Zeiss 50mm f1.4 C/Y or Leica 50mm f2 on Canon 5D Mark III?

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by claudia_z, Nov 3, 2013.

  1. I'm thinking of selling my Canon 50L for Zeiss 50mm f1.4 C/Y or Leica 50mm f2 since I hardly use AF and would like a more compact lens. Have anyone experienced those two lenses on EOS body?
  2. SCL


    I have experience with both lenses, but not on the Canon body. They do render differently, but both are excellent lenses.
  3. I assume you mean the Leica 50/2 Summicron-R (for the SLRs)? Is either lens adaptable for the Canon AF mount while
    maintaining infinity focus? I use all kinds of lenses on my Sony Nex and on the original bodies. I don't know about the R
    version of the 50/2 but the M version is an excellent sharp lens which is also true of the C/Y 50/1.4. The latter is a lot less
    expensive while the former is probably sharper wide open (a hallmark of Leica).
  4. Personally I'd go for a Canon 50/1.4 or even a 50/1.8. The Zeiss and Leica lenses will both work just fine if you don't mind manual focus and stop down metering after focus, though personally I wouldn't be comfortable trying to accurately manually focus any fast lens used wide open on the standard 5D3 screen.
    We could debate forever whether the Zeiss or Leica lenses are "better" than the Canon lenses, and even after an infinitely long debate there would probably still be no conclusion!
    Both Leica R and C/Y mount lenses can be adapted to EOS and focus to infinity without the use of additional optics (see http://www.bobatkins.com/photography/eosfaq/manual_focus_EOS.html)
  5. SCL


    Claudia - I assume you do know that there were 2 versions of the Leica Summicron R, with the 2nd version design (that produced in Midland, Canada) correcting the slight distortions of Ver. 1. I adapted my Sigma SD14 to directly mount Leica R lenses and really liked their rendition and color with the Foveon sensor. You can use a simple 3rd party Leica R adapter to Canon EOS and get infinity focus, lots of folks have taken that route and been delighted with the results. IMHO the Zeiss is sharper across the film plane at wider apertures than the Leitz, but after about f5.6 they are very similar. Here's a picture of the 2nd version Leica lens....the first has version has a narrower front and doesn't have the built in lens shade.
  6. Both are good lenses. I use the 50 F1.4 canon but this is not sharp until f2 anyway and renders quite differently. Manual
    focus is quite difficult on the EOS bodies so be aware of this. Of the two I prefer the Leica - the last model (ROM) being
    the best. As was stated there were two versions of this lens and also you will see them talk about the number of Cams.
    In essence the early lenses juts had one and the last lens before the electronic mount (ROM) had three. Any of the four
    will work on canon - the number of cams was to pass information between the camera and the lens as the bodies gained
    more automation. Thus a Leica SLR user does need to be concerned about this. The Contax lenses are also great both
    the F1.4 and the cheaper F1.7 are very good. They render differently to the Leica but are more similar to them than they
    are to Canon lenses. If you are not certain about MF lenses you may want to start with the Contax F1.7 which is a great
    lens and quite cheap used. The Leica R lenses produce slightly different colours to the other lenses which I like.
  7. Thanks all for the replies :)
    Stephen: Which of the two performs better in low light?
    Just thought I'd mention, I own the CZJ 50mm 2.8. It's a nice lens due to it's compact size, but not adequate enough to perform in pitch black outdoor condition with only very few street lights.
  8. SCL


