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Thread: A Tale of 6 24's (well, 4x24 and 2x25)

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    A Tale of 6 24's (well, 4x24 and 2x25)

    HI There
    I've just taken command of a Zeiss 25 f2.8, and what a nice lens it is. It's a favorite focal length of mine, and I seem to have rather a lot of contenders:

    Nikon:
    24-120 AFS VR
    14-24 AFS
    24-70 AFS

    Zeiss:
    25 Distagon (F mount)
    25 Biogon (M mount)

    Leica:
    Wide Angle Tri-Elmar
    16-18-21: 18mm equivalent to 24 on 35mm

    I thought that I'd pit them against each other in a super 24/25 shoot out, so I got out the tripod and shot the barn door. I'm not sure what I was expecting, I guess probably I would have expected quite similar results, maybe with the zeiss lenses taking the prize followed by the leica and then the nikon zooms, so, maybe:

    25 Biogon (leica)
    25 Distagon (nikon)
    WATE
    24-70
    14-24
    24-120 (a long way behind)

    Well, the 24-120 WAS a long way behind - forget it. (I keep trying, and I've left it out of the following, as it would make the post about 30 metres long!). Actually, the results were really rather astonishingly different:

    centre sharpness and definition:

    25 Biogon (on M8)
    WATe (on M8)

    14-24 Nikon
    24-70 Nikon
    25 distagon

    I've left a gap,because there was one!

    Corner sharpness (and here the gaps are supposed to speak!)

    25 biogon (on M8)
    WATE (on M8)

    14-24 Nikon


    24-70 Nikon




    25 zeiss distagon (with vignetting wide open as well)


    As far as distortion was concerned, the Zeiss lenses showed very little (as you'd expect). So (again, in decreasing order with gaps):

    25 biogon (on M8)
    25 distagon

    14-24 Nikon
    Wate (on M8)


    24-70 Nikon

    Interesting that the Nikon 14-24 has acquitted itself so well, of course, it is the 'good' end of it's zoom range, whereas it is probably the 'bad' end for the 24-70.

    The Zeiss 25 distagon ZF is a lovely lens, and it's incredible close focusing together with its small size is a real asset - poor corner sharpness and vignetting does tend to decrease, and by f8 it's pretty good from corner to corner.

    I suppose that what I've learned here is that M lenses are just very good, I've also realised that for landscape work, the M8 is still the chosen tool for me (and before anyone suggests it I have no intention of abandoning hope and going MF )

    I've also learned that the new 'state of the art' Nikon zoom lenses are pretty much the match for anything, and that to use primes as a substitute may make sense from the point of view of weight and convenience, but until Nikon see fit to produce a new range of modern prime lenses it would seem that their modern zooms will give the existing primes a bit of a hiding.

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    Re: A Tale of 6 24's (well, 4x24 and 2x25)

    Excellent work. Thanks. Who ever thought there would be a day when an AF DSLR zoom would even be spoken of in the same breath as an M prime? Time for Canon to get some oars in the water.

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    Re: A Tale of 6 24's (well, 4x24 and 2x25)

    With all this kit, Jono, you should really consider enlarging your horizons...MF beckons
    SlŠinte

    Robert.

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    Re: A Tale of 6 24's (well, 4x24 and 2x25)

    Quote Originally Posted by robmac View Post
    Excellent work. Thanks. Who ever thought there would be a day when an AF DSLR zoom would even be spoken of in the same breath as an M prime? Time for Canon to get some oars in the water.
    Thank you Rob, and thank you even more for not asking for the pictures . . . I do have them of course, but they're very boring!

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    Re: A Tale of 6 24's (well, 4x24 and 2x25)

    So Jono,
    While the 24-70 may be a boring range on the D300 when you are used to shooting M glass would you take boring range over so so glass.

    That was the essentially the decision I had to make in my Nikon lens selections.

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    Re: A Tale of 6 24's (well, 4x24 and 2x25)

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Campbell View Post
    With all this kit, Jono, you should really consider enlarging your horizons...MF beckons
    Hi Bertie
    I was having a little snooze this evening, and realised that in fact I HAVE TWO MORE 24mm lenses:

    Zuiko 12-60 f2.8 f4
    Zuiko 7-14 f4 (double the focal length for each).

