View Full Version : ZM 50/2 opinions
Hi! I'm considering buying a 50mm lens for my rangefinder camera (i currently use a 35/2.5) and I am considering a used summicron or a new ZM 50/2.
I'd lke to ask the group if they've had experience with the new ZM 50/2 and if the results are comparable to a Summicron.
Also, I was wondering if there's a way to get the performance of a Contax G 45/2 in an M mount lens. I tried this on a G1 before and i was very impressed.
If you're impressed by the 45mm G-planar buy yourself a ZM 50mm planar and you''ll be probably impressed again.
According to Erwin Puts, the 50mm Planar is as good as the 50mm Summicron.
Here are some test images I ran on the lens on my Leica MP here: http://www.photo.net/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg?msg_id=00E8b0. Also a comparison to other lenses at f/2.8 here:http://www.photo.net/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg?msg_id=00D3fJ
It seems the propoganda machine is hitting full speed. That is about the so called imcompatible issue. It brings a lot of uncertanty in the Zm leica Camp. So lets hope we all buy the leica lenses and not the better (and cheaper) zeiss lenses.
Anybody out there that's done some critical comparisons of the ZM Planar to the Summicron and can post the results on the web would be welcomed for sure. I've seen a few image posts of this lens by itself and just one that I recall comparing images of book spine lettering of the Planar against a DR and a 50/2 R Summicron at full aperture. Maybe I got an off sample, but I doubt it. I originally bought the Planar thinking it would perform at least equal to my last Summicron based on superlative performance I had with the 45/2 G Planar. Critical testing resolution chart testing of my sample did not reveal this to be the case. Repeating the tests on another roll revealed no significant difference from the first roll. Potentially, the lens would have equaled my Summicron but only if I readjusted the camera's RF calibration to match the lens which would then throw it off for my other lenses. I ran these test prior to Erwin Puts' review of the lens and quite frankly his explanation of minor back focus differences seemed quite plausable to me based on focus bracketing shots with the Planar. This isn't so bad that the lens can't be used on a Leica body with good results since measuring sharpness on a test chart is not normal photography for which this lens is designed for. I just found enough of a difference to be notable. Please then, let's not get into a pissing match on Leica snobbery unless you can at least supply us with some comparison shots to back up your cheap shots. Shooting newsprint at 10 feet would do just fine as long as it's under a controlled setting.
I originally bought the Planar thinking it would perform at least equal to my last Summicron based on superlative performance I had with the 45/2 G Planar. Critical testing resolution chart testing of my sample did not reveal this to be the case. Repeating the tests on another roll revealed no significant difference from the first roll.
I ran these test prior to Erwin Puts' review of the lens and quite frankly his explanation of minor back focus differences seemed quite plausable to me based on focus bracketing shots with the Planar.
Alan, your original presentation of your results on P.net drew mixed reaction. In other words, not everyone agreed with your conclusion. The links you posted speak for themselves. When I saw your post there, my reaction was that you took some beautiful pictures with this lens, especially with regard to color rendition & saturation.
Since you referred to Erwn's report, I thought it would be useful tp post some of his comments next to yours. Obviously all of his tests were done using a Leica M camera since the ZI was not yet available. And no one does more "critical testing" of resolution than he does.
Regarding comparisons with the Contax G 45/2 Planar:
"The (ZM) Planar wide open is a potent performer and at smaller apertures becomes a master at reproducing with a life-like three dimensionality that was the hallmark of the G-version of the Planar too."
Regarding critical testing of resolution:
"Now at last we have a lens that equals the Summicron-M 50mm and is even a trace better in the curvature of field area. The optical performance of the Planar is simply as good as that which can be expected from the Leica Summicron."
So, when you say that "critical testing resolution chart testing of my sample did not reveal this to be the case," one can safely say that this result is limited to your sample & your interpretation of the results for your sample, given Erwin's testing of a different sample & his interpretation of those results.
Regarding Erwin's discussion of "minor back focus differences:"
"(What) we are talking (about) here is quite small dimensions, a thickness of a handful of human hairs, but it may be significant."
MAY be significant? In other words, Erwin, who pays meticulous attention to detail, did not find ANY difference in his testing. If he had, he would have said so. His discussion makes it clear that in his opinion any real world effects are theoretical. Extrapolationg from his comments to your conclusions is a reach in my opinion.
I think it is also important to note that while Erwin points out the differences in back focus between ZM & Leica lenses, he also makes it clear that NEITHER Leica nor Zeiss have chosen to adjust their focus for the actual film plane. "All ZM lenses had an adjustment in the minus direction, which is in front of the film plane. The Leica lenses were adjusted to the plus side, that is behind the film plane" So, the offset of the back focus in the ZM lenses from the film plane is even less than the difference between the Leica & ZM points of back focus. The point is that the Zeiss & Leica engineers made different choices in where the precise point of back focus should be. As is often the case, the engineers disagreed. And you & Erwin seem to disagree about whether this makes any difference in either real world photography or on test charts.
