Posts Tagged ‘Rangefinder’

50mm bokeh shootout on Leica M9

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013

This isn’t a definitive 50mm test in the least, rather, an opportunity to give a quick ‘bokeh’ impression of a number of 50mm lenses available for the Leica M mount, shot at 1 and 1.5m distances common to all of the lenses. Some will focus closer, but in order to keep the results consistent, 1 and 1.5m were chosen.

Lenses in the shootout, in the order they appear below:

Leica Summilux-M 50mm f1.4 ASPH. (modern)
Zeiss Planar T* 50mm f2 ZM (modern)
Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f1.5 Aspherical LTM (note that the link is the second version of this lens, but I tested the first version, with the ‘same’ optics, though apparently different, not as effective coatings) (modern)
Canon 50mm f1.4 LTM (late 50s, early 60s)
Zeiss-Opton Sonnar T 50mm f1.5 (Contax rangefinder lens in Amedeo Contax-Leica adapter) (post WWII)
Nikkor-SC 5cm f1.4 LTM (1950s)
Ernst Leitz Summarit 5cm f1.5 LTM (1950s)
Voigtlander Nokton classic 40mm f1.4 (multicoated version – while not 50mm, added for kicks) (modern)

The set-up: Camera was on a tripod and lenses were rangefinder focused on a specific target to the best of my ability. There is some shot to shot variation because it was slightly windy. Since this is primarily for bokeh quality analysis, trying to nail perfect focus, or compensating for focus shift (common in a number of the lenses) was not a priority (though I did attempt to adjust for focus shift with the Zeiss-Opton). DNG files were converted in Lightroom 4.4, set to the same WB for all scenes, as were exposures. Only the 1.5m scene had some exposure compensation and curve tweaks applied in post to compensate for a somewhat darker metering by the camera. No additional shadow recover, clarity, saturation,lens profiles, chromatic aberration correction, etc. was applied. Standard Lightroom sharpening was applied.

Up first are two backlit scenes shot at 1m and 1.5m. The third scene was in open shade at about 1m.

Low rez files are shown below for wide open performance of each lens.
Full 18MP Jpegs can be downloaded from the links at the bottom of the page. The two backlit scenes include images shot from wide open until f/5.6 while the third scene includes from wide open until f/2.8.

1m distance, backlit:

1.5m distance, backlit:

1m distance, open shade:

Basic observations:

The Leica Summilux-M 50mm f1.4 ASPH. is the smoothest rendering of the bunch and at f/2 has larger blur disks than the Zeiss Planar T* 50mm f2 ZM. This has always been my finding – that fast lenses shot stopped down to the equivalent wide open aperture for other lenses, render larger blur disks.
While these are all 50mm lenses (ignoring the Voigtlander 40mm), their actual focal lengths vary slightly, with the Zeiss Planar T* 50mm f2 ZM being the widest of the bunch, which probably is a slight disadvantage when it comes to blurring out background details.
While the Summilux is the most expensive of the bunch, it probably has one of the most annoying aperture shapes as it stops down through ~f/2-5.6, which could be nicknamed ninja star or saw blade. This can impact the shape of specular highlights, already starting at f/2. It’s another factor that reinforces my belief that Leica lenses really are made for shooting either wide open, or well stopped down. It certainly does have a nice, smooth quality wide open.
The Voigtlander is actually fairly close in look to the Summilux in these examples. It was shot uncoded (as were all the vintage lenses), which perhaps accounts for the greater wide open vignetting.
The 50s-60s vintage lenses – the Canon, Nikkor, Leitz Summarit and Zeiss-Opton all have much more energetic and ‘less perfect’ bokeh, yet I find them all quite interesting for their individual character.

High-rez downloads:

1m distance, backlit 127MB
1.5m distance, backlit 165MB
1m distance, open shade 60MB

Since bokeh analysis is extremely subjective, I’ll just leave it at this and close with “you can never have too many 50mm lenses.”

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Sony RX1 Sonnar 35mm vs. Leica M9 and Biogon 35mm ZM lenses review

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

Sony DSC-RX1 Carl Zeiss 35mm f/2 Sonnar vs. Carl Zeiss 35mm f/2 Biogon ZM comparison review

The Sony DSC-RX1 ultra-premium compact full frame camera with Carl Zeiss 35mm f/2 Sonnar lens has received a lot of praise for its technical achievements. Not only is it the smallest camera in its class (it’s perhaps in a class of its own at the moment), but it also attains very high levels of image quality, comparable to what one can produce from full frame interchangeable lens systems.

The Sonnar lens is the purpose of this review. More specifically, an examination of how well it and the RX1 hold up against currently available Carl Zeiss 35mm ZM-series lenses on the Leica M9 full frame 18MP camera.

Why the ZM lenses and not the ZE/ZF lenses? For a couple reasons:

1) It has been stated by some that for the price of the RX1 and a few accessories, one comes into used M9 territory. This is more so the case now that Leica has released the ‘M’ and used M9 prices have dropped below $4,000. For ‘only’ another $1,000 or so, one can add a quality ZM lens to the M9 and benefit from an interchangeable lens system not much larger in size with more flexibility than the RX1. Both options are much smaller than currently available full frame DSLRs with Zeiss ZE/ZF lenses.

2) I happen to use the M9 and am curious about how well the RX1 compares, and have access to both ZM 35mm lenses. If time and opportunities permit, I may revisit this comparison with some additional Leica M-series lenses.

Click on the image at top or here to continue to the review.

Fast M-series 21mm lens shootout on Leica M9, NEX-7 and Ricoh GXR

Monday, January 14th, 2013

Can the $1249 US Voigtlander Ultron Aspherical 21mm f/1.8 compare favorably to the $7000 US Leica Summilux-M 21mm f/1.4 ASPH.?

The contenders (in order of maximum aperture):

Leica Summilux-M 21mm f/1.4 ASPH.
Voigtländer Ultron Aspherical 21mm f/1.8
Zeiss Biogon T* 21mm f/2.8 ZM
Leica Super-Elmar-M 21mm f/3.4 ASPH.

Click on the image above or on this link to proceed to the full review.

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