I own a Zeiss Ikon and use the 25mm a fair bit. I do own the viewfinder and often carry it in the bag. I usually don't bother to put it on the camera. I find they get hooked on things and are kind of a pain. I am willing to crop my photos in the darkroom, not everyone is willing to crop, so for me the exact framing isn't as important as other photographers might find.
The 28mm is a great lens but since many people use the 35mm they tend to skip a lens and go with the 25mm instead, of course it depends how many lenses you want to carry. The 25mm lens is hard to beat though.
As far as the 18mm or 21mm. I like the 21mm because of it's size. It's not a length I carry/use very often, of course your mileage will vary.
Just like most things with photography there is no right answer, they're all a joy to use.
I feel the same way about my 21mm finder. I like using it, but I'm hardly composing if I'm shooting a rangefinder. I feel there is little to no point in doing so. I just ensure focus is spot or near spot with my 21 C-Biogon and shoot. Plus, having it on my camera, exposed, I can't be as rough as I want to be.
I'm going the 18/21 C/Planar route for my Zeiss Ikon.
I have changed my password and changed my email to a random email. This is forum seppuku. Good bye!
I've recently upgraded to the Ikon but keep using the CV 21 mm finder on it, when I do take my 21/4 Skopar for a stroll. In these cases, I just leave the viewfinder on the camera until I get home again. It sits so tight that I have no fear of losing it...
I did recently buy the 21/4.5 C-Biogon to replace the Skopar, but I found no benefit in sharpness, only slightly less distortion (and probably some flare reduction) so I sent it back. Maybe I got a good copy of the Skopar.
The same fate was met by the Zeiss finder: While delivering a brighter, larger and less distorted image, I did find it bulky and could not see the frame lines as well as with the CV finder (I wear glasses).
And yes, I *do* compose with the external finder.
I have now gotten a ZI with the 50mm f2 for myself and I can see the issues raised in the previous posts. Three years ago, I got the opportunity to travel to Paris a few times for a work related project. Because all my equipment was too bulky, I picked up a Contax G2 and a few lenses. A quick comparison shows:
*I liked the G2 for the auto-wind/rewind (not applicable to the ZI).
*It was faster and quieter than the user-group posts implied.
*The surface contours fit the right hand very well with a positive grip (much better than the ZI narrower body).
*I liked the zooming feature of the viewfinder, which I believe goes back to 1950s design (not applicable to the ZI).
*Best of all, it was incredibly cheap compared to other choices.
Now the negatives:
*The viewfinder is much too small and placed too far inboard for comfort, although it works OK in the vertical position (the G2 is like looking through a peephole; the ZI is like opening the door).
*No focus scales on the lenses (itís not really a manual focus camera no matter what the manual states).
While I liked the G2 in operation, I found many shots were just too soft because of the auto focus not locking where I wanted. If you used a reasonable aperture, it could be a marvelous street camera with first-rate optics. However, I always had control of focus in my other equipment, so I never quite got over surrendering to the automation (auto exposure is much easier to adapt).
Final Decisions on a ZI Outfit:
I decided to go with the 21, 28, 35, 50, and 85 lenses. The range from 28 to 35 is small (12 degrees) but 35mm is the best all round strolling lens. I believe in lens hoods and this selection can be covered with only 3 hoods.
I donít think the ďfull-frameĒ approach will work for a 25mm lens. The edges of the full -frame view are too soft to use and to see them it is necessary to adjust the eye point quite a bit. Even a slight off axis look through the viewfinder makes the 28mm bright line hard to see. If it were a sharp outline while in normal viewing I could see using it. I would reconsider if someone was to measure and post the results; maybe the 25mm doesnít need to go to the edge of the frame but just a ballpark distance beyond the 28mm frame lines.
Without the 25mm, I decided to drop the 18mm because of: 1) the wider the lens, the less likely it is to be used, 2) it would require another set of filters, and 3) I couldnít work out a single external viewfinder option with the 18/25mm combination. The Leica 18mm viewfinder includes a 24mm equivalent view for 2/3 digital cameras but is $750.
So, that is where I am now. Over the next few months Iíll place what isnít nailed down on the auction site and watch for these lenses.
Thanks to everyone for their responses.
I've heard the Skopar is a nice lens. I just got a GREAT deal on the Zeiss 21/4.5, finder, and hood (a bit more than half the new price for the set), more or less unused, so I went with that instead. I'd be curious to know how they actually do match up.
Originally Posted by kossi008
It's a fun focal length.
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Well, I can only speak for the two samples that I had for comparison, and like I said, maybe I just had a very good copy of the Skopar (or a bad one of the C-Biogon, though I would suspect less variation due to tighter QC there).
Originally Posted by Tim Gray
But I did side-by-side comparisons using Spur Orthopan and a sturdy tripod. And I fully expected to see the C-Biogon ahead, but it wasn't, at any aperture.
Others have reported the C-Biogon to be sharper than the Skopar, which is why I suspect there must be some sample variation. It would have been a question of: is the extra sharpness worth the extra money... in my case it was literally NO extra sharpness, hence worth no money to me.
Now, maybe at half price, I would have seen things differently, given the less distortion (which I verified) and less flare (which I couldn't verify on a cloudy weekend) that the C-Biogon does have over the Skopar...