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Author Topic: Zeiss glass on sony alpha  (Read 9608 times)
Mike W
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« on: December 24, 2007, 06:02:31 AM »
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Hi Folks,

It seems to me Sony is really entering the prosumer/pro photography market with its a700 and rumored FF a900.

Since the sensor in the new Nikon camera's are sony-branded CMOS, I am tempted to think; why buy Nikon, with the Sony I get Zeiss lenses!?
I have no problem with Nikon, let me be clear about that. I am however a BIG fan of Zeiss' Hassy lenses.

Does anyone have experience with Zeiss lenses on both Sony an Hasselblad? How do the alpha lenses compare?

regards (and happy holidays)

Mike
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aaykay
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« Reply #1 on: December 24, 2007, 12:03:46 PM »
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Does anyone have experience with Zeiss lenses on both Sony an Hasselblad? How do the alpha lenses compare?

There are 2 types of Zeiss lenses in the Alpha system.  There is the APS-C-only Zeiss 16-80 f/3.5-4.5, which is not truly a professional-grade lens.  This is supposed to be a high-end Kit-lens on the current list of APS-C crop cameras and in fact is sold as as Kit with the A700 in some markets.  The build quality on this is not upto pro-grade snuff, even though the optics are supposed to be good.

Then there is professional-grade Zeiss AF lenses in the Sony Alpha mount, which includes the Planar 85mm f/1.4 and the Sonnar 135mm f/1.8, both of which are currently being sold in stores.  These have metal bodies and even the hood is aluminium.  Solid, heavy with terrific optics.

Some upcoming professional-grade Zeiss lenses are the Vario-Sonnar 24-70 f/2.8 SSM and a 16-35 f/2.8 SSM OR 14-24 f/2.8 SSM (most probably a 16-35 f/2.Cool.  There is also a probable Vario-Sonnar 70-200 f/2.8 SSM, since Sony is pulling out the current 70-200 f/2.8 G SSM from the market.  I hope this 70-200 Zeiss comes in Black !  There are several other longer primes also in the pipeline, which I am not including, since those are not Zeiss, even though top-end glass.

All of the pro-grade Zeiss lenses are accompanied by an individual Quality certificate in the box.

Obviously, the above CZ lenses will almost certainly have pin-sharp resolution, corner-to-corner, being a Zeiss design with *T coatings, but also will carry a price premium over the corresponding Canon/Nikon equivalents.  

Now it is time for the market to wait and see what the Full-frame A900 will be like, since Sony has billed it as a Professional-grade product, but without the integrated grip a la the 1D-series Canons and the D2/D3 Nikons.  I suspect this will be like a Canon 5D with better build quality.
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bcroslin
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« Reply #2 on: December 24, 2007, 02:28:08 PM »
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I had a chance to use the Sony Zeiss 85 f1.4 and the 135 f1.8 for a few days recently and IMO they're just a nice as anything Nikon or Canon has in a similar focal length. Not sure how they stack up against the Hassy glass but the Sony stuff is the real deal.
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Rob C
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« Reply #3 on: January 11, 2008, 11:16:42 AM »
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I've no experiences with Zeiss/Sony, but the new Zeiss/Nikon mount has a lot of improvements over the Zeiss/Contax mount. However, this comparison is based on lens adapter with Zeiss/Contax on FF DSLR, and the adapter's preceision for focusing extremely matters. Nevertheless, it's quite consistent if you take the MTF as the refernce.

I did try Hasselblad with Hasselblad/Sony adapter on Sony A100. I'm also using Hasselblad with Hasselblad/EOS adapter on Kodak SLR/c and Zeiss/Contax on the same camera. There is clear difference in the uniformity of Hasselblad over Zeiss/35mm when shooting FF (the 35mm lens need to step down 2 to 4 stops to compaete), but not so much in A100. On the other hand, the 35mm format lens 50/1.4 and 80/1.4 win the resolutions and contrast in the smaller image circle (than HB's 50mm/4.0 FLE and 80mm/2.Cool.  This is based on the best sample (in term of focus precision) of the adapter that I can fined.

