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Thread: Zeiss ZF 25 mini review

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    Zeiss ZF 25 mini review

    I've been asked to show some images and out forth my feelings on the Zeiss ZF 25. The breakdancing images were taken with a D3 with an SB800 flash, all at iso 400 at f8. As you can see they are razor sharp and real even edge to edge with little barrel distortion. Even in a fast moving situation such as this i found it really easy to focus fast, and sometimes it was easier to nail the focus than with my 17-35. The focus action is very smooth yet firm with these lenses making it very easy to "snap" it into place.

    The pic of my dog is at f2.8 at iso 1600. I find wide open the lens to be very sharp on the center and soft on the edges, much like just about every slr 24 on the market. Stopping down to f4 increases the sharpness greatly and by 5.6 it's good to go across the frame. Great close up ability though I might have foregone getting so close for better performance on the edges.

    The dynamic range and color is really good - these photos haven't been touched except for a bit of "landscape sharpening" default in LR. There is a richness and saturation that was lacking from the 17-35 shots I also took that evening.

    Overall I highly recommend the Zeiss lenses, not only for the build quality (closest to shooting an R you can get) but also for the image quality. I'm sure the Nikon zooms are up there but with the drawback of size and barrel distortion. Anyway, I'll try and do a side by side at some point later this summer.

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    Re: Zeiss ZF 25 mini review

    Charles,
    were you able to test this lens on a D300 or some other DX sensor Nikon?
    Carlos Echenique | Carlos Echenique Photography |Olympus OM-D E-M1 MK II | Olympus Pen-F - M.Zuiko 17mm f/1.8, M.Zuiko 25mm f/1.8, M.Zuiko 45mm f/1.8, Rokinon 12mm f/2 NCS, M.Zuiko 75mm f/1.8, M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO, M.Zuiko 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO

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    Re: Zeiss ZF 25 mini review

    Nope, but I would imagine the results would be great as the softness in the corners wide open as well as what little barrel distortion there is would be mitigated by the crop.

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    Re: Zeiss ZF 25 mini review

    I may have to talk to David about renting one.
    Carlos Echenique | Carlos Echenique Photography |Olympus OM-D E-M1 MK II | Olympus Pen-F - M.Zuiko 17mm f/1.8, M.Zuiko 25mm f/1.8, M.Zuiko 45mm f/1.8, Rokinon 12mm f/2 NCS, M.Zuiko 75mm f/1.8, M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO, M.Zuiko 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO

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    Re: Zeiss ZF 25 mini review

    HI Charles
    I also have this lens, together with many too many other 24mm equivalent lenses:
    nikon:
    24-120
    14-24
    24-70

    Olympus
    7-14
    12-60

    Sigma
    10-20 (dx)

    Leica
    WATE
    zeiss 25mm biogon.

    Although I agree with your basic assesment of the zeiss, I think you missed out the vignetting, which is terrible wide open, and still quite noticeable at f5.6.

    I agree about the soft corners, but not that every other slr lens is as bad, of all the lenses listed above, only the nikon 24-120 is worse than the zeiss, and some (both Olympus lenses and the nikon 14-24 are really good - even wide open)

    There is virtually no distortion . . . but then there is virtually no distortion on the nikon 14-24 as well.

    I also like the build quality, colour, microcontrast and handling, but in terms of general image quality I think this lens has so many compromises that it makes it unuseable in lots of situations. Your shots are a good example of where it does shine.

    In the UK this lens is 2/3 price of the Nikon 14-24, and it's worse in every department except weight (and possibly centre resolution)

    I was planning to use it as a lightweight lens to go with the (lovely) voigtlander 58 f1.4 for walking - expecting to use it for landscape etc. But unless you stop it down to f8 it simply isn't good enough for this.

    Of course, it's only my opinion

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    Re: Zeiss ZF 25 mini review

    Quote Originally Posted by jonoslack View Post
    HI Charles
    I also have this lens, together with many too many other 24mm equivalent lenses...
    Jono, do you also have the Zeiss 28mm f2?

    I have this lens but I've only used it on my D300 (and found it sharp but difficult to focus accurately). I'll have to wait until I get a D700 to truly test it but, if you have the 28/2 ZF, I'd very much like to know how it performs on your D3.

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    Re: Zeiss ZF 25 mini review

    Quote Originally Posted by Jonathon Delacour View Post
    Jono, do you also have the Zeiss 28mm f2?

    I have this lens but I've only used it on my D300 (and found it sharp but difficult to focus accurately). I'll have to wait until I get a D700 to truly test it but, if you have the 28/2 ZF, I'd very much like to know how it performs on your D3.
    Hi Jonathon . . . . incidentally, what's with the 'athon'!

