Special Qualities of Zeiss Lenses

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Guest

I am not interested in which manufacturer makes the best lenses but rather to identify the special qualities of Zeiss lenses that make them different from other lenses such as Minolta, Leica, Canon, etc. I know people have strong opinions about this topic, however, even subjectively, might there be a consensus about the distinctive qualities of the lenses from different manufacturers?
 
G

Guest

Hi Dennis
I don't know if there is a general consensus about the qualities of lenses. In my experience I find a special character, a typical fingerprint on each brand. Each one suites for certain sujets. I compared over the time Canon, Nikon, Leica and Zeiss (plus Rodenstock, Rollei and Schneider). One ex&le is the difference between Leica and Contax. Leica: steep contrast, colourful, brillant, sparkling lights, glowing depths, 3dimensional and powerful effect, but not very sharp (contrast simulates crispness), different parts of pictures falling apart, less coherence, harsh darks, less fine hues, on a first glimpse great impression but quick psychical supersaturation in contemplating the pictures (like permanently eating fancy cake)
Zeiss: very fine and filigree details, really sharp, rendition character is matching the sujet, fine hues, catching great atmosphere, much longer contemplating time, but less »boxing-glove« power, not so great first-view-impression.
After decades of comparing (purchased 5 Leica equipments and sold it after a while) my decision goes to Zeiss for the best over-all-quality.
Greetings
Ray
 
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Guest

I totally agree with Rainer.

I would add also the impressive correction of flare with Zeiss lenses, especially with the new N-lenses, the neutral colour reproduction of Zeiss lenses and all this verified in the normal "mass production" which is really state of the art.

Look for this also some other comments in the Forum in the Folder Why Contax and which Contax for your needs.

If you are also interested on the decision drivers for the quality level of a Zeiss production, feel free to read the Zeiss articles of 1979 and later in the News/Info section on the left.

There Zeiss explains in detail why they do certain things in lens design and sometimes why not.

dirk
 
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Guest

Thank you very much, Dirk,

for the great passion you care for this new contax site, and same thanks to your girlfriend having patience with you and us, the members!

I will read the articles you pointed out.

Rainer
 
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Guest

Dirk wrote: | |I would add also the impressive correction of flare with Zeiss lenses, |especially with the new N-lenses, the neutral colour reproduction of |Zeiss lenses and all this verified in the normal "mass production" |which is really state of the art.

Yes the T* coating does a very good job. Nonetheless there are quite a few lenses which are sensitive to flare and a lens hood is an indispensable accessory also for our Zeiss lenses.

W.
 
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Guest

Say Dirk, why can't we use quoted lines to make clear to whom and what we reply? The automatic line wrapping leads to quotes which are all messed up.

W.
 
G

Guest

...normally it should work.

if you use the normal quotations like " there should not be any problem.

"as an ex&le, this is a quote"

dirk
 
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Guest

...you are right, every good lens should be used with lens hood to become even better. I was just very impressed, when I used my N24-85 (with this big lens hood) shooting directly into the sun.

The matrix-metering of the N1 did in this situation a great job anyway, but there was also almost no flare to see. And this with a zoom with 16 lenses (!) in 12 groups...

As far as I know, the T* coating is just one of the reasons for the very good reproduction. Maybe an influence of ca. 30%.

The selection of the glass-type and the know-how to combine it with other glasses has a much deeper impact. The more you "know" the specific glass and the tighter the quality control in the selection for the final production, the better the results.

What will be interesting with the new N-lenses is the image quality at the corners of the picture. The decision for a new N-mount was mainly driven by the target to achieve better image quality in the corner of the lenses, which is needed if you are using a full-size chip.

Because you are using also the full frame and not just 2/3 of the size (like Nikon or Canon) where the corners are basically cutted, you need better quality in the corners. This is easier to achieve the larger the diameter is.

With the 2/3 chip of the competition, you do not need it, because the "bad corners" do not come on the chip because of the smaller size - to describe it very simple.

This sounds like an advantage, but the bad thing with the 2/3 chip is, that you have to enlarge the final print also more then the fullsize chip image. The factor is ca. 1,6x.

This is roughly the same difference as in the analogue photography the difference between 135 and medium format!

Have a look at the first N-digital comments/speculations in this forum...

So I have high expectations on the pictures of the hopefully soon-coming N-digital and the N-lenses...

dirk
 
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Guest

Dirk wrote:

"..you are right, every good lens should be used with lens hood to become even better. I was just very impressed, when I used my N24-85 (with this big lens hood) shooting directly into the sun."

"The matrix-metering of the N1 did in this situation a great job anyway, but there was also almost no flare to see. And this with a zoom with 16 lenses (!) in 12 groups..."

"As far as I know, the T* coating is just one of the reasons for the "very good reproduction. Maybe an influence of ca. 30%."

"The selection of the glass-type and the know-how to combine it with other glasses has a much deeper impact. The more you "know" the specific glass and the tighter the quality control in the selection for the final production, the better the results."

