Carl Zeiss 55mm F1.4 Distagon -- Does it get any better?

Golf007sdGolf007sd Posts: 2,840Moderator
edited February 2013 in Nikon DSLR cameras
Ooh boy...just when I though I had my list of prime lenses taken care of this lens has come to my attention. So tell me dear friends...will this be in your future as it is in mine.

D800/800E this lens is made to live on your camera. TTJ this is right up your alley....no?

Post edited by Golf007sd on
D4 & D7000 | Nikon Holy Trinity Set + 105 2.8 Mico + 200 F2 VR II | 300 2.8G VR II, 10.5 Fish-eye, 24 & 50 1.4G, 35 & 85 1.8G, 18-200 3.5-5.6 VR I SB-400 & 700 | TC 1.4E III, 1.7 & 2.0E III, 1.7 | Sigma 35 & 50 1.4 DG HSM | RRS Ballhead & Tripods Gear | Gitzo Monopod | Lowepro Gear | HDR via Promote Control System |
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Comments

  • JJ_SOJJ_SO Posts: 1,158Member
    3000 €, no AF. So the answer has to be "sure it DOES get better". I just wonder how this thing wants to be 10 times better than a Nikkor 50/1.4G. "Better" shouldn't be a problem, just the 10 times...

    That's typical Zeiss pricing - Put a D800E behind that thing and you still are "cheaper" than an entry level "medium format" or what they call medium format these days. I don't go back to manual focus exclusively although I like and appreciate to use it from time to time. Even if I had the money and no other wishes, no way to go for it.
  • ben_v3ben_v3 Posts: 59Member
    Those images were quite impressive. I'd love to have one if I was doing the work it was meant for.
    D600 | AF-S 24-70mm 1:2.8G ED | AF 20mm 1:2.8 D | SB-800
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/ben_v3/
  • TaoTeJaredTaoTeJared Posts: 1,306Member
    Ohhh yeahhhh - I bet I have watched that video every day for the last two weeks. And Yes this is up my ally - focal length I love to shoot as well. That's Leica territory for sure! $4,000 isn't my cup of tea though! Manual focusing is a pain as well - I'm not happy about that either. If it was $1,500 or even $2,000 with AF I probably would end up with one - although it would not be the prudent decision.

    Although I was dreaming about a Leica Monochrome with the 50mm f/1.4 Summilux Aspherical again today. If someone would just hand me $12,000 and tell me I had to spend it in the next 10 minutes and I could only buy 2 things with it.


    Here is another lens that has been announced by Leica - $7,200.
    MTF at f/5.6 is almost perfect. Probably one of the best lenses designed - ever.

    LEICA APO-SUMMICRON-M 50 mm f/2 ASPH.
    http://us.leica-camera.com/photography/m_system/lenses/8884.html - click on Technical Data.



    D800, D300, D50(ir converted), FujiX100, Canon G11, Olympus TG2. Nikon lenses - 24mm 2.8, 35mm 1.8, (5 in all)50mm, 60mm, 85mm 1.8, 105vr, 105 f2.5, 180mm 2.8, 70-200vr1, 24-120vr f4. Tokina 12-24mm, 16-28mm, 28-70mm (angenieux design), 300mm f2.8. Sigma 15mm fisheye. Voigtlander R2 (olive) & R2a, Voigt 35mm 2.5, Zeiss 50mm f/2, Leica 90mm f/4. I know I missed something...
  • MsmotoMsmoto Posts: 5,396Moderator
    Does all this mean I "need" a D800E with the Zeiss lens? Yikes, if my eyes could focus a manual lens, I think I might bite the bullet.....as soon as the lotto comes through...
    Msmoto, mod
  • shawninoshawnino Posts: 453Member
    No AF. I'd rather find a clean copy of the 58mm 1.2 Noct for that kind of coin then.
  • DJBee49DJBee49 Posts: 133Member
    What beautiful lenses!

    I remember two jolts to my perception as to what 'sharpness' in a lens really meant. One was the first job I shot using a Rolleiflex The results were way better than anything I had used before. I used a Hasselblad SWC for a while and its Zeiss Biogon lens was very good.