    I don't have the 28mm, but I suspect it's a lot better than the 25mm. . . . but I must say, I've been getting great results with the new nikkor zooms, mind you, the little voigtlander 58mm f1.4 is a dream on the D3 - sharp, lovely bokeh and very easy to focus.

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    Re: Zeiss ZF 25 mini review

    Quote Originally Posted by jonoslack View Post
    Hi Jonathon . . . . incidentally, what's with the 'athon'!
    Well, you asked, so here's the story. Although my parents named me "John Anthony", I was never happy with these names. One night many years ago I had a dream in which I was standing in a group as someone called a roll. The voice said "Jonathon" and I suddenly thought, "That's me!" Then I looked down and saw that I was holding a 6 x 4 index card, which had "J O N A T H O N" printed on it. I immediately woke up, realizing that this new name not only felt right but was also my two original names blended. The next day I went to the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages to start the process of changing my name.

    So -- no offense intended -- it totally pisses me off when people spell my name "JonathAn", even though that is the more common spelling. In my own defense, the Wikipedia entry for "Jonathan" says:

    Alternative spellings of Jonathan include Jonathon, Johnathan, Jonothon, Jonothan, Johnathon, and Yonatan (a common name in Hebrew). Biblical variants include Yehonathan, Y'honathan, Yhonathan, Yonatan, Yonaton, Yonoson, Yeonoson or Yehonasan.

    (Apologies to other forum members for this off-topic digression.)

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    Re: Zeiss ZF 25 mini review

    Quote Originally Posted by Jonathon Delacour View Post
    Well, you asked, so here's the story. Although my parents named me "John Anthony", I was never happy with these names. One night many years ago I had a dream in which I was standing in a group as someone called a roll. The voice said "Jonathon" and I suddenly thought, "That's me!" Then I looked down and saw that I was holding a 6 x 4 index card, which had "J O N A T H O N" printed on it. I immediately woke up, realizing that this new name not only felt right but was also my two original names blended. The next day I went to the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages to start the process of changing my name.

    So -- no offense intended -- it totally pisses me off when people spell my name "JonathAn", even though that is the more common spelling. In my own defense, the Wikipedia entry for "Jonathan" says:

    Alternative spellings of Jonathan include Jonathon, Johnathan, Jonothon, Jonothan, Johnathon, and Yonatan (a common name in Hebrew). Biblical variants include Yehonathan, Y'honathan, Yhonathan, Yonatan, Yonaton, Yonoson, Yeonoson or Yehonasan.

    (Apologies to other forum members for this off-topic digression.)
    Excellent - I'm actually called Jono by friends (long and much less interesting story).

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    Re: Zeiss ZF 25 mini review

    On the other hand . . . .
    After being grumpy about the vignetting / soft corners etc. I thought I'd give it one last go around the block before selling it . . . .

    It's such a gas to use - the really really close focus means that it qualifies as a macro lens - here are a few shots from today:















    Whatever it's shortcomings might be, how can one criticise a lens that lets you take this kind of view of the world!

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    Re: Zeiss ZF 25 mini review

    Quote Originally Posted by Jonathon Delacour View Post
    Well, you asked, so here's the story. Although my parents named me "John Anthony", I was never happy with these names. One night many years ago I had a dream in which I was standing in a group as someone called a roll. The voice said "Jonathon" and I suddenly thought, "That's me!" Then I looked down and saw that I was holding a 6 x 4 index card, which had "J O N A T H O N" printed on it. I immediately woke up, realizing that this new name not only felt right but was also my two original names blended. The next day I went to the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages to start the process of changing my name.

    So -- no offense intended -- it totally pisses me off when people spell my name "JonathAn", even though that is the more common spelling. In my own defense, the Wikipedia entry for "Jonathan" says:

    Alternative spellings of Jonathan include Jonathon, Johnathan, Jonothon, Jonothan, Johnathon, and Yonatan (a common name in Hebrew). Biblical variants include Yehonathan, Y'honathan, Yhonathan, Yonatan, Yonaton, Yonoson, Yeonoson or Yehonasan.

    (Apologies to other forum members for this off-topic digression.)

