Carl zeiss 35mm f/1.4 or f/2.0?

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by dreamingartemis, Sep 9, 2012.

  1. dreamingartemis

    dreamingartemis Member

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    Hi,
    I've been brooding over this for a while now, currently I have 2 film bodies.

    1.Nikon f6
    2.fm3a

    I'm trying to decide to either get the f/2 version or the f/1.4 but right now I'm stuck because I don't know which one will meet my needs.

    I shoot predominantly black and white with some occasions using color. I love to shoot contrastsy photos that are tacked sharp. I've been doing usually by increasing the development time but I was wondering if if the lens plays a role it in as well.

    This is what I have so far, both lenses seems to be very well built but the f/1.4 is said to be very massive and heavy while the f/2 is smaller and and lighter. Price is also a factor as the f/1.4 is much more expensive than the f/2 version.

    What I am wondering is, is the f/1.4 worth the extra cost? Or would I be very happy with the f2?
     
  2. Diapositivo

    Diapositivo Subscriber

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    In very general terms I would buy the f/1.4 only if I thought that I need the narrower depth of field, or if I needed easier focusing in low light conditions, and if I needed the extra stop of light.

    Either than that, the f/2 is the winner. Cheaper, smaller, lighter.

    There is no reason why the f/1.4 should be better than the f/2 as far as general optical quality is concerned. In general Carl Zeiss does not produce "entry level" lenses or "kit" lenses. They all respect a very high standard of optical quality and uniformity of production.

    The f/1.4 costs more because it is intrinsically more expensive to build.
     
  3. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    What other lenses do you have and use?

    I ask this because it will help us to determine what you are looking for the lens to do for you.

    If you are mostly interested in the lens to add to your choices in focal lengths, and you have other fast lenses (e.g. a 50mm f/1.4) the advice would be different then if you are looking to the 35mm lens to provide you with your best low light option.
     
  4. dreamingartemis

    dreamingartemis Member

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    Well, for the manual lenses, I already have a nikkor ais 28 f/2.8, 50 f/1.2, 105mm f/1.8 . Also forgot to mention context, recently saved up some money and wanted to find out if what they say about zeiss are true or not.
     
  5. brucemuir

    brucemuir Member

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    What do they say about Zeiss?

    In general you can expect excellent build quality and focussing.
    Very nice micro contrast and sharpness.
     
  6. dreamingartemis

    dreamingartemis Member

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    That it's like made of heaven in term of photography? I'm not too sure anymore....
     
  7. Mustafa Umut Sarac

    Mustafa Umut Sarac Member

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    Low light lenses are more difficult to design successfully , If you look 10000 dollars Noctilux tests - you cant find them at American magazines but German ones - color MTF graph is like crazy , same at every low light lens , successful color correction is impossible , I used and found higher the f factor , better the lens. Buy f:2 and use one stop faster film if you really needed. Zeiss slow lenses produces excellent snappy colors on skin tones with tungsten lights at darker scenes.
    And what was the lens design ? Planar ? Planar is excellent , really !!!
     
  8. dreamingartemis

    dreamingartemis Member

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    I think it's distagon?
     
  9. blockend

    blockend Member

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    It's difficult to know what you mean by contrasty, but if it's the high contrast look of, say, 1960s fashion photography or some branches of reportage, the process may have more to do with the look than the lens. Nikon lenses were recognised as among the most high contrast glass available - it was a form of criticism by Leica fans - and were often the lens of choice for the types of photography I've described.

    If you already own Nikon glass, I don't think you'll get more of it from Contax. I suggest you might want to look closer at film choices, development and printing or digital post processing.
     
  10. oneANT

    oneANT Member

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    I only use Zeiss, on a D700 and now an F100.

    Many of us chose not to move from the /2 to the /1.4, very different lenses and more than a simple matter of speed. The 35/1.4 and the 25/1.4 stand quite differently from the others and we see them as another family.

    Your "needs" description is absolutely the 35/2 ...absolutely no doubt.
    The 1.4 didn't give us a lens worth upgrading to and instead its a very different render. The /2 excels in subject isolation where it produces a 3D effect, the feature of the 1.4 is the fine detail it produces. This description I've given is vague I know but means everything.

    The 1.4 has been very difficult to use for applications like street and seems to be more a landscape lens.
    The detail it produces is something else but its transition between subject and surrounds is very gentle and somehow too gentle for street.