I also find that the Contax 135mm/2.8 sweeter than the sweetest HB 180/f4 when shooting FF DSLR in all respects.  The smoothness of the selective focusing is ..., I have no word to decribe it.
In all cases, Zeiss is always better than any Nikon or Canon that I know of.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=164416\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I must put my hand up in the air and declare that my experience of Hasselblad optics (okay, Zeiss, then) is quite old, based on ownership of only three such lenses: 50, 80 and 150mm, and they were all the chrome ones, thought new when I bought them.

My experience of Nikkors goes back to the same period when I ran both systems side-by-side depending on need/job; only Nikon replacements live with me now.

The feeling I got was this: Hasselblad was no way as good in tricky lighting (exterior) as was Nikon, being very much more prone to flare; having sometimes put a 6x6 neg into a 35mm negative holder and printed the reduced part of the frame through the same Schneider Componon, the Nikkors always fared better. Frankly, this is only to be expected, because 35mm uses the best part of the circle lenses can produce. The larger neg/transparency works better on a same-sized print because less magnification is required. It doesnīt mean the bigger formatīs lenses are intrinsically better.

Another thing: I used a 150 Sonnar because a 180 did not exist at the time, but coming to that 150 from the 180 that I had for the 6x6 TLR Mamiya was not a good experience. The RB/RZ family eventually seemed to replace the Hasselblad even in very high-profile studios, so I think that when the ownership glory of having a ībald was put aside, Mamiya was a better choice in many ways.

Ciao - Rob C
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BJL
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« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2008, 01:48:19 PM »
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It needs to be said that none of these lenses for the Sony Alpha system are made by Zeiss: they are designed partly or entirely by Zeiss but manufactured by an unspecified lens maker in Japan. I see no reason to believe that Zeiss has a unique ability to design lenses better than Nikon (or Canon or Olympus or Pentax) can do with its best lenses, so I strongly recommend judging the lenses by actual performance, not by the brand name printed on the lens barrel. Nor do I see any evidence that Zeiss is capable of setting and enforcing higher quality control standards than leading Japanese lens makers can muster for their high end lenses.

In fact I also see no reason to believe that Zeiss is capable of designing lenses better than Nikon and such can do for their highest level products. As an aside, the lenses for the currently dominant medium format system are made by Fuji, and are also designed partly or entirely by Fuji, so isn't is time to abandon this idea that "All German lenses are superior to all Japanese lenses"?

Cynically, I would suggest that price is a better rough guide to quality than brand name, especially for lenses expensive enough that most buyers are fairly knowledgeable.


Similarly for the Leica branded lenses sold by Panasonic, and more so for the Schneider-Kreuznach branded lenses sold by Samsung but clearly designed and made by Pentax, or a Pentax sub-contractor like Tokina.
« Last Edit: January 11, 2008, 01:49:22 PM by BJL » Logged
sojournerphoto
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« Reply #5 on: January 11, 2008, 04:31:12 PM »
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It needs to be said that none of these lenses for the Sony Alpha system are made by Zeiss: they are designed partly or entirely by Zeiss but manufactured by an unspecified lens maker in Japan. I see no reason to believe that Zeiss has a unique ability to design lenses better than Nikon (or Canon or Olympus or Pentax) can do with its best lenses, so I strongly recommend judging the lenses by actual performance, not by the brand name printed on the lens barrel. Nor do I see any evidence that Zeiss is capable of setting and enforcing higher quality control standards than leading Japanese lens makers can muster for their high end lenses.

In fact I also see no reason to believe that Zeiss is capable of designing lenses better than Nikon and such can do for their highest level products. As an aside, the lenses for the currently dominant medium format system are made by Fuji, and are also designed partly or entirely by Fuji, so isn't is time to abandon this idea that "All German lenses are superior to all Japanese lenses"?

Cynically, I would suggest that price is a better rough guide to quality than brand name, especially for lenses expensive enough that most buyers are fairly knowledgeable.
Similarly for the Leica branded lenses sold by Panasonic, and more so for the Schneider-Kreuznach branded lenses sold by Samsung but clearly designed and made by Pentax, or a Pentax sub-contractor like Tokina.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=166571\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I'm inclined to agree with your cynicism, but I've just bought a Zeiss ZF 35 f2 (made in Japan) and at first use on my 5D I'm absolutely delighted. I love the way it 'draws' and the build is lovely. On the other hand it does cost considerably more than a canon 35 f2, and doesn't have any electronics or autofocus.

