Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 User Experience – A Review, Sort Of

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It’s not often that a humble – ahum – journalist like myself gets to enjoy the top gear. Yet, it’s like I’ve been driving a Ferrari for the past few weeks with the photographic equivalent – the Zeiss Otus 55m f/1.4 in Canon mount – sitting in my camera bag or lying around on my desk. Oh, and mounted on a camera.

The Otus is in an interesting position in the world of gear. It’s not a Leica. It’s not part of a medium format setup, where stratospheric prices and top quality are almost a given. It’s not a specialty lens, such as a 500mm tele at the price of a small – a very small – car. No, it’s a luxury version of a household normal lens for a pretty pedestrian series of cameras. Good cameras, but not rarified in any way. Just the Canon and Nikon workhorses that get sold by the tens of thousands to people like you and me.

It’s also a sign of things to come.

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Battle of the 50s: Olympus 25mm f/1.8 versus Panasonic 25mm f/1.4

A few weeks ago, Olympus launched a 25mm f/1.8 lens for the Micro Four-Thirds format, finally kind of catching up with the existing Panasonic Leica 25mm f/1.4 lens. Kind of, because the Olympus doesn’t have that magical f/1.4 aperture that seems to be the distinguishing feature between low-end f/1.8 50s and higher-end f/1.4 50s in the DSLR world (25mm is the MFT equivalent for 50mm in full-frame format).

With the new Sony Sonnar T* FE 55mm f/1.8 coming out at the same time, though, and that lens being lauded as one of the best normal lenses ever, f/1.8 might just have a chance to be taken seriously. Even better for Olympus, its lens comes in at $400, compared with the Panasonic at $529 and the Sony at $1,000. [Read more…]

Leica M Lenses on the Sony A7 & A7R – Confusion Galore

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When Sony first announced its 24 megapixel A7 and its 36mp A7R in full frame and with a NEX mount, poor Leicaphiles everywhere rejoiced and danced in the streets. I exaggerate a bit, but let me just state that many people who love and/or own Leica M mount lenses but were unable to or uncomfortable with shelling out $7,000 for the latest Leica M camera to put those lenses on, now saw light at the end of the tunnel and drooled over the possibility of putting those sweet lenses on a much cheaper full-frame camera. Okay, the drooling part might still be an exaggeration, but the rest is just about right.

But since the internet takes up more time for most photographers than actually taking pictures, it was not long before the second-guessing started. On the web, we can never be happy. Otherwise, we have nothing to talk about.

So, the questions emerged: Will these lenses actually perform up to their expensive standards on these Sony’s? Which adapter will be best? Is any adapter good enough? What about color shifts? How will the Sony sensors deal with wide angles, known for vignetting and distortion? Which camera is the better one for Leica lenses, the A7 or the A7R? Lots of sleepless nights, no doubt. [Read more…]