zm lenses: build quality and wobble

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by puketronic, Jul 19, 2012.

  1. puketronic

    puketronic Member

    Messages:
    199
    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2011
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I'm debating between ZM lenses and Leica lenses in the future. I know it's high-contrast vs low-contrast, Made in Germany vs Made in Japan, flare-free vs flarey, etc.

    One of my concerns is build quality. I fear that the ZM's might have some quality control issues. I've never held one in my hand, but do they feel substantial? And the wobble, is it a DIY fix?
     
  2. Pioneer

    Pioneer Member

    Messages:
    1,726
    Joined:
    May 29, 2010
    Location:
    Elko, Nevada
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Based on my experience (a huge sample of 2:whistling:) they are great. Solid feeling, no wobble, excellent results. Well worth the price.
     
  3. NB23

    NB23 Member

    Messages:
    1,073
    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2009
    Shooter:
    35mm

    I have no idea what you're talking about when you mention "I know it's high-contrast vs low-contrast, Made in Germany vs Made in Japan, flare-free vs flarey, etc.".

    All I can tell you is that the ZM will eventually wobble. And that's the worst thing that can happen in a lens. When a lens of mine develops a wobble I wanna smash it on the concrete instantly, without thinking. I just hate it.

    I have no ZM lenses anymore. All Leica.
     
  4. puketronic

    puketronic Member

    Messages:
    199
    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2011
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I'm sorry.

    I didn't mean to ramble with that stuff, but I didn't mean to turn this into a typical Zeiss ZM vs Leica type of thread either.

    I wanted an evaluation on the build quality alone. My main fear with these lenses is that they will wobble, which to me, is a little unacceptable given their price. I know that they can cost considerably less than most Leica lenses, but still, a $500-$1000 lens shouldn't wobble.
     
  5. kbrede

    kbrede Member

    Messages:
    273
    Joined:
    May 23, 2012
    Location:
    Nebraska
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    For what its worth. I recently purchased a Zeiss Ikon with two lenses. I've had the kit for about a month. I shot with it every day the past couple weeks. Build quality of the lenses is excellent. No wobble. Warentee on the kit is 3 years. If I do experience wobble hopefully they'll take care of the issue.
     
  6. swchris

    swchris Subscriber

    Messages:
    55
    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2010
    Location:
    Bavaria
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    What exactly are you guys referring to when you say "wobble"?
     
  7. Jesper

    Jesper Subscriber

    Messages:
    743
    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2009
    Location:
    Sweden
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I have been using a Zeiss 21/2.8 since it was released and it still works perfectly. I would say that mechanically it is neither better or worse than my Leica lenses (they are all excellent).
     
  8. darkosaric

    darkosaric Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,113
    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2008
    Location:
    Hamburg, DE
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    >What exactly are you guys referring to when you say "wobble"?

    I think they mean when focusing and aperture rings become a little lose.
     
  9. Rob Skeoch

    Rob Skeoch Advertiser Advertiser

    Messages:
    983
    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2005
    Location:
    Burlington,
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    I've been selling the Zeiss ZM lenses in Canada longer than anyone else.
    I've sold 100's of the lenses.
    I have yet to a single unit returned because of the wobble.
    People seem very happy with them and I use them myself and have had no issues.

    The Leica gear is great as well. Wonderful look to the images and great build quality.

    I think if they were the same price I might choose the Leica gear, but since a new lens is 5X the price I find it hard to justify for myself.

    Of course your mileage may vary.

    -Rob
     
  10. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Messages:
    17,942
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2002
    Location:
    Honolulu, Ha
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    I've got two of the modern Zeiss SLR lenses (35/2 ZS Distagon and 85/1.4 ZE Planar) and have no complaints about the build quality. They certainly have a better manual focus feel than any Canon lens I've used.
     
  11. Richard S. (rich815)

    Richard S. (rich815) Subscriber

    Messages:
    4,957
    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2003
    Location:
    San Francisco
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I've used the modern 35/2 Biogon on my Leica MP for years now. No wobble. Probably best 35mm focal length I've ever used short of the 35/2.8 PC-Distagon lens for Contax SLR.
     
  12. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

    Messages:
    6,539
    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2010
    Location:
    Montreal, Canada
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Same experience here. I have several Zeiss ZFs and build quality is their strongest point. Every bit as solid and tight as Leica lenses in my experience. All these current Zeiss lenses are made by Cosina. I don't understand how the rangefinder Zeiss Z lenses would be of lower build quality than the SLR versions. If anything they should be better since they are far less complicated.
     
  13. Richard S. (rich815)

    Richard S. (rich815) Subscriber

    Messages:
    4,957
    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2003
    Location:
    San Francisco
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Oh, and my Jupiter-12. :smile:
     
  14. presspass

    presspass Member

    Messages:
    108
    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2011
    Location:
    Lancaster Co
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I have four ZM rangefinder lenses - 21 4.5, 25 2.8, 35 2.8, and 50 1.5. The only one that has an issue is the 50 - it squeaks when focusing and probably needs lube. No wobble, and the other three have been fine for years.
     
