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Monday, 15 September 2008

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Ahhh, now we're taliking. Can't wait for the 28 f2, and the 50/100 f2 makros! Throw in the 21 and I'm good to go. Now I don't have to switch to Nikon. Bring on the new 5D!

Just wondering why doesn't Zeiss make auto-focus lenses?

Its quite apparent that Canon has no intention of revitalising its line up of standard to wide primes. Since clearly Canon seems more involved with more consumer profitable themes such as zooms its a good step for Zeiss.

"Its quite apparent that Canon has no intention of revitalising its line up of standard to wide primes. Since clearly Canon seems more involved with more consumer profitable themes such as zooms its a good step for Zeiss."

Canon must update many of its L lenses to stay competitive with Nikon & now Sony. There are rumours of updated Canon L fast wide primes coming very very shortly ;)

Having commented a while ago that I never thought Canon would license the EF mount to Zeiss I find myself now flabbergasted.

I have to echo Samuel's perspective, at least to a degree. The introduction of Zeiss manual lenses is not likely to hurt Canon's lens business. In fact, it might help to sell EF bodies against the approaching Hun (Nikon). Nor will it preclude Canon's success in updating its prime lens line, as they've been gradually doing during the past few years (ex: 85L, 50L, 14L).

Gee, now we Canonites can take much better pictures with those Zeiss lenses!

This is big news for a prime shooter like me. I never thought I'd see the day where I'd consider parting with my 50mm 1.4 and 85mm 1.8...

But here it is


Sean

I'm sure these will be great lenses & of benefit to both Zeiss & Canon in the long run. Prices seem reasonable & there's a good chance I'll end up owning one or two of them. The thing I'm most interested to know (idle curiosity) is whether Canon shared lens mount info with Zeiss or did Zeiss have to work it out for themselves like other manufacturers.

"...its super-high-quality Zx lenses..."

:-) It sounds like a press release from Carl Zeiss AG. What really makes them "super-high-quality?"

Basically, all of the 50mm f/1.4 lenses made by Canon, Nikon and others use the same 1896 symmetrical Planar, 7-element, 6-group optical design as this lens. The Zeiss lens is actually made not by Zeiss in Germany, but by Cosina in Japan.

As a Canon DSLR user for the last five years, if I wanted an f/1.4 50mm lens, why wouldn't I buy the excellent (and autofocus!) Canon EF lens for less than $340?

I must concede that one thing that I really find attractive about these Zeiss lenses is the 1970's styling and all-metal construction. At 58 years old, I rather like that style - reminds me of my youth.

These Zeiss lenses are made by Cosina in Japan under license. They also make the new Voightlander RF cameras and the Zeiss Ikon RF, all under license. Canon won't license anything to anybody, so all third party stuff has to be reverse engineered.

Good news for those Canon 5D owners (like me) worried about the mirror colliding with the rear of third-party lenses.

I await with interest the first published test of these new lenses with a 5D.

These lenses are actually made by Cosina. Not that Cosina doesn't make good stuff, but you could have two excellent Canon lenses - the 50mm f/1.4 and the 85mm f/1.8 - for less than the "Zeiss" 50mm f/1.4. And the Canons will autofocus if you want them to.

Don't care about the 50mm and 85mm, but I will certainly be saving for the 21!

Just on a point of pedantry, Zeiss don't have to "reverse-engineer its super-high-quality Zx lenses to fit" anything. They would have to *re*-engineer the lenses, and reverse-engineer the Canon lens-mount specifications to know how to do that re-engineering.

They're manual focus lenses, but are they auto-aperture? I don't see an aperture ring on the photo, which seems to suggest that they work with Canon's electrically driven aperture technology, like manual-focus Canon lenses do (the tilt-shifts and the one macro).

"As a Canon DSLR user for the last five years, if I wanted an f/1.4 50mm lens, why wouldn't I buy the excellent (and autofocus!) Canon EF lens for less than $340?"

Steve Rosenbach,
Well, I don't know...why would anyone buy a Leica 28mm Elmarit-M f/2.8 Aspherical for $1,795 as opposed to a Zeiss 28mm Biogon T* f/2.8 ZM for $877? And why would anyone buy a Zeiss 28mm Biogon T* f/2.8 ZM for $877 as opposed to a Voigtlaender 28mm Color-Skopar f/3.5 for $290? People like choices? There are little differences between them? I don't know. Maybe it's just that different companies have the right to vie for your custom, in the same way there are different brands of laundry detergent or potato chips.

Mike J.

I have the same feeling about Nikon updating their primes(apart from the long teles). Having just released 2 zooms which are killer lens by all accounts and cover 14mm to 70mm, I'm not holding my breath in anticipation of a new 50 or 35 etc. The Zeiss 21 is great news for prime users with APS cameras

"Its quite apparent that Canon has no intention of revitalising its line up of standard to wide primes. Since clearly Canon seems more involved with more consumer profitable themes such as zooms its a good step for Zeiss."

Oh, I think you mistook Canon for Nikon. Canon not only updates its primes (85 1.2 II) but introduces new ones as well (50 1.2). When's the last time Nikon released a new non-tele prime?

