Zeiss primes or more megapixels?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by graham_meek, Jun 17, 2010.

  1. Hi Folks,
    First time post on here. I am a hobbyist who uses a Nikon D200 with a bunch of Nikon and third party good glass. I mainly take landscape photos and people photos when travelling (www.meekymanphotography.co.uk). Also, the odd studio portrait session as well. So, a mixture of tripod/low ISO/small apertures and patience combined with occasional handheld, large apertures, large apertures. I've always though lens first, camera second and am not particularly bound to Nikon.
    I'd like up my game and am thinking of moving to a D700 and match that with some primes (Zeiss 25mm, 35mm, Nikon 50 f1.4 or Voigtlander 20mm) and zooms (28-105 for studio&wandering/Nikon 80-200 2.8 I already own). I see that the full frame sensor will offer me more dyanamic range in my landscape photos and less depth of field in portraiture. The Zeiss primes (at least) will offer me quality and hopefully cope well with any megapixel camera of the future. I am aware of the Zeiss 25mm's field of curvature issue but can not see this being a problem the way I would use the lens.
    Then I was thinking, what the hell for landscapes more detail really matters and I could easily use Canon's 17-40 for landscapes with the 5d mark 2 camera. Then add on other lenses as suited for my needs (e.g 70-200 f4, 35mm f2 etc.). I'm aware that the Canon has less autofocus points and that these could help whrn using a manual lens in terms of focus confirmation (if I also used Zeiss 35mm for example with it.)
    So, what would be the better choice....Zeiss primes and D700 or Canon 17-40, 5dii...for upping my game? When it comes to printing, well A2 is in mind, but good quality A2.
    Cheers
    Graham
     
  2. Mamiya DM22?
     
  3. Honestly, as much as I hate to say it, if you are more interested in using the best glass (Zeiss primes) over anything else I would today use a 5DMII if I was starting fresh. I currently have several Zeiss primes and a D700 and think it is a fantastic combination. I would personally rather have the D700 over the 5DMII because of the better zoom lens options and AF/flash systems of Nikon. I really don't need 20+ MP as I am not printing large prints. If I was printing large prints I would probably move to a 2 brand system (Nikon D700 and Canon 5DMII) to keep my AF lenses on the Nikon and use Zeiss and other alternative glass on the 5DMII. The ZF glass easily outresolves the D700/D3/D3S
     
  4. The resolution of a digital image is a product of both the sensor and lens, and is always less than either one measured separately. for example, if the sensor and lens had the same resolution, the results would only be 2/3rds of that value (divided by the square root of 2). Most lenses are better than that, but you get diminishing returns with increasingly sharper lenses.
    There are other factors besides resolution which dictate lens choice, including chromatic aberation, distortion (pincussion, barrel, etc), contrast and freedom from flare. CA is a particular problem with short lenses, and Zeiss CF lenses excel in this regard. Flare is a particular problem with zoom lenses (and some primes), and reduces the contrast when shooting in backlight or with a bright background. I haven't seen any specs in this regard, but find that my Hasselblad (Zeiss) lenses show less flare than my Nikon f/2.8 zooms (but have more CA).
    Sensors too have changed dramatically since the D200, in both resolution and image quality. The color and noise of a D3 is much better than in my D2x, having the same resolution. The D700 is essentially the same in this regard as the D3 (but lacks other features).
     
  5. it's kind of a loaded question. what do you expect people to say?
    most likely, your technique will be more important than any gear choices you make. fancier gear will yield only incremental improvement, at best.
    whatever you decide, good luck.
     
  6. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    it's kind of a loaded question. what do you expect people to say?​
    The answer to this type of questions is very simple: a year or two ago, Thom Hogan pointed out that we should "upgrade the photographer first." Spend your budget on some photo class or take a small trip is typically the better way to better images. Whenever one askes something like: should I get a camera or a lens, it is a very good indication that neither one is really necessary.
    And I dispute that Zeiss has the best lenses. I have two Zeiss lenses myself and I have used the 50mm/f1.4 ZF for Nikon; they are good lenses but so are many Nikon lenses and many Canon lenses. I don't think getting some Zeiss lens will imporve your images much, if at all. They certainly did not improve mine. And before I bought my first Nikon camera and lens a long time ago, I already had a couple of Leica lenses, which I still own to this day.
    If you are really into landscape photography, I would say the lens to get is a tilt/shift lens such as the 24mm/f3.5 PC-E with a FX body; they can be Nikon or the Canon equivalent. The ability to tilt will open up a lot of possibilities. (Of course you could get into 4x5" film photography too for even more flexability in that direction, along with its many limitations.)
     
