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Why do people keep saying Zeiss lenses aren't smooth?
Old 12-02-2016   #1
SaveKodak
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Why do people keep saying Zeiss lenses aren't smooth?

You hear it all the time when people talk about the ZM line up. "They don't have that Leica silk" and "they're just not as smooth as Leica" or (my favorite) "the IQ of xxx lens is great but it's just not smooth like my Lux".

Unless whatever lens they're using is physically BROKEN...what are they talking about???

All my ZM lenses rotate through the helical in one fluid motion from infinity to MFD. All the aperture 1/3rd stops click normally and they do not shift easily by mistake. I've used a couple of the cheaper CV lenses that start off with a few rough spots in the focusing range, but even they generally clear up with use. Never have my ZM lenses exhibited this, and I would put the quality I saw in the 35/1.4 up against anything.

I find these sophistic arguments particularly irritating. If you are insecure enough to need to justify your choices at least stick with arguments that have a basis in reality.
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Old 12-02-2016   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SaveKodak View Post
You hear it all the time when people talk about the ZM line up. "They don't have that Leica silk" and "they're just not as smooth as Leica" or (my favorite) "the IQ of xxx lens is great but it's just not smooth like my Lux". […]


Well, due to the Iron Curtain, the Zeiss (West) guys ran out of silkworms.

I guess the Leitz guys had their own silkworm hatchery, or the Britons did help out?
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Old 12-02-2016   #3
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Drinking the wrong 'kool aid' perhaps
just plain a jacka** or simple minded

I have used ..,
leica
Zeiss
Voigtlander

All three have preformed with Charm, Atmosphere, some more bokeh, others more Sharp
All three have given Me some Pictures that are just Stellar and I give Thanks

Boohoo to those that know no better
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Old 12-02-2016   #4
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I've had Biogon 2/35 - big wobble, uneven focusing. Sonnar 1,5/50 - small wobble.

After they were repaired they were as good as anything else. I only had one Leica lens so far so maybe I'm not that well versed in smoothness.
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Old 12-02-2016   #5
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You've never encountered the Zeiss ZM wobble then... if you had, you wouldn't ask this question. Of course, ones without wobble are great.
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Old 12-02-2016   #6
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Your senses are obviously not sophisticated enough to notice or understand the intricacies of Leica ergonomics and image quality.
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Old 12-02-2016   #7
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I find the 50/1,5 C-Sonnar focus far far smoother than the Leica 50/1.4 Summilux ASPH.

On my Summilux focus is stiff and there is stiction and backlash with focus ( when horizontal )
When the lens is held vertical the focus is smooth - my conclusion the FLE mechanism is under engineered and cannot support the weight of the front elements.

However I do believe there was an issue with the early ZM lens designs; the later designs ( I have the 21,35,50 C lenses ) all seem problem free.

