very nice, thanks for sharing.

pity is bedtime here, makes me want to grab the voigt's and go outside
Yeah - they are equally fine, no doubt. I'd suggest the only reason to get the Zeiss over the Voigts is that one specifically wants one of the focal ranges offered in the Zeiss line. Sadly these days though, the availability of the great value offered in the Voigtlander line is only still there for the 40/2 and 58/1.4.

If you've already got some Voigtlander glass and enjoy the way of working, I can attest to the fact that you'll be equalling the experience with the Zeiss. Its certainly harder to justify if you were able to buy your Voigtlander glass on the ground floor of new pricing, admittedly - but worth it I think.

Also fwiw, a new Voigtlander SLR release seems overdue at this point. I haven't heard a peep though, perhaps they don't want to rock the boat on their Zeiss gig.

QuoteOriginally posted by gokenin Quote
think its time to start saving for that 25mm pics look really good will have to look at my collection as well and see if anything there needs a new home but not sure about that yet may just have to wait till I save the money.
Thanks for the picks Pirate and kickstarting that horrible LBA again
Ha, obviously its my pleasure to help you in these regards The 25 is a particular creature which benefits from specific sweet spots. Since I've understood these handling traits, I've gone from being disappointed to using it more than anything else. It seems its unique optical formula gives it potholes and super-powers. Main points -

- It can focus up to 2 inches or so at 1:2.3 life scale. Basically, its a moderate macro lens, which is unique at this focal range.

- Apparently this is accomplished in part by doing away with a distortion correcting 'floating' (ie single, not matched) element. Trade-off is close focus distortion control goes out the window, the edges fall away dramatically by minimum focus distances.

- This distortion not seen in another lens design actually adds a motion quality to near bokeh (note the berry on the left above).

- Center sharpness is very high, right from 2.8 at all ranges ASIDE from distant infinity subjects. Not sure if its the floating element trade-off or what but...

- Distant subjects (landscapes) really benefit from being stopped down, with noticeable increase in sharpness all the way to f11. I wouldn't use this lens on distant infinity subjects near 2.8, its inferior to most lenses I've tried in this regard. Nearer subjects (that tree pic above for example) are included in its range of sharpness (I would describe as 'near infinity', ie, infinity setting, but close.) Its as though the lens is somewhat near-sighted.

- Can conclude the lens would excel at product shooting and fall off as a night-time city shooter.

- Bottomline, Zeiss took a risk by breaking some rules and producing something out of the ordinary. I would recommend this lens actually quite highly - its unique and a lot of fun, but it isn't typical and takes some getting used to.

I did a more in-depth review here - Zeiss Distagon T*25/2,8 - updated Aug 08 - a set on Flickr

Last edited by thePiRaTE!!; 09-02-2008 at 07:45 AM.
09-03-2008, 03:10 PM   #14
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Nice shots and congrats on the lenses,
I have a soft spot for a lot of the ZF lenses, the 28 and 85 are two I like in particular.
Ok the 50/2, 35/2 and 100/2 are wonderful too.

And about DOF, just imagine shooting the 85 wide open on 35mm digital or film.

I think it does etremely well and use it primarily for half to full figure portraits or landscapes.
09-03-2008, 04:54 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Duplo Quote
Nice shots and congrats on the lenses,
I have a soft spot for a lot of the ZF lenses, the 28 and 85 are two I like in particular.
Ok the 50/2, 35/2 and 100/2 are wonderful too.

And about DOF, just imagine shooting the 85 wide open on 35mm digital or film.

I think it does etremely well and use it primarily for half to full figure portraits or landscapes.
Thank-you. I think for reference sake, I'd be very keen to see your ZF pics, if you have them around?

And yes, I do imagine (probably in unhealthy amounts) what those lenses will do with a 35mm sensor... someday! For now I take pride in the SR


K.
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