    Claudia, I can't really answer the low light question - they are both f2.0 lenses - so their light transmission should be similar. Doug Herr states on his website that the 2nd version had reduced vignetting, improved contrast and flare control, but that both lenses were very good. I remember trying the 2nd version years ago (on film) to do some star trails (I guess that counts as low light) and the results were nice and crisp.
  9. Many of us think that there is a certain "emperor's new clothes" element to the belief that spending tons of money on these venerable names will make a darned bit of difference in one's photography.
    Canon makes a series of fine 50mm primes, ranging in price from very inexpensive to much more costly. I guarantee that if you are a good photographer, no one looking at your prints will be able to tell whether you used a Canon 50mm or one of these others.
  10. I use the Zeiss C/Y 50mm 1.7 and it's an outstanding lens. I have read that this 1.7 version is actually sharper than the 1.4 version. The price is a joke as you can get it for under $200.
  11. Was surprised to see that the Zeiss 50 f1.4 C/Y is a little bit more expensive compared to the Canon EF 50mm f1.4 (new with warranty). Is it that good?
  12. The Contax 50mm f/1.4 and more so the f/1.7 are fairly cheap. Anything Leica costs more. If you're willing to spend the money for the Leica 50/2, consider instead one of the the new Zeiss ZE lenses. They make a 50mm f/1.4 and f/2.0 for native Canon mount, so the aperture is controlled automatically. You still focus manually but the ZE lenses provide focus confirmation from the camera, without the need for a (possibly a bit dodgy) chipped adaptor.
    The ZE 50/2 is excellent in every respect except price and its chunky size (and AF of course). The 50/1.4 is Zeiss's cheapest lens and is also excellent in my opinion (I own both). Since you want a more compact lens I would recommend looking for a used ZE 50/1.4. The only thing I would say is that the 50L is likely to be better for very open apertures, below f/2.
  13. Agree with Ed and G Dan here., I think you would find it a retrograde step going to an all manual lens from the 1.2L. I know a lot of people seem to do this, but it makes everything slow as molasses - If you must change and don't want the Canon f1.4 then consider the ZE 50/1.4 (not so special on paper) or the 50/2 macro (which is special). At least these are meter coupled and the iris will work automatically. I speak as someone who very rapidly gave up my Leica R lenses once I got to use them on the 5D.
  14. The 50L and 5D Mark III are fairly new to me.
    My first DSLR was the Canon 500D which I use with the Canon FD 50mm 1.4. But since FD lenses are not compatible with FF EOS and the Canon EF 50mm 1.4 feels tacky, I decided to get myself the 50L.
    However, when it comes to manual lenses- I would rather go for a full manual lens which would allow me to set the aperture on the lens itself and I'm not going to get the ZF mount as Nikon lenses focus in the opposite direction.
    I'm torn between the Zeiss 50 f1.4 C/Y, Canon 50mm f1.4 (which I still don't get why it's cheaper than the Zeiss when new) or Leica 50mm f2 (would prefer the f1.4, but since I have bad experience with adaptors- I'm not ready to spend my money on it).
  15. The canon is a very good lens but soft at F1.4 and the edges are still quite soft until F2. The FD 50 F1.4 is actually quite similar as it is also soft - indeed the best FD 50mm (for sharpness) is the 50 F3.5 Macro. The Contax 50 F1.7 was mentioned earlier by myself and others. This is a great lens and can be found quite cheaply - why not get this, a relatively cheap adapter (fotodiox are cheap and not bad) and see how you like the manual approach. Later you can upgrade to a Leica or the F1.4 and will have lost perhaps $50-60 on the F1.7 lens.
    The contax lenses put the EF build quality to shame (indeed most of the FD lenses do) and the Leica lenses are even better built. As dan says - except in side by side comparisons it is hard to tell the lens in use.
    This is a generalization but the German designs make a different set of trade offs to the Japanese designs. In general the Japanese lenses tend to aim for very high sharpness and contrast on the in focus subject. German lenses try for a slightly different aesthetic where there is perhaps less attention to absolute sharpness and high contrast. They tend to have better low contrast resolution than their Japanese counterparts and a more subtle approach to the transition from In focus to OOF. I personally prefer the German approach but it is really quite subtle differences.
  16. Claudia,
    I have used both the Zeiss 50/1.4 C/Y and the Summicron 50/2 on my Canon 5d. Both are excellent, but with clear differences. These produce a different look.
    Some observations:
    My Zeiss has more even sharpness across the frame, right into the corners. Colors are rendered deep and saturated, with especially rich blacks (very noticeable when photographing steam locomotives). I tried three different lenses, there is clearly some sample variation. The one I kept is a very late MM version.
    My Summicron with the built in hood was clearly sharper in the central 2/3 of the frame, but sharpness dropped off noticeably towards the edges and corners. Moire was easy to get! Colors were delicate with excellent clarity and highlights. I only tried one lens sample.
    In the end I kept the Zeiss primarely for the even sharpness (in my sample, YMMV!) and the color rendition. And, since all my other lenses at the time were C/Y Zeiss (from my Contax RTS II film camera), for the more uniform look across the various lenses. This latter consideration was the deciding factor. It was simply very noticeable when I went out with some of the other lenses that the Summicron produced a different look. But I do miss the Summicron for somewhat cropped architectural shots, the very fine detail was just incredible!
    I recommend that you try both and keep the one which best fits your style.
  17. I have narrowed down my option to the Zeiss 50mm f1.4 C/Y and Leica 50mm 1.4 (1976).
    [ Heard that the Zeiss 50 f1.4 ZE is relatively weak when shooting wide open at minimal distance from the subject, not sure about the C/Y. ]

