Dairy Cow, Zeiss C Sonnar ZM 50/f1.5 @f1.5
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Having read many reviews, reports and opinions I finally decided to splash out on a new Zeiss C Sonnar 50mm/F1.5 to use on my two Leica M film camera’s
If you research online you find that there is no mediocrity where this lens is concerned – people either totally love it or completely hate it. The people who hate it do so because of it’s ‘focus shift’ problems and the people who love it cite it’s beautiful rendering, and bokeh. What one person calls character another calls fault.
Despite all the reviews and information you can never really know about a thing until you use it yourself (“you can’t say it’s rubbish until you’ve tried it” as a friend of mine always used to say) So I felt like I was taking a chance buying this lens but I am attracted to the unusual and a lens designed in the 1930’s with ‘character’ certainly sits in the ‘out of the ordinary’ camp.
Zeiss Sonnar @f5.6 focused at infinity
I took my M4 with the new lens attached for a walk and these are some of the resulting photo’s.
I’m the newest member of the ‘I love this lens’ fan club.
Stopped down it wonderfully sharp and actually doesn’t look much different to my 50 Summicron
I’ve shot it wide open at minimum focus distance and I can’t see any focus shift (the cow close up shots and the Labrador) but the way it ‘draws’ the subject at wide apertures and the quality of the out of focus areas is something else.
Zeiss Sonnar @ f1.5 and at or near minimum focus distance
There doesn’t seem to be any problem at any other distance or aperture either so I can only presume that as this lens was designed for a film camera (The Zeiss Ikon) the problem must be with digital bodies?
, Clockwise from top left – f1.5, f2, f2.8, f4 Minimum focus distance. Focus point was BOB DYLAN TARANTULA
These pics show a spread of apertures and shutter speeds and were all shot on TMax 100 developed in Rodinal @ 1+25 for 6 mins/20c except for the book shelf which was my usual Tri-x/Rodinal combination.
The Tmax negs needed a boost in contrast after I scanned them so I think I need to work on my time/temp/agitation regime with this film and developer combo.
Cows and Labrador @f2.8, Collie @ f1.5
I’m not one for doing lots of scientific testing with photographic equipment. All of these are ‘real world’ shots apart from the bookcase which I did to see if I could see any focus shift problems.
If you’re interested in this lens this review out of all the ones I read made the most sense.
Cumbria, June 2013
Love how the Zeiss renders a view. out of my ballpark at the moment, have to focus on nikkor/sigma for my nikon bodies. Though I at times do crave a film Leica. Especially in the summer.
It’s a bit of an indulgence really as I already have a perfectly good 50mm lens, but I did sell a load of camera gear to be able to afford it and I do love the way it draws a subject. Thanks for taking the time to comment and don’t worry about what kit you have or want – just get out there and make good photo’s!
I appreciate your analysis and the images. Congratulations on your acquisition.