    Very interesting

    Okay my story, my name was Sue . Kid you not
    My mother had two sons and when pregnant with me she was determined to have a girl and I mean determined. No boys names were selected at all, she wanted a kid and sex that matched the name Susan. Nice name but i was a big disappointment coming out with a different body part. Okay this was 51 years ago and they pretty much knocked women out to deliver. There was another lady at the same time that had a girl. My mother upon waking swore they switched babies and she had no name for me and was not happy i was a boy at all. So after 4 days in the hospital i still had no name. A priest came in and gave her a book of boy's names. I guess Guy stuck out and she picked that but being catholic and Italian usually you get a middle name. i guess she was not very happy having a boy and tough enough to name me , that i never did get a middle name. But my true legal name is Guy and nothing else. My aunt several years later had twin girls and my mom got somewhat of her wish and one of the girls was named Sue for my mom.
    Completely OT and someone turn me in.
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    Re: Zeiss ZF 25 mini review

    So in deference to your mother we will from now on call you Guy Sue
    It also sounds much better
    Last edited by Steen; 3rd July 2008 at 06:37.

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    Re: Zeiss ZF 25 mini review

    Jono, those 25mm images are beyond this world, fabulous
    Especially the rendering in # 5 is completely surreal
    /Steen

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    Re: Zeiss ZF 25 mini review

    Quote Originally Posted by bondo View Post
    Jono, those 25mm images are beyond this world, fabulous
    Especially the rendering in # 5 is completely surreal
    /Steen
    Thank you Steen - you get dirty knees, but it's such fun to use!

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    Re: Zeiss ZF 25 mini review

    After a few months now with the D3 - my favourite lens is the Zeiss 28 on this camera.

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    Re: Zeiss ZF 25 mini review

    Quote Originally Posted by PeterA View Post
    After a few months now with the D3 - my favourite lens is the Zeiss 28 on this camera.
    HI Peter
    I'd suspect the 28 is a 'better' lens, but I like the 25 field of view, plus the 25 is smaller,lighter and focuses a fair amount closer.

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    Re: Zeiss ZF 25 mini review

    Quote Originally Posted by Jonathon Delacour View Post
    [snip] Then I looked down and saw that I was holding a 6 x 4 index card, which had "J O N A T H O N" printed on it. [snip]
    Jonathon, what a wonderful story and what a happy ending dream.
    Just think of the obligation if it had been like this:
    "Then I looked down and saw that I was holding a 6 x 9 camera, which had "A L P A" printed on it.
    It could have ruined you

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    Re: Zeiss ZF 25 mini review

    The 28mm is a sweetie of a lens. Like to see someone get the new 18mm coming
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: Zeiss ZF 25 mini review

    Oh I wasn't suggesting that the 25 was not a good lens at all - sorry if that is how it came across. Was merely responding to the "Zeiss is good stuff flavour of the thread" - I agree!

    I have the 28-70 and it is a really lovely big zoom - and I hardly use it because it is a BIG zoom LOL - will definately check out the new wide from Zeiss Guy - when it comes out.

    The other lens I have my eye on is the big by 200 that Nikon bought out - looks very nice and I dont have a telephoto lens at all ever since I sold all my Canon gear.

    Quote Originally Posted by jonoslack View Post
    HI Peter
    I'd suspect the 28 is a 'better' lens, but I like the 25 field of view, plus the 25 is smaller,lighter and focuses a fair amount closer.

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    Re: Zeiss ZF 25 mini review

    Hopefully David is here this weekend so I can rent one for my trip to the Grand Canyon next week. You guys are going to make me sell my CV ZF lenses to get this Zeiss aren't you?
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    Re: Zeiss ZF 25 mini review

    Quote Originally Posted by bondo View Post
    Just think of the obligation if it had been like this:
    "Then I looked down and saw that I was holding a 6 x 9 camera, which had "A L P A" printed on it.
    It could have ruined you
    Hey Steen, I laughed out loud when I read this! But, to be honest, your post cuts a little too close for comfort. Lately my greatest fear is that, in the middle of a dream, I'll look down and see that I'm holding a 6x4 index card with "SINAR HY6" printed on it.

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    Re: Zeiss ZF 25 mini review

    Well, I am renting one of these for my trip to the Grand Canyon. Don't know how well it will work on my D300 as it will be 37.5mm EFOV. Maybe I should check and see if they have the new 18mm Distagon in?
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    Re: Zeiss ZF 25 mini review

    Quote Originally Posted by PeterA View Post
    After a few months now with the D3 - my favourite lens is the Zeiss 28 on this camera.
    That's interesting. How do you deal with the curvature of field of this lens, I've read that it is quite pronounced. Or is it irrelevant with the kind of subjects you use it for?
    I ask because I've always liked the FL and may replace my Ais 2,8/28 with something more recent.

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    Re: Zeiss ZF 25 mini review

    Quote Originally Posted by Arne Hvaring View Post
    That's interesting. How do you deal with the curvature of field of this lens, I've read that it is quite pronounced. Or is it irrelevant with the kind of subjects you use it for?
    I ask because I've always liked the FL and may replace my Ais 2,8/28 with something more recent.
    HI Arne
    I can't speak for the 28mm, but the 25 certainly has the same issue. When 'testing' it's irritating in the extreme, but for my use with this lens, it's as likely to be an advantage as a disadvantage (flat subjects are so rare around here!).