    Could anyone please explain me the difference between 3cam and 2cam version? :) Thank you.
  18. The 2 cam version is a different formulation, the 3-cam version is better. The older 2-cam version (for the Leicaflexes) has a detachable lens hood, whereas the later one has it built in. The 3-cam was introduced with the Leica R3 that required a third cam to couple to the metering. From your perspective it won't matter as you are not coupling to anything. Of course the older version could be upgraded to 3 cams, so watch to check which version you are getting. The older lens is much heavier and larger and takes series filters but is probably better priced. The later version takes 55 mm "regular" filters.
  19. Robin, it's the Leitz Summilux 50mm f1.4 3-Cam first version 11675 (1972) E55. Is there any difference between both version performance wise?
  20. Heard that the Zeiss 50 f1.4 ZE is relatively weak when shooting wide open at minimal distance from the subject, not sure about the C/Y.​
    That's true, so they say, and as far as I know it would be true of the C/Y as well, being a similar design. (I rarely go faster than f/2)
  21. If it is an E55 then there is no difference - there are different versions with 3 cams, a single (third) R cam and then ROM for the R8/9, but they are all the same lens just with different camera to body communication. This is a good lens, but not as great as the much rarer E60 version which was a late 1990s early 2000s version and was a completely different formulation that takes a 60mm filter. These command a very high price.
    There's no practical difference between any of the versions that take a 55mm filter if you are wanting to use one on an EOS. They are good lenses but I have to say not "talked about" to nearly the same extent as the 50mm Summicron - don't really know why.
  22. I am using the Zeiss C/Y 50mm 1.4 on a 5D Mark II body.
    I also replaced the default focusing screen with an Eg-S Super Precision Matte Focusing Screen, otherwise the manual focusing is painful.
    Unfortunately the relatively good price of this venerable lens must be offset by the price of a good adapter. After experimenting with several brands on the market, including more upscale brands such as photodiox, I finally settled on Leitax http://leitax.com/Zeiss-Contax-lenses-for-Canon-cameras.html.
    This is a fixed adapter, and you will need to replace the original lens mount ring held in place with three screws (any decent camera repair shop will do this for you in less than 10 minutes, in case it sounds scary). The adapters can be also delivered with a microchip that will allow you to edit some EXIF information and provide a mostly useless focus confirmation signal to the body.
    Mechanically though the mount is perfect: Accurate and rock solid, worth every penny of its 60 Euros price.
    Best regards, Alex
  23. I'm using R lenses on 5DII and 40D and I'd like to remark on somewhat different points:
    1. If compared in the field over real images, both Zeiss and Leitz are superb and equivalent glasses. It's just that the Summicron 50mm will be excellent already from f/2; however, since the Zeiss you mention is 1 stop faster, at f/2 they will be of the same sharpness (overall rendition is a bit of personal taste, though).
    2. Pay careful attention to what Alex Dumitru said about manual focusing with the default screen--it will half-empty your "keeper" basket. You will need a split-image replacement for critical work (unless combine tripod with live view).
    3. For B&W street photography, I think you should as well keep your AF Canon lens.
    4. The premium value you pay for Leica lenses are more than "why-Leica?-Canon's-equally-sharper" comparison (if true). For example, a "good" 50mm f/1.8 current Canon lens has a plastic mount; Leica used to claim for its R lenses that the chromium mount could withstand 40,000 lens chances without any sign of wear.
    5. All these combined, I would go for the Zeiss.

  24. Thanks Alex and Paul,
    Unfortunately, the Canon 5D Mark III's focusing screen can't be replaced. I made a decision to sell my EF 50mm 1.2 as it's way too heavy and as I don't need the AF, I'd rather safe the cash and get another lens which is more compact for everyday use. I'm still not too sure whether to get the Zeiss 50mm 1.4 C/Y or Leica 50mm 1.4 (I need the 1.4 to shoot in extreme low light) though.
  25. Hi Claudia,
    There are no Canon manufactured replacements for 5d Mark III's focusing screen but there are at least two 3rd party manufacturers of very good, though expensive focusing screens for your camera: Haoda and Brightscreen. I owned once a Brightscreen on my Contax RTS III and it was great, but it seems that the original owner of Brightscreen passed away recently and the company is reorganizing.
    Haoda on the other hand still sells its 5D Mark III replacements.
    Check this thread:
    Here is the haoda site:
    http://www.focusingscreen.com/ click the Canon link to see all the models
    Here are the instructions on how to change the focusing screen on 5D Mark III.
    Does not seem excessively complex and probably a camera repair shop can do it for you easily.
    Best regards, Alex
  26. Hi Claudia, it appears I'm a bit late to the party, so I apologize if your questions have already been answered and you've
    made a decision. I own a set of Leica R primes from 19-180mm that I use for cinematography with my RED Epic, as well
    as my 6D, 5D MK3, and 7D. I can say for certainty that if you are still considering the 50mm Summilux-R, you won't be
    disappointed (unless you've already used a 50mm Summicron, then there may be some things that irk you).

