carl zeiss lenses

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by student, Jul 11, 2005.

  1. student

    student Member

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    Hello.
    I am trying--very hard I might add--not to be a gear head, but I have to request a reality check here. Having been impressed (to say the least) by what my pictures looked like when I shot my newly acquired Hasselblad, I found I was lugging the thing aroung with me all the time. I have to admit that the quality of the Zeiss lenses, when shot wide open, is simply amazing. I like to shoot wide open; I like pictures with a sharp foreground and a blurred, though somewhat recognizable background. Although I'd been able to obtain this with other lenses by other makers, there seems to be something special about the way these lenses communicate with film.

    To the point (sounding more and more like a gear head, no doubt), I got tired of lugging the Blad around, and wanted a more portable system, with an on board meter. Long story short--I am looking at prints I just made with my new Contax G kit. I shot a roll of HP5 at f8, just to see how sharpe these lenses were. Am I imagining things, or are they REALLY as sharp as they appear to be? I have owned several 35mm cameras in the past, but these lenses seem to produce image quality that is beyond what I ever expected possible with 35mm. Have I succumbed to the power of suggestion? I suddendly feel the urge to find a 35mm capable enlarger...
     
  2. jjstafford

    jjstafford Inactive

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    Your impression of the 35mm format lenses' sharpness could be due to image contrast, lack of flare provided by better coatings of later lenses.
     
  3. student

    student Member

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    Ok...but I have, in the past, used professional level optics. Why do these seem to be so different? I often wonder if it is my imagination, but, when I show people recent photos, I often get the same (or similar) remark: this is crystal clear, clear as a bell, etc. Please note, I am not one to hype one brand over another. I am just surprised that the difference I see in my images is so noticable. Thanks for your reply.
     
  4. Helen B

    Helen B Member

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    How were the prints made? Were the 35 mm ones made via a digital intermediate? They can look frighteningly sharp.

    Best,
    Helen
     
  5. student

    student Member

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    Actually, they were. How did you know that? I scanned them, then printed. I also printed some images traditionally.
     
  6. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    I am not a gearhead. I am interested in nice negatives. It is extremely unusual for me to work with any film faster than 100 speed. Almost always this equipment is mounted on a very substantial tripod...a Majestic 2501. I do not own a Hasselblad. I do not own a Contax G. I have in the past owned a Hasselblad as well as Rolleiflex camera(s). I own and am completely satisfied with the camera and lenses that I do own. What I own is a Contax RTSIII. I have the following lenses. 21mm Distagon, 28mm f2.8 Distagon, 35mm 2.8 Distagon, 35mm PC Distagon, 50 mm 1.4 Planar, 60mm Mackro Planar..1:1 version, 100mm Planar, 200mm Apo Sonnar, and a Mutar II. Additionally, I have a Leica R 28mm PC Super Angulon that has been adapted to the Contax/Yashica mount. I have not used my camera in any digital means whatever.

    I make no claims that the Zeiss lenses are superior to any other brand.

    I have not in any way at all found reason to be dissatisfied with this equipment since it has exceeded my every expectation..
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 12, 2005
  7. Loose Gravel

    Loose Gravel Member

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    Zeiss, it's the reason to buy Contax. The lenses are amazing. I know that lens tests don't tell the whole story, but they cannot be ignored either. Zeiss lenses test better than all others. It is great glass.
     
  8. Bruce Appel

    Bruce Appel Member

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    The g2 lenses really are outstanding. I bought mine and used it on a trip my wife and I took. I shot mostly hp5 in the G2, and they were very good negatives, but not a whole lot better than any of my other 35's. But, I shot a few rolls of kodak UC through it and was blown away. My wife was shooting our old pentax that has very good lenses. Same film, same places, very similar shots. Anyway, you can easily spot the difference with the contax negatives. They were much sharper , and they had an almost 3d quality to them.Really impressive. To be honest, it made me wonder if it is worth hauling my beloved rollei around anymore.
    I think that the reason I did not see that much difference with hp5 must be that the film is the limiting factor, not the lenses. I need to try some slower b&w and see what happens.
     
  9. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    They are fine lenses. In my own experience, I've found that the 135/3.5 Planar for 4x5" has cured any interest in smaller format Zeiss lenses.
     
  10. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    T think the 38mm Biogon is a fine lens JJ but I believe David would prefer the 75mm. Of course David can speak for himself.
     
  11. jjstafford

    jjstafford Inactive

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    Whoops - format slip! Sorry!
     
  12. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Well, if a 75mm Biogon with a Tech V/MT cam showed up on my doorstep one day, I wouldn't turn it away.
     
  13. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    Well David it probably will not help much but if you post your address who knows?
     
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  15. bjorke

    bjorke Member

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    Contax G lenses: Yes they really are that much better.

    When I first got mine and ran the first roll of Tri-X I processed it with two rolls shot using my Canons. And you could see the difference immediately, with the naked eye, just looking at the negs. Contrastier, sharper, less flare, great stuff.

    Part of it is that RFs are snappier than SLRs, part of it is that they're truly great lenses even among RF lenses. The 45, the 28, the 21, the 90 -- all killer. People like to dis the 35 but it's only because compared to the others it's the poorest -- there's nothing better save the Leica 'cron at something like 5x the price
     
  16. raucousimages

    raucousimages Member

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    Check out www.photodo.com to see tests of some of the best lenses in the world including Zeiss/contax. They out perform even leica. This is not a subjective (looking at negs and pick what you like) test this is objective scientific testing of the lenses resolving ability. I love my leica MP but my contax G2 is sharper, I just hate the noise it makes focusing. And the lenses are one quarter to one third the price of leica lens.
     
