Zeiss Lenses

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by hjoseph7, May 14, 2010.

  1. Are Zeiss lenses really that much better than Canon Lenses ? I'm getting conflicting reviews such as lack of AF, stiff
    focusing ring, heavy constuction etc ?
     
  2. Harry, I was exactly like you just 2 days ago until my Canon 1.4 broke. I can't say I was very happy with Canon to begin with. Thankfully I was pointed in a right direction and I bought 50mm Zeiss ZE. Responding to your questions I actually like the lack of AF. It gives you better control. The focusing is not stiff. I would not want to have it any looser. I am a big fan of Canon 85L but the only thing that I don't like about it is the focusing ring. When I first bought it I thought that the lens was broken. Its way too loose. The heavy construction is also a plus IMO. Means reliability and longer life. I would also assume that it would be in better shape if fell on the floor comparing to Canon or any other plastic lens. But in the end I suggest you buy and try it.
     
  3. stp

    stp

    Not all Zeiss lenses are created equal, and not all compare in the same way to Canon. Read the reviews. For example, as I recall, the Zeiss 85mm is not so great, while the Zeiss 21mm is stellar. Perhaps this accounts for your seemingly conflicting reviews.
     
  4. For my needs, the 21/2.8 is the gem of the Cosina Zeiss line. There simply aren't any other under-24mm wides in the Canon mount that can produce sharp corners, even stopped down. It's pricey, though. The 35/2.0 looks almost as good optically (and is more reasonably priced), but there are other choices in that focal length that can produce good images (I'm using the (also made by Cosina) Voigtlander 40/2.0 pancake lens). The digilloyd site has (for-fee) reviews of the Zeiss lenses that are helpful.
    For a 21mm lens, the lack of AF is a feature, not a problem. The focusing scale has a longer throw and more gradations than any Canon wide, which is great for hyperfocal games. The focusing ring is gloriously smooth and a joy to use. It's not a light lens, though. 600 gm, if memory serves. Much heavier than the 17-40, for example.
    My impression is that while a joy to use mechanically, the 50/1.4 and 85/1.4 are very similar optically to the Canon 50/1.4 and 85/1.8. The 50mm and 100mm macro lenses are supposed to be superb, though.
     
  5. At 2008 Photokina I had the opportunity to play with the Zeiss 50/1.4. Mechanically it's a gem. The way it handles, the way it feels; superb. Every "L" lens should be mechanical like this.
    But lenses are about taking pictures. Just read the review of the 85/1.4 on the-digital-picture.com. They had trouble keeping the lens in focus which was according to Zeiss due to "Fast lenses of this optical design (without floating elements) shift the focus due to spherical aberration when the f-stop is changed. etc". In other words: expect focussing problems with lenses like these.
    BTW, can anybody comment on this issue. According to the above qoute other lenses (Canon, Nikon, others) must have the same issue but I don't recall having heard about it before reading the digital-picture.com review.
     
  6. Again we are hearing from people who never actually used the lenses yet referring to some failed attempts. Guys, why don't we all start posting our own experiences with lenses. This is what users of this forum want. "My impression is that while a joy to use mechanically, the 50/1.4 and 85/1.4 are very similar optically to the Canon 50/1.4 and 85/1.8" can not be further from the truth. I actually bought Zeiss 50mm and IMO it is much better than Canon. I've also spoke to people about Zeiss 85mm and everybody who actually have this lens say that it comes very close in quality to 85L and beats 85L in distortions (even though everybody says that 85L is better). It actually beats 85 1.8 in every aspect. So please stop imagining things and creating rumors. Post your own experiences.
     
  7. It actually beats 85 1.8 in every aspect. So please stop imagining things and creating rumors. Post your own experiences.​
    Except for AF of course which is of vital importance to most photogs. And we can post whatever we want. This is a forum--a place for discussion and open exchange of ideas--not a friggen legal deposition.
    I've also spoke to people about Zeiss 85mm and everybody who actually have this lens say that it comes very close in quality to 85L and beats 85L in distortions (even though everybody says that 85L is better). It actually beats 85 1.8 in every aspect.​
    I believe this qualifies as hearsay and you just violated your own commandment of "thou shall only post your own experiences."
     
