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Author Topic: Zeissness? A comparison of Zeiss and other lenses  (Read 7785 times)
ErikKaffehr
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« on: December 01, 2012, 01:55:44 AM »
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Hi,

I read a lot about Zeiss and special characteristics. Wanted to see for myself and compared my five zoom lenses in a table top setup and started writing an article about what I have found.

http://echophoto.dnsalias.net/ekr/index.php/photoarticles/72-zeissness

Best regards
Erik
« Last Edit: December 01, 2012, 11:58:35 AM by ErikKaffehr » Logged

JohnBrew
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« Reply #1 on: December 01, 2012, 07:12:51 AM »
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Erik, I don't think you'll find what you are looking for if you only compare zooms. Zooms always compromise somewhere in the design. I think you would come closer to significant findings, expecially with Zeiss, if you compare primes.

FWIW: I shoot Zeiss primes and think they are terrific. I can't say I see a 3D effect from them. Others, however, say they notice it on certain subjects.
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KLaban
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« Reply #2 on: December 01, 2012, 07:14:07 AM »
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Erik

Your pursuit of "zeissness" could be enhanced by a journey within Hendra Lauw's website. Try a search on the site for planar.

http://www.hendralauw.com/2011/10/i-found-papa-smurf-on-the-street-of-bangalore/

Keith
« Last Edit: December 01, 2012, 07:25:35 AM by KLaban » Logged

ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #3 on: December 01, 2012, 07:45:13 AM »
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Hi,

I have a strong preference for using zooms, and I don't really see which Zeiss prime I would buy. I have a few primes, like 100/2.8 Macro, 50/1.4 and 20/2.8 but I almost never use them and I'm always shooting around f/5.6 - f/11, if I can, where most lenses are quite decent.

According to the old "Photodo" tests the 80-200/2.8 was about the best lens at 80 mm, so the company here is not a bad competition.

I actually never have seen the 3D effect, there is a lot written about it on the net, but authors seem to mean different things, like short depth of field or high edge contrast.

Also, T* coating is said to have magic attributes and different color.

What I see is five images that are almost indistinguishable and MTF values that are quite close.

Best regards
Erik


Erik, I don't think you'll find what you are looking for if you only compare zooms. Zooms always compromise somewhere in the design. I think you would come closer to significant findings, expecially with Zeiss, if you compare primes.

FWIW: I shoot Zeiss primes and think they are terrific. I can't say I see a 3D effect from them. Others, however, say they notice it on certain subjects.
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kers
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« Reply #4 on: December 01, 2012, 08:02:57 AM »
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Having had two Zeiss lenses I have to say there is something special about them.. I think one of the things is the very nice t* coating.

I had the 25mm 2,8 Zeiss ZF lens - but sold it because i needed autofocus and the 1,4G 24mm Nikkor is better in that sense...also sharper and 1.4
Still I miss that special flavor that i do not find in the Nikkor.
Best Nikkors that are coming close are the PCE lenses..the only new manual focus lenses Nikon makes - so then they can concentrate on the optics only...
But i am thinking to buy the 50mm d2  Zeiss - for nikons 50mm AF plastic lenses are not good enough i find.



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Pieter Kers
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #5 on: December 01, 2012, 08:05:57 AM »
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Hi,

I'm not in a pursuit of Zeissness, just wanted to see if my Zeiss lenses had some "magic" properties and share the results. It seems that some authors essentially mean short DoF with 3D while others may mean high microcontrast. You would not see microcontrast on web size jpegs. Also you would not now how the images are processed.

I don't really see any magic properties. The two Zeiss lenses are the ones I use most and I am quite satisfied.

Interestingly, I got communication from a gentleman who bought both a a Zeiss 21/2.8 and a Samyang 14/2.8. He is satisfied with 21/2.8, but blown away by his Samyang 14/28. He wrote me that "it's a lens you must buy". This gentleman just got rid of his IQ180 back, so I guess that he knows a thing or two about image quality.

One of the Zeiss lenses I could buy is the 24/2.0. The MTF curves I have seen are very close to the new Zeiss 25/2.0 lens, both seem to have pretty bad corners. Kurt Munger has tested both the 24-70/2.8 I have and the 24/2 and seen little advantage of the prime, except speed. I shoot almost exclusively on tripod, so speed is not important for me.

Sorry, I don't mean to rant, just to discuss some information I have seen.

