Zeiss Distagon T* 2.8/21mm (ZE)

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Zeiss Distagon T* 2.8/21mm (ZE)

Postby Tesselator » Wed Aug 01, 2012 7:19 am

I guess this is a wonderful lens on a FF camera. From what people say it's the only 21mm lenses with perfect or near perfect corners on a full 135 frame sensor (or film). The one recommendation I can make without hesitation is to skip this lens if you intend using it on a crop body (any camera with a sensor smaller than full-frame (FF). It'll set you back $1,600 used mint (at the time of this writing) and the $150 Nikon 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5G AF-S DX ED matches it on an APS-C sensor pixel for pixel in sharpness, bokeh, CA, flare and ghost control, micro and global contrast, color accuracy, and everything else from minimum focusing distance to infinity - with both lenses set to f/3.5 and the Nikkor's zoom set to 21mm. I discovered this through extensive testing. So the bottom line (IMO) is: If you're not on a FF camera you don't need this lens. And if you are I hear there's no close competitor available (as of August, 2012) - mainly due to it's superb corner performance. :)

After testing was completed I shot this lens mostly on the µ4/3 GH1 camera before selling it off. To get an idea of the crop factor and all the goodness that I missed out on by not owning a FF camera here is a µ4/3 shot and then a follow-up showing a very close approximation to a D700 FF image area.

Image . . . Image



The remainder of the shots are just my normal attempt at creative samples - which I hope you enjoy. :)

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0.4s, ISO 100, F/2.8, GH1





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1s, ISO 100, F/2.8, GH1





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0.8s, ISO 100, F/2.8, GH1





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1/2000s, ISO 160, F/2.8, GH1





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1/640s, ISO 100, F/5.6, GH1





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1/13s, f/3.5, ISO 100, GH1





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1/40s, ISO 100, f/3.5, GH1





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1/125s, ISO 100, f/3.5, GH1





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1/1250s, ISO320, F/2.8, GH1





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1/800s, ISO 320, F/3.5, GH1





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1/320s, ISO 100, F/3.5, GH1





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1/160s, ISO 100, f/5,6, GH1





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1/200s, ISO 100, f/5.6, GH1





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1s, ISO 400, f/2.8, GH1



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Re: Zeiss Distagon T* 2.8/21mm (ZE)

Postby dubaiphil » Thu Aug 02, 2012 5:31 pm

It's August 1st, not April 1st!

Thanks, that was hilarious :lol:
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Re: Zeiss Distagon T* 2.8/21mm (ZE)

Postby Tesselator » Sat Aug 04, 2012 12:55 am

Umm, what was the funny part? I was completely serious about everything. :)
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Re: Zeiss Distagon T* 2.8/21mm (ZE)

Postby dubaiphil » Sat Aug 04, 2012 5:45 am

As good as an 18-70 wide open at 21mm? No good on a DX sensor, and then posting examples on a GH1?

Widely (excuse the pun) acclaimed as one of the greatest lenses at 21mm, and marginally ahead of the 14-24mm Nikkor. I went for the Nikkor, as I preferred the versatility of the zoom.

Nikkor has a Holy Trinity (14-24, 24-70, 70-200 f2.8 ) and Zeiss has a Holy Trinity (21 f2.8, 50 f2, 100 f2). The 2/35 Distagon that I own is nearly as good, and blew away the 24-70mm at f2 vs. f2.8 on DX and FX.

I guess I should sell the 24-70, upgrade to D800 and use the 18-70mm in crop mode for superior results?

