Zeiss Lenses

I am a huge fan of Zeiss Lenses. I use them on my Rollei TLR, my Hasselblad, my Leica and Nikon cameras. I’ll post images here using the different lenses.

General Thoughts on Superb Lenses

I have shot many fine lenses. Pentax Takumar and Leica lenses are absolutely great. I do have a quibble with some Leica lenses. The 50mm and 35mm Summicrons are fragile. I had to have the 50mm serviced, some rattling developed in the lens. My 35 mm has a spot in the focus ring where there is some resistance and is also in need of service. The Zeiss (in Leica and Nikon mount) and Takumar lenses in M42 and Pentax 67 mounts are all extremely robust and built to last a lifetime. While splitting hairs between outstanding image quality across these lens families, the Zeiss lenses are the ones I prefer. They render a depth and quality suiting my eyes. I especially love the Zeiss Planar lens on the Rolleiflex 2.8F. That camera is my favorite among a substantial collection. It is simple and light, and makes a powerful statement when the conditions are right and I am on the mark. Another favorite is the 35mm F 1.4 in Leica M mount. That is truly a dream lens employed in the Leica system.

50mm F 1.4 Nikon Mount Digital (Nikon D850)

50mm F 1.5 (Sonnar) M Mount (Leica M10)

This lens has a love-hate reputation. I was on a photowalk in NYC last fall, and one of the photographers (an American expat living in Chile) singled it out as a mess. Hamish Gill and others love the lens. It was mounted a few days ago and while I waited for the cafe to “Covid-clear”, I took 4 consecutive shots of a metal chair at F1.5 and F2 from approximately 4 feet away. The images were rangefinder aligned, but the photos were hopelessly blurred. I can’t attribute this to a focusing error because I did check focus after each shot. Based on my long use of Leicas, I don’t think I could miss focus on four consecutive images. As of now, there is a focusing issue to deal with. I went into the cafe and took these two portraits of Lisa H. The higher key one was approximately 5 feet away, and the low key one about 10 feet away. Both were shot at F2. I contacted Hamish and he is sure the problem was focus error. Time will tell. Hamish started down the rabbit hole of the different calibrations of the lens by Zeiss and lost me in the dust. Regardless, the rendering of the lens for portraits is very nice, and with use I’ll learn its limitations and shoot to them.

35mm F 2 Zeiss M Mount Lens

This is a beautiful lens, much more robust than my Summicron 35 that is currently in the shop for repair (sticky focus ring). I missed focus on the seated portrait, but the lens bokeh character shows. While expensive, the dedicated Zeiss hood is secure and protective as opposed to the plastic and insanely costly Leica 35 hood. The interior images were shot at F 2 and the outdoor at F 2.8.

Above image, Leica M8, 35/2. The image of the strollers is pushing the M8’s limits at F2, Iso 320. Not the fault of the lens.

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