  8. LOL, AF is important of most photogs. You know what they say: ignorance is a bliss. Good luck.
     
  9. Just read the review of the 85/1.4 on the-digital-picture.com. They had trouble keeping the lens in focus which was according to Zeiss due to "Fast lenses of this optical design (without floating elements) shift the focus due to spherical aberration when the f-stop is changed. etc". In other words: expect focussing problems with lenses like these. BTW, can anybody comment on this issue. According to the above qoute other lenses (Canon, Nikon, others) must have the same issue but I don't recall having heard about it before reading the digital-picture.com review.​
    Canon EF 50/1.2L would be one example.
     
  10. I use the 50 1.2L all the time and it's one of my favs. I haven't suffered any focusing problems with it during the past year. It works fine at 1 meter and F2 to 4 (although I tend to use it the most at F1.2 to 2). On the other hand, my EF 50 1.4 an 50 1.8 had difficultly focusing in even moderately low light (the same situation I have trouble with MF).
     
  11. I own a Zeiss 50mm 1.4 ZE, and I'm very happy and impressed with the lens, its design, construction and performance.
    Talking about canon, I've previously owned the canon 50mm 1.8 and the 1.4.
    I've used and owned extensively many 50's (it's the only focal length I use): Nikon 1.8 manual, summicron f2, Rokkor 58mm 1.2 (which bokeh I LOVE by the way) and many others....
    I think that everybody has to choose the right tool for the kind of photography he/she does. The tool that works for me, maybe won't work for others. That doesn't mean the lens is better or worse, just less suitable to my style/work.
    Having said that I have to say that the Zeiss 1.4 ZE is the BEST lens I've used so far when it comes to "street photography" in digital (in traditional photography nothing beats my summicron 50mm f2 wih my M3 :) ): it's incredibly sharp at medium distances (a bit less in close up, in that case I use the rokkor, for portraits), manual focus is a JOY to use, very precise. As I need to shoot fast, it's very convenient also choosing aperture from camera, without having to stop down manually.
    I have to say, that AF for my is s*it, no matter what lens we talk about, I just don't want nor need that feature. I like lenses that feel like real lenses in my hand, well built, with good manual focus ring. But that's just me...
    So, I would recommend this lens to all the people who:
    -wants to control focus manually in a very precise way.
    -wants razor sharp street pictures
    -wants fast selection of aperture
    -wants a lens built like a tank, with no s*hitty plastic in it, just metal and glass.
     
  12. "-wants to control focus manually in a very precise way.
    -wants razor sharp street pictures
    -wants fast selection of aperture
    -wants a lens built like a tank, with no s*hitty plastic in it, just metal and glass"
    Yup. That is why I am a happy owner of the Zeiss 50mm 1.4 ZE myself.
     
  13. Critical focusing is somehow allways tied to the focusing screen. While manual SLR and Range Finder film cameras have split-screen focusing screens and other aids to help you focus, Digital & AF cameras usually come with a plain screen, so for the Zeiss lens owners how does that affect your focusing experience ?
     
  14. Critical focusing is somehow allways tied to the focusing screen. While manual SLR and Range Finder film cameras have split-screen focusing screens and other aids to help you focus, Digital & AF cameras usually come with a plain screen, so for the Zeiss lens owners how does that affect your focusing experience ?​
    The default screens that come with the camera are optimized for brightness and they are not accurate for MF with apertures under 2.8. But Canon makes plain focusing screens optimized for MF and they are inexpensive.
    That's what I use and I don't miss the split-screen or microprism at all. The plain screen gives me more freedom with composition (no need to focus and recompose, fit the sharp subject within the circle in the center, no obscuring elements covering center of the viewfinder etc.) and I can use live view if I need really precise focus.
     