    I can't wait to see how they slot in to the general scheme of things.

    MF? Nah (see abandon hope thread); really, I had a moment back in April when the disease began, but since then I'm relieved that I didn't jump.

    How about you . . . maybe the car is a dream, but that Mamiya with the ZD back is eminently affordable (just to get you going )

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    Re: A Tale of 6 24's (well, 4x24 and 2x25)

    Quote Originally Posted by TEBnewyork View Post
    So Jono,
    While the 24-70 may be a boring range on the D300 when you are used to shooting M glass would you take boring range over so so glass.

    That was the essentially the decision I had to make in my Nikon lens selections.
    Hi Terry
    So So glass?
    I think you need to explain yourself more carefully to an old duffer like me

    As to the question - I wouldn't take either knowingly.

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    Re: A Tale of 6 24's (well, 4x24 and 2x25)

    Well,
    I was trying to figure out what to be my main lens on the D300.
    So,
    16-85 seemed reasonable but it really slow for anything indoors f5.6 at 50mm. Bought it. Enjoyed it outdoors and wanted to pull my hair out inside.

    The 18-200 is fine but again not exactly fast but nothing to say hey this is an awesome lens.

    so what are my faster choices?
    17-55
    or
    24-70
    Which would you have gotten? If the answer is 17-55 what would your next longer lens be?

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    Re: A Tale of 6 24's (well, 4x24 and 2x25)

    Jono,

    Thank you for posting the comparison. Very informative and helpful. Do images from the Zeiss Biogon and Distagon have very similar looks? Given the fact that M8 has a cropping factor of 1.3, would you still say that Biogon is better than Distagon due to its optical design?

    I am getting Woody's 24-70 AFS and I would like to compare it to my 24 Elmarit ASPH.

    Kind regards,

    PS: Look forward to seeing your comparisons with the Olympus zooms.

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    Re: A Tale of 6 24's (well, 4x24 and 2x25)

    Good to see that my wides (WATE and 14-24) are doing so well

    Also the 24-70 seems to be pretty good

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    Re: A Tale of 6 24's (well, 4x24 and 2x25)

    Quote Originally Posted by TEBnewyork View Post

    so what are my faster choices?
    Try a Sigma 30/1.4. Nothing short of "awesome" in my experience. Simply a superlative lens.

    Jono, I was a bit puzzled with your post with no pics.

    I have to wait until Woody's 14-24 comes to me.

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    Re: A Tale of 6 24's (well, 4x24 and 2x25)

    Quote Originally Posted by TEBnewyork View Post
    Well,
    I was trying to figure out what to be my main lens on the D300.
    So,
    16-85 seemed reasonable but it really slow for anything indoors f5.6 at 50mm. Bought it. Enjoyed it outdoors and wanted to pull my hair out inside.

    The 18-200 is fine but again not exactly fast but nothing to say hey this is an awesome lens.

    so what are my faster choices?
    17-55
    or
    24-70
    Which would you have gotten? If the answer is 17-55 what would your next longer lens be?
    HI Terry
    I think you made the right decision - I'm certain that the 24-70 is a much better lens than the 17-55, and will hold it's value better as well. I also think that the dodgy corners I saw wide open will be 'cropped' on the D200, so I'd expect a stellar performance all the way.

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    Re: A Tale of 6 24's (well, 4x24 and 2x25)

    Quote Originally Posted by Vivek View Post
    Try a Sigma 30/1.4. Nothing short of "awesome" in my experience. Simply a superlative lens.

    Jono, I was a bit puzzled with your post with no pics.

    I have to wait until Woody's 14-24 comes to me.
    HI Vivek
    I'm sure about the Sigma . . . . but it ain't 24mm

    So - you've bought Woody's 14-24, I'm sure you'll be pleased with it. As for no pictures . . . too lazy - I will do though, but I'd like to do it again with some writing on the barn door, and today it's tonking it down with rain.

    OLYMPUS LENSES
    I tested the 12-60 and 7-14 at 12mm (24mm equivalent). They were both better than anything except the M mount lenses . . . in fact, they were rather close to the WATE - stomped all over the nikkors for corner detail, not very surprising though.

