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04-10-2007, 05:43 AM   #1
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Zeiss F Lens Reviews

Photozone just released reviews for 4 Zeiss lenses. Right now it looks like these will only be available in Nikon mount or Sony/Minolta mount, except the 50mm which will come out in M42 mount.

Photozone Review ZF 85mm f/1.4
Photozone Review ZF 50mm f/1.4
Photozone Review ZF 35mm f/2
Photozone Review ZF 25mm f/2.8

I was shocked, honestly, when I saw these reviews. All of these lenses seem amazingly sharp, particularly the 85mm and 35mm which are literally off the chart.

But from the 85mm review:
"...the Zeiss also shows some Longitudinal Chromatic Aberrations (LCA) resulting in greenish and reddish out-of-focus edge transitions."
Purple fringing is also mentioned.

But look at those pictures! If I spent that kind of cash on an 85mm lens - $1200 - and D200 (to meter, I assume) and ended up getting some of those shots, I would be p!ssed! I'll tell you right now - my K10D and Super-Takumar 85/1.9 lens look to be a better combination than those two, and less than half the price!

The 35mm and 25mm look to be really good lenses (for me, anyway). One point of concern for the 25mm is that CA seems to go UP as you stop down. This is not the desired behavior for ultra-wide lenses. But when you look at the picture of the building (for the 25mm lens) the CA seems fairly well handled.

I'm glad I saw these reviews. They really highlight what a bargain many of Pentax's lenses (and bodies) can be. I think

04-10-2007, 06:56 AM   #2
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Wait. So you can't use manual lenses on Nikon bodies save the pro dslrs?

If only Cosina put half the effort that do they in making the Zeiss lenses into their Cosina lines...imagine the potential.

Haha anyhow, they seem like the really old film designs because I haven't see 35mm that big since like the screwmount generations or maybe even K. But starting M series and on, pentax primes are considerably much smaller.

And I looked at the samples and they are very sharp but theres quite a marked degree of CA even in moderate transition of colour not to mention the high contrast areas. Their coatings not as good as they one were?

Last edited by FotoPete; 04-10-2007 at 07:02 AM.
04-10-2007, 09:56 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by carpents Quote

But from the 85mm review:
"...the Zeiss also shows some Longitudinal Chromatic Aberrations (LCA) resulting in greenish and reddish out-of-focus edge transitions."
Purple fringing is also mentioned.

But look at those pictures! If I spent that kind of cash on an 85mm lens - $1200 - and D200 (to meter, I assume) and ended up getting some of those shots, I would be p!ssed! I'll tell you right now - my K10D and Super-Takumar 85/1.9 lens look to be a better combination than those two, and less than half the price!

I'm glad I saw these reviews. They really highlight what a bargain many of Pentax's lenses (and bodies) can be. I think
First of all, I wouldn't rely too heavily on images that appear on some Web page to judge the quality of a lens. A lot of factors other than the lens are involved in determining the quality of the final image. I thought the reviews were informative, but they are simply one data point to consider. Be sure to read the Popular Photograpy review of the Zeiss 85mm if you're interested in another opinion. And, if you have the opportunity, try one of the Zeiss lenses yourself to get a much better idea of what they are capable of. I had the opportunity to use the 50mm on a Nikon F5 body and I was quite impressed.

A lot of lenses will have optical imperfections. My highly-regarded Pentax FA 77mm f1.8 Limited exhibits chromatic abberrations similar to the Zeiss 85mm at wide apertures. You can see some green fringing wide open under the right circumstances. If you read about the history of the Limited lenses, the original idea was to have more of a "German" look and feel, and some abberrations were deliberately uncorrected to give the lens the image quality typical of the great Leica and Zeiss/Contax lenses of the past. Other lenses (e.g., macro lenses) are designed for maximum correction and produce razor-sharp images. But the results are sometimes cool, harsh and two-dimensional. The warm, rich three-dimensional feel of the 77mm is due to the fact that it is not fully corrected, and that gives it a unique character. I'm sure the Zeiss lenses are designed with the same goals in mind.

Also, the Zeiss lenses are really designed for use with the Nikon film bodies. Some lenses that work well with film do not work as well with the digital sensors. I have used older Pentax lenses that give good results with film but are disappointing with a digital body. For example, my old Pentax M 85mm f2 gave decent service with a film body, but it was pretty terrible with the digital bodies. Severe purple fringing at light-dark transitions, which was not apparent with slide film.

Finally, I think that Pentax does give some great values for the money, and that's why I buy their products. I think that my K10D with the FA 77mm Limited will give me very nearly the performance of the Nikon D200 with the Zeiss 85mm f1.4 for about 3/5 of the cost. Yes, the Zeiss is a little more than a 1/2 stop faster, and both the D200 and the 85mm have slightly better construction quality than the Pentax gear. I am quite satisfied with the Pentax combo, but I admire the quality of the Zeiss and Nikon gear and I'm sure they can produce wonderful images.

Last edited by GaryML; 04-10-2007 at 10:10 AM.
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