Mike
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aaykay
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« Reply #6 on: January 11, 2008, 05:01:57 PM »
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It needs to be said that none of these lenses for the Sony Alpha system are made by Zeiss: they are designed partly or entirely by Zeiss but manufactured by an unspecified lens maker in Japan.

I think as long as the Zeiss pro-grade lenses (currently limited to the Sonnar 135 f/1.8 and Planar 85 f/1.4 in the Sony mount) are designed by Zeiss, and built with proprietary Schott optical glass, with every element coated with Zeiss proprietary T* coatings (permitting 99.5% of the light to pass through unhindered), and following the Zeiss 135 point inspection by Zeiss employees both before, during and after the manufacturing process and put together in Japan by a super-premium speciality Japanese maker (Cosina), and accompanied by an individual quality certificate from Zeiss with a Zeiss Serial# (separate from the Sony Serial#) I personally would pay a premium for such a lens over more mass market versions.
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #7 on: January 11, 2008, 06:02:28 PM »
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It seems to me Sony is really entering the prosumer/pro photography market with its a700 and rumored FF a900.

Since the sensor in the new Nikon camera's are sony-branded CMOS, I am tempted to think; why buy Nikon, with the Sony I get Zeiss lenses!?
I have no problem with Nikon, let me be clear about that. I am however a BIG fan of Zeiss' Hassy lenses.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=162844\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

The Sony systems has great potential, but is IMHO too early to commit to it.

With the D3 and 24-70f2.8 + 14-24 f2.8, Nikon has shown the world that they are the best wide zoom manufacturer and the only one so far able to release convincing ultra wide lenses on a FF sensor.

Whether Zeiss will be able to do as well on the FF Sony at competitive prices remains to be seen. Notice that I am sure Zeiss could do better at twice the price, but so could Nikon.

Either way, considering the outstanding performance of the new Nikkors, I'd be surprised if Zeiss could pull something better, and would be amazed if they released lenses significantly better.

Cheers,
Bernard
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aaykay
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« Reply #8 on: January 11, 2008, 08:19:15 PM »
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With the D3 and 24-70f2.8 + 14-24 f2.8, Nikon has shown the world that they are the best wide zoom manufacturer and the only one so far able to release convincing ultra wide lenses on a FF sensor.

Based on a test I saw, the 14-24 f/2.8 at 14mm, was outresolving Canon's new 14mm prime, all the way from wide open to stopped down.  Absolutely terrific performance corner to corner.

Check the below out:

http://www.16-9.net/lens_tests/nikon_14_24...n14_24mm_a.html
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Quentin
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« Reply #9 on: January 12, 2008, 04:03:17 AM »
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I think as long as the Zeiss pro-grade lenses (currently limited to the Sonnar 135 f/1.8 and Planar 85 f/1.4 in the Sony mount) are designed by Zeiss, and built with proprietary Schott optical glass, with every element coated with Zeiss proprietary T* coatings (permitting 99.5% of the light to pass through unhindered), and following the Zeiss 135 point inspection by Zeiss employees both before, during and after the manufacturing process and put together in Japan by a super-premium speciality Japanese maker (Cosina), and accompanied by an individual quality certificate from Zeiss with a Zeiss Serial# (separate from the Sony Serial#) I personally would pay a premium for such a lens over more mass market versions.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=166599\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Exactly.  Zeiss outsourced the late production of its lenses for Contax 35mm cameras to Japan years ago so they have lots of experience doing so; the idea that Zeiss supervised and quality controlled lenses made in Japan are suspect is simply laughable.   Buy with confidence.

Quentin
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #10 on: January 12, 2008, 07:32:52 PM »
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Based on a test I saw, the 14-24 f/2.8 at 14mm, was outresolving Canon's new 14mm prime, all the way from wide open to stopped down.  Absolutely terrific performance corner to corner.