I found Erwin's report extremely useful in his description of the subtle differences in character between the Leica & ZM lenses - especially in regard to the 50 mm focal length where he found the two lenses to be on par. He enhances these comparisons with an excellent explanation of the differing philosophies of lens design between the two companies & the type of imaging that each is trying to achieve.
Now i understand why I'm always seeing focus shift if I change from tmax 100 to tmax 3200. ;)
So lets hope we all buy the leica lenses and not the better (and cheaper) zeiss lenses.I know how incredibly shat the Zeiss 45 F2 G is and I was just thinking about getting a 50mm F2 M-mount Planar from http://www.cameraquest.com - heck, I'll have to sell my 40mm 'cron then.
Zeiss 50/2 ZM Planar in Leica M mount
New Boxed Black Zeiss Ikon 50/2 Planar $600 Lens Hood Not included with the lens by Zeiss. I think this a Hell of a good deal, considing it's just as good as a Leica 'cron but at a fraction of the price.
I think this a Hell of a good deal, considing it's just as good as a Leica 'cron but at a fraction of the price.
yeah I like to see that thing on a leica M6 0,85
I have not used a Summicron 50 but have and therefore cannot offer any opinions in that area but I have been using a ZM 50 for about four months now.
The lens is very sharp edge to edge, most of my photos are taken in the f2-f8 range but it performs admirably beyond that. The lens is very flare resistant (a good thing in Arizona!). It is a pleasure to handle, focussing is smooth and the build quality is superb. I don't shoot tests on my lenses, all I can tell you is the lens is one of my best buys in photography.
Most of my printing is done in the darkroom so I have only two pics on the web. One is here:
Please comment on using the focusing "bump" on this lens. I haven't seen a picture of the "bump" and no local camera store stocks the zeiss lenses. It sounds weird. Thanks.
Huck, regarding the back focus issue, the amount of focus bracketing I needed to sharpen the image with the Planar was only about a 1/2 mm of lens rotation. This roughly translates to about 0.05 mm (the thickness of scotch tape) of lens shift, certainly the thickness of a few human hairs as Erwin Puts states. My MP is critically accurate for the 50/1 Noct and the 50/1.4 Summilux asph so I doubt thats an issue. As I stated from the beginning, I didn't think this was a big issue for most practical photography since we are dealing with shooting 3D subjects, not 2D test charts. It was enough of a difference however to change central resolution in my tests from 40 lp/mm to over 50 lp/mm at f/2. Take it for what it's worth.
Thanks for the clarification, Alan. . . . And it's pretty obvious that you're not a "Leica snob" or you never would have bought the Zeiss lens at all. ;) :D
I have one of these lenes and just love it. The focussing "bump" is Zeiss's take on the Leica focussing tab; the idea is to have a reference point on the lens barrel so that your fingers can tell where the lens is in its focus-throw. That is, with the lens focussing at 10 feet the lens will always feel the same way. Good for street shooting, pre-focussing etc. Not really critical to performance, at least the way I use lenses. I too would compare its optical qualities favorably to those of the 40/2 for the G series.
I thought the Zeiss intention was to copy the Cinema Ultra Primes when making these-
Of course they are Planar, etc.... but they are not the 1.2 and 1.4 lenses I am used to in Cinematography.
I would think that by design philosophy, these primes should match cine primes more than the G series primes....but I could be wrong...
The only thing remotely in common with the Ultra Primes that I see is the finer seletion of aperture click stops in 1/3 stop increments. The focus ring bump and the bayonet hood attachment is a throwback to the excellent Contarex lenses. I reaaly like the lens cap design with the dual fingergrips for easy attachment with the hood mounted, a first for any manufacturer!
Here are a couple of pictures of the planar's focussing bump. It's rather understated and, for the most part, I just use two fingers at 2- and 8-o'clock and ignore it entirely. The focus throw is 90 degrees.
As for the performance of the lens? I'm not in the habit of shooting test charts, but I can say that the lens handily outresolves my (flatbed) scanner. Slides, when projected, look incredible, and my optical enlargements from b&w negatives do justice to surface textures. I've a great picture of my grandmother laid up in a hospital bed, soft light coming in through the large, curtained window, and the crepey texture of her skin and knobbly weave of the blanket are almost palpable and really make the shot.
The planar is also tremendously fun close-up and wide-open, it really has a lot of character. :)
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