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Impressions of the Zeiss 21mm f/2.8 Biogon ZM lens
Old 01-15-2013   #1
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Impressions of the Zeiss 21mm f/2.8 Biogon ZM lens

I've decided that I have to have a Zeiss 21mm f/2.8 Biogon T* ZM lens. When I had a Canon 5DII slr camera, I owned a Zeiss 21mm EF lens. It was spectacular, but monstrously big and heavy. I own a Zeiss 35mm f/2 Biogon ZM lens, which is the main lens that I use--for some trips it's the only lens I take with me or use. But I miss the 90-degree, wide angle of that old Zeiss 21mm ZE lens, which I sold. The Zeiss 21mm f/2.8 ZM has a 90-degree angle, too. Now that I'm going all m-mount, I'm thinking I should get one.

I know it's silly and torturing myself, but I would love to see photos that anyone here has taken with this lens, especially in combination with the Zeiss Ikon, the Leica CL, or the Leica M9 camera. So please post some of your best shots to this thread and tell me which camera and film you used, if not a digital camera, and maybe the exposure settings. I'd like to see how it handles and would appreciate hearing your impressions about the combinations of it with one of the three cameras I just mentioned. I want get myself into a frenzied lust for the lens so that I'll push myself to find the money to buy it, along with the Leica M9 I plan to buy soon.

I'd also like to know if you use an external viewfinder. I just ordered one a few days ago from Stephen Gandy at CameraQuest. I ordered the Voigtlander 21mm/25mm viewfinder II, the metal one. How does that work, switching between the camera's viewfinder and an external one? Does that flow smoothly for you? Do you sometimes miss shots by having to do that, or do you get better shots by slowing down for the external viewfinder? I'd like to see and hear your impressions of all of these elements.

Thanks in advance.


Russell can be seen occasionally petting his Zeiss Ikon camera and quietly calling it, 'my precious', much to the discomfort of those around him.

Russell's Photography Equipment (updated April 2015)
Leica M9 camera
Leica M3 camera
Zeiss Ikon camera

Leica Elmarit-M f2.8 21mm (E49) lens
Zeiss Biogon ZM f/2 35mm lens
Leica Summicron-M f2 50mm lens
Leica Elmarit-M f/2.8 90mm (E46 Germany) lens
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Old 01-15-2013   #2
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Personally, I really like shooting with an external finder. The Zeiss ones are extraordinarily good, and the CV's are a great value.

For a 21mm lens, I've owned both the ZM 21/4.5 and the ZM 21/2.8. Both lenses are leading-edge in technical terms, but to be blunt the 4.5 lens is to my eye one of those lenses that is special. Just amazingly good. And tiny, and a good value.

That said, Zeiss specifically warns that the 4.5 is not recommended for the M9 due to vignetting and color shifts in the corners.

But for film I have no doubt that if I were to get another M-mount 21, it would be the 4.5 Biogon. For film and digital? I'd absolutely have to consider the new CV 21 Ultron.
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those who are interested in what a particular camera can't do,
and those who are interested in what it can do.

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Old 01-15-2013   #3
Richard G
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Love the 21 4.5. So straight. Lovely light it transmits. Very sharp. Wonderful with black and white film. I have coped quite happily with it in colour on the M9, coding it as a pre-asph 28 2.8. Some minor fringing in some shots. I haven't bothered to learn Corner Fix. I might one day get the 2.8. It's not too big. There are some great 21 threads here on RFF.
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Old 01-15-2013   #4
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I've owned two Zeiss 21mm f2.8 lenses - I sold the first one then missed it so much I bought another.

The f2.8 version is no bigger than my 50mm summilux pre-ASPH and, if memory serves, about the same size as the 35mm Biogon. Now, the only reason I opted for the 2.8 is for that extra speed in low light as I do shoot the occasional wedding on film still (I personally prefer it but hey, that's me, I'm weird like that ). The new CV that's all the rage (21mm f1.8) is probably about the same price but it's bigger and while I'm sure it's an awesome lens, I don't know if I want another "large" lens in my kit. I've tried to do that with the CV 50mm f1.1 and wasn't happy with it and yet I was perfectly happy with the CV 35mm f1.2 - go figure.

I currently don't have a digital full frame upon which to mount the lens but I have used it extensively on film. I'll hunt for a shot or two and post for you.

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Old 01-15-2013   #5
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My experience with ZM 21/2.8. Happy, and no complaints ........

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