  17. jjstafford

    jjstafford Inactive

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    The eye is not a camera; it doesn't live on an optical bench: it responds to qualities that photodo ignores; their method may be scientific, but it is largely irrelevant.
     
  18. bjorke

    bjorke Member

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    Silly camera makers, they should have asked you. Care to elaborate on those mysteriously-unnamed lens qualities, or are they beyond common ken?
     
  19. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    Ken might understand but perhaps Bjorke might not.
     
  20. raucousimages

    raucousimages Member

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    A poor lens is a poor lens no mater how the good the photographic vision. Image quality or lack thereof is in part due to quality of the lens.
     
  21. edz

    edz Member

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    In fact the camera makers do ASK YOU and what they (opinion research) have heard over the last few decades is that geek factor is the way to keep things going. Like soap suds it does not matter if its really "new or improved" but its important to tout that things are new and improved and to suggest technological progress. The people at Zess marketing have in their "Camera Lens News" gone so far as to present specifications that violate the laws of optics. It seems (to anyone but the most carefull reader) that their ZM lenses resolve onto film more than is theoretically possible (but, again, anything is possible in marketing as long as it sells). It does not matter what "looks better", what matters to happy consumers is that it looks better on paper: so tweak the switching timings (audio), pump up the GHz (computers), push the top-speed and horse-power (automobiles) and blind the consumer with progress and false economy (digital cameras).

    What is the relevance of resolution and contrast of camera objectives in 35mm photography (or even worse 120 rollfilm given its planarity)? What's the resolving power and dynamic contrast range of photographic paper? What's photography about? Its seems 100 years ago photographers had more of an idea. Back then there was a whole realm of optics not designed to have higher resolution but to serve an artistic function as the brush of a painter. The finest brush may be able to resolve the most detail but yet...........
     
  22. jjstafford

    jjstafford Inactive

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    To clarify - photodo provides an adequate compromise in testing for the average person because the average person does not have the critical requisites or technique neccessary to challenge the potential of the lenses reviewed in photodo. In other words, the average person does not have the visual experience to see the actual differences in outcome, and he makes so many mistakes in the course of his work that the lenses are rarely used in an optimal manner; comparisons in practice become impractical, so, the scope of photodo's tests fosters irrelevance: just more optical bench-racing. So in that regard, photodo is at least entertaining to those looking for issues they can pursue outside of the practice of photography - seat-of-the-pants optical benchracing.

    In many regards photodo "won't do". For example, they test all lenses at infinity. Most pictures are not made at infinity, and a daunting error in this regard is the outcome of their tests for macro lenses which are made for subjects specifically NOT at infinity.

    Further, wide-open work is not properly evaluated by photodo's testing, nor is miminal aperture. Photodo doesn't test large format lenses, either, because they don't fall within the average consumer's concerns. But who really cares? Not the amateur. A pro might care, but the pro knows to take photdo with a grain of, ah, silver.

    But the real point is not about photodo in particular, it concerns the irrelevance of the MTF metric for persons who understand and seek certain lens qualities which may not be lp/mm metric-obsessive, for example certain color qualities, the virtues of certain aberrations, and so-forth.

    Finally, as we all know, for good reasons, photodo does not attempt to evaluate the manufacturing consistency of a lens source, nor the materials quality, durability. Brand Z lens might just come off as MTF equal (in the sense of the compromise) as good as Brand A, but it's internals go off kilter in short order, or just plain breaks.
     
  23. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    Well, JJ since you are bound and determined to follow thru on this MTF discussion please identify the abberations that do not effect MTF.
     
  24. jjstafford

    jjstafford Inactive

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    Your question points directly to three parts of my position: first, MTF is not all that matters; second, obsessing on MTF is irrelevant because most lenses are adequate and most persons' technique won't exploit the potential of the lenses; third, persons so obsessed or deluded will, just as you have, pursue MTF benchracing issues regardless of the content of the post that set them off: you didn't read what I wrote. "Bound and determined" my butt. I wouldn't be wasting my time discussing this stuff if I weren't, FAPP, bedridden at the present. I wouldn't be as grumpy, either. I'd be out of here working.

    There are no military resolution charts on gallery walls. Very few memorable pictures are technically perfect. Obsolete, horrific MTF quality lenses can be beautiful - their qualities speak to part of the photographic language. It is up to the photographer to use them, or not, as they please. There never will be an esthetic photodo, thank God.

    (All that said, there is part of my effort, one minor project, that is concerned with ultra-high quality LF, but it's only a small part of my concerns and I will abandon it for meaningful work as appropriate.) Oh, and I know this is the RF forum. I use a LF RF camera, too... but some subject drift is acceptable.
     
  25. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    I hope you get well fast JJ but you did not answer the question.
    You make several points with which I am in agreement...but I will never tell you which they are.

    Have a nice day.
     
  26. jjstafford

    jjstafford Inactive

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    The answer is too obvious - MTF takes into all the things a benchracer wants to talk about, and usually all they want to talk about.