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    Senior Member Arne Hvaring's Avatar
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    Re: Zeiss ZF 25 mini review

    Hi Jono,
    I see your point, but doesn't it make working with these kind of lenses somewhat unpredictable? Or do you, with experience, develop a feeling for how the lens will fit or draw a certain scene, so you might take advantage of its character?
    While I generally prefer lenses with a flat field, I'm trying to figure out why Zeiss has chosen this particular design in their WA ZF line, and if other parameters may have been optimized for this trade off. That's why I'm interested in users feedback to learn how they handle them.

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    Re: Zeiss ZF 25 mini review

    Arne,

    if you haven't read it yet, I'd recommend buying Lloyd Chambers review of the ZF line. Testing against Canon lenses, real-world test shots, doesn't pull many punches and even briefly, touches on sample variation. Is the only test I've seen that talked about filed curvature on the wider ZFs. It's not perfect, but the best I've seen yet for any lens line and price includes free updates.

    Cheers

    R

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    Re: Zeiss ZF 25 mini review

    Hi There Arne
    Quote Originally Posted by Arne Hvaring View Post
    Hi Jono,
    I see your point, but doesn't it make working with these kind of lenses somewhat unpredictable? Or do you, with experience, develop a feeling for how the lens will fit or draw a certain scene, so you might take advantage of its character?
    I don't think it's unpredictable - unlike a rangefinder, you can see what's happening through the lens, and you certainly do get a good feel for it. Unlike some I really like the matte screen on the D3 - I find it very easy to focus and to get a feel for the result.

    Quote Originally Posted by Arne Hvaring View Post
    While I generally prefer lenses with a flat field, I'm trying to figure out why Zeiss has chosen this particular design in their WA ZF line, and if other parameters may have been optimized for this trade off. That's why I'm interested in users feedback to learn how they handle them.
    I don't know, I'd like to think that it's for the close focusing (the 25mm focuses down to about 4cm from the front of the lens. But maybe it's just rolling out old designs.

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    Re: Zeiss ZF 25 mini review

    Quote Originally Posted by robmac View Post
    Arne,

    if you haven't read it yet, I'd recommend buying Lloyd Chambers review of the ZF line. Testing against Canon lenses, real-world test shots, doesn't pull many punches and even briefly, touches on sample variation. Is the only test I've seen that talked about filed curvature on the wider ZFs. It's not perfect, but the best I've seen yet for any lens line and price includes free updates.

    Cheers

    R
    Hi Rob
    I'm afraid I'm too much of a skinflint to pay the $50.00 for the full review, (not least because of the need to find the reading time) but I noted the comments about the 25ZF in his blog - that it had strong curvature of field and vignetting. Interestingly, he also says that he started off avoiding it for those reasons, and then falling in love with it for the lovely rendition . .. which has certainly been my experience too.

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    Re: Zeiss ZF 25 mini review

    I hear you - we're so used to free web content that paying $50 took some decision; which is silly given the amount I'd spend on some simple doo-dad for the same hobby. Also spent some time chatting with Lloyd online about Leica lenses he was looking for and so forth and decided to take the 'leap'.

    No reviews are perfect, but I did find it (and his blog) are a refreshing change from the typical every lens/camera is 8 different shades of wonderful BS you typically see.

    My impression of the 25 and 28 ZFs is that, as you point out, if you ignore the tests and simply shoot them you grow to accommodate their shortcomings.

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    Re: Zeiss ZF 25 mini review

    Quote Originally Posted by robmac View Post
    I hear you - we're so used to free web content that paying $50 took some decision; which is silly given the amount I'd spend on some simple doo-dad for the same hobby. Also spent some time chatting with Lloyd online about Leica lenses he was looking for and so forth and decided to take the 'leap'.
    I'm sure you're right, I just know myself well enough to realise how little of it I'll read. I have paid for Sean's site, but I read so little of it!
    Quote Originally Posted by robmac View Post
    No reviews are perfect, but I did find it (and his blog) are a refreshing change from the typical every lens/camera is 8 different shades of wonderful BS you typically see.
    I enjoyed the blog - especially as his comments with respect to the 25 mirrored mine so exactly! (I always like people who agree with me, even if they did it first!).
    Quote Originally Posted by robmac View Post
    My impression of the 25 and 28 ZFs is that, as you point out, if you ignore the tests and simply shoot them you grow to accommodate their shortcomings.
    Exactly . . . and to love their virtues.

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