    Side by side, the Canon 50mm f/1.2L when closed down to an equivalent f/1.4, it is noticeably not as sharp in the close-
    medium depth of focus (around 5-8ft). Here the Summilux wins. I should note that my current Summilux is a 3 Cam E55,
    made in Canada, serial #303xxxx. All of the 3 cam Summilux 50mm lenses serial # 289xxxx-350xxxx (or thereabouts) will
    be optically very similar. The coatings may vary when looking at different copies through that 20 year span of production,
    but sharpness wise, they're all quite similar.

    Now, the bad news is that when I first began collecting Leica lenses 3 years ago for my set, I began with the 50mm
    Summicron. It was a 3 cam 295xxxx serial, and when I first attached it to my camera, I was blown away by how sharp, yet
    creamy it was, even wide open. I later purchased the 50mm Summilux I own now, and I was surprised to find that when
    the Summilux was stopped down to an equivalent f/2 the Summicron was still marginally sharper, wide open... By f/2.8
    both lenses are spectacular, and it's a wash...

    That said, the Summilux does some pretty wonderful things wide open... It has this swirling bokeh effect when
    photographing trees, grass, anything with fairly even light at close focus range. It's a very interesting look and it works for
    some things... But I can say that if you can live with f/2, the Summicron is a better way to go... Otherwise, you'll end up
    like me... You'll have many thousands invested into a wonderful set of lenses, and then begin replacing the weak links...
    My next buy is the latest Summilux 50mm E60, which should finally be a substantially better lens than the Summicron that
    commands 1/8th of its price...

    When it comes to Leica, the best thing to do is to understand their philosophy and roots. They're about portraiture. Faces,
    people, true down and dirty photo journalism back in the day when AF and the luxuries didn't exist. They're also about
    quality... As the design and manufacturing capabilities improved over the years, each lens that was already great, got
    even better... This is why for example the 19mm Elmarit version 1 that I own from 1972 is really quite poor...at that time,
    there was no such thing as a floating element or aspherical lens surfaces. Those lenses still command upwards of $1200
    on the used market. The much newer, much improved 19mm Elmarit v2 from the ROM era (mine is a 387xxxx serial from
    around 2002) puts the v1 to shame in sharpness alone. Wide open at f/2.8, it reaches the same sharpness as the v1 at
    f/5.6-8 split.

    That particular focal length was very difficult to manufacture when it was released, so it was what it was, but as time went
    on, it was no longer good enough for Leica, so they improved it. Comparatively, a 50mm lens, because of its double
    gauss, relatively simple, spherical design, does not show nearly the same degree of improvement over the course of its
    manufactured history.

    The beauty of photography is the ability to choose... It's not always about ultimate sharpness... I love the way my old
    19mm flares, I sort of dislike the new 19mm's flares...

    The point is, if your work is akin to that of shooting people and the "Leica Mantra", then look no further, and buy a
    Summilux (or if you can make do with f/2, I'd advise a Summicron from later than 330xxxx instead and for less $$$). If
    your style of work varies significantly, then consider a Zeiss 50mm f/1.4 C/Y, but do get the MM diaphragm movement,
    probably somewhere north of a 700xxxx serial number if you can.. Funny thing about the Contax line is that you could buy
    that Planar 50mm and a Summicron 50mm both for less than the cost of an older Summilux E55.

    I'd recommend reading Erwin Puts book on Leica for more specific info about them.

    Both Zeiss and Leica are fantastic optical designers and manufacturers...substantially better (my opinion) than the
    Japanese counterparts, you really won't do poorly choosing either one. Also, definitely spring for the Leitax mounts for
    either one... Worth every penny, and if collimated correctly (some lenses need to be shimmed a few thousandths), the
    infinity mark will be right on infinity, and all the other marks will follow suit as well.

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