  15. I have a Contax N 50 1.4 converted to Canon EOS mount by Conurus (http://en.conurus.com/faq.html), so it autofocuses and has camera-control apeture. I have used Canon 50 1.4 and Canon 50 1.2. I haven't used either of the Canons at the same time as my Contax so I can only depend on my memory.
    In my experience:
    - Contax N autofocuses better than Canon 50 1.4.
    - Contax N autofocuses slower than Canon 50 1.2. Canon 50 1.2 was not perfect with focus, though, even though it was fast. I missed some shots w/50 1.2. Not a huge problem, but not what I expected given price.
    - Image quality (no scientific brick wall testing, just my impressions) wasn't big an issue with any of the 3. They're all good and not a limiting factor. But, in my observation:
    3rd: Canon 50 1.4
    2nd: Contax N 50 (better contrast, sharper than above)
    1st: Canon 50 1.2L. (only slightly better in my opinion because out of focus is smoother than Conax N 50. Smooth or star-shaped is a matter of taste of course.) Overall, Contax, though has a unique look. I don't think you'll get an argument from anyone.
    Build quality: Canon L best, Contax 2nd, Canon 1.4 much lower.
    So this is one person's opinion, one focal length. Probably not all that useful since most will consider ZE rather than Contax N vs. Canon.
     
  16. Great response regardin the Contax 50/1.4N, I'm currently in the market for one since I am worried about the focus shift issues with the 50/1.2L, Do you have any sample images with the 50/1.4 N?
    thank-you
    Raymond
     
  17. e.g. this
    http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/762543
    and there is always a Contax N image thread on Fred Miranda forums.
     
  18. For a good selection of images captured with specific zeiss glass you can always search on http://www.zeissimages.com
    At least you can seacrh by the actual lens used and not just the focal length.
     