Check the below out:

http://www.16-9.net/lens_tests/nikon_14_24...n14_24mm_a.html
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=166629\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

There was mention today of a new D3 vs 1ds3 comparison in a swedish photo mag. Their conclusion was that, regardless of the pixel count gap, the D3 + 14-24 was sharper and more detailled at all apertures than a 1Ds3 + 14 mm II prime in absolute terms at all ISOs... (the gap being largest between 2.8 and 5.6).

The gap is likely to be even larger with a higher mega pixel Nikon body.

Those people who shoot FF because of WA might better think real carefully about their options from now on. I hope that Sony/Zeiss will further raise the bar, but somehow doubt that they will be able to.

Cheers,
Bernard
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Christopher
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« Reply #11 on: January 12, 2008, 07:39:38 PM »
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There was mention today of a new D3 vs 1ds3 comparison in a swedish photo mag. Their conclusion was that, regardless of the pixel count gap, the D3 + 14-24 was sharper and more detailled at all apertures than a 1Ds3 + 14 mm II prime in absolute terms at all ISOs... (the gap being largest between 2.8 and 5.6).

The gap is likely to be even larger with a higher mega pixel Nikon body.

Those people who shoot FF because of WA might better think real carefully about their options from now on. I hope that Sony/Zeiss will further raise the bar, but somehow doubt that they will be able to.

Cheers,
Bernard
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=166829\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
Or use Nikon/zeiss/leica glass on the Canon and you will out resolve everything Nikon can offer ;-)  

Sorry but if you really sattle on Canon wide glass, it's your own fault it always sucked and its not getting any better in the near future.
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aaykay
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« Reply #12 on: January 12, 2008, 10:26:58 PM »
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Or use Nikon/zeiss/leica glass on the Canon and you will out resolve everything Nikon can offer ;-) 

Sorry but if you really sattle on Canon wide glass, it's your own fault it always sucked and its not getting any better in the near future.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=166831\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Unfortunately for people who intend to retain AF on their cameras, the non-Canon glass on Canon bodies are not a viable option.  

Needless to say, the Nikon glass on Nikon Bodies and the Zeiss glass on Sony bodies (including the upcoming A900 FF), retains full AF and native mount compatibility.

Design of SLR WA lenses are the most challenging (when compared to longer lenses) and I just wish Canon upped the ante a bit by involving people like Leica or Zeiss during the design/development phase (of the wides), than turning out products that have to play second fiddle when it comes to performance vis-a-vis the competition.
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #13 on: January 12, 2008, 11:34:22 PM »
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Design of SLR WA lenses are the most challenging (when compared to longer lenses) and I just wish Canon upped the ante a bit by involving people like Leica or Zeiss during the design/development phase (of the wides), than turning out products that have to play second fiddle when it comes to performance vis-a-vis the competition.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=166854\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Things remain what they have always been. A system has to be considered globally to asert its value.

Fully functional best in class wide angle lenses are not necessary for many photographers and the Canon system remains excellent value all things considered. A 1ds3 with a 14-24 is indeed one possible option for slow shooters.

There has never been one system best at everything, and that will probably remain true in the future.

Considering the way things look at the moment, it would appear that the Nikon system has the best potential for those photographers for whom wide angle is important though. This potential will be fully materialized the day Nikon releases their D3x, but they have already demonstrated all the technologies required to do so. It is now just a matter of time.

Cheers,
Bernard
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djgarcia
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« Reply #14 on: January 13, 2008, 10:57:35 AM »
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Unfortunately for people who intend to retain AF on their cameras, the non-Canon glass on Canon bodies are not a viable option.[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=166854\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
Sorry to disagree from personal experience. Conurus offers full EF conversion for Zeiss Contax N lenses which retain full electronic integration including AF. It ain't cheap but it's fully worth it. But it is certainly not off-the-shelf.

Having said that, my 17-35 f2.8 N came with a bum AF motor but I have no inclination to get the AF fixed for my kind of shooting, I just don't miss it. The EXIF info I get however is invaluable but more important is the fully coupled diaphragm operation and readings in the viewfinder controlled by the body.

OK, Bernard, I'm a slow shooter, but not THAT slow. Now excuse me, I'm going to go play with my misaligned 1DsIII .
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smthopr
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« Reply #15 on: January 13, 2008, 09:27:27 PM »
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Are there any manual focus lenses that when used with an adapter on the Canon body allows full aperture focusing, and the iris being activated when the shutter is depressed?