    My favourite though, was the 180mm f2.8 Carl Zeiss Jena Sonnar that I had for my Pentacon Six (a dreadful East German 6X6cm camera!). It is the only lens that I have sold that I wish I still had. It was fantastically sharp and had been designed especially for the 1936 Berlin Olympics. I would love to see what it could do on a D800- if you could get a mount made for it!
  • SquamishPhotoSquamishPhoto Posts: 608Member
    This is in my bag as soon as its available. :]
    Mike
    D3 • D750 • 14-24mm f2.8 • 35mm f1.4A • PC-E 45mm f2.8 • 50mm f1.8G • AF-D 85mm f1.4 • ZF.2 100mm f2 • 200mm f2 VR2
  • PB_PMPB_PM Posts: 4,098Member
    If I sold my car and got some nice new glasses, I might be able to afford it, and focus it. :D
    If I take a good photo it's not my camera's fault.
  • Golf007sdGolf007sd Posts: 2,840Moderator
    edited February 2013
    Doesn't this just look amazing on a D4? If ever there was a manual focus lens I would put on one of my camera bodies, this is the one...period!

    Carl Zeiss 55mm F1.4 Distagon on  Nikon D4
    Post edited by Golf007sd on
    D4 & D7000 | Nikon Holy Trinity Set + 105 2.8 Mico + 200 F2 VR II | 300 2.8G VR II, 10.5 Fish-eye, 24 & 50 1.4G, 35 & 85 1.8G, 18-200 3.5-5.6 VR I SB-400 & 700 | TC 1.4E III, 1.7 & 2.0E III, 1.7 | Sigma 35 & 50 1.4 DG HSM | RRS Ballhead & Tripods Gear | Gitzo Monopod | Lowepro Gear | HDR via Promote Control System |
  • ElvisheferElvishefer Posts: 329Member
    Although I was dreaming about a Leica Monochrome with the 50mm f/1.4 Summilux Aspherical again today. If someone would just hand me $12,000 and tell me I had to spend it in the next 10 minutes and I could only buy 2 things with it.
    I have these periods of 'sell my gear and go small' and I think of pretty much the same (although I tend to the 35mm). I really like the idea of the Monochrome M!
    D700, 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII, 24-70mm f/2.8, 14-24mm f/2.8, 50mm f/1.4G, 200mm f/4 Micro, 105mm f/2.8 VRII Micro, 35mm f/1.8, 2xSB900, 1xSB910, R1C1, RRS Support...

    ... And no time to use them.
  • BesoBeso Posts: 464Member
    I plan on owning this lens, and perhaps the other two Zeiss is making for the high end DSLRs. The price is steep but the quality will be excellent and I really don't mind the manual focus. I will be chomping at the bit until September, the projected release date.
    Occasionally a decent image ...
  • TaoTeJaredTaoTeJared Posts: 1,306Member
    I have these periods of 'sell my gear and go small' and I think of pretty much the same (although I tend to the 35mm). I really like the idea of the Monochrome M!
    It sounded like Zeiss was going to release more of the high end lenses. I'm sure a 25, 35, 85, 100mm will come eventually. Their primary lenses have always been the 25,35,50 so I'm sure that is where they will start.

    Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately for my pocketbook) my work just doesn't warrant the need for $4,000 high end lens. The end use would never take advantage of it. Personal stuff I would love it for, but actually I would prefer it to be a macro for a dual use at that price.
    D800, D300, D50(ir converted), FujiX100, Canon G11, Olympus TG2. Nikon lenses - 24mm 2.8, 35mm 1.8, (5 in all)50mm, 60mm, 85mm 1.8, 105vr, 105 f2.5, 180mm 2.8, 70-200vr1, 24-120vr f4. Tokina 12-24mm, 16-28mm, 28-70mm (angenieux design), 300mm f2.8. Sigma 15mm fisheye. Voigtlander R2 (olive) & R2a, Voigt 35mm 2.5, Zeiss 50mm f/2, Leica 90mm f/4. I know I missed something...
  • JJ_SOJJ_SO Posts: 1,158Member
    What I don't get: Is one of you really thinking, any other manufacturer like Canon, Olympus, Pentax or Nikon would not be able to deliver a lens like this for the same money, if they just wanted it?