    The zf35/2 was my 1st zeiss along with the ....zf28/2 (because I couldn't decide between the two).

    http://oneant.com.au/content/Street/sTReeT aND tiReD fEEt/still-life-5.jpg

    Ive since sold the 28. Anyways I went and bought more and the poor 35 has sat in my bag as I've bought

    ..the 100/2

    http://oneant.com.au/content/Street/sTReeT aND tiReD fEEt/ANT_4996.jpg

    ...then the 21/2.8

    http://oneant.com.au/content/Street/sTReeT aND tiReD fEEt/ANT_2120.jpg

    and the 50Makro-Planar

    I love 35/2 but its only now I've taken it out of the bag again and its giving me some really good stuff...

    This is SOOC.

    http://oneant.com.au/content/Street/hEaD tRauMA/_ANT1312.jpg
    http://oneant.com.au/content/Street/sTReeT aND tiReD fEEt/_ANT2039.jpg

    and plenty more on my site.
    Its a bit of money to spend so come visit us at the FredMirands alt forums
    http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/board/55

    Hope I helped but absolutely get the zf35/2, its the lens that dragged us all into buying more of them
     
  11. oneANT

    oneANT Member

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    No, this simply isnt right, no offense but you've never shot Zeiss, its that apparent. The only lens that comes close to the micro-contrast of the Zeiss in Nikkor is the 35/1.4 ais. This isnt just opinion and I'm afraid you'll have a bit of an uphill battle on your hands.
    Its not Contax either, they are only for conversion to Canon mount and do not fit the Nikons.

    To the OP, We get heaps of crap for it but the Zeiss are a micro-contrast lens, its just unheard of in Nikkors except the 35/1.4ais that I already mentioned. Some have suggested that the other Nikkor is the 200/2 but its not either and they are confusing its colour and it also lacks this level of contrast.

    Just go look, you'll see it straight away and if you don't then throw out your monitor.
     
  12. oneANT

    oneANT Member

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    I had the 50/1.2. In comparison to the Zeiss its dull and flat. I bought it for the 1.2 but at everything else it was too soft. At 1.2 I hated the OOF or bokeh, the donuts in the specular highlights alone were driving me nuts. It doesnt have the colour or the contrast of any of the zeiss. Lovely to hold but I bought it for pictures and sold it the day after I took it into the city, was already too used to seeing the Zeiss.

    The only pic I got from it was this...
    http://oneant.com.au/content/Street/sTReeT aND tiReD fEEt/ANT_7919-1.jpg
    and
    http://oneant.com.au/content/Street/sTReeT aND tiReD fEEt/ANT_7920-1.jpg
    the others I deleted.
     
  13. oneANT

    oneANT Member

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    some more to bring you up to speed ...

    MTF is measured as actual on Zeiss but with Canikon its predicted mtf. Also sometimes its necessary to do a units conversion on mtf charts to compare, Zeiss uses a measure that is more critical then Canikon and Canikon use a unit count that is more shall we say ...generous.

    The lens cap is utter crap, its so bad you must buy a Nikon pinch cap the same day you buy the zeiss and put the Zeiss cap in the box for resale (that'll never happen).

    The zf35/2 betters the Canon 35L

    Biting sharp and at f2.

    Floating front element for correction at mfd

    Of the Zeiss the 35/2 is regarded as the best to focus, focus just pops in. 1.4 is a bit trickier for focus.

    1.4 is a king of bokeh lens for the Zeiss, I'm not so much a bokeh tog. The f2 has a stunning bokeh as well.

    Aperture ring works fine but its narrow and too close to the camera body. You dont notice it much but I wish they gave a bit more thought.

    If anyone is buying just one Zeiss, its always the 35/2 that gets the consensus

    All still performing well on the D800 where many of the Nikkors are falling away.

    some more zf35/2 pics...

    http://oneant.com.au/content/Street/sTReeT aND tiReD fEEt/ANT_3531-2.jpg
    http://oneant.com.au/content/Street/sTReeT aND tiReD fEEt/_ANT2264.jpg
    http://oneant.com.au/content/Street/hEaD tRauMA/_ANT1535.jpg.

    Thats it ...I'm all out (grin).
     
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  15. dreamingartemis

    dreamingartemis Member

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    Wow....that is wow...:blink:
     
  16. dreamingartemis

    dreamingartemis Member

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    I've been hearing that a lot, but I'm not familiar with the term micro contrast......
     
  17. dreamingartemis

    dreamingartemis Member

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    Well the interest in contrastsy shots for me started whe I fumbled up the hc110 dilution and got very contrastsy negs. After I fixed that problem, I then developed at the correct dilution and noticed everything felt flat, or boring. So I instead modified my process by 30%, it's not the sweet spot, sometimes it I over do it. I'm still trying to find the correct percentage.

