Nikkor 50/1.2 AIS vs Zeiss 50/2 Makro-Planar ZF.2

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by fredlee70x7, Jan 18, 2013.

  1. I already have a Nikkor 50/2 H.C. Auto (AI converted) and a Nikkor 50/1.8G but I am thinking of adding one more 50 to the bag.
    Despite of large differences in max. aperture and price, can anyone compare Nikkor 50/1.2 AIs with Zeiss 50/2 Makro-Planar if shooting at F2 and smaller? I’m interested in knowing how they perform in terms of color rendition, boken and sharpness. Thanks.
  2. Don't have a Nikon 50/1.2 but have had the Zeiss for a few years. The Zeiss is excellent on "sharpness", different but equally as good--compared to similar vintage Nikon Ai(S) lenses--- on color, but bokeh might be the Zeiss' weak point IF you are super critical and particular about bokeh. Try before you buy.
    One note: Based on actual samples of the Zeiss ZF 50/2 and ZF.2 50/2 that I have examined, Zeiss apparently changed the AR coating with the ZF.2 model, and not for the better. The newer coating results in a yellower color cast, and blue-colored flare where the older ZF version had more neutrally colored flare. Yes, that's right, Zeiss made it worse.
  3. I have the 50mm f/1.2 AI-S and if you are going to shoot it at f/2 don't waste your money. Its sharp enough at f/2 and has good out of focus renditions but my 50mm f/2 is sharper at f/2 then my 50mm f/1.2 is.
  4. I have the AIS 50 f1.2 but not the Zeiss. With 9 blades the Nikkor's bokeh is okay at f2 and I like it right up to f5.6 where I get very good results. And, on a DX, it is a 75 mm f1.2 lens. Cary Jordan tested Seven 50mm lenses for Nikon's F-mount, including the Zeiss 50mm f1.4 Planar ZF2 lens which Nikon Rumours carried with the date November 3, 2011.
  5. Get the 50/1.2 to shoot it at f/1.2. At any other aperture it is bested by the 50/1.8G that you already have. I thought I'd get rid of the 50/1.2 once I got my 50/1.8G, but the look at f/1.2 is very much worth having it around, though I don't use it quite as much as I used to once the G came along.
  6. Michael,
    When you said “my 50mm f/2 is sharper at f/2”, which lens are you referring to? A Nikkor f/2 of a Zeiss f/2?
  7. Frederico, I have both of them and I agree with Michael; the 50/1.2 AI-s is very sharp at f/2 and even sharper stopped down, but I feel it was meant to be used wide open in low light. If you're looking for a fast lens, well 50/1.2 it is. If you plan to use it at f/8, say for landscaping, 50/1.2 AI-s it is.
    Said that, Zeiss MP has very short MFD, if you need it, and it's a great lens for short to mid distances, especially in bright(er) light where 50/1.2 AI-s would flare.
    Still not sure which one to get? :) Consider Leica Summicron-R 50 E55 as your 3rd lens.
  8. You might take a quick look at the Nikkor 50 1.4D. This is a very shape lens at 2.0 with wonderful color saturation and
    broke. It is a much better bargain than the 1.2 .

  9. For years I've had a 55mm f/1.2 Nikkor S-C, and believed the pundits that it was a poor lens compared to the 50mm version, so always hankered after the later 50mm f/1.2. Well, recently I found one at a reasonable - but not bargain - price and bought it. What a mistake!
    Quite frankly, it's probably the worst 50mm Nikkor that's ever passed through my hands. Wide open I consider it unusable because of the low contrast, flare, coma and residual spherical aberration. The "look" is just that of a very poor lens compared to what I get from the old 55mm version. Stopped down the 50mm f/1.2 isn't that brilliant either. My advice - Don't waste your money.
    I know it's not all about sharpness with a lens like this, but below is what you can expect from it in the centre of the field at f/1.2 on a D800. The edges are even worse BTW.
  10. Fredrico I am talking about the Nikkor 50mm f/2.0 Mine is the Nikkor H with a factory AI conversion kit installed.
    Joe your 50mm f/1.2 sucks, mine is much better wide open then that. You might think to have it looked at as it may be a little out of adjustment. My 50 f/1.2 is better at f/1.2 then my 55 f/1.2 is.
    And again Fredrico if you are nopt buying the 50 f/1.2 to shoot at f2 or fater then save your money.
  11. Joe, your 50/1.2 AI-s seems a bit off.
    Two shots with 50/1.2 AI-s below are at f/1.2 and f/1.4. Besides, who cares about extreme corners at f/1.2 - you do want them creamy, no?
  12. Thanks to everyone. Now it's a tough choice.

