Zeiss ZF.2 for Nikon F100

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by ZugPhoto, May 22, 2010.

  1. ZugPhoto

    ZugPhoto Member

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    Hello APUGers:

    I am seriously considering a 50mm/f1.4, Zeiss ZF.2 for my beloved F100. I use a Nikkor 50mm 1.8 a lot with great results. I'm wondering if anyone else has "upgraded" to this Zeiss lens and if they think it was worth the cost. Thanks!

    Peter
     
  2. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    I "upgraded" from the Nikkor 50mm 1.4 (AF-D) to the Zeiss 50mm 1.4 ZF about a year ago. It was not really worth it in retrospect (for me). I've read all the tests and the Zeiss might have slightly more contrast, slightly higher resolution, and is slightly less prone to flare (T* coatings have always been great at that). However if these differences are visible, they are pretty much only so at the wider apertures. Wide open, the Zeiss has slightly better overall performance. But I never shoot anywhere near wide open anyway, so for me performance at maximum aperture has never been very useful. For people who like to shoot at wide apertures and are looking for specific properties like "bokeh", the Zeiss may be a more worthwhile upgrade than it was for me. I should note print size also obviously has an impact. In 35mm I don't print larger than 11x14 so I haven't been able to see any major differences. Perhaps if you make giant prints the Zeiss might be the winner. I don't know.

    My photography is mostly architecture and landscape, "straight" photography, so my opinions here are based on that type of use. I hope others will chime in here if they have had different experiences, perhaps with portraiture etc. I went through a phase about a year ago when I decided I was not happy with my Nikkors, particularly the wide angles. Since I use a Nikon F3 and F4 for 35mm, unfortunately the new top-line Nikkors are not an option for me because they annoyingly don't have aperture rings. Too bad, since I would likely have upgraded from my standard AF-D lenses to the 14-24mm 2.8 monster, and the just released 24mm 1.4. Can't use them unless I get an F6. So instead I went on a Zeiss ZF spree and bought the 21, 25, and 35. The 21 is a fine lens, but in all honesty considering the price, and the complexity of the optical formula, I expected better distortion control. Strangely for a new, top line wide angle, it contains no aspheric elements. The 25 was a bad purchase in my opinion. That focal length is one of my most used, and considering nobody ever seems to think much of the 24mm 2.8 AF-D Nikkor that I used for years, I was expecting to be blown away by the Zeiss. I don't see any difference really. It might have slightly higher resolution in the center but the edges and corners are nothing to write home about. The 35 f2 ZF is the one I'm most happy with. This is really the best 35mm lens I have ever used. I like it better than the 35mm summicron on my Leica R4. It is extremely sharp and contrasty all the way to the corners, with very well controlled distortion and and flare. I haven't used the longer focal length ZFs. I've always been very happy with my 85mm and 135mm Nikkors.
     
  3. phaedrus

    phaedrus Member

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    My Zeiss ZF (NOT ZF.2, though I don't know that they changed the optics) has noticeable coma when wide open that disapppears nearly completely at f/2.0 (sorry for the german text but you'll see it in the photos). This is compensated for by a, at least to my eyes, beautiful transition from in-focus to out-of-focus-areas. Just don't use it for night shots at f/1.4.
     
  4. lns

    lns Member

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    I'm happy with my Nikkor 50mm f1.8 and consider it a bargain. I have never used either of the Zeiss ZF 50mm lenses, but it is the 50mm f2 macro that is supposed to be the good one. I have seen and heard a lot of reports that the f1.4 has strange bokeh in some situations. I don't think Bjorn really liked it, for instance.

    On the other hand, I have the ZF 35mm, and I concur with Michael R that this lens is a gem. It is big and heavy, but gives great results and I think totally outclasses the Nikkor. If you're using it on an F100, the size and weight won't be too much of an issue, as the camera should balance it nicely.

    -Laura
     
  5. Pumal

    Pumal Member

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    I use the 20mm AF f/2.8 D and quite happy with it, but I'm not looking for gargantuan appertures.
     
  6. Kiron Kid

    Kiron Kid Member

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    That's not much of an upgrade. Save your money or use it for a wiser purchase.
     
  7. Rol_Lei Nut

    Rol_Lei Nut Member

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    You might get some improvement at full aperture and in flare resistance, but IMHO the biggest advantage of (the better) Zeiss lenses over good Nikkors will often be in the "look" and other subjective factors.

    Bokeh, colour balance, 3D effect, tonality are things which not everyone sees or notices.
    I find them important and my favorite lenses are those which excel in those parameters (that they're otherwise technically good is a given).

    If you're a real fan of such things, buy it, otherwise as has been said, you'd be better off buying a different focal length.