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    Re: A Tale of 6 24's (well, 4x24 and 2x25)

    Quote Originally Posted by Ocean View Post
    Jono,

    Thank you for posting the comparison. Very informative and helpful. Do images from the Zeiss Biogon and Distagon have very similar looks? Given the fact that M8 has a cropping factor of 1.3, would you still say that Biogon is better than Distagon due to its optical design?

    I am getting Woody's 24-70 AFS and I would like to compare it to my 24 Elmarit ASPH.

    Kind regards,

    PS: Look forward to seeing your comparisons with the Olympus zooms.
    HI Ocean
    See remarks above with respect to the Olympus zooms - they're fab!
    I don't really feel that the biogon and distagon are similar - Certainly the Biogon is a great deal more precise (but of course, it doesn't focus down to an inch!).

    I'm sure you'll like the 24-70 . . . . but I wouldn't look too hard at the corners wide open when comparing it with your 24mm elmarit!

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    Re: A Tale of 6 24's (well, 4x24 and 2x25)

    This meshes well with my general experience. I have yet to see a better 25mm lens than the biogon for the M camera. Admittedly, I have not used the 24mm elmarit, which is supposed to be very similar. I do have the 24-70 for the Nikon, but where the Zeiss shows practically no distortion at all and extreme sharpness across the frame, the Nikon has a good bit of distortion and only decent sharpness in the extreme edges. Don't get me wrong, it is still very very good, but still far from the 25mm Biogon. The only wide angle lenses that I have used that come close are other other Leica, Mamiya and Zeiss primes -- the Mamiya 43mm being the best wide angle of any maker that I have used, followed by the 25mm biogon, 50mm FE distagon, then in the almost as good category, the 19mm Leica R, 18mm ZM, 21mm biogon, 40mm Schneider, trailed by a number of others.

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    Re: A Tale of 6 24's (well, 4x24 and 2x25)

    Quote Originally Posted by jonoslack View Post

    MF? Nah (see abandon hope thread); really, I had a moment back in April when the disease began, but since then I'm relieved that I didn't jump.

    How about you . . . maybe the car is a dream, but that Mamiya with the ZD back is eminently affordable (just to get you going )
    I did try to respond last night...but I couldn't find the smiley for winding you up...and the whole post disappeared...
    SlŠinte

    Robert.

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    Re: A Tale of 6 24's (well, 4x24 and 2x25)

    The M 24 Elmarit blows away all the other 24's though it's not really fair to compare an slr zoom (no matter how good) with a Leica rangefinder prime.

    The Zeiss ZF 25 I agree is so-so though the build quality is superb and close focusing unlike any other wide. Better overall than the Nikon 24 prime. The 35 Zeiss ZF is in a whole 'nother league though and I bet will blow away any of the Nikon zooms.

    I actually prefer less distortion over more sharpness and usually find a bit of vignetting adds some drama. All depends on the type of shooting one is doing.

    I think Nikon would do well with a reformulated AFS 24mm f/2 or 1.4. We'll see.

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    Re: A Tale of 6 24's (well, 4x24 and 2x25)

    I agree...I would love to see a low-distortion, high speed, moderately compact 24mm from them. The Canon FD system used to have a 24/2 that was very compact and quite a decent performer. I would love it if Nikon released something similar, only with less distortion and AFS focusing.

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    Re: A Tale of 6 24's (well, 4x24 and 2x25)

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Campbell View Post
    I did try to respond last night...but I couldn't find the smiley for winding you up...and the whole post disappeared...
    As they do, it's like thinking of the perfect rejoinder after the bastard has just walked out of the room!

    As for the perfect car . . . . we just collected Emma's car from Bob's Bodywork today. It's one of the last two Saab 900 turbo S convertibles delivered here in 1994, midnight blue metallic with a navy hood: It's been completely disassembled, rebuilt, resprayed and reassembled - looks like new and still sounds delightful.

    The whole thing cost a little less than a Mamiya AF645II with a ZD back . . . . . . . . . .

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    Re: A Tale of 6 24's (well, 4x24 and 2x25)

    Hi Charles and Stuart
    I reckon there will be some new Nikon primes announced with the D3x - everyone else is doing it, surely they will too? The 24mm elmarit is my most 'almost bought' lens, but, truth to tell, I like the WATE, and the image quality is really good.

