How good are Zeiss ZF lenses?

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by chip j, Mar 3, 2014.

  1. chip j

    chip j Member

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    For those of you fortunate enough to have them, any experiences you'd like to relate?
     
  2. Paul Cunningham

    Paul Cunningham Subscriber

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    I have the 35mm ZF.2 (f/2). I don't have an analog camera that it fits, but it is a wonderful lens. Probably the sharpest I have ever shot with.
    That said, in anything but a landscape setting, I miss focus with it too often. Modern cameras, perhaps, should have modern conveniences.
     
  3. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    I fit says Zeiss it has to be good.
     
  4. htimsdj

    htimsdj Advertiser

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    I rented the 35 to use on my F6 for a week. Very nice lens, but I think Paul's comments above are accurate. You may need to upgrade the focus screen in your camera to take advantage of the lens.
     
  5. chip j

    chip j Member

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    Not according to Ken Rockwell.
     
  6. Paul Cunningham

    Paul Cunningham Subscriber

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    Ah. I did change my eyepiece to gain additional magnification. For my camera it was the Nikon DK-17M Magnifying Eyepiece.
     
  7. MDR

    MDR Member

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    If it says Zeiss it's sometimes a Cosina :smile:
    The lenses are very good but not that much better if any than good Nikon or good Canon optics. I rarely agree with Ken Rockwell but in this case he is right. Ken seems to like the Biogon in M mount. For Slr get a Contax rig and use Zeiss lower priced Zeiss lenses.
     
  8. Mustafa Umut Sarac

    Mustafa Umut Sarac Member

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    Who is Ken Rockwell ? And how a japanese tourist trap camera lens equals with Zeiss ? I strongly disagree.
     
  9. Dismayed

    Dismayed Member

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  10. miha

    miha Subscriber

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    Even Zeiss themselves quote Rockwell's reviews on ZF lenses.
     
  11. Mark Crabtree

    Mark Crabtree Member

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  12. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    Who is grossly wrong much more often than he is right.
     
  13. Michael R 1974

    Michael R 1974 Subscriber

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    Mustafa, they are manufactured in Japan by Cosina. Does it matter?

    I own(ed) the following ZFs in Nikon mount:

    21mm f/2.8
    25mm f/2.8 (sold it)
    35mm f/2
    50mm f/1.4 (sold it)

    The 21mm is nice because there wasn't really anything comparable from Nikon. Maybe now there is, I don't know. The 25 was a disappointment, and to me the 50 f/1.4 was no better optically than my Nikon AF-D 50 f/1.4 other than perhaps a tiny fraction less flare but hard to say. The Zeiss distorted more. I don't use lenses at wide apertures so I can't say anything about "bokeh". Maybe they're great for that. I don't know.

    The build quality and finish are beautiful so if that matters to you they may be worth the money. In certain focal lengths they may offer better optical performance (certain characteristics, not all) than the Nikon offerings. But if I could go back in time I'd have only (maybe) bought the 21. In particular I was disappointed with the distortion performance given the price. This is only my opinion though. Everyone has different requirements.
     
  14. chip j

    chip j Member

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    Low distortion is something I really look for. It doesn't seem too evident in most lenses for 35mm. Even 50mm Summicrons have distortion.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 4, 2014
  15. chip j

    chip j Member

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    Google kenrockwell and see his many reviews of cameras & kenses. Zeiss Z lenses are manual-focus for Leica M, Nikon F, and others, made by Cosina in Japan.
     
  16. Mustafa Umut Sarac

    Mustafa Umut Sarac Member

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    Branded lens signatures does not change , zeiss and leica protects a look , I dont need someone to tell me. There can be few at 20s advertising and web page managers at zeiss but I will never look or read an article newer than 30 years ago. Lens reporting died at early 80s. Tri X and pyro and german american french british lenses are everytime good. Biogon captures 450 lines per milimeter , how about japanese lenses , they blow the highlights and shadow the shadows and make peoples faces vaselined pig. hıh!
     