I don't know if there were production changes and all the issues are in the past.
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Old 12-02-2016   #8
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I own a 35 f2 biogon and 50 planar and had a previous set of the two also plus a 25 biogon. All 5 of the lenses were as smooth as any Leica lens I've owned and I've owned over 50 leica lenses. Matter of fact the only lenses I've had mechanical issues with have been Leica lenses. My v4 Summicron 35 f2 came apart, my v4 50 Summicron would bind at one point, a new 90 apo asph would bind and my 1st 50 summilux asph wasn't manufactured properly and wouldn't focus to infinity.
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Old 12-02-2016   #9
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I don't have interest in ZM line, so far, no lenses I want in it. I have deep respect for CV line, for good modern optics and normal price without historic, German aura in ZM pricing practice.
I went through the bunch of old Leitz made ones, CLA'd, they were smooth and solid, but after I traded one of those and CV lens for NiB Summarit-M 35 2.5...
"Leica Silk" it is something soft, sexy and addictive (if enough money). I guess, it is like the silk on the legs, for some
Have you tried your fingers on one of those?
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Old 12-02-2016   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ko.Fe. View Post
I have deep respect for CV line, for good modern optics and normal price without historic, German aura in ZM pricing practice.
Please tell me how Zeiss has bad pricing practices vs. Leica or CV (when you haven't used them)?
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Old 12-02-2016   #11
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You've never encountered the Zeiss ZM wobble then... if you had, you wouldn't ask this question. Of course, ones without wobble are great.
So that would fall under the category of a lens which is physically broken. I have owned or own now the 28, 35/2, 35/1.4, and 50/1.5 and none of them have developed play. So I have to listen to people on forums who've experienced this and imagine that either it's a thing that used to happen and has since been resolved or happens to some minority of users. Regardless from what I've read there is a DIY fix that takes about a half hour to get you back in business and involves disassembly and screw tightening. Some Leica problems have their own host of problems but people still talk about them as if they are the epitome of build and construction. I'm not saying this to bash Leica, I'm saying there is a dichotomy here. That's what really bothers me I'd say. Both brands produce premium products. Both brands have produced some products that develop problems in one way or another. But Zeiss is the one with "lesser build quality."
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Old 12-02-2016   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brennanphotoguy View Post
Your senses are obviously not sophisticated enough to notice or understand the intricacies of Leica ergonomics and image quality.
such Foolishness...
Your comment is so perty in it's absoluteness

I am a Leica fan girl ... moreso with Leica cameras
a RF jubkie I am
Love All Glass in all it's Subtleties
be it Leica, Zeiss, Voigtlander, Nikkor

most glass is BETTER than most photographers !!

and Yes I have had most Leica Glass from retro to modern
My Leica holds up equally to Zeiss & Voigt in my top
20 photos
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Old 12-02-2016   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by helenhill View Post
such Foolishness...
Your comment is so perty in it's absoluteness

I am a Leica fan girl ... moreso with Leica cameras
Love All Glass in all it's Subtleties
be it Leica, Zeiss, Voigtlander, Nikkor

most glass is BETTER than most photographers !!
Well, I choose to clad my Leica M bodies ONLY with lenses that are the epitome of build and optical quality. Zeiss lenses are inferior in both respects.
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Old 12-02-2016   #14
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Originally Posted by SaveKodak View Post
Regardless from what I've read there is a DIY fix that takes about a half hour to get you back in business and involves disassembly and screw tightening.
No there isn't.
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Old 12-02-2016   #15
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Originally Posted by brennanphotoguy View Post
Well, I choose to clad my Leica M bodies ONLY with lenses that are the epitome of build and optical quality. Zeiss lenses are inferior in both respects.
Well I do hope your ''Epitome of Build and Quality"
also makes some Great Photos or poor You , such a Waste
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Old 12-02-2016   #16
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(sarcasm is difficult to transfer over the internet)
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Old 12-02-2016   #17
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Originally Posted by brennanphotoguy View Post
(sarcasm is difficult to transfer over the internet)
hmmmm.... are You really pulling my leg ...
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Old 12-02-2016   #18
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hmmmm.... are You really pulling my leg ...
Yes haha. I wondered how long I should string you along and remembered that sarcasm doesn't translate well through the web haha. I've used most of everything from every manufacturer and they all have their own set of issues. Leica seems to get a pass though, like SaveKodak is saying.
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Old 12-02-2016   #19
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No there isn't.
Oh really?