Best regards
Erik




Erik

Your pursuit of "zeissness" could be enhanced by a journey within Hendra Lauw's website. Try a search on the site for planar.

http://www.hendralauw.com/2011/10/i-found-papa-smurf-on-the-street-of-bangalore/

Keith
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Sareesh Sudhakaran
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« Reply #6 on: December 01, 2012, 08:13:42 AM »
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It's an excellent test, Erik.

I have a question: Could the 3D effect be a result of using a lens on a full frame sensor, distortions and all? E.g., if the lens were used on a smaller sensor, with edges cropped and angle of view changed, would that have a bearing on the perception of 3D? Obviously this would also mean a slightly different DOF at the same 35mm angle of view.

Just an idea. Thanks for sharing your results.
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #7 on: December 01, 2012, 08:14:41 AM »
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Hi,

The Nikon lenses are probably all glass. A metall mount make be nice but will make little difference to image quality.

The Zeiss lenses are MF and may be easier to focus exactly if you use "live view", because of longer focus throw.

The lenses I have are both AF, also they both have T* coating. It is possible that the advantage of T* coating would not be seen in my studio shot, but I don't see I would take five lenses into a real shooting situation just to find out. I guess I will test the two lenses I normally carry in real shooting, to see the differences.

;-) Really, I only care if the things deliver! ;-)

Best regards
Erik

Having had two Zeiss lenses I have to say there is something special about them.. I think one of the things is the very nice t* coating.

I had the 25mm 2,8 Zeiss ZF lens - but sold it because i needed autofocus and the 1,4G 24mm Nikkor is better in that sense...also sharper and 1.4
Still I miss that special flavor that i do not find in the Nikkor.
Best Nikkors that are coming close are the PCE lenses..the only new manual focus lenses Nikon makes - so then they can concentrate on the optics only...
But i am thinking to buy the 50mm d2  Zeiss - for nikons 50mm AF plastic lenses are not good enough i find.




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joneil
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« Reply #8 on: December 01, 2012, 08:30:31 AM »
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  I love the two Zeiss lenses I use - 18 and 85mm, but I find nothing "magical" about them.  I will say they have a different "look" in a small way to them - more saturated perhaps than other lenses, but I think this is more a personal observation than anything I can put down in a graph or chart for any of you.  I just like the look of the images I get with them.

    The Samyang lenses are excellent, especially for the money.   I looked real close at the 14 - F2.8 before I bought the Zeiss 18mm, and while in terms of sharpness and contrast the Samyang holds it own, the distortion is usually worse I find.  yes, 14mm vs 18mm is a bit of an apple vs orange comparison, but still I stand by that comment overall.

    While I really love my Zeiss 85mm F1.4, if somebody where on a budget, I would not hesitate to recommend the Samyang 85mm F1.4    Zeiss lenses are tough, and from first hand use, they will take more punishment out there than just about any other lens save for some of the older manual focus nikkors.    Samyand lenses are not as tough as Zeiss lenses, but they are still, I think, very well built.   The 8mm fisheye is awesome on Dx sensor cameras, there is nothing out thee for the money, IMO, that can touch it. 

       If you are in a rough enviroment, that is something to consider.  One thing I have round out, first hand, form just getting my nikkor 24-70 back form Nikon repair for service, is these new auto focus and vibration reduce and/or image stabilized lenses have a lot more to go wrong with them if they take  hit.    Depends on your needs, the places you are shooting, etc.  I suspect for most weddings, the 24-70 zoom,  Nikon or Canon,  is a perfect lens for most situations.  But if you are rock climbing, i would suggest you consider a Zeiss prime, just in case.   ( Maybe a Zeiss prime for weddings if you become a staff photographer too for "Bridezillas"  too. )      Smiley

      
« Last Edit: December 01, 2012, 08:32:38 AM by joneil » Logged
ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #9 on: December 01, 2012, 08:40:57 AM »
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Hi,

Now that distortion is easily corrected in raw conversion I would put less emphasis on that factor. I'm pretty sure that Zeiss makes some significant demands on durability. I hope those standards also apply to my lenses.

One of the issues with lens testing is that you always get small differences in exposure. That is really the reason to include a color checker in each test shoot. The CC helps in adjusting raw development parameters for a good match.

