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Thread: Any thoughts on the ZF 100mm f/2 Makro-Planar T* ?

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    Subscriber Member TRSmith's Avatar
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    Any thoughts on the ZF 100mm f/2 Makro-Planar T* ?

    I'm convincing myself that I need a macro lens and have become enamored with the ZF 100mm f/2 Makro-Planar T* based on a few reviews I've read. Does anyone here have some direct experience with this lens? I'd really like to get some confirmation to support my lens lust.

    Thanks!
    Tim

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    Re: Any thoughts on the ZF 100mm f/2 Makro-Planar T* ?

    Yes. I have one and it is one heck of a lens! It does double duty. I use it on my D700 and my 5D2 for both stills and video. Rather than repeat what you may have read, I would suggest that you take a look at the "lens lust" forum over at NikonCafe.com. There are pages and pages of postings discussing the lens, along with plenty of pictures to wet your appetite! My only complaint (and it really isn't a complaint) is that I find focus confirmation via the green dot on my D700 a bit distracting. At least to me, the green dot tends to jump around a bit, and I find myself overly concentrating on watching the dot, instead of what I have framed. Maybe it is just me or maybe it just how MF lenses in general react with the D700? However, I have considered getting a different focusing screen in the hope that would speed-up my focusing abilities. Live View seems to be better implemented on the 5D2, and I find I can focus a little easier/quicker with the Canon. All in all ... a great lens! I really can't see myself ever getting rid of it.

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    Subscriber Member TRSmith's Avatar
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    Re: Any thoughts on the ZF 100mm f/2 Makro-Planar T* ?

    Quote Originally Posted by ftbt View Post
    ... a great lens! I really can't see myself ever getting rid of it.
    That's exactly the way I like to feel about a lens. Thanks for your input. I'll take a look over at Nikon Cafe.

    Tim

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    Senior Member JimCollum's Avatar
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    Re: Any thoughts on the ZF 100mm f/2 Makro-Planar T* ?

    Quote Originally Posted by TRSmith View Post
    That's exactly the way I like to feel about a lens. Thanks for your input. I'll take a look over at Nikon Cafe.

    Tim
    I have it for my D3.. and *love* it... a lens with a unique and beautiful signature. i'll see if i can track down some images and post

    jim

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    Subscriber & Workshop Member GrahamWelland's Avatar
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    Re: Any thoughts on the ZF 100mm f/2 Makro-Planar T* ?

    I've used this lens with my D3x for a while and it's a useless soft blurry lens. Just kidding, it's wickedly sharp both as a normal lens and for macro.

    For instance, here is a landscape example (excuse the wind blur) taken with the ZF 100/2.



    Crop from the image above:

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    Subscriber Member TRSmith's Avatar
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    Re: Any thoughts on the ZF 100mm f/2 Makro-Planar T* ?

    Jim: Thanks for the thumbs up. Exactly the kind of enabling/encouraging feedback I was hoping for.

    Graham: Very nice! Part of my rationalization is the idea that the lens will perform well on my (future) FF Nikon.

    It's interesting that many people find use for the lens as a portrait lens as much as a macro. in fact, I find fewer macro samples compared to other uses for the focal length.

    Thanks for your input.

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    Subscriber Member Corlan F.'s Avatar
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    Re: Any thoughts on the ZF 100mm f/2 Makro-Planar T* ?

    Tim, if you have the opportunity, as in most cases the best you could do would be to try the lens and compare it yourself head to head with the 105VR.

    I did that, and i do love both lenses.
    Did not make sense for me to own both, and eventually went down a mixed path (105VR, CZ50M on FF body) which represents the best combo for me and my use.
    (for about the same cash than the 100mm alone, which of course doesn't hurt) .

    The Zeiss 100mm is a stellar performer, probably one of the vey best out there period, my advice is simply to make sure it's really what you're expecting for your money.
    (for instance for my style of macro and in my workflow the CA performance turned out a slight concern)

    If the write off is a second thought, then just get it.
    You'll love it.

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    Member Jeff Turner's Avatar
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    Re: Any thoughts on the ZF 100mm f/2 Makro-Planar T* ?

    I have owned the lens now for a year and a half and have used it on a D3, and Canon 5D mk2. Here are some shots showing bokeh at f2.8, f5.6 and a shot with 100% crop to show critical sharpness at f11, I believe (all on the D3). In my experience it is one of the better macro's out there for a dslr. Don't write off the Nikon VR 105 either.
    Last edited by Jeff Turner; 24th January 2010 at 08:57.
    Jeff T.
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    http://www.EmergingLightPhotography.com

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    Subscriber Member TRSmith's Avatar
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    Re: Any thoughts on the ZF 100mm f/2 Makro-Planar T* ?

