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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Careful What You Wish For

I'm just curious as to whether anyone within the sound of my voice is actually shooting with this new lens, or knows of any online info. The only real review I've seen is this one.

This lens (officially, the Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 2/35 ZF) confirms that you should be careful what you wish for. For years I shot Contax, and for years I dogged Contax to make a 35mm ƒ/2, arguing (sometimes elaborately—wherever he is, Blake Ziegler is rolling his eyes) that the dual offering of the fast (ƒ/1.4) and slow (ƒ/2.8) lenses made less sense in this focal length than one lens in the middle.
So, finally, I've gotten what I always asked for. I think the people in charge of such things are little elves with wicked senses of humor, though, because, of course, now, I'm shooting with reduced-sensor-size cameras, and what I'd really like is the same lens in a 35mm equivalent (there is one, but we're back to ƒ/2.8 again), and which covers 22x16mm instead of 35mm. And, while my argument was always that ƒ/2 makes a good size and weight compromise for this focal length, wouldn't you know that the new ZF version is, er, bloody huge: it's 100g heavier than even the Leica R version (which is built like a tank and was the previous size outlier for the specification) and only 69g lighter than the old Contax 35mm ƒ/1.4, which was an enormous lens. You know what they say: oh well.


Still and all, I'm drawn to this. Fans of 35mm-on-35mm primes for SLRs hardly have a wealth of choices these days, and an all-new, all-out German design is nothing to take for granted. I'll let you know if I ever succumb.



Blogger Peter said...

Damn you Mike, now I want to go Nikon, just to be able to shoot these new Zeiss primes.

8:03 AM  
Blogger CJ said...

Hello Mike,

>wouldn't you know that the new ZF
>version is, er, bloody huge

This lens strongly resembles the Pentax 31/1.8 Ltd which I'm using on the K10. The only thing that seems to account for it's size and weight is that it's a close focusing lens, down to about 8". I'm wondering if this 35/2 does the same...

I use the 31/1.8 Ltd for landscape work, along with the 43 and 77, and they are all superb.


9:37 AM  
Blogger Mike Johnston said...

Close focus on the ZF 35mm f/2 is given as .3 m, or 11.8 inches.


9:50 AM  
Blogger Max said...

Wonderful. If I Had to live with only one lens it would be this one. I have an old Canon FD 35/2 with a radioactive element that is incredibly sharp (and slightly yellow), I love that lens, it weights 420g and I thought it was the champion of the category, but this one is heavier!

11:21 AM  
Blogger travis blanston said...


I own the ZF 50/1,4. And despite the fact that I very rarely shoot SLR anymore it remains my absolute favourite lens to print from. I went straight from the Nikkor 50/1,4 (a lens that always impressed me in terms of resolution) to the Zeiss.

At first I was a bit startled by the difference in character and I wasn't sure if I was going to like it or not. Then the prints started pouring out of it and I became smitten. I only wish it came in M-mount.

Now that they have released the 35/2 I'm even more curious because I also own the Nikkor 35/2 and I thought _it_ was a pretty great lens. I just can't afford it though, and my 35 Summicron would really be upset with me. Plus I'd just be pissed off that I had another incredible lens which didn't fit on my favourite body (M2).

By the way I think the reason that Zeiss tests at f/4 is because they seem to feel that the performance doesn't actually increase much past there. As in, the point they are trying to make is that the performance with these lenses comes closer to wide-open. At least I seem to remember that indication being made regarding the 50 and the 85 back when they came out.

Anyway. Why must you tempt me!?

12:26 PM  
Blogger underexposure said...

When the ZF lenses were announced I assumed that I'd be getting this lens along with the 50. But then I was sorta astonished by the size of the thing...

1:35 PM  
Blogger ARConn said...

I've been virtual-drooling over this lens since I first heard about it.

Now if Zeiss can just manage to figure out its Canadian distribution (and the universe can find a way to get some extra cash in my pocket)...

9:29 PM  
Blogger Brad Lowe said...

If you're after more info on these new lenses, there's been some tests done of the new ZFs on 16-9 ( ) and lively discussion on the Fred Miranda alternative gear forum.

10:18 PM  
Blogger Steve Beyer said...

Mike, I have one of these that I am willing to let you borrow if you want to give it a try.

7:47 PM  
Blogger Mike Johnston said...

I'd love to--please leave me a "not for posting" comment with your email address, and I'll contact you.


8:46 PM  

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