    I'm trying to find a way to produce consistent results but I see what you mean that it's the process rather than the lens itself.
     
  18. oneANT

    oneANT Member

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    Just on the point of this micro-contrast. It becomes apparent to many by a 3D effect where the edge definition and background contrast has a dramatic fall off. The 3D effect that can be seen in many images is discussed but what we see in nearly all our zeiss images is a depth, not the effect of dof but rather the perception of depth. With Nikkors an image is very flat regardless of dof and its funny when they might say that such a thing is not possible but have you ever looked at an image from the Nikkor 60?

    We become hooked because of this affect and the 35/2 has it more than any other which if you think about it is as I describe, has nothing to do with the effect of dof as you might expect with say a telephoto lens because we are afterall discussing a wide.

    awesome awesome lens, I dont care how much I might sound like exaggeration, you'll never be able to come back and tell me I was wrong.
     
  19. vet173

    vet173 Member

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    I have shot the 35 and 85, Helen Keller could see the difference. They are that good.
     
  20. Diapositivo

    Diapositivo Subscriber

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    Micro-contrast is another way to say "acutance" and contrast is generally a different thing, unless we want to debate words endlessly. Photographers don't confuse the two things. I personally dislike the word "micro-contrast" because it just leads to confusion. If it is acutance, be it called acutance instead of by another name. Will not smell differently, but it will be clearer.

    Judging definition of a lens by an image less than 1 mp is not different than judging colour balance of a film comparing uncalibrated and not colour-managed scans. In both cases the exercise is moot.

    In the first case, what is judged is the degree of "sharpening" of the image to make it appear sharp on screen (this is done by increasing acutance, by the way). In the other case, what is judged is just the random colour mistake of scanners - monitors plus the ability of the scanner operator.

    Differences in lens qualities are subtle and need a much higher pixel resolution to be judged. Even in that case, a decent amount of digital sharpening improves the sharpness. Convolution-based sharpening also helps. Those interventions are necessary for a good rendition on a monitor, but insert an intermediate layer which contributes to prevent judging a lens through the web.

    In one sentence: the only proper test of the sharpness of a lens is the light table and the loupe. If really a comparison must be made through the web, the maximum resolution obtained by the camera or scanner should be shown, but the result will be, in any case, mediated by the post-processing.

    The general consensus is that very fine lenses, like Zeiss and Leica, do have higher acutance than high-quality lenses by the Japanese producers. "Very good" is good but it is not up to "Exceptional". Whether one needs "exceptional" is obviously debatable and I am sure somebody will add a comment saying that art has nothing to do with resolution (which would be true and obvious).

    Overall contrast in my experience normally goes with number of lens elements: the higher the lens element count, the higher the "black point" (blacks less black) so less perceived contrast (coeteris paribus). A Tessar scheme is normally very contrasted. I like contrast. Overall contrast has nothing to do with acutance and micro-contrast should not be mentioned when talking contrast.

    Overall contrast for me is the perceived distance between maximum black and maximum white. Maybe for other photographers "contrast" means something different, such as the diffusion of light from bright zones to shady zones ("flare", "blooming"). How do we define this: "local contrast", probably? Local contrast is certainly a metre of lens quality. I suppose it mostly depends from the lens coating and from the number of lenses, and the number of air-glass surfaces. It ultimately is linked to overall contrast as they both depend from how much refraction there is, and refraction depends from number of lens elements, number of air-glass surface, quality of coating, suppression of scattering light within the lens (black painting).

    Overall contrast in a digital image can be and should be "optimized" by properly setting the "levels" of the image. It can also be pushed to obtain a "graphic" effect (as in this image posted by oneANT: http://oneant.com.au/content/Street/...t/ANT_4996.jpg). If the shadows are violently pushed to pure black, and there is some very bright high lights, the effect is of great contrast. That same effect can be obtained with any lens, if you can properly use the "sliders".

    Which again leads me to repeat that judging lens qualities by a 1mp digital image makes no sense.

    My personal opinion is that a conversation is much more enjoyable if everybody avoids making comments about lens quality as if it was something scientifically debatable. No point in "challenging" another forum user in general, and certainly no point in "challenging" him on something which us purely subjective, adding some 1mp digital images as a "demonstration" of one's point :wink:

    Please let's not transform this into another religion war: Zeiss fanatics against Canonikon fanatics etc. Fanatism is bad for photography.
     
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  21. oneANT

    oneANT Member

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    ...enjoyable, what part of this are you suggesting that might be?