    Corlan: thanks for presenting an excellent alternative. I would truly love to be able to go into a store that carries both Nikkors and Zeiss for some hands-on comparisons. Unfortunately, I live too far away from any store with that kind of inventory. I have heard some excellent stuff about the 105VR too. It's a tough decision.

    My own "style" presently includes 3 lenses each for my Nikon and Leica. What I've discovered is that rather than being dictated by subject matter, the lenses insert themselves into my shooting. For instance, I love the 70-200VR on the Nikon and can leave the lens mounted for days at a time and just shoot with that. OR, switch to the 55-70 and be just as happy. Same on my Leica (28 and 75). In both cases, the third lens is a wide (21 for Leica and 12-24 for Nikon) and they sit there collecting dust. So both will be put up for sale for the new Macro. I'm wanting a lens that has enough juice to make me lust for it on the camera.

    Jeff: Wonderful samples! The bokeh looks sweet and the sharpness looks incredible. Yum!

    Thanks to both of you for your advice and experience.

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    Re: Any thoughts on the ZF 100mm f/2 Makro-Planar T* ?

    What characteristics are you looking for Tim? Because as Terry says, the ZF is extraordinary in some, and not as extraordinary in others. It is very sharp and has lovely bokeh, but it does show chromatic aberration, particularly wide open. It also has a very long focusing range, which is great for macros bet less so for a general purpose lens. If you want a general purpose telephoto that is very sharp and has nice bokeh, I would look at the Voigtlander 90mm APO if you can find one. I have not used the 105 VR, but that is another great lens in that it has autofocus which makes it a lot more useful in a lot of situations. After trying a lot of lenses in this range for the Nikon, I wound up with the 135mm f/2 DC lens, which, while still not perfect, combined all the things I was looking for (sharpness, good bokeh, autofocus and lens speed).
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    Workshop Member glenerrolrd's Avatar
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    Re: Any thoughts on the ZF 100mm f/2 Makro-Planar T* ?

    A few test shots with the 100ZF on a D3X. This is a beautiful lens but the Makro handling makes it slow to focus.

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    Re: Any thoughts on the ZF 100mm f/2 Makro-Planar T* ?

    Stuart and Roger:

    My main purpose for the lens will be the Macro capability. It's been a very long time since I've owned a Macro lens but when I used them back in the day, it was always manual focus and I tended to use the lenses strictly for Macro and not try to double them up as a more general purpose lens. That early personal experience is what's pushing me toward the Zeiss since what I'm after is sharpness in the Macro range and don't care about autofocus. The CA is something to consider and I think I might need to see some samples to determine if that's going to be a deal breaker for me.

    Thanks for your input and wicked nice samples!

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    Re: Any thoughts on the ZF 100mm f/2 Makro-Planar T* ?

    Tim -- you may want to look at this thread -- I compared the 100mm ZF to the 100mm APO Elmarit. I shot the ZF on the D3, and the APO elmarit on the DMR.

    http://forum.getdpi.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1952
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    Workshop Member glenerrolrd's Avatar
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    Re: Any thoughts on the ZF 100mm f/2 Makro-Planar T* ?

    I don t know if you have read Diglloyd s reviews of these lenses(its a pay site). He thinks the Zeiss is one of the best lenses of all time..but he also uses the Nikon 105VR and the Leica R APO 100/2.8. The zeiss is the sharpest and has the best bokeh....handling is great for a Macro ..a joy to use . He converted a Leica 100/2.8 apo with the Leitax mount . You can find 3cam LR 100apo for less than the zeiss 100. The advantage of the Leica lens is its an APO otherwise its really taste. I was surprised that he found the Nikon 105Vr well below the other two as I have seen examples that showed the 105Vr had exceptional contrast .....DL likes his for use with the VR on the D3s .

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    Subscriber Member TRSmith's Avatar
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    Re: Any thoughts on the ZF 100mm f/2 Makro-Planar T* ?

    Stuart: I remember scanning that post back when you started it and being impressed with your real world approach to comparison testing. Now that I've read the thread more thoroughly (as it applies directly to my current decision), I have become convinced that the ZF 100 would be a wonderful lens for my needs. As much as I love the Leica glass, the price will prohibit me from enjoying its relatively slight advantages. Thanks for the testing you did and reminding me of it.

