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Thread: ZF35/2, Leica 35 'Lux ASPH, Canon 35L: experiences?

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    ZF35/2, Leica 35 'Lux ASPH, Canon 35L: experiences?

    Okay, so my all-time favorite lens (and focal length, on film) is the Leica 35mm Summilux-M ASPH. But I don't shoot 135 film anymore, and this lens is nice on an M8 but I don't own one.

    I found the Leica pretty remarkable, in terms of color and pop/3D look and sharpness wide open of course.

    I'm a Canon guy, currently, and looking at moving from a 1DMkII to full frame, in the form of a 5D or a 1DsII (or if they get the lead out and release a 5DII, probably that).

    Canon's 35mm f/1.4L is reckoned to be a fairly wonderful lens.

    But I'm also thinking of the D700 (see above re: hurry up, Canon!). Nikon doesn't have a 'special' fast 35, but there is the Zeiss ZF 35mm f/2.

    Now, given that my on-the-camera-most-of-the-time lens will be the 35, and assuming you believe in such a thing as "special lenses", I'd love to read a discussion of the relative merits of the three lenses noted. So, questions:

    1) Is there anyone who's used all three? Which was your favorite? Why? Second favorite?

    2) If the ZF35 is really nice, is it enough nicer than the 35L to warrant using manual focus? Or should I just suck it up, use the 35L on a 5D and bide my time until the 5D is replaced with something comparable to the D700?

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    Re: ZF35/2, Leica 35 'Lux ASPH, Canon 35L: experiences?

    Nothing outside an M mount comes close to the 35/1.4 ASPH. Sorry.
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    Re: ZF35/2, Leica 35 'Lux ASPH, Canon 35L: experiences?

    Quote Originally Posted by Stuart Richardson View Post
    Nothing outside an M mount comes close to the 35/1.4 ASPH. Sorry.
    Completely right !

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    Re: ZF35/2, Leica 35 'Lux ASPH, Canon 35L: experiences?

    Well, that's just as well, as I've almost stopped despairing ever being able to use this lens on 'full frame' digital.

    So now it seems as though it's down to the ZF versus the L. , and that the 35 Summilux-M ASPH will most likely be helping to fund whichever direction I go in on this.

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    Re: ZF35/2, Leica 35 'Lux ASPH, Canon 35L: experiences?

    It really depends on what you're after. I've owned a couple of ZF lenses including the 35ZF (multiple times) but not the 35L. I've shot a number of Nikon (D1/D1H) and Canon DSLRs including the 5D and now use a 1Ds2 (and may be moving to Nikon).

    I virtually exclusively use alternative lenses (Leica, CZ, CV, Zeiss ZF, Nikon, Hassy and Mamiya) on my Canon bodies with adapters.

    So, within that context:
    ---------------------------
    The 35L (vs the 35ZF) is 1 stop faster, AF and MUCH larger. Sharp in center WO but takes some time (stops) for edges to catch up. CA control (for what I've seen and from tests) is about average for the FL and max aperture. Canon lens QC is nasty, so test well upon receipt.

    The 35ZF is smaller, is breathtakingly sharp starting WO. Typical Zeiss macro and micro contrast. Well made, smooth focusing. Images tend to 'pop' more than with typical AF Nikon or Canon glass. Well-corrected for flare.

    CA/fringing control is about average - my single biggest complaint with most of the ZF line (given their price). Some QC issues. I had an issue with my 100/2 ZF and while my 35s were trouble-free, some 35 owners have had de-centered elements, etc. So test on receipt.

    Only other 'con' is that lens has has virtually no granularity in the focus mechanism between 10M and infinity. The slightest touch on the barrel can have your carefully focused infinity shot nicely focused 10M in front of your feet. Lens is really designed as a fast, sharp 'reportage' style lens and in that context is very nice.

    Some tests you may find informative can be found at www.photozone.de (on APSC bodies) or the 35mm tests and comparisons:

    http://slrlensreview.com/content/view/487/131/

    While the preceding are nice (slrlensreview), the tester's commentary, w.r.t. color fringing are inconsistent vs. the tests shots. No bias I can detect, just inconsistent as to what is good, bad or ugly.

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    Re: ZF35/2, Leica 35 'Lux ASPH, Canon 35L: experiences?

    Quote Originally Posted by robmac View Post
    It really depends on what you're after. I've owned a couple of ZF lenses including the 35ZF (multiple times) but not the 35L. I've shot a number of Nikon (D1/D1H) and Canon DSLRs including the 5D and now use a 1Ds2 (and may be moving to Nikon).

