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Need advice on telephoto lens selection

asteelone

Banned
Hello, I am a newbie on this site and I've been overwhelmed at the wealth of great Contax information rushing towards me in the few hours I've spent trying to absorb it all. There's lots of good stuff here and I thank you all for posting your thoughts. However, I have a dilemma that I hoped some of you might weigh in on. I own an RTS II body that I've used with great results for years, mostly with a 70-210mm f3.5 zoom. I also carry a TVS to cover the wide angle to normal range, so I have never felt the need to own a lot of prime lenses. Sadly, the RTS II died last year and I've had a hellish time (6 months and counting) getting it repaired locally (Philadelphia). With no usable SLR, I panicked and purchased an excellent used RX on eBay. I'm a little intimidated by all the features but I'm struggling to learn them. Recently I learned that I have a chance to visit Alaska this summer and I hope to do some wildlife photography there. I don't think the 70-210 zoom will be up to the task, so I've been thinking about purchasing a 180mm f2.8 and a Mutar II to add some distance to my lens selection. Does anyone have experience with this or other mid-length telephotos/Mutar combinations? I really don't want to spring for the really long lenses (300mm+) because I just don't see myself using them much outside of Alaska. Any suggestions?
 

asteelone

Banned
Oops. Forgot one last thing. Does anyone have experience using a Mutar I with the 70-210mm zoom? I know this is not an ideal combination, but according to the CZ web site it is possible with optical limitations. What the heck are the limitations they are warning about? Is there any possibility that this combination could do the trick for me? Help! I'm not an optical engineer.
 

wang

Well-Known Member
There are a lot of 180 2.8 around in the second hand market. I did have it for a while but sold it years ago. My experience with this lens is negative. The one you have 70-210 is a much better lens.

Do follow the guidlines from Zeiss. Optical limitations means poor image quality.

At the moment, I am using 200 f2 with Mutar II. I will post some results later.
 

snikolaev

Well-Known Member
I bought them recently and didn't use them much yet, but one frame is here. This is the 180/2.8 at f4 with Mutar I conected to my RTS III. It's shot against the sun, but it doesn't matter. Basically, I like this lense very much. Mutar seems to be OK too. I provided 100% crops (center and left bottom corner) from original 6415x4194 scan. This is Velvia 100.


 

nickser

Well-Known Member
Hi Alan,

Another lens you may consider is the Tamron 300 F2.8. It reallly is a very good performer and 'reasonably' priced. They are avilable on ebay from time to time and in the shops as well.

Regards,

Paul
 

biggles3

CI-Supporter
Hi Alan,
I use a combination of 180 and 300 lenses with a MutarII (picked up recently on ebay for under $200). I have attempted to attach 3 pics taken an hour ago on an E-1 - with a 50 1.4 to show the scene, and then the 180+Mutar at full distance and mid-distance from the centre of the 50mm image. The pics are heavily compressed for this site but with the minimum of work in Photoshop or PSP, the originals are very acceptable. Why is it always a dull day when I shoot at home? Try NOT to use the MutarI with the zoom - not only will the sharpness degrade but you will probably get some vignetting too. Cheers.Graham
 

asteelone

Banned
Wow! Thanks, fellas, for all the great input while I've been busy sleeping. You have all made some good points. I particularly appreciate Graham's caution against using a Mutar with my 70-210 zoom. All the photos that were posted are revelatory and make a convincing argument for the 180 f2.8 + Mutar II combination. Still, I'm curious why Wang was disappointed with the 180? Of course, if he can afford to own and schlep the 200 f2.0 he's in a league that I'll never play in. Does anyone think that my zoom will be adequate for some good shots of a large bear taken at a respectful distance from a gently rolling boat or a float plane?
 