    Roger: I have been a customer of DigiLloyd's site from time to time but do not subscribe now. Nevertheless, the man himself popped up in Stuart's linked thread and by virtue of his presence there and your comments about his opinion of the ZF I am choosing to add his thumbs up to the ZF side of the scale.

    I'm feeling pretty confident that the ZF is the right lens for me. Now I just have to round up all the boxes, etc. for the two lenses I intend to sell to finance the ZF and get them to market.

    Thanks again for everyone's thoughtful advice.

    Tim

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    Re: Any thoughts on the ZF 100mm f/2 Makro-Planar T* ?

    I think you will be very happy with it, especially if you want to use it primarily as a macro lens. I have not read digilloyd's review, but I am sure he did a good job. From my perspective, I was very impressed by the 100mm ZF, but I liked the 100mm Leica better. But I certainly would not recommend using the Leica on the Nikon over the Zeiss -- there is a lot to be said for ease of use and ergonomics. Image quality is very important, but at the end of the day the best picture is the one you took, and if you are spending all your time focusing, stopping down, messing with the metering (Leitax lenses don't seem to meter properly for me...), any difference in quality is going to be lost in the shuffle. That's why I wound up with the 135/2 DC -- it has more CA than either the Zeiss or Leica, is not as sharp as either, but it has fantastic bokeh, great lens speed, and autofocus.

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    Subscriber Member Corlan F.'s Avatar
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    Re: Any thoughts on the ZF 100mm f/2 Makro-Planar T* ?

    FWIW and even though Tim has made up his mind (great choice), just for future reference since it's part of the topic here, i've found the features & functional comparison listed at the time. Here it is:

    Zeiss +:
    - construction quality +++
    - gain one stop (more useful for portraits than macro. For the latter 2.8 or even 4 gives already a super -if not excessively- shallow DOF)
    - IQ (unclear: Zeiss is a tad sharper, bokeh is fantastic but the Nikon is no slouch either, it's more "different rendreding" than "better results")


    105VR +:
    IQ (CA) (still a very sharp lens / bokeh is great, one of the best out there though different from Zeiss)
    AF
    VR (not as useless as some say even for macro. It's indeed extremely effective on more than occasional situations)
    Full electronic compatibility (EXIF etc)
    Exposure Modes: 3D Matrix Metering / full Center Weighed Metering
    (P) Programmed Auto Mode (not relevant)
    (S) Shutter Piority mode (convenient for various macro situations, low/strong light, fast moving subjects)
    1:1 over 1:2 close macro ratio
    3 aperture stops over f/22 (25 -29 -32) (rarely but sometimes handy, for example in certain studio shots)
    Faster manual focus operation


    Conclusion is that they're different animals, Zeiss is great for calm shooting. The 105VR is one of -if not "the" best all-around prime lens for FF (F-mount / with its 60mm sibling, and on a lesser level the 50/1.4G).
    If the Zeiss 50M did not exist, today i would probably own both the Z100 and the N105VR.


    Incidentally, DigLloyd's viewpoint on the 105VR almost had me give up the thought of buying this lens, i must say now that i'm more than happy to have done my own testing. Untill today it's really one of the very few DigLloyd's reviews and essays on which i'm convinced he simply missed the point.

    My 2%.



    Last edited by Corlan F.; 24th January 2010 at 15:27.

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    Re: Any thoughts on the ZF 100mm f/2 Makro-Planar T* ?

    Great. There I was all smug and happy with my choice of the ZF and now Corlan has to go and splash the cold water of reason on my little fantasy. I'm going to do a little more cogitating and then decide. From the sounds of things, I would be very pleased with either lens. Hmmm. Thanks Corlan (I think).

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    Subscriber Member Corlan F.'s Avatar
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    Re: Any thoughts on the ZF 100mm f/2 Makro-Planar T* ?

    Quote Originally Posted by TRSmith View Post
    Great. There I was all smug and happy with my choice of the ZF and now Corlan has to go and splash the cold water of reason on my little fantasy. I'm going to do a little more cogitating and then decide. From the sounds of things, I would be very pleased with either lens. Hmmm. Thanks Corlan (I think).
    Don't get me wrong, as said above i was simply adding a few practical thoughts while we're at it. This kind of topic with many first hand contributors is consulted well after the fact, so i thought i might as well squeeze them here

    On a more personal basis: I genuinely think that with what you showed us here from your work, the Zeiss should suit your style of shooting just fine. It's an elegant piece of equipment and again nothing less than a stellar performer.