    I'm offended, so make no error in my choice of language now.
     
  22. MikeTime

    MikeTime Member

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    In my humble opinion and experience?

    1.4/35 Distagon in C/Y mount: simply awesome lens in all respects, very useable wide open, all the usual Zeiss qualities. Used on RTSIII.

    2.0/35 Distagon ZF.2 mount: great lens, not as great as the 1.4 though. Used on D700.

    1.4/35 AF-S Nikkor: simply awesome lens, has to be seen to be believed. Not flat, not dull at all. Used on D700.

    2.0/35 Ai-S Nikkor: good average performer. Nothing special, very useable, gives a '70's/'80's photojournalist look to your Tri-X images. Used on FM2n, FE2, FA.
     
  23. Diapositivo

    Diapositivo Subscriber

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    oneAnt, your tone toward user blockend in post #11 was, IMO, not nice at all.

    He wrote (emphasis mine):
    It's difficult to know what you mean by contrasty, but if it's the high contrast look of, say, 1960s fashion photography or some branches of reportage, the process may have more to do with the look than the lens. Nikon lenses were recognised as among the most high contrast glass available - it was a form of criticism by Leica fans - and were often the lens of choice for the types of photography I've described.

    If you already own Nikon glass, I don't think you'll get more of it from Contax. I suggest you might want to look closer at film choices, development and printing or digital post processing
    .

    You replied with this answer (emphasis mine):

    No, this simply isnt right, no offense but you've never shot Zeiss, its that apparent. The only lens that comes close to the micro-contrast of the Zeiss in Nikkor is the 35/1.4 ais. This isnt just opinion and I'm afraid you'll have a bit of an uphill battle on your hands.
    Its not Contax either, they are only for conversion to Canon mount and do not fit the Nikons.

    To the OP, We get heaps of crap for it but the Zeiss are a micro-contrast lens, its just unheard of in Nikkors except the 35/1.4ais that I already mentioned. Some have suggested that the other Nikkor is the 200/2 but its not either and they are confusing its colour and it also lacks this level of contrast.

    Just go look, you'll see it straight away and if you don't then throw out your monitor
    .

    Frankly, if I had to word my answer the way you word yours, I would answer:

    No, this simply is not right. No offence but you never got the difference between contrast and micro-contrast, this is apparent. I know all and I can tell you that there is one lens (lens X) which is up to what my beloved Zeiss lenses do. Out of that single lens, everybody knows the Zeiss has better contrast, just ask around. You'll have an uphill battle in trying to say something against this simple truth, that no Nikon lens (besides the lens X, that is) has the micro-contrast of my Zeiss lens.

    Go look at my insignificant (for the point at stake, I'm not referring to aesthetic value) highly-sharpened small-resolution highly-pumped-contrast black-blocked images and you'll see how right I am. They clearly demonstrate all the resolution and the contrast of Zeiss lenses as opposed to Canon or Nikon lenses. "We" (who?) all agree on this so just give up, sorry!

    Or change your monitor, because if you disagree with me, it must be either your brain or your monitor, and I hope it's your monitor.

    Now, I normally don't write like that. But I am moved to action by people who write like that, especially when they show so little understanding of some basic photographic concepts. And I'm sorry to have to tell you this so bluntly, but I think it will help you to express your ideas without using expressions like "uphill battles", "we", "isn't just opinion", "I'm afraid", without putting things in the mouth of people (he talked contrast and you answered micro-contrast), without supporting your beliefs with low-resolution images that say nothing to demonstrate your point, or demonstrate how little you understand about the basics.

    Don't feel offended but the tone you set with your answers disturbed me.

    Maybe I should avoid playing the "white knight" (user blockend is certainly able to answer by his own) but the general tone of your answer to blockend sounded like "you are wrong, I know more, don't even try to answer, look at these pictures" and it was just beyond proper conversation habits in premises, development, and conclusion.

    Fabrizio

    PS You should be careful in typing its and it's because it's also "tiring" to read text written without any care, one has to read every sentence twice. And do notice my politeness.
     
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  24. oneANT

    oneANT Member

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    Thanks all ...I've quit APUG.
     
  25. Diapositivo

    Diapositivo Subscriber

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  26. brucemuir

    brucemuir Member

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    Nothing toward you Fabrizio and I agree with the gist of the link there but that website is the one that professed the 11mp Canon 1Ds1 beats a 6x7 film image in every way.

    Its funny because M.R. was using web shots to "prove" this absurd pronouncement.

    Even though I agree web images are crap I tend to stay away from that site.
     
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