    I virtually exclusively use alternative lenses (Leica, CZ, CV, Zeiss ZF, Nikon, Hassy and Mamiya) on my Canon bodies with adapters.

    So, within that context:
    ---------------------------
    The 35L (vs the 35ZF) is 1 stop faster, AF and MUCH larger. Sharp in center WO but takes some time (stops) for edges to catch up. CA control (for what I've seen and from tests) is about average for the FL and max aperture. Canon lens QC is nasty, so test well upon receipt.

    The 35ZF is smaller, is breathtakingly sharp starting WO. Typical Zeiss macro and micro contrast. Well made, smooth focusing. Images tend to 'pop' more than with typical AF Nikon or Canon glass. Well-corrected for flare.

    CA/fringing control is about average - my single biggest complaint with most of the ZF line (given their price). Some QC issues. I had an issue with my 100/2 ZF and while my 35s were trouble-free, some 35 owners have had de-centered elements, etc. So test on receipt.

    Only other 'con' is that lens has has virtually no granularity in the focus mechanism between 10M and infinity. The slightest touch on the barrel can have your carefully focused infinity shot nicely focused 10M in front of your feet. Lens is really designed as a fast, sharp 'reportage' style lens and in that context is very nice.

    Some tests you may find informative can be found at www.photozone.de (on APSC bodies) or the 35mm tests and comparisons:

    http://slrlensreview.com/content/view/487/131/

    While the preceding are nice (slrlensreview), the tester's commentary, w.r.t. color fringing are inconsistent vs. the tests shots. No bias I can detect, just inconsistent as to what is good, bad or ugly.
    I second all of these comments. I have and still own several Zeiss ZF lenses. I find they have very uniform color, lens to lens, mild CA, decent flare control and are very well made. Only issue I had, along with myriad others, was the stiff focus on the 100 Makro. To be able to properly use it I would have had to have my lens technician lap it in or change the grease type. But I found the Nikon 105VR to be so good at half the price that it wasn't worth the effort

    Woody

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    Re: ZF35/2, Leica 35 'Lux ASPH, Canon 35L: experiences?

    I should add to my comments that while the 35/1.4 ASPH has no comparison, the 35/1.4L is a very good lens and can be used without hesitation on a Canon body -- if you are already shooting on Canon and want a 35/1.4 lens, just get it and be done with it. It is not AS good as the 35/1.4 ASPH, but it is certainly a very good 35mm lens.

    Also, I would not do anything until after Photokina, if Leica is going to release a full frame rangefinder, it will be then. It is less than a month away, so you might as well see what they are going to do.
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    Re: ZF35/2, Leica 35 'Lux ASPH, Canon 35L: experiences?

    Great comments all. Thank you. I'll do my darnedest to wait until after Photokina.

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    Re: ZF35/2, Leica 35 'Lux ASPH, Canon 35L: experiences?

    I've owned all three at some point (now just the Leica and ZF) and all three are the best in their respective brands. Depends whether you want to shoot with Nikon or Canon and AF or manual focus. The Canon L lens is great - the one thing I miss about not shooting Canon anymore.

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    Re: ZF35/2, Leica 35 'Lux ASPH, Canon 35L: experiences?

    Those of you who like both the Canon 35/1.4 and Zeiss ZF 35/2, which do you like better ?

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    Re: ZF35/2, Leica 35 'Lux ASPH, Canon 35L: experiences?

    Quote Originally Posted by asabet View Post
    Those of you who like both the Canon 35/1.4 and Zeiss ZF 35/2, which do you like better ?
    ...indeed; couldn't have said it better myself.

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    Re: ZF35/2, Leica 35 'Lux ASPH, Canon 35L: experiences?

    Full disclosure -- I have not used the 35/2 ZF, but the differences seem pretty obvious. The ZF is a stop slower and manual focus. It is sharp across the frame, but has some chromatic aberration like the other ZF lenses. The Canon has very quick AF and an extra stop, but probably not as good edge to edge performance. If you already have Canon, there is nothing to cause you to change. The 35/1.4L is no slouch in any real world situation.
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    Re: ZF35/2, Leica 35 'Lux ASPH, Canon 35L: experiences?

    Quote Originally Posted by asabet View Post
    Those of you who like both the Canon 35/1.4 and Zeiss ZF 35/2, which do you like better ?
    On a Canon the 35 L. On a Nikon the 35 ZF. Really no choice in the matter.