http://www.apug.org/forum/index.php?...-wobble.92779/ (solution at bottom of thread)
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Old 12-02-2016   #20
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I only have one ZM lens, the C-Biogon 35mm, and have handled the 50mm Sonnar and Planar. To me, they seem quite well built and smooth in handling, and I'm very happy with the results from the C-Biogon. My only Leica M lenses date from the 1940s-1950s (Elmar, Summitar and DR Cron), and are well built and smooth as well, and produce great results. So for me, it's a tie.
However given their disparate ages, it may not be fair to directly compare the silkiness of these Zeiss and Leica examples.
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Old 12-02-2016   #21
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Please tell me how Zeiss has bad pricing practices vs. Leica or CV (when you haven't used them)?
Sure and with respect and pleasure!
I've had choice to make recently for M-E. Simply as 50 fast lens. What Ziess Cosina has? Just one lens which isn't capable of close focusing on 0.7, which suffers from focus shift and needs to be "optimized" to have shift at one apperture, but not at another. And this is above 1K$ USD price mark. Just because it has Zeiss name on it. While CV has at least two fast 50, I'm aware of, no focus shift, at least one has 0.7m focusing distance and costs way bellow of lens with Zeiss sticker on it.
Slow ZM 35 2.8 cost 1/3 more comparing to twice faster 35 1.4 CV, which is very nicely build and worn out nicely as well.
And ZM, just because it is Zeiss label prices I have seen fo UWA, tele slow lenses is , comparing to CV offerings.
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Old 12-02-2016   #22
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Originally Posted by SaveKodak View Post
Oh really?

http://www.apug.org/forum/index.php?...-wobble.92779/ (solution at bottom of thread)
Yes, really*!

But, of course, we'll have to trust you and the internet on this one. Same as with the proverbial Leica smoothness.


* Did you ever had a Zeiss with a wobble (not just filter ring play (as in the link you posted) or loose rear retention ring)? Cause I tried this fix before paying Zeiss to fix it...
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Old 12-02-2016   #23
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Originally Posted by Ko.Fe. View Post
Sure and with respect and pleasure!
I've had choice to make recently for M-E. Simply as 50 fast lens. What Ziess Cosina has? Just one lens which isn't capable of close focusing on 0.7, which suffers from focus shift and needs to be "optimized" to have shift at one apperture, but not at another. And this is above 1K$ USD price mark. Just because it has Zeiss name on it. While CV has at least two fast 50, I'm aware of, no focus shift, at least one has 0.7m focusing distance and costs way bellow of lens with Zeiss sticker on it.
Ok, that's the Sonnar... I agree with you there, but how about the Planar?
It's one of the best deals in M lenses out there. I love the CV 50mm lenses too (those being the other great M mount deal), but the Planar is a very nice lens at a very reasonable price.

Quote:
Slow ZM 35 2.8 cost 1/3 more comparing to twice faster 35 1.4 CV, which is very nicely build and worn out nicely as well.
Ok, let's be fair here. Slow and bad are not the same thing. That Zeiss C-Biogon is a hell of a lens at a great price as well. One of my favorite M lenses of all time. And if we are going to call out the Sonnar for shifting, let's be honest about the 35mm CV 1.4....it shifts as well.

Quote:
And ZM, just because it is Zeiss label prices I have seen fo UWA, tele slow lenses is , comparing to CV offerings.
Sure, I can understand that, but you cannot say that Zeiss, categorically, is overpriced and does not make some nice items.
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Old 12-02-2016   #24
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Ok, that's the Sonnar... I agree with you there, but how about the Planar?
It's one of the best deals in M lenses out there. I love the CV 50mm lenses too (those being the other great M mount deal), but the Planar is a very nice lens at a very reasonable price.



Ok, let's be fair here. Slow and bad are not the same thing. That Zeiss C-Biogon is a hell of a lens at a great price as well. One of my favorite M lenses of all time.
+1 and +1
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Old 12-02-2016   #25
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...how about the Planar?
It's one of the best deals in M lenses out there. I love the CV 50mm lenses too (those being the other great M mount deal), but the Planar is a very nice lens at a very reasonable price.

Sure, I can understand that, but you cannot say that Zeiss, categorically, is overpriced and does not make some nice items.
Plannar 50 f2 is listed 828$ at BH and Nokton 501.5 is 779. Slow, old design lens cost more than modern, ASPH lens which is not over-contrasty as Zeiss.
Planar gives f2 and weights 210gm, Nokton (black) 220 gm.

