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Tuesday, 16 October 2018


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It's for exactly your reasons that I like Fuji's little XF 27mm f/2.8 pancake lens. It's the same angle of view on APS-C as this 40mm Zeiss. No question this is the angle of view I would have with me if I could only have one lens. Now if I could only have two lenses I'd go with a little wider than normal and a little longer than normal -- so 35mm-e and something in the 75mm-e would do nicely.

I always liked 40mm because (so I believe) it made it easier to make pancakes

U can pick one up on ebay for... $200!


Well 40mm is a lot closer to normal for FF (if you define normal as equal to the diagonal -which is 43.2)
I'm not sure where all the 50's & 55's 7 58's came from --Perhaps you know and could tell us.....
Kodak made a Signet 35 rangefinder camera (which they also supplied to the military) that came with a very harp 43mm Ektar. I think it was f/3.5 an tiny.
On 8x10 view cameras the diagonal is 12.8" and many people prefer 12" or even 10" as in the classic wide field Ektar.
I wonder of the "Normal = film diagonal rule of thumb is maybe just a little long for what many find pleasing ??

The Canon 40mm f2.8 'pancake' lens is rather less expensive, but equally superb.

I have a Minolta bayonet 40mm f2.0 lens somewhere, perhaps I should try it with an inexpensive adapter.

The Canon 40mm pancake _almost_ had me buy one last year for my EOS A2, despite being largely done with film and being a Nikon then Fuji shooter. But it's a nice FOV - I was very happy with the Sigma 30 1.4 on crop-frame.

But golly over 3k for an A7III + Batis combo seems a bit much - I'll be content with my 23/2 for now...

More giant lens syndrome. They could have built it as a 2.8 and made it a pancake. But of course, no.

James wrote, "More giant lens syndrome. They could have built it as a 2.8 and made it a pancake."

camerasize doesn't yet list the bulbous Batis 40mm, but it's about the same size as the Batis 85mm lens shown here in comparison to a 35/2.8: http://j.mp/2RSwZGy

"More giant lens syndrome,"indeed.Ew.

For some strange reason the numbers 43 and 77 come to mind!

There seems to be an epidemic of obesity in camera gear as well as people.

Mike, you mention the Olympus OM 40mm f2, which is reputed to be based on the 40mm f1.7 made for the RD. I don't know how much truth there is to that but the RD is tiny and mercifully light. It's easily a carry all day camera. Who could say that of the Batis irrespective of what it's mounted on? SUV lenses...

I loved the 40mm Sonnar on the Rollei 35SE I had years ago. I may succomb to getting one for my Sony. And, it's almost the diagonal 42mm dimension of the 24x36mm format.

What a focal length! When I worked in a camera store, I bought the Lumix 20mm long before I bought a Micro 4/3 camera...I just knew it was the lens. Now it rarely comes off my GX7 even though I have many 'better' lenses. And I've added the aforementioned Fuji XF 27mm to my X-Pro2 kit. They just offer a perfect view on the world.

the Leitz Summicron-C and Minolta M-Rokkor 40mm F/2 twins are pretty nice, and about as tiny as you can use with human size fingers.

I remember it on the Leica CL with Tri-x as being the black leather jacket of lenses, but that probably has more to do with me than the lens.

I'm looking forward to getting this lens -- but I think I'll wait until after the holidays in hopes that the price comes down. I think Zeiss has chosen an excellent strategy with the Basis lenses: superior optical performance but with modest maximum apertures. I'm not happy about spending > $1000 for a "normal" f/2 lens, but I'll do it because I have no need of a monster f/1.4 that weighs three times as much. If folks think I'm exaggerating, here's something to chew on: the Zeiss 2/40 weighs 12.7 oz; the Sigma 40mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art weighs 42.3 oz. -- more than triple.

The thing about 40 mm lenses for FF film SLRs is that they were the shortest FL for most camera designs that would clear the mirror without using a retrofocus design.

The differences you saw between the 40/2 and 35 or 28 mm likely were due mostly to the big difference in the optical designs. A 40/2 will tend to draw/look like a wider 50/1.8, as they are both six element Double Gauss based designs.

Hi Mike,

Any thoughts on why it's a Distagon and not a Planar or Sonnar or Tessar? A complicated WA design for a widish-normal lens seems an unusual choice. With that said, "German" and "complicated" are natural travelers so the reason is perhaps just escaping me.

