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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

An Open Letter to Carl Zeiss

This morning I sent the following letter to Carl Zeiss. Yes, I know that such pleas from the ranks are usually fruitless. Yes, I know that Sony and Zeiss have probably already planned their lens production for the foreseeable future. Yes, I know that they would sell one of these for every 100 16–80mm zooms. But the plea comes from the heart, and the need is genuine.

If anybody can give me an e-mail address for Sony Alpha marketing or product development, I'll send them a copy, too.

Please, please, please...a compact 25mm f/2 for the APS-C sensor, in Sony Alpha mount.


Yes, I'm begging. Those of us who are in need of a simple wide-normal prime of decent speed, reasonably small size, and reasonably light weight are being left high and dry in the digital age.

Many of us are "carry around" photographers. We carry our cameras with us every day and use them as "notepads" to record daily experience. We are being forgotten as lens lines move to all-zoom and all-specialty optics, or legacy 35mm lenses that are unnecessarily large for APS-C sensors and inadequately coated for the reflections from the sensor.

Of course, you will not tell me that the old Maxxum/Dynax 28/2.8 is adequate, even if Sony has improved the coatings! That was not even a very good lens for 35mm.

We really need a Zeiss 25/2.


Mike J.



Blogger ShadZee said...

I would still go with the new Pentax K100D & the 21mm Pancake Limited lens ;-)
It's a little slow (F/3.2), but oh buy what a beauty. And from the initial images comming out, it has the great Pentax optics to boot.

4:09 PM  
Blogger Steve said...


I support you wholeheartedly. It was just yesterday I was complaining about the exact same lens, or rather, lack of.

I have recently been researching the digital SLR's for a friend who wants to buy one and have been very surprised to find how inadequate the current lens line-up is. Unless one wants to spend big bucks, slow zooms are all that are on offer. And even if the big bucks are no problem, one is still faced with a big, heavy piece of equipment and a maximum aperture of f2.8. I know f2.8 is fast for a zoom but really, it's not all that fast.

In spite of the myriad digital cameras available I still cannot find a digital alternative (including size, weight and performance) to either my FM3a with a couple of primes or my Contax G with a 28, 45 and 90 set -up. I know Epson has the RD-1 but it's a tad expensive I think.

I am definately not anti digital, I have wanted to jump in and get involved for a few years now, but I honestly have not found a package that suits my needs. Sigma have a 30mm f1.4 which is great news for those like us, so now if the 25mm f2 you begged for miraculously appears I think I would be tempted to buy a body to stick them on. Maybe we should get a petition going.

4:21 PM  
Anonymous Carsten Bockermann said...


you should have told them to make it available in Nikon mount, too.


4:43 PM  
Anonymous Wilhelm said...

Amen, brother!

6:56 PM  
Blogger Albano Garcia said...

I've just been in the official launch of Alpha system for Argentina, thanks to a close friend who works in camera division. We had 3 preproduction cameras with 3 zooms (18-70, 18-200 and 75-300). All I can say is WOW. This camera is going to be a winner. The viewfinder is very good, construction quality and user interface too. AF works very well, and it's the entry level model!!! I've been told about amazing plans for near future. Canon and Nikon, be careful, Sony has come to stay...

8:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

K100D w/SR - $799
21mm pancake - $549
40mm pancake - $224 after $50 rebate
70mm pancake - TBA

Smallest 3 lens SLR kit on the planet - PRICELESS

12:28 AM  
Anonymous Peter said...

Here, here...

1:49 AM  
Anonymous Mark said...

As someone who cut his teeth on the Sony F707 and the original Pentax *ist D and readily chooses the Canon Rebel XT with a Sigma 15mm f/2.8 or a Canon 35mm f/2 over a Nikon D200 or a Canon 20D, Mike and I are definitely on the same page.

I read the preview today and it seems like this could be the "one". 3fps means it should be relatively quiet. Steve said the viewfinder is pretty ok. All we are missing now is the right lens. And here's hoping it's got USM/HSM or whatever you want to call it.

Of course, there are others to keep an eye on. Steve is right, Pentax is still in the running with their pancake lenses and who knows, Panasonic might still have a chance with their up and coming.

5:14 AM  
Blogger eolake said...

Mike, I agree.
Except I want it to be a 20mm.
And with autofocus.
OK, it is not essential on such a wide lens, but I don't get why the Zeiss lenses are manual.

11:48 AM  
Blogger underexposure said...

My primary lens on my D2X of late is a Nikkor 24 f2 (AI). With that and a fast 50 in the bag I've got a pretty small kit and am pretty happy most of the time. OK, well the D2x isn't small, but those lenses with a D200 would make for a nice small kit.

12:18 AM  
Anonymous Peter said...

eolake said...

Mike, I agree.
Except I want it to be a 20mm.
And with autofocus.
OK, it is not essential on such a wide lens, but I don't get why the Zeiss lenses are manual.

Scuttlebutt is that the Zeiss lenses will be AF.

2:15 AM  
Anonymous RichX said...

Another vote for the Pentax DA 21/3.2 Limited. Now that Pentax is also offering Shake-Reduction, there's no real reason to resist!

11:56 AM  
Blogger Jeremy said...

Carl Zeiss is nowhere as smart as Nikon or Canon. Throughout camera history, two lessons stand out:

1. Never try to teach your customers what they should like. Customers value # of megapixels? Give them megapixels by the boatload. They like it cheap? Cheapen it to next to nothing. Don't try to teach your customers anything. Especially not aout "fine" photography. Just give them what they want.

2. Nothing, ever, beats system completeness. Not anti-shake, not super-sharp lenses, not peerless build quality, not anything. System completeness. Keep pumping out lenses of different specifications even in the same focal length, offer bodies in ALL price categories, pump out accessories, do not associate oneself with occultish formats -- if necessary offer those formats, but never exclusively.

I don't think CZ is up to it. They've never been particularly savvy.

4:30 AM  
Blogger kickstand said...

Hmm, canon has a sweet 24/1.4 ...

8:31 AM  
Anonymous Wilhelm said...

I just noticed that Pentax is making a SMCP autofocus 28mm f:2.8 Soft-Focus lens. Could be an interesting normal for their digital cameras.

9:20 PM  
Blogger Sten said...

There is such a lens (well, *almost*). There is the new 25mm f/2.8 Distagon ZS in M42 mount, which can be used on KM with an adapter. It's a little slower than f/2, it's manual focus (of course), and could be used with stop-down metering only. But, tests (of its ZF Nikon mount counterpart, anyway) have shown it to be an excellent performer. And I kind of like the idea of a lens that is effectively system-independent.

3:47 AM  
Blogger mediumstrain said...

Nah; it has to be a 24, and at least f1.8! ;-)

Seriously, a fast 20-25 is needed. I love my 50mm f1.7 A-series lens on my K10D except for the metering, which seems random. But it is sooo easy to focus.

I understand that pentax's 24 f2 was never very good at wide apertures. Anybody tried one on APS sensor?


9:24 PM  

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