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Archive 2013 · Zeiss 135mm f/2 Apo Sonnar vs Canon EF 135mm f/2L
  
 
gdanmitchell
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p.6 #1 · p.6 #1 · Zeiss 135mm f/2 Apo Sonnar vs Canon EF 135mm f/2L


This sentence from article gets at my point:

"Compared to the average (mean) MTF50 values for the Canon 135mm f/2L, the Zeiss is better wide open across the frame, as shown in the table below. Thats very impressive as the Canon is one of the sharpest lenses around."

The Zeiss shows somewhat higher MTF values wide open than the Canon, but the Canon is "one of the sharpest lenses around." This encapsulates the point that I - and perhaps a few others - have tried to articulate. Let me try it as a list:

1. The Zeiss lens is a very fine optical performer. At the largest aperture a difference between its "resolution" and that of the Canon can be measured on test equipment.

2. The Canon 135mm prime is "one of the sharpest lenses around" and an outstanding performer in a number of other ways.

3. The measured resolution improvement at f/2 on the Ziess comes at more than double the price of the Canon.

4. If a measurable difference plays out as a real difference in the photographs we produce, a follow-up question has to do with the value/cost of that difference. If the measurable is not visible outside of the test lab, there is no photographic benefit to this difference.

5. Since the 135 f/2 is already, according to the same source reporting the performance of the Zeiss, "one of the sharpest lenses around," it is reasonable to ask whether the value of sharper than the sharpest available at f/2 is going to make a difference in one's photographs.

6. From the evidence (apart from very subjective and ultimately unresolvable beliefs about magical character, etc) it won't be different at average to smaller apertures, so there would not be any image quality advantage for those who tend to shoot at smaller apertures than f/2. As an example, typical landscape photographers who may rarely if ever shoot wide open will not see a difference in the resolution of their prints.

7. The evidence of a measurable resolution difference between these two excellent lenses at f/2 makes it reasonable to ask in what circumstance (and whether) the measurable difference might play out in those photographs made at f/2. Some subset of those photographs are likely shot handheld, so they will not take advantage of the very tiny measured difference in resolution at f/2, since it is impossible to hold a camera perfectly still - which would be necessary to generate an image in which such levels of resolution would be produced. So we could imagine a smaller subset of f/2 images that are made from the tripod - these could include some kinds of portrait work (though there maximum resolution is not often the issue), perhaps some other kinds of tripod-based wide open work.

8. With that limited group of potential photographs - wide open aperture, working from the tripod, static subject - that might create the maximum resolution image, the next question is how large would we have to print in order for the difference in these photographs to be visible, much less noticed by a person not doing objective testing. I do not have a fully objective answer to that question. However, I know that I can produce very large and very sharp prints - equalling or exceeding that of classic landscape work, for example - using lenses like certain other L and non-L primes and the better L zooms. I know I'll never see agreement on this - some will claim the difference will be clearly visible at 8" x 10" - but I'm quite comfortable with the idea that the difference would not be relevant at, say, 24" x 36" and probably beyond... getting to the point where other factors impair resolution and are the limiting factors.

I know that by writing out this thought process in some detail I have handed some of you an oh-so-fun opportunity to nit-pick through it and look for any small logical error and I fully expect that to happen - comes with the territory.

In any case, I think what we are asking in the case of this very excellent Zeiss lens on a more practical level might be: "Is the measured increase in resolution at f/2 relevant in the sense that a) much of my photography is done at f/2 and of high resolution subjects and b) I regularly print at extremely large sizes and am confident that the results from these f/2 photographs will be visibly different to the observers who matter and c) the increment of improvement in the f/2 shots that are printed this large will be significant enough to be worth the added cost and some loss of functional functionality.

That's my perspective. I also know that some will want the Zeiss lens simply because it comes from a company called Zeiss, that it can claim to measurably exceed some parameter on some other fine lenses, and because lenses as objects given them pleasure apart from their function as photographic tools. I don't see it that way - but I hear you.