    The ZF feels like an R lens. The L like a modern AF lens. Both are superb in real life use. The ZF manual focus is much better than the Canon, though the ZF's AF sucks!

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    Re: ZF35/2, Leica 35 'Lux ASPH, Canon 35L: experiences?

    Quote Originally Posted by charlesphoto View Post
    On a Canon the 35 L. On a Nikon the 35 ZF. Really no choice in the matter.

    The ZF feels like an R lens. The L like a modern AF lens. Both are superb in real life use. The ZF manual focus is much better than the Canon, though the ZF's AF sucks!
    Let's say that someone were interested in buying either a Nikon D700 or a Canon 5D. For the sake of discussion, let's also say that this person shoots RAW, prefers primes, doesn't care about autofocus versus manual focus, doesn't care about the LCD panel, weather sealing, shutter lag, # autofocus points, auto ISO, or performance above ISO 800. For such a person, it would come down to image-specific differences between the Canon L primes (and adapted lenses from Leica and others), and the Zeiss ZF primes (plus a few choice Nikon and CV lenses). So, in advising this hypothetical person, which do you like better (in terms of rendering images) - 35L or ZF 35 ?

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    Re: ZF35/2, Leica 35 'Lux ASPH, Canon 35L: experiences?

    Amin,
    You've got my number: _I'm_ that hypothetical person!

    As things stand today, it looks like the ISO advantage of the D700 against the 5D will make up for the ZF's 1-stop deficit against the Canon.

    I'm pretty good at manually focusing. The Zeiss gets points for being smaller, and for bringing a bit of tactile luv to the game; the Canon of course wins on both speed (AF) and speed (f/1.4).

    So, given that my deliberations over 'the right 35' might conceivably lead to a shift to Nikon bodies (i.e., the abovestated lust for a D700), and given that--like a lot of folks around here--I like lenses which are special... which of these lenses is most special?

    Put another (shorter, less angsty) way, is the Zeiss 35 a special enough lens to warrant switching to Nikon?

    (This would likely also entail replacement of the Canon 85L with the ZF100/2, in keeping with the 'special lenses' theme of the thread. The rest of my range I'm not too worried about covering--C16-35L=N17-35; C70-200 2.8IS=N70-200 2.8VR; C50/1.4=N50/1.4, etc. Basically, it looks like except for the 35, everything else I'd be replacing is more or less a draw in terms of cost and image quality. Hence the focus on the 35.)

    Heh. Focus. Dang, that's rich.

    I guess what I'd really like to see is some side by side comparisons of the 35L and the ZF in real world shooting situations, including people and challenging light and weird bokeh factors and near and far subjects... all that stuff.

    Any chance someone knows where I might find that?

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    Re: ZF35/2, Leica 35 'Lux ASPH, Canon 35L: experiences?

    The grass is no greener over here. Stick with your Canon, stop your existential 35mm crisis, get the 35/1.4L and take some pictures. I use the D3, but if I wanted to use primes, I would definitely stick with Canon -- Nikon's primes are mostly old and dodgy, the ZF line is manual focus only, has lots of CA and QC problems, and Canon gives you access to the 35mm, 50mm and 85mm L lenses, all of which are superb and AF. If those aren't good enough, you can put Leica R lenses on there. I would be very very happy if I could put the 35/1.4L on the Nikon...let me just put it that way.
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    Re: ZF35/2, Leica 35 'Lux ASPH, Canon 35L: experiences?

    P.S. This could all change after photokina, so be patient!
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    Senior Member deepdiver's Avatar
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    Re: ZF35/2, Leica 35 'Lux ASPH, Canon 35L: experiences?

    Yes, I agree with Stuart,
    Most of Nikon's primes are REALLY old...
    They need to update them ASAP with Nano Coating, AF-S and F1.2

    Andree
    Leica M9 | SE 18 | Lux 24 | Lux 50 | ZM 35 | Nikon D700 | 35/1.8 | 45 PC-E | 50/1.4 | 70-200 VR II | SB 800+600 |SF 58|

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    Re: ZF35/2, Leica 35 'Lux ASPH, Canon 35L: experiences?