    OTOH one has to keep in mind that there are limitations** and not the "for-everyone-who-can-afford-it" type of lens. In some way, on many levels it's like comparing shooting MF/MF (middle format manual focusing) vs. DSLR/AF.


    ** well i can tell... since actually living with quite similar limitations with my favourite piece of glass, the Z50/2M -though slightly less bulky... and no CA.


    Re the latter point: in my experience NX2 make the best job on NEF files presenting CA/color fringing. Plus it's automatic once the option is selected in the default settings.

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    Subscriber & Workshop Member GrahamWelland's Avatar
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    Re: Any thoughts on the ZF 100mm f/2 Makro-Planar T* ?

    Btw, the ZF.2 version of the 100/2 will have full CPU support and hence all metering modes will be supported.

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    Subscriber Member TRSmith's Avatar
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    Re: Any thoughts on the ZF 100mm f/2 Makro-Planar T* ?

    I stumbled upon some PR about the ZF.2 version due out in "Spring of 2010".

    This is lifted from the Zeiss site:

    "The ZF.2 lenses are an enhanced version of the ZF lenses. They feature an electronic interface (CPU). This CPU enables the ZF.2 lenses to support all important operating modes such as shutter priority, aperture priority and programmed auto exposure or manual exposure settings even on non-AI compatible camera housings. Photographers no longer have to set the parameters in the camera menu as the lens now transmits standard data such as focal length, speed and the aperture setting to the camera. This data can then be viewed in the EXIF data of each picture. "

    Seems worth waiting for.

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    Re: Any thoughts on the ZF 100mm f/2 Makro-Planar T* ?

    Quote Originally Posted by TRSmith View Post
    I stumbled upon some PR about the ZF.2 version due out in "Spring of 2010".

    This is lifted from the Zeiss site:

    "The ZF.2 lenses are an enhanced version of the ZF lenses. They feature an electronic interface (CPU). This CPU enables the ZF.2 lenses to support all important operating modes such as shutter priority, aperture priority and programmed auto exposure or manual exposure settings even on non-AI compatible camera housings. Photographers no longer have to set the parameters in the camera menu as the lens now transmits standard data such as focal length, speed and the aperture setting to the camera. This data can then be viewed in the EXIF data of each picture. "

    Seems worth waiting for.
    This is one of my go to lenses for the D3x. Here is a shot of Church Rock near Monument Valley Utah. Midday shooting so light not the best but I was on one of Guy's workshops and we were headed to Monument Valley and had a limited time to shoot the rock.

    Hope this gives you a sense of what the lens rendering is all about.

    Best

    Woody

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    Subscriber Member TRSmith's Avatar
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    Re: Any thoughts on the ZF 100mm f/2 Makro-Planar T* ?

    Some very subtle tones in your terrific shot. Thanks for whetting my appetite even more!

    Tim


    Quote Originally Posted by woodyspedden View Post
    This is one of my go to lenses for the D3x. Here is a shot of Church Rock near Monument Valley Utah. Midday shooting so light not the best but I was on one of Guy's workshops and we were headed to Monument Valley and had a limited time to shoot the rock.

    Hope this gives you a sense of what the lens rendering is all about.

    Best

    Woody

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    Senior Subscriber Member Steen's Avatar
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    Re: Any thoughts on the ZF 100mm f/2 Makro-Planar T* ?

    Hi Tim, there's a good deal of ZF 2/100 pictures in the following threads:


    Another (not so) quick comparison: Zeiss 100mm f/2 ZF versus Leica 100mm f/2.8 APO
    http://forum.getdpi.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1952


    Zeiss 35mm f2 and Zeiss 100 f2 macro
    http://forum.getdpi.com/forum/showthread.php?t=4328


    Emerging life
    http://forum.getdpi.com/forum/showthread.php?t=6749


    Carl Zeiss ZF manual lenses for Nikon
    http://forum.getdpi.com/forum/showthread.php?t=8291


    Zeiss 100mm (also with Ray Harms comparison between Nikkor 2.8/105 VR Micro and ZF 2/100 Makro in post #82)
    http://forum.getdpi.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1225


    And then of course there's the dedicated macro thread:
    Macro thread everyone?
    http://forum.getdpi.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1812

    .

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    Re: Any thoughts on the ZF 100mm f/2 Makro-Planar T* ?

    Thanks Steen. I have some reading (and drooling) to do now. Desire is a terrible thing.