Slightly confused, that's all...! :D
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Re: Zeiss Distagon T* 2.8/21mm (ZE)

Postby Tesselator » Sun Aug 05, 2012 12:06 pm

Ah, I see. The way it is to me is that a µ4/3 camera is an excellent instrument for testing and comparing center areas. The µ4/3 corners and edges reach into the mid-areas. So for me this is useful for those test ranges and of course to know the performance and ergonomics of it on a µ4/3 body. ;)

With that in mind check out these scaled ~f/3.5 (unedited RAW conversion) comparisons:

Scene 1: http://tesselator.gpmod.com/Images/Temp ... 030709.JPG Zeiss 21/2.8 $1600
Scene 1: http://tesselator.gpmod.com/Images/Temp ... 030710.JPG Nikon 18-70 ED $150
Scene 1: http://tesselator.gpmod.com/Images/Temp ... 030711.JPG Pentax 18-55 DA $50

Scene 2: http://tesselator.gpmod.com/Images/Temp ... 030715.JPG Zeiss 21/2.8 $1600
Scene 2: http://tesselator.gpmod.com/Images/Temp ... 030716.JPG Nikon 18-70 ED $150
Scene 2: http://tesselator.gpmod.com/Images/Temp ... 030717.JPG Pentax 18-55 DA $50

Scene 3: http://tesselator.gpmod.com/Images/Temp ... 030719.JPG Zeiss 21/2.8 $1600
Scene 3: http://tesselator.gpmod.com/Images/Temp ... 030720.JPG Nikon 18-70 ED $150
Scene 3: http://tesselator.gpmod.com/Images/Temp ... 030721.JPG Pentax 18-55 DA $50

Scene 4: http://tesselator.gpmod.com/Images/Temp ... 030722.JPG Zeiss 21/2.8 $1600
Scene 4: http://tesselator.gpmod.com/Images/Temp ... 030723.JPG Nikon 18-70 ED $150
Scene 4: http://tesselator.gpmod.com/Images/Temp ... 030724.JPG Pentax 18-55 DA $50

Scene 5: http://tesselator.gpmod.com/Images/Temp ... 030725.JPG Zeiss 21/2.8 $1600
Scene 5: http://tesselator.gpmod.com/Images/Temp ... 030726.JPG Nikon 18-70 ED $150
Scene 5: http://tesselator.gpmod.com/Images/Temp ... 030727.JPG Pentax 18-55 DA $50

Scene 6: http://tesselator.gpmod.com/Images/Temp ... 030728.JPG Zeiss 21/2.8 $1600
Scene 6: http://tesselator.gpmod.com/Images/Temp ... 030729.JPG Nikon 18-70 ED $150
Scene 6: http://tesselator.gpmod.com/Images/Temp ... 030730.JPG Pentax 18-55 DA $50

Scene 7: http://tesselator.gpmod.com/Images/Temp ... 030734.JPG Zeiss 21/2.8 $1600
Scene 7: http://tesselator.gpmod.com/Images/Temp ... 030737.JPG Nikon 18-70 ED $150
Scene 7: http://tesselator.gpmod.com/Images/Temp ... 030739.JPG Pentax 18-55 DA $50

Or see the corresponding center+corner 100% crops here: http://tesselator.gpmod.com/Images/Temp ... er-Corner/

I think I get where you're coming from tho. But for me it's a different head-space - µ4/3 is. The bodies are between $200 and $500 (used) after 12 to 18 months and so far I've been getting ones with less than 200 actuations for that (now on my 5th µ4/3 body). With such an overwhelming number of MF and slightly older AF lenses adaptable to the µ4/3 system - and so many of them for pennies on the dollar I see high-ish level photography opening up to the budget conscious if you will. Especially with models like the GH2 which hacked can rival a $30k video camera in footage acquisition and the last generation of full frame DSLR cameras in ISO noise control - or the OMD which does that and also delivers FF-like dynamic range (or very very close).

So yeah, while initially is might seem a little silly to demo something like the ZF or ZE 21/2.8 on µ4/3 (and even I'll admit this is my most outlandish sampling yet) I think it serves a purpose in knowing how native offerings stack up as well as what advantages might be had from adaptation. In this example there is no advantages what-so-ever! Which I think is worth knowing. However the Zeiss Contax 100-300 ($800 - $1,000) for example showed an extreme benefit and advantage (and over every other zoom in that range I've ever owned (which is a lot) and probably on the planet).
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