Carl Zeiss or Nikon 85mm lens?

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by abudhabiandy, Jun 24, 2009.

  1. abudhabiandy

    abudhabiandy Member

    Messages:
    30
    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2007
    Location:
    Abu Dhabi UA
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Hi, I'm going to invest in an 85mm lens for my FM2n & F100. Not really interested in the auto focus so was wondering if anyone had any thoughts on whether a Zeiss 85mm was better/worse than the Nikon equivalent? Thanks, Andy.
     
  2. Java

    Java Member

    Messages:
    54
    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2009
    Location:
    Up North in
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Well I have a 85mm f1.4 AIs lens and love it. I have seen images and reviews about the 85mm Zeiss and it looks very nice but not sure it is way better than the Nikon.

    Personnaly I love the Nikon one.
     
  3. Jesper

    Jesper Subscriber

    Messages:
    744
    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2009
    Location:
    Sweden
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    They are both very good lenses, and you can't go wrong with either one of them. You will not regret buying either one of these.
    If you are looking for a used lense you are more likely to find the Nikon since it has been around for almost 30 years.
     
  4. fschifano

    fschifano Member

    Messages:
    3,216
    Joined:
    May 12, 2003
    Location:
    Valley Strea
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    For what it's worth, I own the 85 mm f/2 AI Nikkor and it is one of my favorites. That lens, along with a 50 mm f/1.8 and a 24 mm f/2.8, make up my basic kit whenever I go out street shooting. The 85 Nikkor is one fantastic piece of glass and brass, and never fails to deliver far better than average results. Now, the Zeiss lens may be better by the numbers, I don't know. Is is worth the much higher price? I don't think so, but I do know this. If I lost the 85 Nikkor, I could replace it with another from the used market without breaking a sweat. If I lost the Zeiss lens, I'd probably have a heart attack.
     
  5. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

    Messages:
    4,351
    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2005
    Location:
    Montréal (QC
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    The inimitable Ken Rockwell is doing a series on 85mm for Nikon right now, and though he didn't look at the Zeiss, he compares the Nikkors with the new Vivitar.
     
  6. keithwms

    keithwms Member

    Messages:
    6,073
    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2006
    Location:
    Charlottesvi
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Most of the incarnations of the Nikon 85mm compete very well with the ZF, at far lower cost. You might peruse photodo and photozone.de.

    In my opinion, the Nikon 50s and 85s and 105s are mostly all very strong, even the 'non-pro' versions. The main weakness in the Nikon lineup has been the 35s. It's an oddity because the wider nikkors are again very good.
     
  7. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Messages:
    17,946
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2002
    Location:
    Honolulu, Ha
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    I looked at the Zeiss 85mm lens in the Canon EF mount, and it's a very nice lens--sharp where it should be and very smooth out of focus rendering.
     
  8. WRSchmalfuss

    WRSchmalfuss Member

    Messages:
    205
    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2006
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    85mm Zeiss or Nikon?

    If you prefer a super crisp precise manual focusing to obtain a max. quality, than pick the 85/1,4 Zeiss ZF, if you like the definately more un-precise quick AF function, especially with full open f/stop, then pick the Nikon!

    Cheers
     
  9. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

    Messages:
    9,452
    Joined:
    May 24, 2005
    Location:
    Washington DC
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I used to shoot the Zeiss 85 1.4 in a Contax mount, and I can say for certain that some of my all-time favorite images were shot with that lens. While it would have been painful to replace it had something happened, I would have gladly spent whatever required to get it again.
     
  10. kivis

    kivis Subscriber

    Messages:
    268
    Joined:
    May 21, 2006
    Location:
    South Florid
    Shooter:
    35mm
    That Vivitar looks mighty nice.
     
  11. Mick Fagan

    Mick Fagan Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,099
    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2005
    Location:
    Melbourne Au
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I have had a Nikkor 85 f/1.4 for about 20 years now, I have used it extensively and know it's limitations and strengths.

    I have also used the new Zeiss 85 f/1.4 for a couple of days in tandem with my Nikkor a short time after it was available in this country. I didn't know about the Vivitar Series 1 85 f/1.4 at all, something new to look at one day:D

    My take of the Nikkor and Zeiss is that they are comparable to Hasselblad and Mamiya RB/RZ lenses.