  7. Thanks everyone for your contributions.
    As always I imagined that such a question would provoke responses such as "upgrade the photographer" and expected that. I am grateful that other people chipped in with other opinions as well. I have attended classes, have a good grasp of the technical aspects of photography and am starting out on the journey of the artistic aspects. I do travel a few times of the year solely for photographic purposes. Having "better" equipment alone will not make me a "better" photographer...I am not stupid to think that. But I have been frustrated by several aspects of the equipment I use at the moment and hoped to garner opinions on which way to move.
    Medium format would be great, but unfortunately is out of my reach financially. I have looked into MF camera's for landscape photography, but the need for a good scanner again sends the costs escalating.
    Cheers
    Graham
     
  8. If I had a D200 and was looking to move up, I'd stay with Nikon, you are familiar with it and likely already have some lenses and other equipment that is for Nikon bodies. For the size prints you are looking at, a D700 would certainly have enough resolution.
    You might start with the D700 and the Zeiss 35mm lens (which I own and like very much). In addition to being a great landscape and street lens, I also use my Zeiss 35mm for stitched panoramic photos of nature and landscapes. It is a particularly good lens for that purpose.
    But if stitching is not an option and I need to go wider than 35mm, I use my Zeiss 25mm. Depending upon your budget, you might want to wait to see if Nikon comes out with some new bodies in the near future.
     
  9. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Having "better" equipment alone will not make me a "better" photographer...I am not stupid to think that.​
    Graham, that wasn't at all what I wrote.
    This was what I wrote earlier:
    I don't think getting some Zeiss lens will imporve your images much, if at all. They certainly did not improve mine.​
     
  10. While I agree with the advice to "upgrade the photographer first" is valid, I don't think that it applies in this case. If you read the OP's text, he says that he uses a tripod, low ISO, small apertures, and applies a lot of patience. Besides good technique, he also states that he favors good lenses foremost and isn't bound to Nikon. To me, all of this taken together shows that this is someone whom is interested in going out and making the best images, not someone who is just interested in spending money with the HOPE that it will improve his images. If you go to the OP's website, you will see that he has made some trips to the Far East and to North America and has some nice photos displayed there.
    I had a look through your portfolio, and except for the India folder, most of your images are landscape rather than portraits. It is in this application where the 5DII has some advantage over the D700, but only if using the best glass along with good technique, good tripod, etc. You weren't too specific about your current bag of third party lenses; if you think they exceed the capability of the D200's sensor, then get the 5DII. If your lenses are the weak link in your system, consider the Zeiss primes. Keep in mind that for daylight landscape shots on a tripod where you can shoot at f8, most lenses will perform well enough that an upgrade to an f2 Zeiss prime will not make much of a difference. Shun's advice of a tilt/shift lens is something you should consider. I wouldn't consider a 4 x 5 system unless you could go out with someone who shoots with one first.
    If you are thinking about Zeiss lenses either now or sometime in the future, I would advise you to get the ZF version for Nikon, not the ZE's. With an adaptor from cameraquest, you can use ZF's on either Nikon or Canon cameras.
     
  11. I would use AF lenses for portraits and manual lenses for landscape. Canon or Nikon...not a big deal either way. Preferably a 5d2 for landscape and d700 for people if I had to choose.
     
  12. FWIW I would second Ronald Olsen's post, seems like perfect advice to me.
    Steve
     
  13. What tripod do you use? This is probably more important than zeiss lenses. Anyway, I'd put my money on nikons best at 22MP over zeiss at 12MP.

    I'd look at stitching rather than worrying about small differences between lenses and MP.
     
  14. And I dispute that Zeiss has the best lenses. I have two Zeiss lenses myself and I have used the 50mm/f1.4 ZF for Nikon; they are good lenses but so are many Nikon lenses and many Canon lenses. I don't think getting some Zeiss lens will imporve your images much, if at all.​
    An average user of ZF lenses would indeed find the ZF 50 Planar and ZF 85 Planar in particular the worst lenses that Zeiss has to offer. Look at the ZF 35/21/100 MP/50 MP and those are some of the finest optics (if not THE BEST) that you can put on a Nikon body. However, when used as they are meant to be, the ZF 50 and 85 are also wonderful lenses. You just have to know the limitations such as shoot a little stopped down and 8ft plus away. The other 4 I mentioned above can't be touched by a single Nikon optic....not even close. Look at the ZF 21 wide open, its sharpness rivals any Nikon lens stopped down.
     