biggles3

CI-Supporter
Alan, the great thing is that you're starting with one of the finest zooms ever made. Using a very fine grade emulsion and decent shutter speed even when fully opened, the 70-210 is excellent and will produce a sharp image capable of being scanned to quite a size. However, a fast, top quality prime lens of between 300 and 500 would be best if you are going to be some distance away. As you're going in the summer, you can afford to stop a fast lens down to f5.6/8 which should help. You could certainly think about the little Zeiss Mirotar 500 f8. I have one I use occasionally - it's light, sharp and will certainly isolate your bear from the surroundings. They can be had new-in-box for less money than a s/h 180 2.8 and Mutar if you look around. And that Tamron 300 2.8 appears to be highly regarded too. Cheers.
 

asteelone

Banned
Thanks for the benefit of your advice, Graham. I will certainly check out the options you propose. I'm a bit leery of the Mirotar and outside of this trip probably wouldn't have much use for it, so the shorter prime lenses with a teleconverter are looking more attractive. Since several of you have proposed the Tamron lens, I will be certain to check it out.
 

wang

Well-Known Member
Every lens has its own fans. 180 2.8 is no exception.

If you have a collection of lenses, you might wish to shoot them and see if you like them more or less. I shot my ex180 2.8 with 100 2.8 or 100 2. I know they have different angles of view but I could certainly compare their sharpness, contrast and degree of astigmatism. For the 100s, if you stop down to f4 or smaller, you get excellent sharpness and contrast. The images are well balanced with no astigmatism. I also tried these lenses with studio flash. I am sorry to say that 180 2.8 no matter how I stopped down is well behind the 100s of Zeiss.

I tried it with Leica R135 2.8 ,well, Leica is still better.

When you wish to decide whether you are going to keep the lens, you probably look at the collection of photos and see if you like them or not. I have to say I don't like the photos from my ex180 2.8.

If you have 70-210, why bother with 180 2.8 ? 70-210 performs better at 180 than 180 2.8. In the past of this forum, many people talks about 70-210 but not 180.

Although many people emphasize looking at large prints as the most important to decide the standard of lenses, looking at the MTF is also important and most of the time accurate enough to give you an insight in the performance. At 5.6, 70-210 do better than 180 2.8

There are previous posts in this forum saying that Zeiss 200 f2 are not as good as the Canon and Leica counterpart. Well, I am a Zeiss fan and there is no way that I will get the Canon 200 1.8 or Leica 180 f2. Because of this shot I am keeping my Zeiss 200 f2. I must admit that it gives you a backache after a while but it certainly worth it.

A few years ago, I never dreamt about getting this lens.





Taken by 200 f2 tripod Kodak VC160 scanned with 3600dpi TIFF converted to JPEG for web.
 

fotografz

Well-Known Member
Joseph, might you have a better scan of the above photo? The blown highlights and crushed shadows make it difficult to evaluate performance in context to your claims.

While I've never shot with the Zeiss 200, I have used the Canon 200/1.8L extensively. I can say that despite all the hype and touting of MTF performance concerning that lens, I found it similar to other Canon lenses in color rendition ... pastel. After a year of use I sold it.

So MTF charts can only go so far in evaluating a lens. Academics and aesthetics often are in conflict when it comes the eye of the beholder.

The best I've seen to date in that focal length has been the Leica 180/2. At the ad agency I work at, we had an entire ad c&aign published where the shots selected were from that R180/2 lens. The other contenders were from Zeiss 645 and some C/Y lenses including the 85/1.2 & 70-200/3.5. The NYC based pro photographer I used was a Zeiss/Leica man all the way : -)
 

wang

Well-Known Member
OK, Marc,how would you like me to do the scan ?

I am using 5400II, the one you are using. I was trying to learn from the Photoshop CS like layers but it takes time for me to learn. I am not a full time photographer.

I suppose you wish me to scan it several times at different exposures, choose the best parts from each exposures and unit the parts with layer technique.

On the other hand, the PS CS has the ability to form high dynamic photos in 32 bits colour depth. I tried it with scanning portraits. I scanned the negatives to gives 5-9 different exposures. In the end, the merging of the different exposures does not work. I think it works only with images captured with digital cameras.

Well, as Marc mentioned MTF with Canon 200 1.8, I wish to express my distrust on Canon's publication with their MTF. They make no mention about the f number on the MTF graph so you have no idea what f no. was the lens while they were doing the measurment. An MTF graph with no f number is meaningless.