  19. I recently got a dSLR (Canon 40D) to properly enter the digital photography field. After using it and a Canon 24-105L, I also added a few AF confirm adapters to try some of my old Zeiss glass for my 159/167/RTS III days. I got 1 adapter locally and 6 more from Hong Kong. I also added a used (but extremely mint) Canon 200mm f/1.8 USM from Henry's Photo in Ontario.
    In the last year, I took some 3000 frames on the 40D before deciding I liked the camera and wanted a better one. I found a second hand 7D with 7000 exposures on it. I can now make certain conclusions regarding Zeiss/Canon glass on a semi-pro digital camera.
    The 24-105L is a workhorse lens but I was troubled from the time I first picked it up by its lightweight/plastic feel. It has the same weight as my old Zeiss 28mm f/2.0. I understand people want lenses they can actually carry around all day with out getting exhausted, and compromises need to be made. I think it achieves a good balance. Going from manual focus from my Zeiss lenses to this lens with its IS / USM was a big difference, as big as being able to use a monopod. Some people rave about its optical quality. I don't. Maybe I got a dog of a lens? I know its a bit of a waste to use it on an APS C sensor but I want to be able to shift to full-frame at some point.I may play around with the new focus adjustment feature in the camera to see if that helps.
    The Zeiss glass all worked as good as I hoped it would with the soul exception being my 28mm f/2.0 Distagon. Optically it was superb, but it had a stiff focus and sometimes I would not get a precise focus on nearby objects. A $400 "clean/lubricate/adjust" plus a new helicoil mechanism fixed all that. Buttery smooth and the glass is again clear as water.
    With the adapters, I get a focus confirm in the camera. For those who don't know, you access them by a sub menu in the camera that you get when you attach the lens and press the DOF three times quickly. For there you program the chip in the adapter with focal length and maximum aperture.
    I got an 18mm f/4 Zeiss (Japanese version) because I couldn't justify whatever Zeiss wants for the new 21mm f/2.8 ZE. The only trouble so far is there are NO THREADS to add a polarizer to the front. The polarizer makes a great difference in photos with lots of sky.
    The 28mm 2 AEG takes pictures of sharpness and great color that I remember. I dug up some old photos taken on Ektar 25 and some old 25/64 speed Kodachrome. I actually think the pictures will be sharper on the 7D than on film, except for the ones on K25. I have taken some HD video with this lens on the 7D. First few looked bad: yellow cast until I realized the white balance was left on daylight. The few I have taken outside are stunningly clear and crisp. I had considered four years back selling this for $500. I'm glad I didn't.
    35mm f/2.8 PC Zeiss. AEG Sharp at f2.8, really REALLY good at f4 to f11. Metering seems problematic when shifted, so I bracketed. I see from reading in the 7D manual this can be an issue. I thought this lens wouldn't be all that useful in a 1.6X sensor.
    The 45mm f2.8 "Pancake" I remember it was a backup lens and for good reason: Hard to use focusing, not particularly sharp. Small and got sharper at 5.6. I won't bother keeping this one.
    50mm f/1.4. I used this lens for 60% of my 35mm shots and was seldom disappointed. On the Canon it is not very sharp because it has fungus in the lens from being stored badly. Bother.
    50mm f/1.7 MMJ Got this lens back (along with my old 159MM) from my brother. Works well enough and is quite sharp with good color rendition.
    85mm f/1.4 AND 50th Anniversary f/1.2 Both lens are very sharp on the 40D and 7D. I got these from someone wanting to sell some camera stuff to a friend (thank you Betty Demarche) who sent them to me. In a small beat-up case they pulled out while telling me they'd rather have a point and shoot rather than this: a 167MT with an 85mm f/1.4 mounted AND this stunning 85mm f/1.2 she inherited from her father. I paid $350 for the 167/85 1.4 but I won't relate what I paid for the 1.2 because it would embarrass me. Both lens are very sharp and I think the 1.2 is a bit of a waste stopped down if you used it with faster films. Stopped down, both are equally good but I would need to use a mono/tripod to to take advantage. I did miss the focus on many wide open shots due to the narrow depth of field. Much better average now with focus confirm.
    200mm f/3.5 AEG Good lens. sharp and light enough to use by hand. Good utility but rather slow optically. I did use it to take some photos of some optics I've been working on and people remarked on how good the contrast was : http://www.cloudynights.com/ubbthreads/showflat.php/Cat/0/Number/3596087/page/16/view/collapsed/sb/5/o/all/fpart/2/vc/1
    200mm Canon f/1.8 USM. A stunningly sharp optic in a heavy package. I got a chance to use one at an persons business (he now has TWO of them, and NO I will not tell you his address ;) , even wide open, hand-held at 1/30 second, you can see the sharpness. One of the first photos I took with my own lens was of my former neighbors baby. She was just learning how to crawl and lift her head up so I got the lens out with a monopod for support. I took a quick burst of four photos and reviewed them to see if I got her in focus. On the computer, you can count the eyelashes. The backround is superb. On the basis of this photo, her baby was chosen for a advertisement.
    I also took some photos for the fireworks at the 2010 Vancouver "Symphony of Fire" With the downtown area plugged with crowds of people, I elected to take photos from Cypress Bowl, about 6 MILES away. From there, I can plainly see the outlines of people standing in the windows of building overlooking the water, provided the light was on inside.
    70-210 f/3.5 Zeiss. Really great zoom lens. I had owned a Tamron but found it to be not up to Zeiss standards (What is?) The zoom range on it is nice from a short tele to a longish one. Great for picking out a section you like without moving closer. It works well on the Canon but I find I don't need it as much now. In macro settings, it is very useable.
    All in all, I find the Zeiss glass I use with my Canon to be of excellent quality with a better feel than most of Canons lenses. I won't keep the 45 or 200 f3.5 as they don't really fill a need like having a second lens on a backup body.
    00XrT3-311655584.jpg
     

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