Tag Archives: carl zeiss

A Quick Comparison Review – Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 vs Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 Sonnar

Last time, we took the Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 out to the Newport Beach boardwalk and did a on-location photo shoot with two of our lovely models. To get some perspective on just how good the Batis 85mm really was, we compared it to one of the best AF lenses on market today, the Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 Sonnar (aka the mini-Otus). We drove up to Lake Hollywood Park, busted out our tripod, and did some comparison shots using the famous Hollywood sign as the backdrop.

In a real-world but less-the-scientific comparison between the Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 and the venerable Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 Sonnar, we found very little difference in terms of sharpness throughout the aperture range.

F1.8-Batis-85mm-vs-Zeiss-55mm-Sharpness
Click on the image for full resolution.

With the Zeiss 55mm being one of the sharpest and highly rated AF lenses, this is saying a lot for the new Zeiss Batis 85mm. In fact, pretty much most real world reviews on the Batis has found it to be very sharp right from thef/1.8. I’m sure once Photozone.de gets around to reviewing more Sony lenses, they will verify our current findings. In the meantime, here are some of our quick & dirty impressions.

Continue reading A Quick Comparison Review – Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 vs Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 Sonnar

We Ask Zeiss Your Questions at the PhotoPlus Expo

iLHP will be attending the PhotoPlus Expo in New York City where we will explore 225 of the world’s top camera & optics companies, discover their latest products, and bring back the latest in industry news.

Importantly, we have a private meeting with Zeiss USA to learn about their latest range of products, from the modern classic Loxia primes to their latest Batis range of mirrorless AF lenses. Because you are an integral part of this community, we thought it would be a great opportunity for us to pass along your questions to the head honchos at Zeiss! And they have already graciously agreed!

So from now until Saturday October 24, simply leave us a comment, email us your questions, post on our Facebook wall, or our tweet at our twitter account, and we will try to get your questions answered! We will even include your name and link to your website when we publish the answers. Is there an AF 50mm f/1.4 in the works? Will Zeiss put out a f/2.8 zoom in the 24-70mm or 70-200mm range? We will do our best to get your questions answered.

2015-10-19 11.49.16 pm

For a sneak peak at what the expo is going to be like, check out the intro video above. If you are in the NY area and will be attending the expo, drop us a line, we’d love to meet fellow readers and photographers as well!


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World’s First OLED Display Lenses – Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Sonnar and Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2 Sonnar

Here is our sneak preview at two exciting Sony lenses. Zeiss announced two exciting new lenses for the Sony FE mount today: (1) the Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Sonnar and (2) the Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2 Sonnar. While the 25mm focal length will be one of the widest primes available for the Sony after the newly released Sony FE 28mm f/2, the 85mm f/1.8 is what really interests us. Here is a teaser video from Zeiss.

OLED Display Distance Scale

zeissbatis

Following the shape and ultra-modern designs of the Otus series and the Sony/Zeiss lenses, Zeiss does something original here by incorporating the world’s first OLED display for the distance scale in place of a traditional plastic window. I’ve previously complained that the perhaps the only drawback of the beautifully designed Sony/Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 is its complete lack of distance or depth-of-field scales on the lens. This OLED screen is an elegant solution to the design issue.

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The Street Shooters – Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2.0 vs. Zeiss Sonnar 35mm f/2.8

We don’t always do gear tests at iLHP but when we do, we go all out. This lens shootout will feature a Blackbird spy plane, two beautiful models on Melrose Ave., and the Space Shuttle Endeavour.

Space Shuttle Endeavor
Come on. Who else gives you a space shuttle in a lens review??

The 35mm is an ideal focal length for street photographers. Wide enough to capture subject within close proximity, not so wide that distortion becomes an issue or too many distractions are in the frame. Leica has long had their famous range of 35mm Summiluxes and Summicrons for street photogs. However, the 35mm is also a secret weapon for fashion/portrait photographers like Terry Richardson or Annie Leibovitz.