Best regards
Erik


 I love the two Zeiss lenses I use - 18 and 85mm, but I find nothing "magical" about them.  I will say they have a different "look" in a small way to them - more saturated perhaps than other lenses, but I think this is more a personal observation than anything I can put down in a graph or chart for any of you.  I just like the look of the images I get with them.

    The Samyang lenses are excellent, especially for the money.   I looked real close at the 14 - F2.8 before I bought the Zeiss 18mm, and while in terms of sharpness and contrast the Samyang holds it own, the distortion is usually worse I find.  yes, 14mm vs 18mm is a bit of an apple vs orange comparison, but still I stand by that comment overall.

    While I really love my Zeiss 85mm F1.4, if somebody where on a budget, I would not hesitate to recommend the Samyang 85mm F1.4    Zeiss lenses are tough, and from first hand use, they will take more punishment out there than just about any other lens save for some of the older manual focus nikkors.    Samyand lenses are not as tough as Zeiss lenses, but they are still, I think, very well built.   The 8mm fisheye is awesome on Dx sensor cameras, there is nothing out thee for the money, IMO, that can touch it. 

       If you are in a rough enviroment, that is something to consider.  One thing I have round out, first hand, form just getting my nikkor 24-70 back form Nikon repair for service, is these new auto focus and vibration reduce and/or image stabilized lenses have a lot more to go wrong with them if they take  hit.    Depends on your needs, the places you are shooting, etc.  I suspect for most weddings, the 24-70 zoom,  Nikon or Canon,  is a perfect lens for most situations.  But if you are rock climbing, i would suggest you consider a Zeiss prime, just in case.   ( Maybe a Zeiss prime for weddings if you become a staff photographer too for "Bridezillas"  too. )      Smiley

      
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #10 on: December 01, 2012, 08:56:32 AM »
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Hi,

Thanks for feedback!


I think the 3D effect is a bit of a myth. Different people mean different things.

I shoot also full frame, but APS-C at 24 MP is more demanding in my humble opinion. I probably will add some full frame comparison, too.

Regarding distortions, I'd say that is a non issue as they can be corrected in software. On the other hand, it is very much feasible that Zeiss has a good hand at choosing distortions and vignetting that feels good.

Best regards
Erik


It's an excellent test, Erik.

I have a question: Could the 3D effect be a result of using a lens on a full frame sensor, distortions and all? E.g., if the lens were used on a smaller sensor, with edges cropped and angle of view changed, would that have a bearing on the perception of 3D? Obviously this would also mean a slightly different DOF at the same 35mm angle of view.

Just an idea. Thanks for sharing your results.
« Last Edit: December 01, 2012, 09:07:26 AM by ErikKaffehr » Logged

KLaban
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« Reply #11 on: December 01, 2012, 09:24:57 AM »
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I don't really see any magic properties.

And you shouldn't expect to, Erik.

As you've suggested, the 3D effect is a result of short DoF and/or other properties of the lens. It's easier to achieve the 3D effect with some lenses rather than others and it's certainly not limited to Zeiss lenses. Some of Hendra Lauw's work using the Zeiss Planar demonstrates this look rather well.

Really, if you're looking for magic then you're looking for the wrong thing, but there again I don't believe you really expected to find it.

No smoke and mirrors involved.

Keith
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #12 on: December 01, 2012, 09:48:33 AM »
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May be pretty much my point, Keith ;-)

And yes, you are right I didn't expect to find it. An interesting question: Would I found it if I was expecting to find it?! (seriously)

Best regards
Erik

And you shouldn't expect to, Erik.

As you've suggested, the 3D effect is a result of short DoF and/or other properties of the lens. It's easier to achieve the 3D effect with some lenses rather than others and it's certainly not limited to Zeiss lenses. Some of Hendra Lauw's work using the Zeiss Planar demonstrates this look rather well.

Really, if you're looking for magic then you're looking for the wrong thing, but there again I don't believe you really expected to find it.

No smoke and mirrors involved.

Keith

« Last Edit: December 01, 2012, 09:55:34 AM by ErikKaffehr » Logged

KLaban
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« Reply #13 on: December 01, 2012, 10:59:10 AM »
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Would I found it if I was expecting to find it?! (seriously)

Erik, rather depends on what you were expecting to find. The 3D look certainly exists but there is no magic attached to it.

If magic is what you want then you'd be better served viewing images rather than files.