  17. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    Please send to me the drug of choice that you use when you post things like this. It must be totally righteous herbs. :whistling:
     
  18. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    Cosina has been making some very high quality lenses for some time for various brands. If you want a lens that has a particular vintage rendition
    or "look", say from the 1950's, then buy one made in the 1950's. Does fungus between the lens elements give a different look than vaseline?
     
  19. film_man

    film_man Member

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    Ok, so here's some comments from someone that used them and doesn't suffer from "made in" inferiority complex or smokes stuff: I had the ZF.2 35/2 and the ZF.2 50/1.4 which I used with my FM2n and F100 so I can only tell you how they work with film.

    The 35 is simply perfect. Excellent microcontrast, super sharp at all apertures, great colour. My main dislike was that the lens is quite long compared to pretty much any other 35mm f/2 lens out there. It really is a perfect lens.

    The 50/1.4 is wonderful but "special". From f/2.5 or thereabouts and stopped down further it is like the 35/2. Sharp, blah blah blah. The bokeh has that Zeiss slightly "busy" bokeh which you get if you shoot other medium format Zeiss lenses like with a Hasselblad or Contax. I loved it because it matched my Hasselblad look. At f/1.4-2 it would be either "meh" or it could product the most amazing glowy portraits you could get, if the light was right. If you had directional light hitting the subject at the right angles then you would just get a sharp centre with a wonderful soft glowy effect. I don't mean like a soft focus, it was subtle but beautiful. I would not consider it up to scratch if I was shooting brick walls. If the light was flat and you were shooting at f/1.4-2 then you'd get flat photos of not such biting sharpness. As said, from f/2.5 down it was very sharp.

    I never experienced the focus shift issues people talk about of the 50/1.4.

    I used these lenses with a F100 and FM2n. With the FM2 I didn't have problems focusing. With the F100, a bit more tricky as you only get to see DOF from f/2.8 down.

    Build quality is superb.

    I sold both of them when I got rid of all my Nikon stuff but if I was to get anything that can use Zeiss glass again I'd get the 50/1.4 for sure. To tell you the truth, I do miss the 50/1.4 a lot, I made the mistake of selling all my Nikon stuff to keep my OM system. Should have done it the other way around. Anyways, I'm looking at rangefinders now so I'm thinking of getting one of the Zeiss 50s (ZM 50/2 or 50/1.5).
     
  20. chip j

    chip j Member

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    The 50 1.5 is purposely soft wide open, for an old "glamour' look.
     
  21. marcmarc

    marcmarc Member

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    I have the 35mm f2 and I have to say the almost legendary quality of this lens is well deserved. I have the first generation bought several years back when they were selling in the $800 range. I took me awhile to work up to the decision to lay out this kind of money but from my first roll I was glad I did.
     
  22. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member

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    I have the 35/2 in ZS mount (M42) and the 85/1.4 in ZE mount (EOS), and I'm very pleased with both of them. Mechanically they are very solid and made for manual focus, if that's your preference (it's mine). The 85/1.4 is the closest thing I've seen to the look of a classic large format portrait lens for the 35mm format. That means it has some curvature of field at wide apertures, not as much as a Petzval, but enough to create that pleasant kind of falloff of resolution at the corners and still produce an enlargeable image, sharp where it's supposed to be sharp. If you're after a flat field lens that's sharp corner to corner, the 100/2 Makro Planar is probably a better choice in that focal length range, but if you want a beautiful portrait lens for the 35mm format, also very nice for selective focus with still life (e.g., food photography), it's hard to beat the 85/1.4.
     
  23. JamesMorris

    JamesMorris Member

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    AF assist works, right?

    That's what I use for a 28/2.8 AI-s with the F100 (which is a great combo, fwiw).
     
  24. film_man

    film_man Member

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    Yes it does with the ZF2 version, it just makes it a bit trickier as you have to adjust focus, check the dot, move it a bit more to be sure, check the dot again then shoot. The focus confirm does cover a bit of a range so if you are at min focus distance and f/1.4 you have to play a bit and find the middle. Still it is usable.