This comparo will be broken into 5 rounds:

  1. Build quality
  2. Sharpness
  3. Vignetting and Flare
  4. Bokeh and 3D Pop
  5. Real World Handling

The Contenders & Their Specs

Zeiss Sonnar 35mm Loxia 35mm Sonnar 55mm
All of these lenses are made from metal. Though similar in size, the Loxia feels much heavier than the Sonnar 35mm. Zeiss Sonnar 35mm f/2.8 (left); Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2 Biogon (center); Zeiss Sonnar 55mm f/1.8 (right).

On the left, weighing in at a featherweight 120g with a $798 price tag, is the Zeiss Sonnar T* 35mm f/2.8. In the middle, weighing in at a hefty 340g with a $1,299 price tag, is the brand new Zeiss Loxia T* 35mm f/2 Biogon. And for reference, we have the spectacular Zeiss Sonnar T* 55mm f/1.8 on the right.

Continue reading The Street Shooters – Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2.0 vs. Zeiss Sonnar 35mm f/2.8

A Comprehensive Guide to Camera Lens Design and Zeiss Nomenclature

The German optical systems manufacturer, Carl Zeiss, has had a 168 year legacy in creating some of the world’s best lenses. In 2011, H.H. Nasse wrote a series of technical papers for Carl Zeiss detailing their modern lens history and genealogy. In his three part series, he discussed 5 lens designed that changed the world. They are the Planar, the Tessar, the Biogon, the Distagon, and the Hologon (click on these links to download the original PDF files).

lenscutaway
Zeiss Planar 100mm f/2 (left); Zeiss Planar 85mm f/1.4 (center); Zeiss CP.2 25mm f/2.9 Cine Lens (right)

While very detailed and technical, it is a difficult read for your average Joe. That’s why, we have repackaged the information in a more reader friendly format and filled in some holes with our cited research (such as adding the missing Sonnar lens). That being said, I still recommend you read Nasse’s original papers after you read this article. They are filled with interesting tidbits about optics and engineering.


Zeiss Normal and Telephoto Designs

A normal/standard lens means its focal length is about the diagonal length of the image capturing area. For 35mm film and Full Frame cameras, that translates to 24x36mm with a diagonal of 43.3mm. This means, lenses with focal lengths near 43.3mm can be considered normal lenses. We usually consider lenses between 35mm – 60mm as normal lenses.

Planar (1896)
Planar_1896
The symmetrical design places the aperture (represented by the vertical line) between the two groups of elements, allowing for wider apertures than other designs. The 8 air-to-glass surfaces, unless effectively coated, reduce contrast and introduce flaring and ghosting.

This legendary Zeiss design trademarked Planar (also known as Biotar or Biometar in E. Germany’s Carl Zeiss Jena) is derived from, and suggests, a “plane/flat” field curvature. Most of the world’s fastest lenses today are derivatives of the Planar design, including:

  1. The $11,000 Leica 50mm f/0.95 Noctilux
  2. The ultramodern Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4
  3. The fastest lens in the world, the Zeiss 50mm f/0.7 Stanley Kubrick used in the movie Barry Lyndon for its candlelit dinner table scene and NASA’s Apollo Program used to photograph the dark side of the moon.

In fact, every 50mm prime ever made by any manufacturer are essentially modified Planar designs.

nikon f2 cutaway
A cutaway of the Nikon F2 film SLR sporting a Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 in classic Planar design.

Advantages

  1. The symmetrical grouping allows for large aperture designs (f/2 or larger).
  2. A very flat field curvature which leads to sharpness across the entire image plane.
  3. Well controlled chromatic aberrations

Disadvantages

  1. More expensive to produce and heavier than Tessar designs
  2. The many air-to-glass surfaces require effective lens coatings to reduce flaring, ghosting, and to improve contrast.
  3. Prone to astigmatisms.

Continue reading A Comprehensive Guide to Camera Lens Design and Zeiss Nomenclature