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Carl Zeiss Lenses Test


Well-Known Member
I finally got a change to test my N17-37mm zoom, Contax 645 35mm lens and Sony DSC-V1 digital P&S with Carl Zeiss lens. I have posted some test images to the photo gallery for your review.

First, it is not a comparison test, as they are in different format, and I used different films or capture media.

Test setup – Since I found that ultra wide angle lens is best for interior shots, I decided to shoot my house. I use the same lighting with all three cameras, which was two mono lights. For the N1+N17-35mm, I used Fuji Sensei 400 negative. For the Contax 645+35mm, I used Provia 100. Why these films? It is because that what I had in the cameras already. For the Sony DSC-V1, I used fully auto setting with the on camera flash to trigger the two mono-lights. The exposure turned out good.

The results – Although it is hard to tell from the photo gallery, there are quite a different from my personal take.

First of all, the Sony is really good. With 5meg resolution and Carl Zeiss Lens, it is one of the best digital P&S cameras. Images are sharp and exposure are accurate. Plus all these features and manual controls in a very small size. I love it.

The N17-35mm f2.8 lens is excellent. Distortion is very controlled. It fits the N1 perfectly even it has a 95mm filter size. Images are sharp at widest zoom range and wide open. Color rendition is superb. The zoom ring and focus ring are very smooth with the right amount of tension. A joy to used. It becomes my favorite N lens instantly. The downside, AF is slow due the the huge glasses.

For the contax 645 35mm f3.5 lens, it is 21mm in equilvant to 135 format. It is the best medium format (even large format) wide or ultra wide angle lens I ever used. It shares the same filter size (95mm) as my N17-35mm lens. It is well balance with the C645 body. It has a very minimal distortion, looks nice and bright in the view finder. The pictures are crisp and sharps. Color saturation is the best that anyone can expect on any Carl Zeiss MF lenses. I shot in chrome which always helps.

In short, I love the C645 35mm lens the most. Although it is the most expensive one here. But it confirms me that I should keep my medium format gear and forget about DSLR for now. The C645 system is just hard to beat. Besides, it handles just like a 35mm camera. And I can share its lenses with my N1, which is one of the reason I switched to the Contax system. The other reason is the ND. Now I just scan my films and get the best of both film and digital world. My favorite C645 lens is the 120mm APO Macro lens.


Well-Known Member
Albert, IMO it is a wise decision to retain the Contax 645 system. While a DSLR like the Canon 1Ds is redefining the catagory, a digital back on the 645 still beats it for image quality.

Those backs will become more affordable as time passes. There are already 22 meg full frame 645 backs from Leaf. Kodak is sure to follow. 35mm is h&ered by size, 645 is not.
MF will rise again when the price goes down on these backs, and those of us that held on to our expensive MF lenses will have it easier.

Now I'm off to look at your test shots.


Active Member
> [Dont forget about the development of high quality 35mm scanners that for £500 can give you a 100 meg file. Storage of film in file and digital gives you the best of both worlds..]


Yes, good point David about the scanners. I've been looking at getting my own film scanner (not a flatbed) too. I send out for drum scans of important large sized full page spread stuff, but I've been thinking the prices are down and quality is up enough that maybe I should start scanning in-house for less critical uses, where a drum-scan is overkill. I know the Polaroid Sprintscan (all various models) are going for peanuts on Ebay since Polaroid is still in restructuring phase. (and they are good scanners!) The guy I spoke with at Polaroid last week said it was his personal opinion that it will be seen that it was a mistake to let the scanners go as one of their products, and that he suspects they will build them again. But, he was speaking from opinion, not fact. Anyway, in a budget of US$1200 and less, I'd love to know what film scanner might be a good choice. (Used/new or discontinued doesn't matter too much to me) Use would be for both the lowly web and high-end offset printing at 300 line screen waterless printing. Probably less than full page sized at the high end (I'd drum scan anything big). Any thoughts? Thanks, Lynn


HI Lynn Im using a CanoScan 2700F which is fine upto A4 takes negs to and interfaces well with Photo Shop the canon soft ware is also Quite good, have also used a Nikon coolscan 3 which worked well also. With current prices though I would look for a high res scanner ie CanoScan 4000F. If your budget is Limited contact me off Group as I am thinking of changeing for a high res scanner myself.


Active Member
> [..I subscribe to a online picture library and their submission file sizes have been increased from a minimum 25mg to around 48mg i have on order the new minolta 5400 which is retailing for about £525,which will give me the file size and some. The only problem is that my present PC can't cope with the new scanner so i have had to upgrade that as well.. Oh well i've just had to sell kit that i wasn't using


David ..]


Thanks both John and David. I wasn't aware of the Canoscan 4000F. Very interesting though now that I've read a little about it online. The price is good. It scans up to 4000dpi x 4000dpi. Will have to study this a little further. In the US our model seems to be named the CanoScan FS4000US and goes between US$538-$999. I appreciate the suggestion. -Lynn


Hi again Lynn if you are interested in the Polaroid Look at this site for an indepth reveiw.
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Notice no software suport for XP would check if this is important for you as if it is obsolecent updated software may not be available


"I have posted some test images to the photo gallery for your review."

Hi Albert,

unfortunately we had to delete your test-images in the photo-gallery. This was the photo gallery, and test-images are not allowed there. We have installed a few months ago a separate gallery specifically for test-images only.

Please upload the images there. and send the webmaster a note that he can approve them.