To be honest, I wish I was more excited about these. While the Canon 50 1.4 isn't a great lens by any measure, I've had a Carl Zeiss 50mm f/1.4 T* Planar for a couple of years now. Sure, I have to stop down, but I shoot mostly posed and it's not that big of a problem.

How about giving us the 135mm f/1.8 like Sony has?

It's good news, for sure, but I already HAVE these lenses, and more on the Contax/Yashica mount. Any way to retrofit?

And for those who wonder what all the furor is about, Ziess lenses, including those made by Cosina or Yashica, have a pictoral quality none other can match, although Lieca comes close. I also have the Canon and had the Nikon equivalents, but for serious stuff, I go with Ziess. I've bought three spare bodies to stave off the the day my lenses become unusable.

Does anyone know how Zeiss is doing financially? Their niche seems to be manual focus lens in all mounts, except the 4/3. Even if they are using Cosina, who makes good lenses, they may have found a sweet spot in the photographic business.

If Leica Camera had any instinct for self preservation, they would go this route too...

More choice is good for a Canon user like me. I am curious what you think about the results these lenses deliver Mike. A while ago you talked about giving us your take on the 35mm Zeiss... is that still in the pipeline?
Best, Nick

"As a Canon DSLR user for the last five years, if I wanted an f/1.4 50mm lens, why wouldn't I buy the excellent (and autofocus!) Canon EF lens for less than $340?"

Because the barrel distortion of Canon's 50mm lenses is ridiculous. At least on a full frame camera body.

I'm looking forward to finding out how the Zeiss lenses compare in this regard.

Roland: check out slrgear.com tests of both the
Zeiss and the Canon 50mm lenses. The distortion is identical : 0.5% maximum, 0.25% average.
If a solution to distortion is primary, I'd keep the EF 50 F1.4 and use the money saved for something else.

Wow!
Last week I said I wanted manual focus short primes for my 5D ("if you could have what you want" thread), now I've got them!

I think this is good news, but first I need to know what Maria Sharapova thinks about these lenses.

I'm just kidding, so please don't comment on this post like I need to get a clue!

Roland,
If I were you, I would by PTLens, for a mere 25 bucks you get easy, automated distortion correction for a lot of lenses.

To the question about Zeiss' finances:

As with Nikon, most of Zeiss's output is in the scientific and medical realm. Lots of microscopes and much documentary photography going on there. (You'd be amazed at the prices dentists pay for their camera gear.) The photographic camera lens part is profitable, but without the other business it probably wouldn't happen.

And, BTW, Zeiss just announced today that they will release their 21mm Distagon T* 2.8 lens on all three mounts next year.

"If Leica Camera had any instinct for self preservation, they would go this route too..."

Actually, this is what I have been thinking about Pentax for a while now - I would love to be able to buy Pentax Limited lenses in a Nikon mount.

"...Steve Rosenbach,
Well, I don't know...why would anyone buy a Leica 28mm Elmarit-M f/2.8 Aspherical for $1,795 as opposed to a Zeiss 28mm Biogon T* f/2.8 ZM for $877? ..."

Mike,

you are right, competition and choice is always good.

What I was particularly interested in is what makes the Carl Zeiss AG lenses produced in 2008 (as opposed to 50 years ago) "super-high-quality." I'm skeptical, that's all - I've never used one of the ZX lenses, and maybe if I had, I'd be a believer.

But as they are made my Cosina (not that there's anything wrong with that!) I'm wondering if the $300-plus premium over, say a Canon or Nikon lens of the same type is just for the use of the Zeiss trademark.

Best regards,
SteveR

SteveR et al,

The same applies Canon/Nikon vs. Sigma. Are the major brand marks worth the premium or is it just the name? My experience is that build quality does justify the differential. With Canon image stabilization and weather sealing has meant features too. All the same, I have found the Zeiss lenses to have a certain image something beyond my Canons, but it is small. More obviously impressive is the build quality and the smooth responsive focusing.

Autofocus has its place, but to delegate this important element of composition to an auto focus system, that works on the basis that the closest object (In the central portion of the viewfinder) is the focal point, is something of a travesty. The only logic in selecting a focus point to autofocus on, is that autofocus lenes have focus rings with poor tactile qualities (this especially applies to Canon L lenses) and/or you are using a camera without a full frame sensor. As Mike has pointed out in the past, cameras with cropped sensors have poor viewfinders. An experienced photographer can quickly select the hyper-focal point, or determine the best plane of focus with a good quality manual focus system. This is probably the best thing these Zeiss lenses offer, but then there is that certain Zeiss rendering too……

"must concede that one thing that I really find attractive about these Zeiss lenses is the 1970's styling and all-metal construction."

Steve, you're correct! But the new 21/2,8 does not have the impressive beauty of the Contax original lens. A shame...

The thing I really want is a 35mm Zeiss lens in native ZE format. Do you think they'll make one?

I've already got the Canon EF 85 f1.2 L and EF 50 f1.2 L, or I'd buy Nikon. Canon's pro lenses are decades behind the comptition from 35mm and wider.
Sony will wipe the floor with Canon in the near future unless they watch their step and stop being so arrogant.

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