    The Mamiya lenses are slightly contrastier, a poofteenth to be precise, over the Hasselblad lenses. This was noticeable in a busy studio/lab environment I once worked in. As you walked up to the vertical lightbox to take another four 120 transparency films down, you could pick the different lenses by the contrast of the film.

    The 85 Zeiss lens was very interesting, seemed to be almost identical in feel and look through the viewfinder. As for contrast, yep, pretty much a Hasselblad and Mamiya difference, but seemed less than I remembered from 20 years ago when in the lab/studio.

    There was one real difference between the Nikkor and Zeiss, the Zeiss has ½ click stops. I have used Nikkor lenses almost forever, but I do have a couple of lenses that are not Nikkors. One that I use a lot is the Sigma Super Wide II 24 f/2.8 it has ½ stop clicks and I have to admit I love them, but somehow I seem to get by with all of my Nikkor lenses doing ½ stop guesstimates by feel and in the viewfinder finding.

    If ½ stops are important to you then this could be a deciding feature.

    I distinctly remember that both lenses focused the same way, this is important to me, maybe less to other people.

    If you are going to use either of these lenses wide open, make sure you can focus precisely, depth of focus is really minimal. Also if using them wide open, you need to have the quite largish lens hood attached, they both flare.

    From F4 to F5.6½ is the sweet spot of the Nikkor, really sweet.

    The Nikkor worked slightly better at close focus, I'm not too sure why, but I have just come from my darkroom after viewing the negatives on the light box. The Zeiss seemed to work beautifully from about 1½ to 2 metres from the camera. The Nikkor works quite well down to 1 metre. Both lenses work equally well with landscape type stuff or where the object is greater that 3 metres or more away.

    I tested both lenses on a pair of F3 HP cameras side by side on solid tripods. In both cases I used either the WLF or the DW4 both of which have a 6x magnification system built in for the close up and long range landscape testing. Effectively the only difference I could tell was the closer focusing ability of the Nikkor.

    In short either would be my choice, your call.

    If you find these too expensive then perhaps you could consider the so called lesser lenses. I once entertained the Nikkor 85 f/2 as a possible addition. Nice lens, but it is soft compared to the Nikkor 85 f/1.4. The 85 f/2 required 5.6 before it worked for me.

    I'm not so sure about the Vivitar stuff being as good as either the Nikkor or Zeiss flagship models. Many years ago I was on the lookout for a 180 lens. I eagerly awaited the release of the Vivitar 180 f/2.8, nice lens but when it was put alongside the Nikkor 180 f/2.8 with identical cameras and on sturdy tripods, you could literally see the slight softness wide open compared to the Nikkor.

    This was at a camera show where I had convinced the Nikon and Vivitar people to do a straight side by side comparison. The Vivitar was literally ½ the price of the Nikkor, so it did appear that you payed for what you got. I bought the Nikkor and have never looked back.

    Mick.
     
  12. RidingWaves

    RidingWaves Member

    Messages:
    816
    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2006
    Location:
    Hawaii
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    Mick, the close up performance of the Nikkor is due to the inclusion of CRC, Close Range Correction, a floating element that shifts a rear optical group as its focussed closer. Nikon uses/used it in wide angles, but the 85 1.4 was the only tele to have it. The Rear Focussing of the newer AF 85 1.4 kinda makes up for that feature. Its never been made clear to me that the Zeiss has that floating element system, I don't think it does.
    As well, it is possible and easy to add 1/2 or even 1/3 stops on the manual focus lenses, an easy mod with the correct file. I've done it on a few lenses, most notably on a 50 f2 H.C, adding 2 more stops in between 2 and 2.8, I found that range to be special for soft lit portraits.
     
  13. Mick Fagan

    Mick Fagan Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,099
    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2005
    Location:
    Melbourne Au
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    RW, hmmm yeah thanks for that, I didn't remember that the 85 had CRC, I know my 2.8 Micro Nikkor has CRC and the 108 Micro Nikkor has CRC.

    Mick.
     
  14. Mark Layne

    Mark Layne Member

    Messages:
    920
    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2003
    Location:
    Nova Scotia
    Zeiss -better Bo-Keh
    Mark
     
  15. Mick Fagan

    Mick Fagan Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,099
    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2005
    Location:
    Melbourne Au
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Mark, I'm not sure if either lens has a better out of focus feature, I think they are pretty close to equal!

    Mick.