    Quote Originally Posted by asabet View Post
    Let's say that someone were interested in buying either a Nikon D700 or a Canon 5D. For the sake of discussion, let's also say that this person shoots RAW, prefers primes, doesn't care about autofocus versus manual focus, doesn't care about the LCD panel, weather sealing, shutter lag, # autofocus points, auto ISO, or performance above ISO 800. For such a person, it would come down to image-specific differences between the Canon L primes (and adapted lenses from Leica and others), and the Zeiss ZF primes (plus a few choice Nikon and CV lenses). So, in advising this hypothetical person, which do you like better (in terms of rendering images) - 35L or ZF 35 ?
    Easier asked than answered. When I owned a Canon 35L I was using it on film bodies. The Zeiss 35 I've only used on my D3. The Zeiss blows the Nikon 35 f/2 prime I had out of the water. It has a certain pop and richness to the colors that is hard to explain and is razor sharp - which can sometimes be a problem. But how it would do against the 35L I don't know.

    I've never been much for MTF tests and "brick walls." It's more about what works for you at the moment etc. The thing I like about the Zeiss lenses is that they make one feel like they are working a real camera again. I'm old school and new to digital (first camera was a D200 in 2006) and always preferred film cameras and manual focus primes. I went from Nikon (film) to Canon (film) back to Nikon (digital) all the while preferring my Leica M (film) the best (and now shooting the M8 as well). And that's just 35mm - I truly love my Mamiya 6/7s and Rolleiflex (and no, I'm not going anywhere near medium format digital - film works just fine in that arena).

    So, it's up to the individual to decide what is going to work for them. In the end any of the top lenses are on par with each other, esp by the time the image has been post processed and printed. It's up to you what feels best in the hand and to the eye, what you can afford, etc. Reviews and tests can only get you so far.

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    Re: ZF35/2, Leica 35 'Lux ASPH, Canon 35L: experiences?

    No experience with Canon 35L.

    Lux 35mm M asph.... bad focus, solms multiple time, fed up!

    ZF 35/2 on D300...Love it, only issue I have is not being AF sometimes in
    fast changing situations I miss the focus. No other issues whatsoever.
    No brick tests, but here are some that were previously posted elsewhere.





    Did I say I love this lens.

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    Re: ZF35/2, Leica 35 'Lux ASPH, Canon 35L: experiences?

    Put three prints of the same subject, same body (say a Canon w/adapters), same shooting aperture, etc with no PP other than some USM (e.g. no trying to equalize colors, contrast) and I suspect most viewers would pick the ZF or Leica prints over the Canon's:

    Better micro and macro contrast, more accurate color (no Canon over-the-top reds and yellowish greens) and with the Zeiss, more of a 3D 'pop' effect.

    Sharpness-wise it would be fair to call them on-par (or close enough not to matter), the greater differentiators will be how the shooter prefers their macro/micro contrast, color, temp, skin tones, CA, etc.

    Another lens to consider is the Leica 35 Summicron. Easily adapts to an EOS body (summilux not so much unless you shoot APS-C) and a hell of an optic. ZF beats it WO, but after that....

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    Re: ZF35/2, Leica 35 'Lux ASPH, Canon 35L: experiences?

    While I have most of the ZF line, I've not used the ZF35/2 ... yet. As far as the ZFs I do own, I guess I've been lucky as none have build quality issues at all. My ZF100/2 focus is perfectly dampened with just the right amount of resistance.

    I have used the Leica M35/LUX and Canon 35/1.4L extensively. The Leica on film bodies and the M8 ... and 3 different 35/1.4Ls on an EOS1V, and most all of the Canon digital bodies: from cropped frame, to the 5D, to all the 1 series including the 1DsMKIII. I especially despised the 5D camera in almost every ergonomic and tactile respect ... and can only hope Canon totally redesigns it's replacement for the sake of Canon lovers.


    If, (BIG IF) one doesn't care about AF, then I'd own none of the Canon lenses below 85mm ... However, I can say that the 35/1.4 is the best of the worst. I do not care for distortion to the degree delivered by Canon wide angle lenses including the 35/1.4L, nor do I care for them on Canon digital bodies with their aggressive sensor filters. In addition, Leica and Zeiss micro contrast is a massivly different optical look compared to anything Canon produces.


    I tried everything with my Canons ... adapted Leica R to them, and especially adapted C/Y Zeiss optics like the 28/2 and a few zooms ... plus a Conrus converted Zeiss N24-85/3.5 that retains full auto aperture functions and AF on the Canons. I was most certainly not alone in this quest to use something else, anything else other than Canon wides.

    After years of this, I surrendered.

    I can say if one wants to use the excellent ZF line with all the color rendition and 3D pop associated with Zeiss optics, and doesn't care about AF that much, then IMHO the weapon to consider is the D700. I could not focus my ZFs wide open very well on the D300, a BrightScreen magnifier helped, but upon getting the D700 my manual focus hit ratio increased dramatically ... and even "dramatically" is an understatement.