    What has REALLY impressed me with these tests is how well the Olympus Zuiko zooms did, for corner sharpness wide open the humble 12-60 f2.8/f4 completely stomped on the Nikons (and the zeiss distagon come to that). For a landscape shooter that really is something to think about.

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    Re: A Tale of 6 24's (well, 4x24 and 2x25)

    The only problem with the Olypmus zooms is they fit over a half frame sensor.

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    Re: A Tale of 6 24's (well, 4x24 and 2x25)

    I picked up my 24 elmarit back when they were probably the least popular of the M lenses. I paid $1225 for a mint copy with the finder. I also got around the same time a 35 lux asph for $1350 and a 28 cron for about the same (maybe even less). No way would I pay today what Leica lenses cost. If I was getting into the M system now I would have Zeiss lenses all the way.

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    Re: A Tale of 6 24's (well, 4x24 and 2x25)

    Have you ever used the 25mm biogon Charles? Because it seems like most people who have used both rate it as the equal (though not a twin) of the 24mm elmarit. Sean Reid has a good comparison of them and the differences are very minor...mostly related to contrast...the Zeiss has a little more as well as a bit more edge to edge resolution but less center resolution. But the differences are quite small. Both of them are extraordinarily good. At the price you paid, I would probably have gone for the elmarit, but when I got the biogon it was 800 something dollars new (I was in Japan at the time and the currency exchange was better), and the 24mm is 3000 or so now, right? Even then it was above 2000.

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    Re: A Tale of 6 24's (well, 4x24 and 2x25)

    Quote Originally Posted by jonoslack View Post

    As for the perfect car...The whole thing cost a little less than a Mamiya AF645II with a ZD back . . . . . . . . . .
    And you went for the car?? Going soft in the head?!

    PS to the Admin: where is the similey for winding Jono up?
    SlŠinte

    Robert.

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    Re: A Tale of 6 24's (well, 4x24 and 2x25)

    Quote Originally Posted by Stuart Richardson View Post
    This meshes well with my general experience. I have yet to see a better 25mm lens than the biogon for the M camera. Admittedly, I have not used the 24mm elmarit, which is supposed to be very similar. I do have the 24-70 for the Nikon, but where the Zeiss shows practically no distortion at all and extreme sharpness across the frame, the Nikon has a good bit of distortion and only decent sharpness in the extreme edges. Don't get me wrong, it is still very very good, but still far from the 25mm Biogon. The only wide angle lenses that I have used that come close are other other Leica, Mamiya and Zeiss primes -- the Mamiya 43mm being the best wide angle of any maker that I have used, followed by the 25mm biogon, 50mm FE distagon, then in the almost as good category, the 19mm Leica R, 18mm ZM, 21mm biogon, 40mm Schneider, trailed by a number of others.
    My experience with the Mamiya 43 mirrors yours Stuart. In fact the entire 7II system is proof that at rational prices (note I did not say cheap!!) you can have a true state of the art system. When I feel the need to shoot film this is the rig I reach for. Never been disappointed. When the results are not good I look at the eye peering into the viewfinder.

    Woody

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    Re: A Tale of 6 24's (well, 4x24 and 2x25)

    Hi Jono, interesting test. I can certainly confirm the results re the 25 mm Biogon, a stellar performer. I wonder if the rather disappointing performance of your new Distagon is due to poor resolution per se or the effect of a fairly strong curvature of field. It might perhaps perform better on 3D subjects than a flat wall. I seem to remember that Lloyd Chambers made some comments in that direction in his blog some months ago.

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    Re: A Tale of 6 24's (well, 4x24 and 2x25)

    You are right, Arne, here's the link.
    Scroll down ~25 % of the page, or make a search for: ZF 25

    http://www.diglloyd.com/diglloyd/2007-11-blog.html

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    Re: A Tale of 6 24's (well, 4x24 and 2x25)

    Quote Originally Posted by Arne Hvaring View Post
    Hi Jono, interesting test. I can certainly confirm the results re the 25 mm Biogon, a stellar performer. I wonder if the rather disappointing performance of your new Distagon is due to poor resolution per se or the effect of a fairly strong curvature of field. It might perhaps perform better on 3D subjects than a flat wall. I seem to remember that Lloyd Chambers made some comments in that direction in his blog some months ago.
    Hi Arne
    Well, you certainly are right about the curvature of field, I'm not put off the lens, but shooting wide open with 3D subjects it's quite difficult to work out where it WOULD be in focus. The field of focus is 'concave' (in that the centre point is focused further away than the edges). But, wide open you can't really get decent focus at the corners either way.