    No AF - but what is a fast lens good for if not for reportage? landscape only, with f/1.4?
    No VR
    pretty average specs in terms of closest distance

    It looks nice, but Zeiss already was able to build lenses for a Rolleiflex 6006 with motorised aperture and maybe motorised central shutter (very long time ago), so this lens is not at all an innovation although high quality.
  • adamzadamz Posts: 842Moderator
    I want one... and will get one, though will have to wait for that for a little bit ;) The images looks amazing, gonna be a perfect companion for my d800:)
  • JJ_SOJJ_SO Posts: 1,158Member
    Wouldn't it be more interesting to see what it can do with a more dense sensor, like the D7100's? At least, when you crop the D800's file to the DX size, there are less pixels in charge.

    Anyway, I'm looking forward to see one day all the great pictures produced by members of this forum. A dozen lenes already are sold to them, I suppose. :)
  • TaoTeJaredTaoTeJared Posts: 1,306Member
    I've never quite been sold on the "dense" sensor notion for creating sharper images. To my eye, they have always looked the same and even FX sensors looked more sharp to me as they can gather more light, or maybe have less back end processing. Either way, I will be fun to see this lens on any body.
    D800, D300, D50(ir converted), FujiX100, Canon G11, Olympus TG2. Nikon lenses - 24mm 2.8, 35mm 1.8, (5 in all)50mm, 60mm, 85mm 1.8, 105vr, 105 f2.5, 180mm 2.8, 70-200vr1, 24-120vr f4. Tokina 12-24mm, 16-28mm, 28-70mm (angenieux design), 300mm f2.8. Sigma 15mm fisheye. Voigtlander R2 (olive) & R2a, Voigt 35mm 2.5, Zeiss 50mm f/2, Leica 90mm f/4. I know I missed something...
  • MsmotoMsmoto Posts: 5,396Moderator
    It will be interesting to see the MTF chart on this lens. Objective measurements are helpful in evaluating how well it does its job. As to the images in the video, the apparent lack of quality in the comparison lens was striking. There has always been a "Rumor" that the glass used int eh German lenses has a better contrast and appears sharper as a result, and this would look like a real life example of this phenomenon.

    We will see....

    And, as I don't often use a 55mm...except on DX it may be a good portrait lens, I am not certain it is that attractive. No AF...I wonder why they could not put AF into this. Anyone out there have an answer?
    Msmoto, mod
  • JJ_SOJJ_SO Posts: 1,158Member
    Do you know of any Zeiss-lenses with AF, developed by Zeiss? I don't, but I don't know that much. Only that they make a lot of fuss (one can say also "cult") about manual focus and try to point out, even sports is possible... My prejudice is, they can't design/deliver a fast AF, too small amount of units to be sold.

    And for the lens they compared - I would be curious to know how long they searched for such a flawful glass :)
  • MsmotoMsmoto Posts: 5,396Moderator
    If I could see, a problem some of us who are "chronologically more mature" suffer from, I would have manual focus lenses. In the past it was much easier for me to focus on the eyelash in the ground glass, than to have to place a focus point over the eyelash, then move to reframe the image.

    But, it just seems that the AF mechanism is not so expensive that it could not be incorporated into the lens with no loss of quality.
    Msmoto, mod
  • JJ_SOJJ_SO Posts: 1,158Member
    edited February 2013
    Hmm, I have some doubts about the possibility to incorporate AF (as well as I think, to keep the legend upright, they just have to have it manual, AF's just to profane...) The lens is so huge, because they crammed lots of elements into it. A fast AF needs either a powerful drive or a light group of glass elements to be moved easily. For the first there's probably no space left, for the latter they'd need to redesign the whole thing.

    No AF makes things easier for Zeiss. I doubt also, German glass to be per se better than japanese, but I know, the prices for used Contax/Zeiss lenses were higher when there was "Made in Germany" on the barrel.

    Now, for me my first experience as German with Zeiss, made in Germany, was the arrival of a 35/1.4 in the eighties, for what I saved long time. And the aspherical front lens looked as being washed with chalk water. That was a nearly physical shock. Ever since, the branding "Made in Germany" lost a lot of it's shine to me, because there's also rubbish produced in Germany...