If I would go for modern 50 2 now, it would be Heliar 50 f2 which is still available at 779$. I knew what this lens is special, and not Zeiss sharp. I'm not only seen electronic examples provided to me, but I also printed from negates exposed with this lens. But I needed faster lens this time at good price and less shifting issues. It isn't Zeiss for sure.
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Old 12-02-2016   #26
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Originally Posted by SaveKodak View Post
Y If you are insecure enough to need to justify your choices at least stick with arguments that have a basis in reality.

It seems starting this thread is a sign of insecurity.

Why do you care about what others think of your lens choices?
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Old 12-02-2016   #27
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Originally Posted by SaveKodak View Post
Regardless from what I've read there is a DIY fix that takes about a half hour to get you back in business and involves disassembly and screw tightening.
Not the binding or wobble issues. I've had three ZM lenses with these problems repaired over the last 5-6 years, all out of warranty, two by just a few months. C-Sonnar 50, Biogon 35/2, Planar 50. Cost approx. $200-250 and took 4-6 weeks each. Each got progressively worse pretty rapidly before I sent them in. Also have had a couple of M lenses repaired, pretty expensively, so I have no bias.

I am not hard on my gear at all, maybe I'm just unlucky, I don't know. I figure photo gear needs repair, adjustment, cleaning from time to time. I take care of my stuff, so I get 'em fixed. No whining, just realistic.

If I had to judge the issue of smoothness, on the basis of the lenses I've used, I'd probably say I like the aperture ring movement on ZM lenses and I like the focus ring movement on Leica lenses. Focus rings on ZM glass seem tight when new, my Planar 50 was this way, but they get better with use. Leica aperture rings can be a bit loose for my taste. Just a generalization though. They all are sweet.
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Old 12-02-2016   #28
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It seems starting this thread is a sign of insecurity.

Why do you care about what others think of your lens choices?
Ah, the indefatigable "no you are!" argument. Well played.

This isn't about MY personal lens choices. I have some ZI, CV and a Leica body. This is about truth and fantasy. And this is a gear forum, we talk about gear, we share pictures of our gear, and we compare gear. This is a conversation about the comparison. If you want to take part in it I'd try to think of something productive to say.
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Old 12-02-2016   #29
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Don't want to attack the ZM lenses in any way as I've liked mine and there are some I've never owned that I'm very fond of in the hands of others (the C-Sonnar) but everything fond thing you say of ZM lenses and every caustic thing you hear could both be right. That is what you'd expect with quality control issues. When something sells in the thousands or tens of thousands and there is bad quality control then there are thousands of happy people out there but also hundreds or even thousands of people who get something that is really not nearly as nice as what you have and one of the things that makes it less nice could be rough focus? Those with problems are more likely to be the ones who speak -- that's just the nature of people and forums like this so reputations develop on bad examples.




Quote:
Originally Posted by SaveKodak View Post
You hear it all the time when people talk about the ZM line up. "They don't have that Leica silk" and "they're just not as smooth as Leica" or (my favorite) "the IQ of xxx lens is great but it's just not smooth like my Lux".

Unless whatever lens they're using is physically BROKEN...what are they talking about???

All my ZM lenses rotate through the helical in one fluid motion from infinity to MFD. All the aperture 1/3rd stops click normally and they do not shift easily by mistake. I've used a couple of the cheaper CV lenses that start off with a few rough spots in the focusing range, but even they generally clear up with use. Never have my ZM lenses exhibited this, and I would put the quality I saw in the 35/1.4 up against anything.

I find these sophistic arguments particularly irritating. If you are insecure enough to need to justify your choices at least stick with arguments that have a basis in reality.
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Old 12-02-2016   #30
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Originally Posted by Ko.Fe. View Post
Plannar 50 f2 is listed 828$ at BH and Nokton 501.5 is 779. Slow, old design lens cost more than modern, ASPH lens which is not over-contrasty as Zeiss.
Planar gives f2 and weights 210gm, Nokton (black) 220 gm.