    Jack, your 50/1.2 shots are beautiful.
  13. Frederico, photography as a hobby calls for gear evaluation and choices. No matter how hard and confusing choices can be, they contribute to the fun of photography.
    Pick up a lens that you feel you need and see what will happen next. With 50mm most likely you will get Nikkor 50/1.2 AI-s AND Zeiss MP 2/50 despite the two being totally different.
    Have fun.
  14. Just had to put my 50mm f/1.2 shot in
  15. Let me remind everyone that my sample clip is a 100% crop from the very demanding D800. Most lenses can be made to look good on the web at around 400 pixels wide. So let's see some unmanipulated 100% crops please, and then we can tell if I've got a bad copy or not.
    My lens looks fairly minty, the glass is pristine, it has no dings or signs of tampering, and doesn't have one edge or corner better than another, which is a surfire telltale of decentring. It actually performs about the same as both of my f/1.4 50mm Nikkors at matching apertures. So as far as I can tell it's not a particularly bad copy. It's just rubbish wide open, like almost every other wide aperture non-aspheric design.
    Anyway, to partly answer the OP's question, at f/2 and beyond there is almost no discernible difference in performance between my 50/1.2, my Ai-S 50/1.8 or either of my 50mm f/1.4s. I don't have a 50/1.8G, but by all reports and thanks to the inclusion of an aspherical element, it's a superior performer to anything Nikon have previously produced in that focal length and aperture.
  16. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Moderator

    Rodeo Joe, in your 55mm/f1.2 image sample, how far was your camera from the newspaper?
    Unless I am testing a macro lens, usually I won't capture images of newspapers as test samples. Normal lenses rarely perform well from such close distances.
  17. Shun, distance was around 2.5 metres from the newspaper to the front of the lens. The test distance for lenses is usually specified as either 26 or 51 times the focal length from subject to focal-plane when using a standard Siemens star or US Navy bar pattern, and I opted for the longer distance (approximately).
    The long side of the frame took in about 3 and a half unfolded broadsheet newspaper spreads. So you can see the sample represents quite a magnification. And BTW, it was the 50mm f/1.2 used for that crop, not the 55mm, although I did test that at the same time.
  18. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Moderator

    Thanks Rodeo Joe. 2.5 meters (8, 9 feet) should be fine. I thought it could be like 1 meter or so, which would make most non-macro lenses look bad.
  19. Then if it is from the very demanding D800 I am still un impressed with your copy of the lens
  20. Joe, you definitely deserve a respect for your contribution to this forum. However, I kindly don't share your opinion on Nikkor 50/1.2 AI-s, especially your comment calling it the worst Nikon 50mm lens. This lens is generally considered a legend for its many virtues. Center sharpness at f/1.2 may not be on pair with current Zeiss or other macro lenses; however.
    Below is an image taken with equally demanding Nikon D800E, wide open at 2.5m distance (focussed on ‘9’) Clearly our test outcomes differ.

  21. PS.
    This is 100% crop with my usual sharpening applied in PP.
  22. The 1.8G is a great lens. If you want another one to shoot at F2, try the cheap 1.8 Series E. It can be had for $35. I agree with others, use the 1.2 at 1.2. Beautiful rendering.
  23. Jack, the issue with the 50mm f/1.2 isn't its resolution. I re-tested mine using a similar setup to what you've used, and the result can be seen below. Conditions were: aperture f/1.2; distance from focal plane to chart 2.55 metres; camera set to ISO 400.
    As you can see, the lens easily resolves between 70 and 80 lppmm on the D800. However that resolution doesn't translate into a visual impression of sharpness. If you look at the area of light bars on a dark ground, you can easily see a reddish halo-like spread of light from highlights into shadows. It's this typical hallmark of spherical aberration that ruins the definition of the lens (and of most other high aperture lenses of this era), making it look quite poor to the eye. Sure it can be blasted away with USM or by avoiding such areas of high contrast, but that's really not the point. This lens might have washed with film, but a modern aspheric design makes a much better match for a modern DSLR as far as pure visual definition is concerned. Unless I read it wrong, I think the OP was inquiring after this lens's quality at f/2 and smaller, where it's nothing outstanding.
    BTW, I never said it was the worst 50mm Nikon lens, I said "it's probably the worst 50mm Nikkor that's ever passed through my hands." Let me qualify that by saying that in light of experience, it's not a lens that I'd deliberately seek out any longer, and that for what I want the older 55mm f/1.2 Nikkor S-C has more of an appealing "look" to it.
  24. Both very good lenses. I only see one issue here - Frederico already has a 1.8G. That lens is so good, since I got it other very good lenses don't blow me away.

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