Other than the bog-slow focusing the Lumix 20/1.7 m4/3 lens is a nice way to achieve the field of view in a very tidy package with that format.

My 40mm lenses were ones on the Rollei 35, and for many years were largely manufactured in Singapore.

This monster of a camera (actually it's sized like a cigarette pack) focuses by scale - meaning you guessed the distance and set it on the lens.

I had initially expected lots of blurred images but surprisingly, almost all the images turned out to be sharp.

Fantastic for street photography because people don't take this camera seriously.

My first good camera was a Zeiss Super Ikonta B, which I bought in 1943. I carried it with me when I was in the US Army Air Corps in 1945.
It had a Tessar f2.8 lens.
In 1951 I got a postwar Super Ikonta B, which I still have. The later Zeiss camera has a better Tessar coated lens.

Anyone use or used the Voigtlander 40mm f/2? I’ve been tempted (i.e. GAS) for Nikon FX. Main reason I’ve not taken the plunge is manual focus. I enjoyed using 28mm 1.8G on Aps-c (Nikon DX). 43mm is sweet spot on FF, no compression.

My wife's Panasonic Lumix 20mm/1.7 - it rarely leaves my OM-D E-M10 (first edition) these days. In fact this exact lens was the reason for me to come to µ43rds (from 43rds before). And yes, I also have the PanaLeica 25mm/1.4, which I happily keep at home for her. Also love that tiny Olympus 45mm/1.8 - together they are just what a man needs.

Since your first post on 40mm focal length years back, I am stuck with your site. Because that FOV suits me and my viewers. They do not ask which lens did I use, rather directly go to the form, content, ambiguity part.
I used to use 28mm K mount lenses on my APS-C dSLR bodies, then camemany MILC bodies, the lens stayed with me.
Now, I shoot with NEX3 and that 28 and a 30mm Pentaxes.
Canon 40mm f2.8 is the favourite one of mine now post a short stint of this lens mounted on a Classic EOS5D. I sold them off to a friend, bought an A7RII (used of course) later and bought a Canon 40mm again.

I think it is pointless to compare modern lenses to older ones, designed for film. Digital sensors, and high res ones as we have today, need top quality lenses.

The Batis 40 could have been f2.8 and smaller (the Batis 135 could have been f2 and a lot larger...), but Zeiss decided otherwise. The fact is, the Batis lenses handle really well on the A7 and A9 cameras.

The Batis 40 also has IS and a close focus capability, that I suppose add to the size?

I'm not sure where all the 50's & 55's 7 58's came from --Perhaps you know and could tell us.....

They come from the difficulty of making fast normal lenses for SLRs. It's relatively straightforward to make a fast double Gauss lens even as wide as 35mm for a camera like a rangefinder where you can put the rear elements close to the film. Making a fast 50mm double Gauss lens was no trouble, so it became a very popular focal length.

For a SLR, though, the rear element has to clear the mirror. With the kinds of glass that were available in the 1950s when SLRs first became popular, it was too hard to make a 50/1.4 with the required mirror clearance. Lens makers cheated by stretching the focal length to 55-58mm, which just let them work. In the 1960s, new kinds of glass became available that made 50/1.4 (and even 50/1.2) lenses practical for SLRs.

FWIW, Nikon's 1001 Nights series on historical lens designs (https://imaging.nikon.com/history/story/) has a lot of interesting discussion of this kind of technical detail of lens design.

This business of perspective distortion with wide-angle lenses is mainly the result of looking at the result from too far away. If you move closer you see more like the lens was seeing at the time. You may not be able to see the picture in focus, however, if you are really close enough, unless it's a big print!

...nice lens for environmental portraits, methinks.

Yep, 40mm is the "true" standard. I had the Voightlander 40mm f2 on a 5d3. The camera sucked for MF, but the lens rocked.
The Pana 20mm still calls me for my Olympus, but I have come to terms with the excellent 17mm instead.
If I still had Canon the under rated 40mm STM would probably also get a run (or the 24mm on a crop frame).

I was wondering "Why isn't Mike writing about it? It's a Zeiss and it's a 40". An interesting thing about this lens is that they decided to allow it to focus very close. The sample image look very pleasing, which is very bad for my GAS. The only thing bad is that it's not a small lens; I would prefer something more compact.

But hey, it suits well together with a 65 mm lens ;-)

If only Fuji made a 27mm f2, with aperture ring.

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