    Mind you, personally I'm unlikely to be using this lens wide open, and it's pretty acceptable by f8. For me it's a 'travelling light' landscape lens, and also for the kind of shot with a large depth of field and some very close focus, so I can't really imagine when I'd both want it wide open AND want sharp corners.

    I think the point here was that I although I wouldn't have expected perfection, I would have expected it to be quite a lot better than the Nikon zooms, whereas, in terms of edge and corner sharpnes, it's quite a lot worse.

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    Re: A Tale of 6 24's (well, 4x24 and 2x25)

    Quote Originally Posted by Stuart Richardson View Post
    The only problem with the Olypmus zooms is they fit over a half frame sensor.
    No - I disagree, the problem with the 4/3 system is that they don't seem to have access to a decent sensor (for high ISO).

    The Canon 40D seems to be pretty much state of the art with respect to low noise on a cropped sensor:
    40D sensor: 14.8mm high, 4/3 sensor 13.5m high, so, 1.3mm difference

    THAT size difference is not the difference between good high ISO and bad.

    I'm not sure that either Kodak or Panasonic have ever made a decent high ISO sensor, IMHO that's what 4/3 needs.

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    Re: A Tale of 6 24's (well, 4x24 and 2x25)

    Still the limit is the image circle of the optics.
    A full 35mm optic has an image circle with a diameter of ~43mm.
    A 4/3 optic has half the size image circle with a diameter of ~22mm.
    The max sensor area of a 4/3 sensor is about half the size of a full 24x36mm sensor.
    Personally I believe that at the end this limit is going to be a serious problem for the 4/3 system in general.
    I even believe that at some point the DSLRs will grow out of the 24x36mm format.
    Let's see in ... about five years from now

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    Re: A Tale of 6 24's (well, 4x24 and 2x25)

    Quote Originally Posted by bondo View Post
    Still the limit is the image circle of the optics.
    A full 35mm optic has an image circle with a diameter of ~43mm.
    A 4/3 optic has half the size image circle with a diameter of ~22mm.
    The max sensor area of a 4/3 sensor is about half the size of a full 24x36mm sensor.
    Personally I believe that at the end this limit is going to be a serious problem for the 4/3 system in general.
    I even believe that at some point the DSLRs will grow out of the 24x36mm format.
    Let's see in ... about five years from now
    HI Steen
    Actually, with the reduction of size of lenses (which you get by reducing the image circle) you increase the lpm resolution (if this wasn't the case those little GRD's would be impossible). Just look at mtf charts of some of the good 4/3 lenses.

    The reason the 4/3 lenses produce such good edge to edge sharpness wide open is that despite the small image circle and sensor, the lens mouth is between the nikon and canon size - which makes telecentricity (i.e. parallel light) a real possibility - as I understand it this is also why Olympus have stuck to f2 as a widest aperture for 4/3 lenses; because this is the widest aperture you can have and still have true telecentricity (Leica and Sigma have been ignoring the rules with their f1.4 lenses, which don't quite conform).

    Olympus say that the better lenses can easily manage a 20mp 4/3 sensor (which is probably more than is desirable anyway).

    I quite agree with you that 35mm will also run out of lenses (although at a higher pixel count).

    The thing with 35mm (and APS-C) is that there is an inevitable compromise with corner sharpness because of the legacy mount, this is what Olympus have overcome - at the cost of a smaller sensor.

    Sure, smaller is smaller, and less is less - but I really like the fact that you can have 3 excellent, fast, weathersealed zooms to take you all the way from 14-400mm (equivalent), most of which are between f2.8 and f3.5, which you can happily shoot wide open.

    The point here is that (for edge quality at f2.8) the £550 12-60 (24-120) Zuiko clearly outperforms a new Nikon lens with a shorter range, which costs twice as much, weighs twice as much and isn't weathersealed!

