Don’t despair my friends, you have a few options left to create great images without
remortgaging your home
more after the break,
left to right: Takumar 135mm f2.5 vers2, Takumar 135mm f2.5 (4 elements only) Nikkor E 100mm
Of course we all strive for the ultimate and Zeiss finally decided to roll them out, one dream lens after another. But let’s stay practical for a moment, what would it mean to add one of those Zeiss gems to your photography kit in terms of helping you improve and reach the next level of creativity?
Is it the focal length you always reach for? Do you regularly turn off AF and prefer to shoot from a tripod? Do you look at the image as a whole or do you inspect every cm at 400%?
Pixel peeping is important to determine if the lens meets the quality requirements for the final output. In addition, evaluating a lens for the subjects you will be shooting is equally important.
Are you reproducing flat art work in a museum and need the best possible optical quality?
The Otus should be the first lens on your list, second, the Sigma ART, just in case your boss doesn’t approve the Otus once he sees the price…
Or are you mostly shooting centered subjects and don’t really care about the outer edge performance?
Those are the questions to ask yourself. You will realize that the desire to own one of these Zeiss jewels has very little to do with your photography.Of course there are photographers out there who are thrilled about the latest Zeiss gems because they have a real use for them and were dreaming about such lenses for years, a perfect fit for what they shoot and how they work. Those guys will get them and get the most out it.
The Sony A7(r,s) have been spec’t with the best sensors in the business.
We all know the main advantages of full frame sensors: Larger pixels and larger surface area equals better high ISO performance and more room to play with depth of field. No matter how you look at it, when it comes to shallow depth of field, smaller sensors can’t beat it.
Add the fantastic EVF and those bodies just beg for glass that can produce very shallow depth of field.
Here are my three favorite lenses which I have used on the A7, A7r and A7s.
lets start with the Nikkor E 100mm 2.8, please note all three lenses are shown with the
Sony E mount adapter attached and lined up next to the Zeiss FE 55mm for size comparison.
The Nikon E 100mm f2.8 produces already sharp images wide open, tack sharp even on the A7r, I mostly shoot this lens wide open.
both shots above: Jon Batiste shot with the Nikkor E 100mm 2.8 wide open
Next up is the cheapo Pentax SMC 135mm f2.5, this is the budget lens with 4 elements, 4 groups 8 blades.
You can find it on Ebay between $50 bucks, in excellent condition.
Not as sharp as the Nikkor E 100mm, lacks micro detail and has that soft glow wide open some of us like and some don’t. A great, lightweight lens for portraits, for that softer, low contrast look, the lens sharpens up significantly stopped down to f3.5. I was pleasantly surprised to see very little color fringing when compared to the 6 element Vers II Takumar.
shot with the A7r wide open (LR default setting raw to jpg)
100%crop below at 2.5
below another shot with the budget Takumar 135mm f2.5, shot at f2.5
And my favorite, the SMC Takumar Version II, available in M42 mount only, 6 elements in 6 groups, the largest and heaviest lens in this line up but still a lot smaller then the Sony FE 70 200mm f4 zoom.
Very sharp and good contrast wide open and it produces the best looking bokeh. Lots of color fringing, easy to correct in post when shooting raw.
If you are interested in this lens, you can find two versions on Ebay, the more common 5 elements 4 group version (which I haven’t tested, my guess it ranks between the cheapo and version2) and version II with 6 elements in 6 groups.
The way to identify version II (ask the seller if you can’t see it in the photos):
The focus scale reads 35ft on version II, 30ft on the original and 43812 stamped on the backside of the aperture switch. Original version doesn’t have a number.
Viola (more on the shoot with Viola in my next post), shot with the Takumar Vers II wide open.
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