On the other hand, Zeiss always provide you with the f no but they never put on the 5 line pair/mm curve. Leica always mention these curves. Leica's consciousness on the curve does relate to the fact that Leica lenses are in general have the best contrast, in particular, the large scale contrast as oppose to the microcontrast.
 

fotografz

Well-Known Member
No disrespect intended Joseph. That is a fine portrait of a beautiful woman. The only thing is that it lacks all the information that I'm sure the film captured.

Also, as a user of many different systems I am concerned with our preoccupation with charts and details when it comes to the performance of Zeiss glass.

In my experience there are three key technical elements that provide the end result. The camera/lens; the use and measurement of light; and the post processing. Of those three, the camera/lens is the least important.

IMO, absolutely the most important of the three technical elements is the understanding of light in it's many forms and the limitations of measuring and capturing light. This is where the most effort should be placed in developing one's photography skills, or the most expensive lenses in the world will mean nothing.

In other words, once light is understood, and post processing techniques are mastered, THEN the excellent characteristics of different lenses can make a difference in the final work.

If I may demonstrate with 3 different lighting scenarios ( I do not claim to be the master of any, just working hard at trying to get better at it ; -)

First is available light using a Zeiss 85/1.2 wide open to create a soft feminine feel. The only part in crisp focus is the eye and part of the hair that was at the same focal distance.

 

fotografz

Well-Known Member
In direct contrast to the above image (literally), is this one shot with a Ring-Light flash to create a harder, more fashion type statement of aloofness. Less "available" beauty than the softer more famine shot above. A Leica R90AA was selected to enhance the feel ...

 

deshojo

Well-Known Member
Love the 85/1.2 shot Marc.
It's just such a fantastic lens, even I can take good portrait shots with it!
 

fotografz

Well-Known Member
Lastly is the use of both available light and directional diffused fill flash ... flash used more to even out the light balance than to light the subject in the manner of the above Ring-Light shot.

The purpose of this exercise is to demonstrate that what glass you use CAN make a difference IF you work at mastering the art of light balance light first and foremost (which I've yet to do, but keep trying).

Using Zeiss glass won't make the light better, but it can render it better once you learn to see and measure light ...

BTW, all three of these shots were taken at the same place with-in 20 minutes of one another.

 

deshojo

Well-Known Member
Alan,

I can add my vote for the Tamron 300mm f2.8, it's a fine lens and can be had cheaply, although you should be aware of its size and weight.
It can handle 1.4x or 2x converters and still produce sharp results.

I understand that the 180mm f2.8 is not one of Zeiss's outstanding performers, good but not great, as opposed to the 70-210 you have which is great.
 

fotografz

Well-Known Member
Yeah Matt, these models are all very nice, but super self absorbed ... the penalty of beauty in a world obsessed with youth and looks ... so playing at being "unavailable" wasn't a far stretch : -)

BTW, the red head's skin was that color. The screen pic is pretty accurate.
 

fotografz

Well-Known Member
Oh, as to the long lens question, why not rent a 400/4 just for the trip Alan? Personally, I'd rent a Canon or Nikon with a long Image Stabilized or Vibration Reduction lens ... camera shake with long lenses has much more effect on the end product than optical nuisances.

My Cousins are guides up in Alaska, and I can safely say that the 70-210 won't suffice in reaching out to capture some of the sights.

It's either wide angle for majestic vistas, or really long lens territory to capture wildlife. A macro can come in handy also.
 

deshojo

Well-Known Member
I actually misinterpreted your 'less available beauty' line Marc, as I didn't find the 2nd girl quite so attractive. I thought you were using 'less available beauty' as in 'less available light'.

But then I looked in the mirror and the words pot and kettle came to mind so I edited the remark out.


Being a wildlife/landscape guy, my 1st attempt at proper portraits was my friends daughter a few weeks ago, for her drama school cv. I used flash on some, but the natural light ones look so much nicer to me.
I guess it's all down to personal taste.
This one shows how shallow the DOF is on the 85/1.2 (or is it how crap my focussing is?). One eye in focus the other out.

 
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