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    Senior Member LCT's Avatar
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    Re: ZF35/2, Leica 35 'Lux ASPH, Canon 35L: experiences?

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post
    ...I could not focus my ZFs wide open very well on the D300, a BrightScreen magnifier helped, but upon getting the D700 my manual focus hit ratio increased dramatically ... and even "dramatically" is an understatement.
    You mean with the built-in focus screen of D700?

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    Re: ZF35/2, Leica 35 'Lux ASPH, Canon 35L: experiences?

    Am close to the same position Marc was one re: surrendering. While I like what my 1Ds2 delivers and the ease of focusing with it, am getting tired of using adapters, stop-down, etc.

    The new ZE line would help - but (assuming the rumors bear out) it still limits you to EOS or ZE for auto-stop down. With Nikon, you'd have ZF, CV, Nikon MF and AF - including the new stellar AF wide zooms.

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    Re: ZF35/2, Leica 35 'Lux ASPH, Canon 35L: experiences?

    Quote Originally Posted by LCT View Post
    You mean with the built-in focus screen of D700?
    Yes, the screen from the factory is much easier for me to focus with ... and the D700 focus confirmation, which I do use, is also easier to see and adjust to compared to the D300 (IMO, and direct recent experience with both cameras using the same ZF lenses.)

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    Re: ZF35/2, Leica 35 'Lux ASPH, Canon 35L: experiences?

    Quote Originally Posted by robmac View Post
    Am close to the same position Marc was one re: surrendering. While I like what my 1Ds2 delivers and the ease of focusing with it, am getting tired of using adapters, stop-down, etc.

    The new ZE line would help - but (assuming the rumors bear out) it still limits you to EOS or ZE for auto-stop down. With Nikon, you'd have ZF, CV, Nikon MF and AF - including the new stellar AF wide zooms.
    Not to mention that with the non-CPU ZFs you can program them into the D300, D700 and D3 so the casmera is working with the aperture info ... I don't think Canon has that feature.

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    Re: ZF35/2, Leica 35 'Lux ASPH, Canon 35L: experiences?

    Great thanks.

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    Re: ZF35/2, Leica 35 'Lux ASPH, Canon 35L: experiences?

    Damn, Marc, you're not helping my tendency to lean toward the D700. Obviously at this point, waiting to see what Canon's got in the offing is called for. I haven't yet owned a 5D but from some limited experiences with it do agree that the replacement has much to improve upon, in terms of ergonomics and general gearheady tactile niceness.

    Not for nothing is the Nikon looking like a winner. Curious too, though, to see if Zeiss does release the 35/2 in an EOS mount. That would be downright nifty.

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    Re: ZF35/2, Leica 35 'Lux ASPH, Canon 35L: experiences?

    For me, the switch to Nikon from Leica (I still use it) was pretty easy. The layout of the cameras (I use the D3 and F6) is very intuitive, very ergonomic and you can tell that they were designed by someone who understood how photographers work. I used a 5D for awhile, and I got the opposite impression. I did like the camera, but I just did not like it nearly as much as the D3. One of the key points of annoyance for me was the on/off/wheel switch. Why? Why couldn't they just have the on off switch on the release like every other camera? That way you bring it to your eye while turning the switch and you are ready to go. With Canon you need to look at the back of the camera and move your hand from the shooting position to turn the camera on, and make sure you did not turn it too far to actuate the wheel, because god forbid you do that -- then your nose will turn that damn wheel and your focus points will be all over the place.

    Anyway, that is a bit of an exaggeration, but it is a snippet of my relative experience with the cameras. The only caveat I have here -- beware Nikon manual focus. Try before you buy. All Nikon manual focus lenses have their focus and their aperture run the opposite direction from Leica, Hasselblad, Rollei, Canon, Mamiya, Fuji and most other camera makers I have used. This means that if you still shoot frequently with Leicas and so on, you will find yourself turning the lens in the wrong direction. It is a pain in the ***. Luckily the manual focus indicators on the Nikon point in the proper direction, so if you just look in the viewfinder it will tell you which way to turn though. It is still a pain -- I keep thinking, "I want infinity, so turn the lens counter-clockwise", but it is clockwise on the Nikons. It is amazing how these things become hardwired after awhile...changing it sounds easy but it is not.
    My photos are here: http://www.stuartrichardson.com and more recent work here: http://stuartrichardson.tumblr.com/ Please have a look at my book!
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