  15. Thanks once again for everyone's contributions. Thanks for your comments Ronald...made sense to me.
    Cheers
    Graham
     
  16. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Ryan, have you done any A/B comparisons between Zeisa and Nikon lenses? If so, I very much would like to see some results from you to demonstrate your claims. But I am only interested your personal test results. What Nikon has not done much is to update their fixed lenses (although they are starting with the 50mm/f1.4 AF-S and 24mm/f1.4 AF-S). All those 35mm/f2, 24mm/f2.8, 20mm/f2.8, etc. are very old designs from 2, 3 decades ago. Most of the excellent Nikon lenses today are their high-end zooms and their long teles.
    Today, given the right budget, any decent lens company can design and manufacture excellent lenses. A very good example is Cosina bought the Voigtlander brand name and makes some very fine lenses for Leica, Nikon, etc. Those fine lenses are 100% by Cosina, a brand name that is usually associated with cheap products. That German Voigtlander name is solely for marketing purposes.
    Graham, if you are inertested in 20+MP, the Canon 5D Mark II would be a good choice for landscape photography today; I personally don't like the AF system on it, but that should not be a major problem for landscape photography. An affordable 20+MP DSLR is one product Nikon is currently missing; hopefully they will correct that soon, but it is unclear how soon that will be. Just don't expect any huge difference between 12MP and 24MP (or 20 on the 5DII) for A2 size (or any size) prints, especially from normal viewing distances for that size.
    What I would strongly disagree with Ronald Olsen is to get ZF lenses and mount them on Canon via an adapter. Canon makes fine cameras and if you decide to go Canon, go Canon all the way and buy all EF mount lenses, be it Canon, Zeiss, or whatever 3rd-party brand. You are buying new lenses from scratch; there is no point to go through the trouble of adapters and stop-down metering.
     
  17. Speaking of the 5DII and Zeiss lenses...

    I shoot a 5DII with a Zeiss 35/2 ZE. For both street photography and street portraits. The 35 is coming
    from a Canon 24-70 2.8L, which I'll soon be selling. The difference is noticeable and worth it to me...

    That said, the advice about upgrading the photographer first, I agree, makes a lot of sense and is where you'll see the largest improvements.
     
  18. I`ll mention again what a landscapist photog told me once... something similar to what Ronald says; Canon cameras, with their shortest flange allow the use of his favourite Canons, Nikkors and Distagons on them.
    But it seems too much complicated to me; I like Nikon, and I also prefer to enjoy all the benefits of this system, with their latest AFS lenses. That`s the reason of using a D700.
    And I agree with Mark... rather than looking for such small differences I`d expend on the best pano head and stitching software.
     
  19. Graham, you wrote:
    But I have been frustrated by several aspects of the equipment I use at the moment and hoped to garner opinions on which way to move.​
    A more detailed description of the type of frustrations you have experienced would be very helpful to those trying to answer your question.
     
  20. Hi Graham,
    Because you seems to be at a crossroads right now I'd like to give you a different idea... at least is what I'd like to do in your situation.
    Rent for a couple of days a D700 and one Zeiss lens like 35mm f2 ZF.2 and then rent a 5DII with the same lens on ZE mount. Do yourself a comparison, watch the results, check the way you feel the two cameras in your hands, and make a decision not based on someone else's opinions but based on your personal experience. You must know that our advice is honest but somehow subjective and biased by personal experience and/or preferences.
    Because you decide now for a system, you need to know exactly what offers each system. Changing systems is an expensive 'sport' and is better to not do it often.
    As for me, unlike you, I am sold for Nikon, and I can stay for ever with D700 and several primes. But that's me... and this represents a personal decision based on my own experience.
     
  21. real 2.0M Carl Zeiss Pixels :
    http://www.himfr.com/d-p1113009812488116225-Bluetooth_Mobile_phone/
     
  22. I'm a Nikon user with a D300s, having recently upgraded from a D200, and I've been thinking along the same lines as you. We always want bigger, badder, more. But before you do anything, go out and shoot a landscape with your D200 and 12-24mm, blow it up to 24x36, and see if you still think you need something better. Something that comes in 35mm, that is.
     