Keith
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« Reply #14 on: December 01, 2012, 01:34:47 PM »
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The 3D-effect thing is definitely very obscured term, but Zeiss lens has excellent contrast and colours and also so-called micro-contrast (it keeps contrast on higher frequencies). Except for stereo vision and depth of field we (humans and probably others mammals) have third type of perception of static dimensional things - richness of subtle shades between lit and shaded parts of forms. And in this case some lens are better than another.
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kers
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« Reply #15 on: December 01, 2012, 04:51:40 PM »
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I think the so called 3D-effect is a result of very fine optics and coatings.. ergo .. very good lens quality..making it possible to see not only the shape of things but also a refined image of edges that make the 3D shape of an object.
I experience this effect for instance with the 85mm PCE at d5,6- 8...   
In the effect there is a role for the optics, the sensor , the raw converter and post processing... but i think the optic is most important in the outcome..
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Pieter Kers
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« Reply #16 on: December 01, 2012, 07:37:29 PM »
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The two Zeiss lenses are the ones I use most and I am quite satisfied.

So why not just be satisfied and leave it at that ?

I can understand the curiosity but I think there are many factors, that when combined correctly, by intention or chance, create a unique look, sometime referred to as a 'Zeiss' look.

I have a couple of the lenses you tested. In fact I bought a SONY A850 just to be able to shoot with the 24-70 zoom. It DOES have a look that is a product of the Zeiss design and perhaps the coatings. I bought it because I longed for the look I had when I shot with Leica R cameras and some of the best R lenses. The 24-70 has almost exactly the same look to the images. Call it micro-contrast, 3D, whatever you like, it's there.

I have the best large format lenses from Schneider, Rodenstock and Nikon. The APOs from each brand create a very special look, in particular the Nikkor AM ED lenses. I tried many of the Zeiss large format lenses and never found that same look that I do find in their 35mm / FF DSLR lenses. Large format Zeiss lenses were sharp as all get out, but did not have the same look.

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BartvanderWolf
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« Reply #17 on: December 01, 2012, 07:39:02 PM »
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I think the so called 3D-effect is a result of very fine optics and coatings.. ergo .. very good lens quality..making it possible to see not only the shape of things but also a refined image of edges that make the 3D shape of an object.

IMHO, the so-called 3D effect is a result of MTF (which ties in with sensor size and thus, due to the required focal length for an adequate image circle diameter, on sensor detail magnification), and lack of DOF, and the lens not being overcorrected for optical (e.g. spherical) aberrations which keeps the bokeh pleasant.

As to Erik's attempt to nail it, it might help to use the scientific method and use a hypothesis (or multiple) to allow and focus on the relevant parameters. I'd set up a list of potentially contributing factors (like the ones I mentioned), and examine them against a set of lenses that seem to exhibit such 3D effect, and compare that to a set of lenses that do not. Do(es) the (multiple) hypothesis comparison(s) hold?

Cheers,
Bart
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Wayne Fox
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« Reply #18 on: December 01, 2012, 10:30:11 PM »
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Erik, I don't think you'll find what you are looking for if you only compare zooms. Zooms always compromise somewhere in the design. I think you would come closer to significant findings, expecially with Zeiss, if you compare primes.

FWIW: I shoot Zeiss primes and think they are terrific. I can't say I see a 3D effect from them. Others, however, say they notice it on certain subjects.

I would concur after using 3 zeiss primes on my 800e and with the Nikon adaptor on my NEX 7 ... the primes are definitely better than what I'm getting out of the better zooms on my Nikon, although I much prefer working with zooms.  I don't see any "3d" effect either, I just think they solid sharpness and good contrast.
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #19 on: December 02, 2012, 12:16:22 AM »
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Hi,

I'm shooting Sony, so that makes Zeiss options 24/2, 85/1.4, 135/1.8. It would be possible to adapt most Zeiss lenses for Nikon using Leitax adapters, but that would turn the lenses in purely manual ones.

What I wanted to see if there was an obvious difference Zeiss made that was not obvious in normal lens tests.

Best regards
Erik


I would concur after using 3 zeiss primes on my 800e and with the Nikon adaptor on my NEX 7 ... the primes are definitely better than what I'm getting out of the better zooms on my Nikon, although I much prefer working with zooms.  I don't see any "3d" effect either, I just think they solid sharpness and good contrast.
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