Yes, there a are a lot of factors that influence lens flare. If you don't get flare when you shoot directly into the sun with a 16-element zoom lens that has 24 air/glass interfaces, that is quite remarkable. On = the other hand it is not so difficult to observe flare with some fixed focal length designs (like the Sonnar 135/2.8 with only 5 elements) so one = should always be alert. A few ex&les of Zeiss lens flare are found at:

Please, Log in or Register to view URLs content!
 
G

Guest

Zeiss lenses are excellent, well-made and produce fantastic pictures but that isn't the main reason why I chose Contax and Zeiss.

There is no magic that Zeiss uses to make their lenses. Any manufacturer who takes the time to do the research and design; is willing to use top quality materials and assemble them with a high degree of care can produce lenses as good as Zeiss. Look at Leica and Canon L lenses and you will see some of the best optics in the world!

What is really important is that the quality of Zeiss lenses are consistant. Other manufacturers have not only a wide range of focal lengths but also a wide range of quality levels. There are low-cost, consumer grade lenses for beginners all the way up to expensive, 'Pro'- grade lenses for the more advanced photographer. With Zeiss, there are no 'consumer' level lenses (I suppose you could say that Yashica lenses fill that niche!) and you can be sure that every Zeiss lens you buy will be excellent.

Not only is the optical quality of Zeiss lenses consistant but the build quality is too. Many times, on the web, you hear people saying that 'lens tests' can't be trusted because of 's&le variation'. While there are probably many companies that have sloppy quality control proceedures, this isn't the case with Zeiss. I have yet to see two Zeiss lenses that suffered from the 's&le variation' that other 3rd party lenses are known for and so, the published tests for Zeiss lenses are valid for any lens that I may decide to buy.

In short, I don't have to worry whether the Zeiss lens that I am buying is one of the 'good ones' because of 's&le variation'. Where other lens users may have to resort to 'cherry picking' (where they find it necessary to inspect each lens in the store to find the 'cherry' or 'good' lens.) all the Zeiss user has to see is the name 'Zeiss' to be secure in what he is buying. Of course, you pay for that quality and most of us look at the used lens department to fill our collection of Zeiss lenses.

I have had extremely good luck buying used Zeiss lenses and I think that is also a function of how well built they are that they are more robust and stand up to use better than the cheaper models. I am sure that the Zeiss lenses that I own now will still be working perfectly when I am ready to pass them along to the next photographer.
 
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Guest

Leica and Zeiss are on the same level, with Leica going for creamy, dreamy tonality and Zeiss going for their famed "3D" effect. These lenses are more than sharp, they exhibit consistent character throughout the lens line, aiming for subtle effects that magnify into a "look" that, every now and again, jumps out at you on the light box.

Contax/Zeiss is usually less than half the price of Leica, but Leica isn't as brain-dead in their selection of lenses to manufacture: f/2.8 zooms and super-teles are available on Leica, but not Contax.

Canon L lenses are very sharp, but it's obvious the Canon engineers made sure the image was razor sharp, the colors super saturated, and then called it a day. They lack spark and sparkle, they lack character... it's a cold precision as opposed to the engaging beauty of the German lenses. (Well, except Schneider's lenses for Samsung, but that's a bitter tale we won't get into here.) There are those who insist that the colors you could get with the old Canon FD line were more engaging, and I'm inclined to believe them... the saturation of the L lenses it a bit too in-your-face, esp. with Velvia and Provia.

Pentax goes out of their way to give their high-end lenses character, not as sharp as their competitors, but with nice bokeh and lovely colors. They lack the sharpness, subtlety and tonality of Zeiss, tho.

Nikon... now Nikon's another story. If you shoot Velvia with Nikon kit, you are going to get subtly purple skies. This is because of Kodachrome... it was a gorgeous film, very high resolution, and very saturated, yet realistic, colors. Except reds... they always appeared a tad too muted to the eye. So Nikon got cute, and their optical formula emphasizes red, and for whatever deranged reason, they never gave it up. It's even obvious in their bleeding-edge Coolpix 5700. Rotten bokeh, too... but technically as sharp as many of the Canon lenses, in a keystone kops sort of way.

Haven't shot with Minolta, MF or AF, nor Olympus, nor have I seen a lot of images made with Minolta or Olympus in person, so I can't speak as to their qualities... I'm told that the MF Minoltas and Olympus lenses have a distinct and well regarded character, much like Pentax/TakumarSMC and Canon FD.

Matt Gabriel
 
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Guest

the old FD-canon-lenses were too blue. i used olympus-om-line until 1978. they are never ever as sharp as zeiss. and a lot of troubles when compairing one 35/2.0 with a second one. no quality at open diaphragm. even one stop smaller. zeiss are the best, leica has better dust-protection.
 
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Guest

Alot of people compare the quality of current lenses to those of one or two generations ago (especially in the Leica forums). I was wondering if anyone can make a comparison between the Zeiss SLR lenses (not the N lenses) which are older in design and the newer G lenses. Specifically I am thinking of those hard to define or sometimes subjective things such as "creamyness", "sharpness", "3D effect", "bokeh" etc. I would be interested to hear your opinions. Thanks.

Steve
 
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