  23. Hi Graham,
    Here's my perspective:
    I have a 6x9 camera and a Nikon 8000 scanner and it's a really good combination for landscapes.
    I also have a Canon 5d Mk1, and amazingly, it comes surprisingly close to the medium format in in image detail. I shoot negative film, and the 5D, though not quite as detailed, certainly makes a cleaner image with less noise/grain. The film though has much more dynamic range which is why I still like it for landscapes:)
    I think if you want the most detail in your landscapes, more pixels will really help more than the difference between Canon primes vs Ziess primes, if there really is much of a difference when stopped down.
    For myself, I shoot all primes on my 5D, and cheap ones at that. They are all quite good, though the 24mm 2.8 likes to be stopped down more than the 35 f2, 50f1.4 or 100f2. I really believe these lenses will perform surprisingly close to the Zeiss and cost way, way less. Each of them certainly out resolves my 5d Mk1 when used in the appropriate way.
    And I do print fairly large on my Epson 3800...
     
  24. Graham, after reading your posts and looking at your website, I'd say you're at the point where an upgrade in camera and lens will make a difference.
    Perhaps only an nth of a degree in difference, but when your primary subject matter includes stationary subjects such as landscapes and you've eliminated every other factor that can impair perceived sharpness (tripod, technique, etc.), then, sure, you're at the point where an equipment upgrade makes sense.
    Canon offers a lot of value in the 5D series, especially if you don't need the advantages Nikon may offer in the D700. Specifically, autofocus would be irrelevant for the subjects you've described, and whatever advantages Nikon may offer in terms of durability may be moot unless you're a photojournalist or otherwise subjecting the gear to extraordinarily rough conditions. Personally, I think the latter is overrated for most folks. I've used consumer grade gear with no protection against the environment and top notch pro gear. The only time I've destroyed a camera was when I dropped it in the water during a canoe trip. That would have killed pretty much anything but a Nikonos or purpose-built waterproof camera. Generations of nature photographers managed just fine with large and medium format film cameras that weren't particularly rugged or weather resistant.
    And you'll probably appreciate the nth of a degree in resolution, contrast and optical corrections of a top notch prime over even some of the best available zooms.
     
  25. That lens then camera theory holds true to a point. I liked the aforementioned upgrade the photographer bit, but honestly, if you are considering this sort of move, I'd probably go with the full frame first. You have good glass now, thats great, upgrading to full frame should really make up for any deficiencies in your already good glass collection. After that, you can go from good to excellent on glass. Then you'll have the best of both worlds. And if you can't do that before they release another camera, then you'll only be one upgrade away lol!
     
  26. As the owner of both camera, the D700 will give you a noticeable a resolution edge over the D200, at least more than the extra 2MP would suggest. D700 shots in good light look to my eyes as though they have about TWICE the resolution of a D200 shot. Maybe this is the bonus of the larger pixels and lower noise of a full-frame camera.
    The D700 will also be much, much, much, much, much better at just about ANY ISO value over ISO 200. The D200 is a VERY noisy camera. The D700 offers much better autofocus capabilities, as well.
    That said, there's also a large resolution gap between the D700 and a 20+ MP sensor (by any manufacturer). That's a difference you can see quite clearly.
    Zeiss lenses? In some tests the late-model Nikon zooms actually rate better. Plus with Zeiss you get no VR.
     
  27. That said, there's also a large resolution gap between the D700 and a 20+ MP sensor (by any manufacturer). That's a difference you can see quite clearly.​
    I would not dispute that a significant resolution difference exists, and one that can be demonstrated in certain circumstances. However I doubt very much that the difference can be seen, even by the most keen eyes, in an A2 size print.
     
  28. Graham,
    The Canon 17-40mm will not do the job as well as the newer Nikon zooms let alone some of the ZFs - I used to have one on my 1Ds II a few years ago. It's not a bad lens at all - it's just not as good as some of the newer ones and on a 5D II its deficiencies will be apparent.
    The ZF range is largely extremely good and in some instances it is far better than anything Nikon (or Canon) has hitherto produced. Nikon's new primes (and the PC-Es) may well upset that though but for the meantime the 21mm, 35mm and 100mm ZFs reign supreme. I sold off all my Nikon pro zooms once I had run parallel tests with the ZFs.
    Anyone thinking of making serious investments in ZFs should subscribe to diglloyd.com and see detailed comparisons between ZFs and the best that Canon and Nikon have to offer. They are impartial and painstakingly done and show up some surprising results both for and against ZFs.
     
