One of the frequently asked questions by our readers when we post information on Zeiss lenses (which are often optically stellar), is why Zeiss does not make autofocus lenses for DSLR cameras from Nikon and Canon. As you may already known, Zeiss is currently making autofocus lenses only for two specific mounts – Sony E (for NEX / Alpha series mirrorless cameras) and Fuji X. This line of autofocus lenses labeled as “Touit” is limited to a few lenses at the moment, with full autofocus capability and compatibility with both Sony and Fuji mirrorless cameras. So one might naturally ask why Zeiss has finally started making autofocus lenses and wonder if it has plans to start developing autofocus lenses for Nikon and Canon mounts. Although I have known the reason behind this for a while now, I decided to ask the question again from the Zeiss team at the Photo Plus show in NY last year. Specifically, I wanted to find out if Zeiss is planning to change their strategy in the future in regards to DSLR lenses.
With Sony taking over the major headlines this week, a number of our readers have been asking about the differences between the Sony A7 and A7R – two new full-frame interchangeable lens mirrorless cameras. As I have written in this article, Sony’s full-frame mirrorless cameras are shaking up the camera market and could potentially influence the future development and pricing of full-frame DSLRs in the future. Boasting impressive 24 and 36 megapixel sensors, the Sony A7 and A7R cameras are attracting a lot of potential buyers from different camps. But one question remains: what is the difference between the A7 and the A7R and which one should one pick? Although both cameras look very similar, there is a big difference in price: the A7 is priced at $1700, while the A7R is at $2300. In this article, I will go over the feature differences between the two cameras and provide personal recommendations on what lens(es) to choose. I believe the two cameras are targeted at completely different audiences. Please keep in mind that this Sony A7 vs A7R comparison is purely based on specifications. A detailed comparison with image samples and ISO comparisons will be provided in the upcoming Sony A7 and Sony A7R reviews.
I was sitting at home today, playing with the newly received Fuji gear, when my brother stormed into the house and told me to go outside and see the rainbow. I grabbed the Fuji X-E1, with the Zeiss 12mm mounted on it and ran towards my car. I drove about a mile north to an open area and took the below shot:
This is an in-depth review of the Zeiss Distagon T* 35mm f/1.4 ZF.2 lens, a manual focus prime lens for the Nikon F mount. The same lens exists in “ZE” version for the Canon mount, which shares identical optical design, but with a slightly different body design (no aperture ring). I had a chance to test the Zeiss 35mm f/1.4 when evaluating other 35mm lenses, specifically the new Sigma 35mm f/1.4 and the Samyang 35mm f/1.4. Having already reviewed the Nikon 35mm f/1.4G and the Zeiss Distagon T* 35mm f/2 ZF.2 lenses in the past, I wanted to cover most of the modern 35mm lenses for the Nikon F mount. After this and the upcoming Nikon 18-35mm review, I am planning to also cover the Nikon 35mm f/1.8G DX lens, along with two additional older Nikkor lenses – the 35mm f/2D and the 35mm f/1.4 AIS, which will pretty much complete the 35mm prime selection for the Nikon mount.
Zeiss is known to make high quality manual focus lenses for Nikon and Canon camera mounts. Because of a strong partnership with Sony, Zeiss has been making lenses with autofocus capability for the Sony / Minolta mount as well, and has recently started getting into the mirrorless market with its new “Touit” line of lenses.
This is a part two to my “why are some lenses so expensive?” article that I wrote yesterday. I already explained the difference between consumer and professional-level lenses in the first post, so now it is time to talk about exotic lenses. With so many exotic lenses on the market today, some of which seem to be in relatively high demand (at least judging by their lack of availability), one might wonder about what makes them so special when compared to everything else. This post is not meant to be technical or basic – I think you can get most of that from the first article. Instead, I want to focus on craftsmanship, price, perceived value and niche marketing – the main drivers behind exotic lenses.
I once had a conversation with a photography veteran, who was trying to convince me that the new Nikkor and Canon lenses lack “soul”, with their plastic barrels, rubber focus/zoom rings and industrial “mainstream” designs. I disagreed, because I was blown away by the performance of new generation lenses and I just did not care about everything else. Plus, the notion of a lens having a soul just disturbed me and I remember thinking how ridiculous it was even to think about such things. But as time passed by and I got a chance to experience some of the rare and older optics, I started to understand what the photographer was trying to tell me. Most modern lenses do feel as if they are just taken from a conveyor line, where thousands of other lenses are made exactly the same way with little intervention. Older lenses were hand-crafted, one by one, and each lens was unique in its own way. And that was the beauty of it, because you never knew what you got – it was a game of random cards.
For quite some time now photography enthusiasts have been very eager to know what Carl Zeiss has in store for Sony E-mount and Fujifilm X-mount cameras. Ever since the legendary optics manufacturer announced that it will be making autofocus lenses for the two mirrorless camera systems, they’ve never stopped receiving requests for more details on their blog. What’s the big deal, you may ask? Well, the only photographers able to enjoy autofocus Carl Zeiss lenses were Sony Alpha and NEX users. The rest of the world had to make do with manual focus lens lineup. Carl Zeiss has been known for their extremely high quality optics for many decades, but avoided implementing AF motors, which many consider an essential in a modern lens. DSLR shooters are still left wanting, but Sony NEX and Fujifilm X series owners will now have a chance to enjoy possibly some of the sharpest optics around (assuming CZ lives up to its name).
The new CZ Touit Lenses
Carl Zeiss states that “Touit” (that’s how the line is named) is designed to take full advantage of the size potential offered by APS-C sensor mirrorless cameras. The new lenses are designed to be much more compact than their SLR counterparts. I, for one, am very glad to see such an initiative. We are yet to see if what Carl Zeiss promises turns out to be true. Fujifilm has been doing a pretty good job at keeping its lenses reasonably small, but quite a few Sony NEX lenses are rather large and feel poorly balanced when mounted on minuscule NEX cameras.
When my article on field curvature was published a while ago, where I talked about how one could do a quick analysis of lens MTF data and determine if it exhibits any field curvature, some of our readers expressed interest in understanding how to read MTF charts. Since we talk quite a bit about lens performance and MTF data here at Photography Life, I decided to write a detailed article on the subject and do my best to thoroughly explain everything related to MTF curves, charts and all the verbiage that comes with them.
This is an in-depth review of the manual focus Zeiss Distagon T* 35mm f/2.0 ZF.2, a second generation 35mm f/2 prime lens from Zeiss for Nikon and Canon mounts. The lens sample I tested was for the Nikon F mount, although you can get the same lens for the Canon EF mount. The Zeiss 35mm f/2.0 ZF.2 is a professional-grade fixed wide-angle lens targeted at enthusiasts and professionals that need high quality optics for different types of photography, including landscape, architecture, portrait and astrophotography. Similar to other Zeiss prime lenses, the lens is designed to work on both FX and DX sensor cameras (equivalent of approx 52.5mm on DX) and yields amazing clarity and contrast throughout the frame.
The all-metal Zeiss 35mm has a very tough and high quality build and is sealed against dust and tough weather conditions. When compared to the latest generation Nikon AF-S lenses like Nikon 35mm f/1.4G with plastic exterior, it feels much more solid in hands – even the lens hood is made of metal. The focal length of 35mm is a good compromise between ultra-wide angle lenses and standard lenses. Thanks to the 9-blade diaphragm, the Zeiss Distagon 35mm f/2.0 ZF.2 renders background highlights in round, circular shapes, making it a good candidate for portraiture and street photography.