If I would go for modern 50 2 now, it would be Heliar 50 f2 which is still available at 779$. I knew what this lens is special, and not Zeiss sharp. I'm not only seen electronic examples provided to me, but I also printed from negates exposed with this lens. But I needed faster lens this time at good price and less shifting issues. It isn't Zeiss for sure.
Your personal bias is coming into this now. Planar overly contrasty? Who set the standard for the appropriate amount of contrast?

One could make the argument that the Planar is a modern optic, sharp at all apertures, which balances size, quality, and cost in one package. The Nokton is a fabulous lens but it is larger, and not everyone wants a 1.5 aperture when ƒ2 will do. The same could be applied to the Sonnar. Zeiss is clear about what it is and what it does. Sounds like that's just not what you want. Totally fine, but it's not a problem for those who have and love the lens. It's still cheaper than a Canon 50mm 1.2, or a Nikon 58mm 1.4, or a Leica 50mm 2.4. I would love it if it were cheaper, but I can't also say that they're crazy (Leica prices help with that).


Back on topic, it seems like the only thing people can say is that if ZM lenses develop play in the helical then they're not smooth. I would agree that any RF lens would play should be repaired, but I won't go so far as to say that's standard and to be expected from ALL ZM lenses.
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Old 12-02-2016   #31
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Much of Internet information can be summed up as "rinse, repeat." vs "long term personal experience."

I cannot tell the difference between my smooth Leica Silk and my Zeiss Silk and my Voighty Silk on my M-mount. Old Juptier Silk feels more like Thrift Store Silk and old Industar Silk feels more like Car Shop Silk. But that's just my experience. Smooth as Silk.

Mr Product now announcing the finished product "Mr Silk". Applying Mr Silk to your lens helicoids will guarantee the silkiest tactility for your lens that matches the best of the best. Mr Silk erases internet cliches with remarkable effectiveness that is as slick as silk as well. Mr Silk by Mr Product, for lenses. For Internet misnomers. Certain to satisfy. Mr Silk.
Satire mode: now off.
Back to regular programming.

Last edited by Daryl J. : 12-02-2016 at 10:35. Reason: Silliness needed some smoothing over....
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Old 12-02-2016   #32
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Originally Posted by Ko.Fe. View Post
Plannar 50 f2 is listed 828$ at BH and Nokton 501.5 is 779. Slow, old design lens cost more than modern, ASPH lens which is not over-contrasty as Zeiss. Planar gives f2 and weights 210gm, Nokton (black) 220 gm.
Seems like minutiae to me. Both great lenses.
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Old 12-02-2016   #33
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Originally Posted by Daryl J. View Post
Much of Internet information can be summed up as "rinse, repeat." vs "long term personal experience."

I cannot tell the difference between my smooth Leica Silk and my Zeiss Silk and my Voighty Silk on my M-mount. Old Juptier Silk feels more like Thrift Store Silk and old Industar Silk feels more like Car Shop Silk. But that's just my experience. Smooth as Silk.

Mr Product now announcing the finished product "Mr Silk". Applying Mr Silk to your lens helicoids will guarantee the silkiest tactility for your lens that matches the best of the best. Mr Silk erases internet cliches with remarkable effectiveness that is as slick as silk as well. Mr Silk by Mr Product, for lenses. For Internet misnomers. Certain to satisfy. Mr Silk.
Satire mode: now off.
Back to regular programming.
Don't forget Rokkor-M Silk
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Old 12-02-2016   #34
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Originally Posted by SaveKodak View Post
Your personal bias is coming into this now. Planar overly contrasty? Who set the standard for the appropriate amount of contrast?

One could make the argument that the Planar is a modern optic, sharp at all apertures, which balances size, quality, and cost in one package. The Nokton is a fabulous lens but it is larger, and not everyone wants a 1.5 aperture when ƒ2 will do. The same could be applied to the Sonnar. Zeiss is clear about what it is and what it does. Sounds like that's just not what you want. Totally fine, but it's not a problem for those who have and love the lens. It's still cheaper than a Canon 50mm 1.2.
Canon 50 1.2 LTM is with same price range with ZM Planar.