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    Re: A Tale of 6 24's (well, 4x24 and 2x25)

    Quote Originally Posted by jonoslack View Post
    (...) The reason the 4/3 lenses produce such good edge to edge sharpness wide open is that despite the small image circle and sensor, the lens mouth is between the nikon and canon size - (...)
    Jono, of course you have a very important point there, and I surely believe we will in fact see completely new DSLR mounts dedicated for digital image capturing in the next five to ten years. As a matter of fact I was surprised that Sony didn't make a completely new mount from scratch when they entered the DSLR arena. It was a historic chance. Now they are probably stuck with the Alpha mount for many years ?

    Of course there is also another unpredictable factor in play as we may at some point see some more sensors with stacked photosites a la Foveon ? That might change the game quite a bit.

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    Re: A Tale of 6 24's (well, 4x24 and 2x25)

    Quote Originally Posted by bondo View Post
    Jono, of course you have a very important point there, and I surely believe we will in fact see completely new DSLR mounts dedicated for digital image capturing in the next five to ten years. As a matter of fact I was surprised that Sony didn't make a completely new mount from scratch when they entered the DSLR arena. It was a historic chance. Now they are probably stuck with the Alpha mount for many years ?
    I think they were trying to make sure of keeping hold of the Minolta faithful (there is, after all, a lot of good minolta glass around). Ironically, it becomes clearer and clearer that good old glass is not very suitable for modern digital sensors (witness the fact that the new nikkor zooms often perform better than the old primes).

    Quote Originally Posted by bondo View Post
    Of course there is also another unpredictable factor in play as we may at some point see some more sensors with stacked photosites a la Foveon ? That might change the game quite a bit.
    Well, perhaps - if so, the removal of the 'bayer blur' would also tend to make 4/3 more attractive . . . suddently you aren't talking about a 20mp limit, but a '60'.

    Of course, everything is a compromise - if you want ultimate image quality, then an 8X10 sensor would be a fine thing . . . but you would sacrifice a little in terms of portability. Ultimate portability suggests a GX100 . . . but then you lose too much in terms of image quality and features.

    My feeling is that new sensor developments will tend to work in favour of 4/3 rather than the opposite. Let's face it, if you can produce a fine quality A1 sized print from a camera, for most purposes, that IS enough (and you can already produce a fine A2 sized print from a 4/3 sensor).

    When I bought the D3 I thought I would probably get rid of my 4/3 gear, after a few weeks I was sure of it, after doing these lens tests I'm certain that I won't get rid of it.

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    Re: A Tale of 6 24's (well, 4x24 and 2x25)

    I'd like to hear more of what Charles has to say about his new Zeiss lenses. 25 so so? 35 in another league? Tell us more, post something when you are able.

    Neil

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    Re: A Tale of 6 24's (well, 4x24 and 2x25)

    Quote Originally Posted by neils View Post
    I'd like to hear more of what Charles has to say about his new Zeiss lenses. 25 so so? 35 in another league? Tell us more, post something when you are able.

    Neil
    I actually haven't shot much with the 25 but have quite a bit with the 35. The weather has been AWFUL here in Seattle. I will try and start a new thread and post some examples of the 35 though which I've been doing some studio and performance work with.

    I have a feeling the 25 may go by by and put the $ towards a 24-70. But I need to do some more real world shooting first before I do that. I also also have a Nikon 24 AFD prime I can compare it to.

    The build quality is superb, and the Zeisses make one feel as if they aren't using a Japanese camera anymore.

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    Re: A Tale of 6 24's (well, 4x24 and 2x25)

    Quote Originally Posted by Stuart Richardson View Post
    Have you ever used the 25mm biogon Charles? Because it seems like most people who have used both rate it as the equal (though not a twin) of the 24mm elmarit. Sean Reid has a good comparison of them and the differences are very minor...mostly related to contrast...the Zeiss has a little more as well as a bit more edge to edge resolution but less center resolution. But the differences are quite small. Both of them are extraordinarily good. At the price you paid, I would probably have gone for the elmarit, but when I got the biogon it was 800 something dollars new (I was in Japan at the time and the currency exchange was better), and the 24mm is 3000 or so now, right? Even then it was above 2000.
    Oh, don't tempt me! I could sell my 24, get the Biogon, and still see a profit!
    I have the 18 Distagon and think it is a superb lens. Considering how top notch the manufacture is on the Zeiss lenses is I'm not really sure where Leica gets off charging the prices they do. I'm happy I got my lenses long before the M8 was even announced (or dreamed of for that matter).

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