    At that time, a friend switched from Canon AE1 to Nikon F2. He borrowed me his cam with a 35/2 and a 105/2.5, while he got my Distagon and the Planar 85/1.4. At that time I would never have admitted, but the Nikkors suited my color and contrast taste better and were so much more easier to focus than the greasily, slow focus rings of the Zeiss'. And see where I am now :> in a Nikon forum... and trying to put a legend into proportions, which of course will not work. Legends are for believers...
    Post edited by JJ_SO on
  • donaldejosedonaldejose Posts: 3,327Member
    No, money aside I need autofocus. With my old eyes I wouldn't be able to get the focus right much of the time and therefore wouldn't even get the benefit of the extra sharpness. Build them with AF for half the price and I will be interested.
  • haroldpharoldp Posts: 984Member
    And, as I don't often use a 55mm...except on DX it may be a good portrait lens, I am not certain it is that attractive. No AF...I wonder why they could not put AF into this. Anyone out there have an answer? - See more at: http://forum.nikonrumors.com/discussion/582/carl-zeiss-55mm-f1-4-distagon-does-it-get-any-better#Item_16

    The reason most quoted by Zeiss and Leica for not embracing autofocus (though Leica does on the S2 and Zeiss for SONY lenses) is that the tight thread fit they want for precise alignment would have too much friction for autofocus motors.
    As I have not seen any issues with Nikon pro autofocus lenses that I could attribute to alignment, I am sceptical.

    Leica (for the M mount) does use very complex mounts with floating elements which do need very precise alignment, and might pose an issue for AF motors, but all this means is that one should not add AF to a lens mount and design that was not originally designed for AF as there are some requirements.

    Regards ... H
    D810, D3x, 14-24/2.8, 50/1.4D, 24-70/2.8, 24-120/4 VR, 70-200/2.8 VR1, 80-400 G, 200-400/4 VR1, 400/2.8 ED VR G, 105/2 DC, 17-55/2.8.
    Nikon N90s, F100, F, lots of Leica M digital and film stuff.

  • TaoTeJaredTaoTeJared Posts: 1,306Member
    I have seen multiple videos from CES where it was debuted and the Zeiss guys just looked dumbfounded why anyone was asking if there would be AF, as if AF creates some sort of degenerate lens. I have heard the precision argument before, but that is a rather old argument. I'm sure it wouldn't be easy, but with the new motor technology, I would think it would be more than possible. The cost though... that could add another $2,000? I wouldn't want to know.

    I have seen their m4/3 glass will be AF, hasselblad and Sony glass is of course AF as well - so they can do it. I know when I shoot wide open I'll set stuff to continuous AF just so if I or the subject moves, focus will have a better chance of being there. There is little play with f/1.4.

    D800, D300, D50(ir converted), FujiX100, Canon G11, Olympus TG2. Nikon lenses - 24mm 2.8, 35mm 1.8, (5 in all)50mm, 60mm, 85mm 1.8, 105vr, 105 f2.5, 180mm 2.8, 70-200vr1, 24-120vr f4. Tokina 12-24mm, 16-28mm, 28-70mm (angenieux design), 300mm f2.8. Sigma 15mm fisheye. Voigtlander R2 (olive) & R2a, Voigt 35mm 2.5, Zeiss 50mm f/2, Leica 90mm f/4. I know I missed something...
  • JJ_SOJJ_SO Posts: 1,158Member
    Are you sure, TTJ, Zeiss is doing the AF mechanic / electric units themselves? Or using Sony modules for that?. It could be, though, since they got some experience with Rollei SLX/6006/6008, but that was shutter and aperture. Relatively small weights to move. I don't think, they could compete with state-of-the-art AF of the big boys. Sometimes I'm wondering - all this Nanotechnology, researched on institutes and universities and still rare use of it in photo gear?

    Btw. thank you for confirming AF-C for wide open shots. After a lot of misplaced focus shots I came to the same idea.
  • MsmotoMsmoto Posts: 5,396Moderator
    I tried the Zeiss 28mm f/2 Distagon T, and it simply would not give me consistent focus. Even when I used live view, I seemed to miss the focus and could not understand it. So, it must be my eyes....thus, I need AF. Or...well, my 24mm PC Nikkor seems to be able to focus well on the ground glass, and this at f/3.5. So, it remains a mystery to me why I could not get the f/2 lens to consistently focus.

    Maybe an f/1.4........? :D
    Msmoto, mod
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