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    Senior Member Jason Muelver's Avatar
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    Re: Any thoughts on the ZF 100mm f/2 Makro-Planar T* ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Stuart Richardson View Post
    I think you will be very happy with it, especially if you want to use it primarily as a macro lens. I have not read digilloyd's review, but I am sure he did a good job. From my perspective, I was very impressed by the 100mm ZF, but I liked the 100mm Leica better. But I certainly would not recommend using the Leica on the Nikon over the Zeiss -- there is a lot to be said for ease of use and ergonomics. Image quality is very important, but at the end of the day the best picture is the one you took, and if you are spending all your time focusing, stopping down, messing with the metering (Leitax lenses don't seem to meter properly for me...), any difference in quality is going to be lost in the shuffle. That's why I wound up with the 135/2 DC -- it has more CA than either the Zeiss or Leica, is not as sharp as either, but it has fantastic bokeh, great lens speed, and autofocus.

    I have the 105 DC and love it!! I think both are extremely under rated lenses!


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    Senior Member Jason Muelver's Avatar
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    Re: Any thoughts on the ZF 100mm f/2 Makro-Planar T* ?

    Quote Originally Posted by TRSmith View Post
    Thanks Steen. I have some reading (and drooling) to do now. Desire is a terrible thing.
    Some of those threads are painfully beautiful...

    ugh.

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    Re: Any thoughts on the ZF 100mm f/2 Makro-Planar T* ?

    I agree that the Zeiss is a wonderful lens, but for the price of that, you can almost get a 105mm DC and a 105mm Micro VR. I found a different solution: for around $600, I found an older Micro Nikkor 105mm AF and a Nikkor 105mm f/1.8 AIS. Not too shabby either

    S5 with 105mm f/1.8 @ f/2.8



    S5 with 105mm f/1.8 @ f/2.0



    S5 with 105mm f/1.8 @ f/2.0


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    Senior Member Jason Muelver's Avatar
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    Re: Any thoughts on the ZF 100mm f/2 Makro-Planar T* ?

    Jorgen... is that a manual focus as well?

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    Re: Any thoughts on the ZF 100mm f/2 Makro-Planar T* ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Muelver View Post
    Jorgen... is that a manual focus as well?
    100% manual.

    I've never used the Zeiss ZF 100/2, but what I find problematic with most manual focus macro lenses for general use, is that the focus throw beyond macro distances is so short that exact focusing can be problematic. This is also one of the reasons why I bought the Nikkor 105/1.8; it's very easy to focus between 1 and 7 meters, for which the lens is optimised, also optically. Beyond that, it needs to be stopped down to be 100% sharp, and even the humble 70-300 ED can compete in sharpness at F/5.6 and focused to infinity. I have five (I think) different F-mount lenses covering 105mm. Still, I consider converting the OM 100mm f/2.8, which is a very good all-purpose short telephoto lens, to F-mount. Horses for courses.

    Did I mention that 100-105mm is one of my favourite focal lengths on DX?
    Last edited by Jorgen Udvang; 26th January 2010 at 21:37.

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    Senior Subscriber Member Steen's Avatar
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    Re: Any thoughts on the ZF 100mm f/2 Makro-Planar T* ?

    And then there's sample variation which makes it so immensely difficult and risky to give other people any advice about which optics to choose

    The most impressive close-up macro shots I've ever seen were taken with a Sigma EX 150/2.8 Macro.

    While with regards to bokeh the most beautiful close-up macro shots I've ever seen were taken with a Voigtländer 125/2.5 APO-Lanthar.
    But at least we can rule out that lens, since it is more or less impossible to find one. I searched for years with no luck.

    And then there's "the photographer" factor. Who am I to recommend lenses I have never tried out myself

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    Subscriber Member Jorgen Udvang's Avatar
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    Re: Any thoughts on the ZF 100mm f/2 Makro-Planar T* ?

    For sharpness, few lenses beat the Sigma 150. It's extremely good value for money, and apparently little sample variation. I don't know about the bokeh, but I'll tell you when I buy one. It's been on my shopping list for as long as I can remember.

    Here in Bangkok, around five years ago, I was offered a Voigtländer 125 in F-mount for a silly low price, around $500 if I remember correctly. But since my brain is sometimes locked away in a drawer at home, I declined the offer, thinking that the price was far to high for a Cosina lens with a German or Austrian sticker

  33. #33
    Senior Member otumay's Avatar
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    Re: Any thoughts on the ZF 100mm f/2 Makro-Planar T* ?

    Technical issues aside, Jorgen all three posts are wonderful, especially the Viking smile.
    Osman

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