Thanks,
-bruce
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douglasf13
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« Reply #16 on: January 19, 2008, 01:15:26 AM »
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Sorry to disagree from personal experience. Conurus offers full EF conversion for Zeiss Contax N lenses which retain full electronic integration including AF. It ain't cheap but it's fully worth it. But it is certainly not off-the-shelf.

Having said that, my 17-35 f2.8 N came with a bum AF motor but I have no inclination to get the AF fixed for my kind of shooting, I just don't miss it. The EXIF info I get however is invaluable but more important is the fully coupled diaphragm operation and readings in the viewfinder controlled by the body.

OK, Bernard, I'm a slow shooter, but not THAT slow. Now excuse me, I'm going to go play with my misaligned 1DsIII .
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=166905\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

  I own Hasselblad V's with a 50mm, 80mm, and a 150mm.  I bought the Sony Zeiss 85mm for my A700 a few months ago, and I am in love with it     There is a certain "look" that the *T coatings and Zeiss glass gives that still remains in the Sony version, and I wouldn't trade for any 85mm I've seen.  I can't wait to try the upcoming Zeiss 24-70, as well as the rumored wide angle Zeiss zooms and primes.
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BJL
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« Reply #17 on: January 21, 2008, 08:32:10 PM »
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the idea that Zeiss supervised and quality controlled lenses made in Japan are suspect is simply laughable.
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I quite agree, but would add that "the idea that Nikon supervised and quality controlled lenses made in Japan are suspect is simply laughable." Consider the new Nikon 14-24/2.8 for example! Likewise for the better lenses from a number of other good Japanese lens makers like Canon, Olympus and Pentax (not to mention Cosina, maker of everything from cheap lenses sold under the Kodak brand to those new Zeiss lenses in Nikon F mount.)

My skepticism is about the common assumption of the superiority of these moderately priced (by Zeiss standards) Zeiss brand lenses over similarly priced lenses from good Japanese lens makers.

Cynically, when a Zeiss lens truly is superior to a lens of a Japanese brand, that plus the Zeiss prestige almost guarantees that it will also be significantly more expensive.
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aaykay
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« Reply #18 on: January 22, 2008, 11:15:27 PM »
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I quite agree....

No, you are only pretending to agree and then snapping right back with another one of those snide repartees.  

I think you have been a pretty virulent cynic in both these forums and also in the dpreview forums when it comes to Sony and their Zeiss lenses.  I think you should simply let it go, since you have not even held these lenses, let alone shot with them.  

If the market decides that a Sony/Zeiss Planar 85mm f/1.4 is not worth the $1300 that it sells for, people will simply opt to buy the prior/cheaper-but-excellent Minolta "G" version that sold for what a Nikon 85mm f/1.4 sells for (roughly the $900 ballpark retail).
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BJL
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« Reply #19 on: January 23, 2008, 04:09:45 PM »
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I think you have been a pretty virulent cynic in both these forums and also in the dpreview forums when it comes to Sony and their Zeiss lenses.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=168926\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
Some people seem to see things so much in terms of extreme alternatives with no room for a middle ground that every time I dispute a claim of superiority for one alternative (lens, format, brand ...) over another, or just suggest that the extent of its superiority has been overstated, I risk being misinterpreted as claiming that the item is instead inferior, or overpriced.

I have never suggested that the Zeiss/Sony lenses are inferior to similarly priced alternative, or not worth what Sony is charging for them. I am simply disputing the apparently common thought that the Zeiss brand name alone guarantees superiority over Japanese branded counterparts at a similar price. From what little I know, the Zeiss Sony 85/1.4 and 135/1.8 are quite good lenses; the 16-80/3.5-4.5 ``less good'' than those primes but not at all bad and worth its price.

All I suggest is that one should judge lens quality from facts about each lens's optical performance, not by the brand name on the lens barrel! I suggest for example that the Zeiss 16-80/3.5-4.5 is probably not as good as the best standard zooms from makers like Nikon and Canon, and maybe not better than the new Olympus 12-60/2.8-4, but then again it is not as expensive either, so that is not much of a criticism.
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