  29. Graham, you've listed travel photography and landscape as your two main interests. A DSLR is not the ideal camera for these genres, they are made for sport and such. I tend to think that, if you want to use 'the best' glass, you want to travel light for travel, you want to shoot landscape and print big, then a 35mm rangefinder camera such as a Leica, Voigtlander or Zeiss, with some nice Leica glass would fit the bill. This would come in at around the same price as your digicam with zoom lenses. Now if you don't want to limit yourself to just one camera, then get somthing like a Voigtlander Bessa with a Leica 35mm Summicron, and a Mamiya RB67 (frame size about 5 times the size of a Nikon D3x) with a 65mm lens and a 127mm lens. Then you've got your three interests covered. A good quality scanner such as the Epson V700 will do a great job on both the 135 and 120 film, and you will also add the ablity to make proper prints on an enlarger....maybe that doesn't interest you now, but you could turn around and make a nice one off print on some fibre paper in 20 years time. If you have an image that you really love, then it won't bother you to send it off for a drum scan if you really feel the need for absolute maximum scan quality. Use some Adox CMS-20, and you really are in resolution heaven.
    The main issue with the SLR lenses, is that they employ a retrofocus design, which compromises the image quality. Get a retrofus zoom lens, and things get even worse. Even some cheap normal lenses such as a Voigtlander 35mm on a Voigtlander Bessa is going to exceed the best glass from Canon or Nikon on a thier best digicams. DSLR's are great, I have a D3, but they have their limitations as does any other camera. I would never use the D3 for landscapes if I had other options available to me. As a hobbyist Graham, I see no reason why you would want to compromise your image quality just for the convenience of digital. If you don't have clients looking over your shoulder, or demanding same day turn around, there really is no point.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Mamiya RB67 with 90mm, 65mm, and 127mm lens = $800
    Voigtlander Bessa with Leica Summicron 35mm lens = $1500
    Epson scanner = $400
    TOTAL = $2700
     
  30. I see two different points here:
    1. Camera upgrading (looks like everybody agree here, any current version will perform much better than your D200). The question is... Canon or Nikon? Which system do you prefer? Pixel resolution, AF, flash, ergonomics, empathy, etc. After that, once you have choosen what works for you, I`d think on the lens choice that could give you a bit more IQ or not, faster AF or whatever. If you start mixing that variables this can be an endless maze. I`d first resolve this issue.
    2. Lens choice. Here is the tricky thing. Is it worth to you a bit more resolution in trade of AF, zoom versatility or money? Does a Zeiss prime will give you higher IQ than a "N" pro zoom or even a Nikkor prime at landscape working apertures? Do you have a whim for a Zeiss lens? (something perfectly legitimate, my ZAS (NAS derivative) is asks me for a 50/2 Macro Planar... ) If so, I`d simply go for it.
     
  31. I agree wthat renting makes good sense before buying. Here is a good place to do that for Zeiss and other good glass and other photo equipment. Note that the link is just for wide angle lenses for Nikon: http://www.borrowlenses.com/category/nikon_wide_angle
    Other lenses can be found at other links.
    Joe Smith
     
  32. Some good responses. Full frame in either the D700 or 5DII are both good options for high image quality. Ronald's suggestion of Zeiss ZF lenses makes sense. Nikon's 14-24 is a brilliant lens as well. IMO the Canon 17-40 you mentioned shouldn't even be a part of this discussion. Most of Canon's wide lenses aren't very good and none of their wide zooms are.
     
  33. It seems obvious that getting more detail and true colors in any photo are desirable objectives. I am a comparative novice at photography. A basic question: Assuming the same lens is used and the same ISO and White Balance and aperture settings, does the Nikon D3X with 24 MP and a full frame image sensor give more detail and better color than a D700 with a full frame but only 12 MP?
    Thank you for your response.
     
  34. However I doubt very much that the difference can be seen, even by the most keen eyes, in an A2 size print.​
    Granted, but I didn't mention prints. I don't print all of my photos, only a select few. But I review each of them on a monitor at various magnification levels. This online inspection is where the differences can be seen clearly.
     