"Personal b" has to be addressed to you, not to me. RFFFMs have described Planar as high contrast lens, well before you ever knew about Leica and Zeiss.
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Old 12-02-2016   #35
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Originally Posted by SaveKodak View Post
Back on topic, it seems like the only thing people can say is that if ZM lenses develop play in the helical then they're not smooth. I would agree that any RF lens would play should be repaired, but I won't go so far as to say that's standard and to be expected from ALL ZM lenses.

Hmm, my ZM 35 1.4 is definitely not as smooth as any of my Leica lenses.
It doesn't wobble, but has a slightly sticky feeling to it in the focusing mechanism, as if there is a touch more drag than there should be.
My ZM 50 1.5 has a drier feeling than any of my Leica lenses.
My Zm 50 Planar feels slightly gritty compared to my Leica lenses.

My ZF (Zeiss for Nikon) lenses - both the 35mm f2 and the 50mm Makro Planar - on the other hand feel incredible. A match to my Leica glass. In my experience the ZF series are built to a higher standard, most probably because more pros shoot with that than with Zm lenses.

So as someone who uses Zeiss and Leica, there you have it.
But what do you expect? Leica costs far more.

I am very happy with my Zeiss glass and they give wonderful results. That's what matters.

Here is what I have with me today:

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Old 12-02-2016   #36
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Originally Posted by SaveKodak View Post
You hear it all the time when people talk about the ZM line up. "They don't have that Leica silk" and "they're just not as smooth as Leica" or (my favorite) "the IQ of xxx lens is great but it's just not smooth like my Lux".

Unless whatever lens they're using is physically BROKEN...what are they talking about???

All my ZM lenses rotate through the helical in one fluid motion from infinity to MFD. All the aperture 1/3rd stops click normally and they do not shift easily by mistake. I've used a couple of the cheaper CV lenses that start off with a few rough spots in the focusing range, but even they generally clear up with use. Never have my ZM lenses exhibited this, and I would put the quality I saw in the 35/1.4 up against anything.

I find these sophistic arguments particularly irritating. If you are insecure enough to need to justify your choices at least stick with arguments that have a basis in reality.
Are you sure they are taking about the focus ring? More likely it's the pop....still just a stereotype.

Humans need to feel they understand...it's so sad.
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Old 12-02-2016   #37
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I'd love to have a ZM Planar 50 but have been scared away by the wobble issues which I have read about here and elsewhere. I have a number of CV lenses and none of them have any mechanical blips. My only Leica glass is the LTM variety and they are splendid lenses.
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Old 12-02-2016   #38
helenhill
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Yes haha. I wondered how long I should string you along and remembered that sarcasm doesn't translate well through the web haha. I've used most of everything from every manufacturer and they all have their own set of issues. Leica seems to get a pass though, like SaveKodak is saying.
ha on me.... though Thereare those who are firm believers
hehehe.... very naughty of You indeed !
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Old 12-02-2016   #39
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I'd love to have a ZM Planar 50 but have been scared away by the wobble issues which I have read about here and elsewhere. I have a number of CV lenses and none of them have any mechanical blips. My only Leica glass is the LTM variety and they are splendid lenses.
just bought one
for the 2nd time... LOVE it

i have never had any issues of the dreaded wobble
buying new or used gear... call me Lucky or who knows what
have used 28 Biogon, 35 Biogon, 35 C biogon, 50 C Sonnar, 50 Planar
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Old 12-02-2016   #40
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I'd love to have a ZM Planar 50 but have been scared away by the wobble issues ...
Do it, it is a fantastic lens. Far better flare resistance than my Lux 50.
If u buy new - no issues as I think Cosina tightened up their QC. If you buy used, just check it out first.
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