  15. 250swb

    250swb Member

    Messages:
    396
    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2012
    Location:
    Peak Distric
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    The Zeiss ZM lenses are fine quality. I've never heard of 'wobble', but all those I have used and owned have been quality performers with nicely weighted aperture and focusing rings. They are nearly all built in Japan by Cosina Voigtlander, but to much higher specs than CV lenses. But I don't think a lower price automatically means a poor build quality. The image quality is in most cases almost on a par with Leica, but with a different character to the rendering and colour signature. They also make lenses that are all about a unique character, such as the 50mm Sonnar, something that Leica dare not do for fear of losing the clinical look.

    Steve
     
  16. tony lockerbie

    tony lockerbie Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,363
    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2006
    Location:
    Merimbula NSW Australia
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I only have two Cosina SLR lenses (that's who makes the Zeiss isn't it?) and they seem really well built to me. The lenses are the 58mm 1.4 and Apo-Lanthar 90mm 3.5 in Nikon mount, both lenses have aperture and focusing actions that are superior to anything made by Nikon, beautifully damped. Leica of course are the benchmark, but the cost is astronomical.
     
  17. mesh

    mesh Subscriber

    Messages:
    272
    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2009
    Location:
    Adelois
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    I love both my Zeiss lenses - I cannot hope for more optically. Build quality however... well both have the wobbles and I can't stand it. Drives me mad really...
     
  18. darkosaric

    darkosaric Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,113
    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2008
    Location:
    Hamburg, DE
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Leica lenses have well known problem called "wobbling empty wallet" :smile:
     
  19. GraemeMitchell

    GraemeMitchell Member

    Messages:
    414
    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2005
    Location:
    NYC
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I think my ZM 35mm 2.8 is, as far as build quality, exactly what I'd expect for the money...or maybe a bit better. For me it's not a lens for life, but I'd be pleased to get 10 years out of it with heavy shooting. With that, I've no problem at all handling it, and actually prefer the slightly looser focus pull for focusing speed and ease. There is no wobble with mine.

    Otherwise, it's an okay piece of glass. A lot of fall off (the biggest let down), and not as sharp as I was expecting after hearing raves...but it has a beautiful palette. A bit old school for me at times, but I was coming from Nikkor glass, not Leica.

    They're a good value, but I would be sure to test the lens to make sure it's the look you want, since I found it to be rather distinct compared to other lenses I've used over the years.
     
  20. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

    Messages:
    3,925
    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2011
    Location:
    Adirondacks
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    So apparently 60s and 70s Nikkors strike the happy medium between wobble and being broke.:smile:
     
  21. Xmas

    Xmas Member

    Messages:
    6,452
    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2006
    Location:
    UK
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    I Had two ZM lenses 25mm and 5cm, I had no problem with either.

    But there was detectable rotational play in both of the focus rings, this be easily felt and could just be seen visually. But did not vary in the 3-4 years I had the lenses, I bought them knowing it was there and they were both as new.

    When I part exchanged them the dealer has the 25mm serviced cause he could detect the lube was drying out and the friction was uneven. He did not detect the play in the rings.

    I sold them cause I found them too big/bulky, they were ok photographically.

    The CV M and LTM lenses I have had have not had this or any problems, so I don't think it is build quality, rather Zeiss speciications.

    Noel
     
  22. Andre Noble

    Andre Noble Subscriber

    Messages:
    321
    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2004
    Location:
    Beverly Hill
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I had wobble in my 35 ZM f2 Biogon. Zeiss USA serviced it. They were really cool. I really like the images from this lens. I would definitely buy Zeiss lens again. (The 'wobble' was mild play in left right direction, and manifested itself as a stiff focus action when lens focused in portrait orientation).
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 5, 2012
  23. dazey

    dazey Member

    Messages:
    16
    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2013
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    I too was plagued by the ZM wobble and I managed to fix it myself in half an hour, trying to spread the info:

    I think I am similar to many here in having had a wobble and not knowing the full reason. I searched high and low on the internet and no-one seems to have opened one (or posted about it). I have a Zeiss zm 50mm 1.5 sonnar, this started to wobble. I left it wobbling and it got very bad indeed (3mm play on one corner!). The front element was solid as most people here.
    I went to a local repair shop and was quoted an outrageous amount of money to fix it (over £200) so I took on the repair myself. Needless to say, half an hour later it was fixed.
    The construction of the front is that the filter ring is held on to a plastic covered ring by 3 bolts. These are fine. The plastic covered ring however seems to manage to unscrew itself.
    The hardest bit of the entire job is to get the cover ring out. Zeiss in their vanity chose to not put any dents etc in it to allow it to be gripped. I read on forums that one can use rubber to grip and turn the ring but mine was well stuck. It was however so loose I could grip it with some pliers without touching the glass. As can be seen, I did damage it slightly getting it out but its not something I am overly concerned with (I can appreciate others may differ). Having done this once, I think I could get it out without damage a second time...
    My lower ring had two bolts completely undone. I removed them, applied loctite and tightened these. I cleaned the threads to the filter ring as well as the threads on the cover, sparingly applied moly lube to the cover threads and replaced this by hand (I want to be able to get the cover off more easily next time!).
    The filter ring is now completely rock solid again :smile:
    Some photos in time order, I hope they help others (documenting it has taken as long as fixing it did once I set to it):
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]