  35. A basic question: Assuming the same lens is used and the same ISO and White Balance and aperture settings, does the Nikon D3X with 24 MP and a full frame image sensor give more detail and better color than a D700 with a full frame but only 12 MP?​
    I don't believe that there would be much difference in color. More detail depends on lens quality, camera stability, focus accuracy, depth of field, and the amount of detail inherent in the subject. A clear blue sky doesn't have a lot of detail, for instance. Nor does a bank of fog. If your camera shakes or your focus isn't completely accurate, you're not going to capture the detail that any quality DSLR and lens can render. And a some ISO settings, I would choose the D700 over a camera with more pixels. The D700 is amazingly clean up to ISO 3200. The D3X doesn't even go that high.
     
  36. Less than 2 years ago Canons 5D was the choice for anyone wanting (somewhat) affordable FX digital. I dont think anyone cared that it was 12 MP and it was a clear winner for landscape photography. Now we have the D700 with the same 12 MP's, but, all around much better performer than the 5D. However, the D700 does not get the credit that the 5D got. A little late I guess. But, with the new 5D2 you get 8 more MP's for less money and at $800.00 you cant beat the 17-40mm.
    I would be very surprised if most of the photographers that responded here did not consider trying the new 5D2. At least the ones who are not bound to Nikon.
     
  37. The price of more megapixels trends down, while the price of well designed/made lenses goes up. Buy lenses now, and buy higher megapixels later, when they're cheaper and there are [maybe]more choices.
     
  38. If resolution for landscapes is what you're looking for, you shouldn't be looking at digital. The difference between cameras
    and lenses isn't great enough to justify the cost. If you were looking for speed and low light, a D700 would be a great
    investment. But it seems you're a film photographer who has traded image quality for the convenience of digital. You aren't
    going to see much difference unless you bite the bullet and get a medium format camera. Find a quality lab to scan for
    you. It will be much cheaper and more effective for you than getting high end digital equipment that really isn't up to what
    you're asking it to do.

    The alternative is to decide if you really need all that resolution. If you're just looking at images on a monitor, you aren't
    pleasing the viewer of your work. You're just gaining some sort of theoretical satisfaction. Unless your images are drop
    dead gorgeous and deserve to be printed to fill a wall with spectacular detail, you really don't need to go down the
    expensive road you're going.
     
  39. Find a quality lab to scan for you. It will be much cheaper and more effective for you than getting high end digital equipment that really isn't up to what you're asking it to do.​
    Steven this is a suggestion that is too often overlooked.
    But it depends on the number of images one shoots. For a low volume this is always an excellent alternative, especially if one is able to use lens and back movements for landscapes. If larger numbers of images are used the cost of film (plus follow up costs) quickly exceeds a digital MF back. Use a fine tip pencil and do the calculation for your application. Of course large numbers of MF digital images require more capable computing and storage as well as backup power that is also expensive.
     
  40. I switched from using manual Nikon SLRS and Nikkor lenses nearly fifteen years ago to Contax SLRs and Contax Zeiss lenses, and have not been disappointed at all. Should bear in mind that the Zeiss glass will offer a different "look" than the Nikkors and only you should be the judge as to which is preferable. As for the current ZF Zeiss lens lineup, while several lenses are derived from the earlier Contax Zeiss designs (including the 50mm f1.4 Planar, which, IMHO is the best fast 50mm lens I have ever used, period, with respect to contrast and resolution), most of the others are new designs based on the latest technology. But even fifteen years ago, I was still surprised that my 25mm Distagon (not the same design as the current one, but ancestral to it, and actually, a design dating from the 1960s for the Contarex SLR system) didn't substantially outperform my 24mm Nikkor lens.
     
  41. Having used many of Nikons pro lenses and currently still do, I'm very impressed with the Zeiss ZF 100 MP I recently bought. There is something different about the look that Zeiss lenses give that can't be reproduced by Nikon. It's not just the sharpness, which is indeed very sharp, nor the micro contrast or even the colours which are quite vibrant. It's a kind of solid, more realistic look - don't know how to describe it but it's there. I'm going to get the ZF 35 when my bank balance recovers and then the ZF 21.
    To answer the OP - get a Zeiss 35, then a Zeiss 21 and a Nikon FX body, You won't regret it.
     

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