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Thread: Advice on changing 50mm lens, considering Zeiss ZM 50mm f/2

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    Advice on changing 50mm lens, considering Zeiss ZM 50mm f/2

    I'm seeking advice on if I should change my 50mm lens.

    Right now I have a 50mm lux ASPH and Noctilux. Noctilux is definitely a specialty type of lens for me, not quite an everyday, walkaround lens. I want a 50mm everyday lens. The 50mm lux ASPH definitely can be used in such a situation, but honestly a large part of me feels incredibly guilty having both the 50mm lux and Noctilux. So, I'm considering if I should pick up another, cheaper lens instead.

    The alternative I'm considering is the Zeiss 50mm f/2 Planar. I've been in love with the Zeiss line with my previous experiences using Nikon DSLRs. I really love the unique 3D pop Zeiss look. And considering my situation, the Zeiss alternative is about only 1/5 - 1/6th of the price of the 50mm lux!

    So, if you guys can share with me what you think about this idea, that would be great. Sell the Lux and buy the Zeiss? Keep the Lux, you only live once? Should I consider the 50mm Cron instead? (Does the 50mm Cron perform better than the ZM 50mm Planar?) If you can share your opinion on the ZM 50mm Planar, including sharpness, bokeh, "Zeiss look," etc, I'd really appreciate it!

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    Senior Member mathomas's Avatar
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    Re: Advice on changing 50mm lens, considering Zeiss ZM 50mm f/2

    I've been very happy with the images from my Planar (I have used it on my M8, but mostly it lives on my M2). That being said, I'm probably going to get a Sonnar instead, for the unique rendering that lens offers.

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    Workshop Member glenerrolrd's Avatar
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    Re: Advice on changing 50mm lens, considering Zeiss ZM 50mm f/2

    Having tried most of the 50 s (for the M) you currently have the best combination. You didn t mention which Noctilux you have .1.0 or 0.95 ?

    The Zeiss Planar is an excellent lens and renders like a typical zeiss lens. High contrast,high resolution and deep color saturation. On a bright sunshiny day it can almost be to much . It has a clinical sharpness. On a dull overcast day in black and white this lens is brilliant. Bokeh is not a strong point because the lens contrast tends to make the OFA look sharp.

    The Leica M Summicron has a better balance (IMHO) with lower contrast but similar resolution and color saturation. Bokeh is not a strong point of this lens. I am trying to work more with this lens as I think it pairs nicely with the 28/2 summicron and handles high contrast lighting well.

    The 50 asph has better all around performance than either the planar or the summicron . Its not a lens that I would give up .

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    Senior Member mathomas's Avatar
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    Re: Advice on changing 50mm lens, considering Zeiss ZM 50mm f/2

    Here are a couple images, both from my M2:




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    Re: Advice on changing 50mm lens, considering Zeiss ZM 50mm f/2

    I beg to differ about the Planar being too 'CLINICAL'
    I don't own One yet... but DESIRE One...Its a GREAT choice
    certainly if you keep the nocti, the Planar
    will add another Signature to your 'Look'
    I have the 50 C sonnar, 50 pre asph lux, 1970 50 cron ...all I which I Love

    Take a Peek at 'salmonpink' on Flickr
    His work with the 50 planar is Divine
    the oof Creamy smooth with dead center Sharpness

    Cheers & Best...-H

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    Senior Member M5-Guy's Avatar
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    Re: Advice on changing 50mm lens, considering Zeiss ZM 50mm f/2

    Quote Originally Posted by panda81 View Post
    I'm seeking advice on if I should change my 50mm lens.

    Right now I have a 50mm lux ASPH and Noctilux. Noctilux is definitely a specialty type of lens for me, not quite an everyday, walkaround lens. I want a 50mm everyday lens. The 50mm lux ASPH definitely can be used in such a situation, but honestly a large part of me feels incredibly guilty having both the 50mm lux and Noctilux. So, I'm considering if I should pick up another, cheaper lens instead.

    The alternative I'm considering is the Zeiss 50mm f/2 Planar. I've been in love with the Zeiss line with my previous experiences using Nikon DSLRs. I really love the unique 3D pop Zeiss look. And considering my situation, the Zeiss alternative is about only 1/5 - 1/6th of the price of the 50mm lux!

    So, if you guys can share with me what you think about this idea, that would be great. Sell the Lux and buy the Zeiss? Keep the Lux, you only live once? Should I consider the 50mm Cron instead? (Does the 50mm Cron perform better than the ZM 50mm Planar?) If you can share your opinion on the ZM 50mm Planar, including sharpness, bokeh, "Zeiss look," etc, I'd really appreciate it!
    I can understand your concerns...
    I have only one 50, a f/1.1 Nokton...similar size to the Noctilux.
    I have too left the 50 at home and took the 35 f/1.4 instead.
    I have thought about getting another 50, maybe a 50 Summicron or a 50mm f/1.5 Nokton as a better bag choice for when I want to have a 28/35/50 in a smallish bag.

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    Re: Advice on changing 50mm lens, considering Zeiss ZM 50mm f/2

    I've tried out a wide range of 50mm lenses and I just love the 50 planar. Sold my summicron after getting one.

    I've been using it primarily for portrait sessions in studio, so I don't have a lot to show bokeh-wise. But a couple shots with the M8 and planar:




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    Senior Member helenhill's Avatar
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    Re: Advice on changing 50mm lens, considering Zeiss ZM 50mm f/2

    Tim, those are TWO of my FAVS in your 'Planar' selection....OUTSTANDING !!
    Cheers- H

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    Workshop Member glenerrolrd's Avatar
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    Re: Advice on changing 50mm lens, considering Zeiss ZM 50mm f/2

    Keep in mind when evaluating the alternatives that your requirements (type of light,subject matter, desired look) make a big difference in how you view a lenses performance.

    The Zeiss Planar is a high contrast ,high resolution lens ..so if your subject benefits from this it can be a perfect choice. I found using it for example in Prague in black and white that it was an excellent choice. The soft overcast light was enhanced by the contrast of the lens. You can see this in the example of the bicycle image previously shown.

    Using the same lens in the Rocky Mountains shooting landscapes in color , while I enjoyed the saturated deep blue sky(typical Zeiss rendering) the added contrast made post processing more difficult. In this case the lower contrast of the summicron would have been better.

    Just like you would match the Noctilux to specific shooting situations , the Zeiss planar can add something to your kit. But considering that your frame of reference is the 50 asph you will not find it necessarily a lot better.

    This is a very good lens and the relatively low price makes it easy to justify .

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    Re: Advice on changing 50mm lens, considering Zeiss ZM 50mm f/2

    I do not know much about optics. If I like a lens I use it. I think both the Planar and the Sonnar C are way up there...

    50mm Planar + M8:..


    Sonnar C + M8:..


    panda81..try them both and see what suits you.

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    Re: Advice on changing 50mm lens, considering Zeiss ZM 50mm f/2

    Quote Originally Posted by glenerrolrd View Post
    Having tried most of the 50 s (for the M) you currently have the best combination. You didn t mention which Noctilux you have .1.0 or 0.95 ?

    The Zeiss Planar is an excellent lens and renders like a typical zeiss lens. High contrast,high resolution and deep color saturation. On a bright sunshiny day it can almost be to much . It has a clinical sharpness. On a dull overcast day in black and white this lens is brilliant. Bokeh is not a strong point because the lens contrast tends to make the OFA look sharp.

    The Leica M Summicron has a better balance (IMHO) with lower contrast but similar resolution and color saturation. Bokeh is not a strong point of this lens. I am trying to work more with this lens as I think it pairs nicely with the 28/2 summicron and handles high contrast lighting well.

    The 50 asph has better all around performance than either the planar or the summicron . Its not a lens that I would give up .
    I have had similar experience as what Roger mentioned in his posts. I have used Noctilus, Summilux ASPH, Summicron, Planar, and Sonnar. I ended up selling the Planar in favor of Summicron for more 'balanced' characteristics, as Roger said, and better built quality. (I am also selling the Sonnar at the moment; while it is a very unique lens, I prefer the IQ rendered by Summilux ASPH at large f stops).

    For 50mm, Summilux ASPH is all your need, really!

    Kind regards,
    Last edited by Ocean; 10th June 2010 at 09:15.

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    Re: Advice on changing 50mm lens, considering Zeiss ZM 50mm f/2

    It really does depend on what you'd use the lens for.
    For myself, a 50mm FL on the M8 is simply a portrait lens. For any other type of photography I do, I'd go with a wide angle or telephoto.
    That being the case, I've just never had any interest in the 50 lux asph. I have no doubt that it is a great lens. But I don't see it offering enough extra to justify spending another $2300 or so to upgrade over the planar - or a summicron, for that matter.

    I'd probably feel a little differently if I were shooting film or an M9. But I'm not.

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    Re: Advice on changing 50mm lens, considering Zeiss ZM 50mm f/2

    thanks for all of your thoughts and advice, everyone!

    for those of you who said the 50 lux asph is the best out there, i don't disagree at all. i guess my concern is more about the price/performance ratio.

    thanks to all for showing your beautiful samples with the zeiss 50 planar! especially tim barker, those studio portraits...WOW!

    i'll let you know what i end up doing...

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    Re: Advice on changing 50mm lens, considering Zeiss ZM 50mm f/2

    If price/performance ratio is your concern, dump the Noctilux.

    The 50 ASPH is a great lens. Should be able to cover most of your shooting needs. It is fast, sharp, good performance at all distances and apertures. While it is bigger than some other 50's, it's not so big to be a burden. If you want something with more 'character' I would augment it with older lenses, like a Nikkor 50/1.4 or a Summar/Summitar.

    From everything I've seen, the Planar is a fantastic lens. On top of that, it's great value for the money. Were I starting over, that'd be the 50/2 I'd get. Until I realized I wanted a 50/1.4 and sold the 50/2 that is.

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