;-)

Dan



Apr 30, 2013 at 07:19 PM
Lars Johnsson
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p.6 #2 · p.6 #2 · Zeiss 135mm f/2 Apo Sonnar vs Canon EF 135mm f/2L


The Zeiss did not show somewhat higher MTF values wide open than the Canon. It did show a lot higher value.

" It has one of the highest resolutions weve tested overall and the corners are amazingly good, even wide open"

And yes the Canon is also good...............

Center MTF 50 Avg MTF 50 Corner MTF 50
Zeiss 135mm f/2 945 840 745
Canon 135mm f/2 800 710 640



Apr 30, 2013 at 07:36 PM
alexdi
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p.6 #3 · p.6 #3 · Zeiss 135mm f/2 Apo Sonnar vs Canon EF 135mm f/2L


No one's ever faulted the Canon L for sharpness. I'd be perfectly happy even if the inevitable replacement didn't improve that an iota. What I'm waiting for is a back-to-back comparison with studio subjects that shows a contrast difference I can't duplicate in ten seconds in ACR. That's worth something.


Apr 30, 2013 at 09:02 PM
Lasse Eriksson
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p.6 #4 · p.6 #4 · Zeiss 135mm f/2 Apo Sonnar vs Canon EF 135mm f/2L


For me the main thing is that the Zeiss is an apochromat and correct CA. Look at the test pics between these two lenses and it's a huge difference


Apr 30, 2013 at 09:14 PM
alexdi
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p.6 #5 · p.6 #5 · Zeiss 135mm f/2 Apo Sonnar vs Canon EF 135mm f/2L


We got into that earlier. Contrary to what another person wrote, ACR and Lightroom now correct CA everywhere, not just on the edges. This would also be of great interest: to run a worst-case test of the L and see precisely how well this software correction compares to the Zeiss.

I doubt anyone wants to know, though. How annoying would it be if the Canon result was preferable? The Zeiss is not totally devoid of CA.



Apr 30, 2013 at 09:33 PM
Lasse Eriksson
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p.6 #6 · p.6 #6 · Zeiss 135mm f/2 Apo Sonnar vs Canon EF 135mm f/2L


Yes LR and ACR correct it for the people that own those softwares. But it will not be as good as a lens without it from the start


Apr 30, 2013 at 09:36 PM
alexdi
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p.6 #7 · p.6 #7 · Zeiss 135mm f/2 Apo Sonnar vs Canon EF 135mm f/2L


Oh, undoubtedly. But does that matter? And who out there buying $1000+ lenses doesn't have access to ACR? I think it'll even correct JPEGs.


Apr 30, 2013 at 09:38 PM
Lasse Eriksson
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p.6 #8 · p.6 #8 · Zeiss 135mm f/2 Apo Sonnar vs Canon EF 135mm f/2L


Mescalamba wrote:
Except every CA correction causes edges to loose crispness. Not mentioning fringe correction which does nice grey outlines mostly (or another contrast lost at best).

Thats why ppl buy Leica lens. And thats part of "magic" - perfect CA correction. You can shop it, but it doesnt look same. Zeiss to certain degree is similar to Leica in this. And since Leica doesnt make R anymore, its pretty much only option.

Vignetting correction is something I dont ever bother with. Distortion isnt good thing, cause with even slightest "fix" you need to have most of photo (usually all) recalculated and pretty much
...Show more

+1



Apr 30, 2013 at 09:42 PM
alexdi
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p.6 #9 · p.6 #9 · Zeiss 135mm f/2 Apo Sonnar vs Canon EF 135mm f/2L


My response to the above: prove it. Let's not speculate why Leica bothers to correct for things. In my experience with a 200/2.8L (sister to the 135/2), CA correction in software is exceedingly effective. If you say it causes degradation, I want to see your samples. If you say I can't emulate a particular look (which is a subtle, subtle differentiation relative to what you can adjust) in ACR, send me the raws. I'll bet I can.

> Its not always apparent, but you might loose some sharpness.

I find this especially incongruous. It's the same thing he said earlier, which I pointed out, which he recanted, and here it is again. Again: it's a photo. What you can't see or tell doesn't matter. "Fix" shouldn't be in quotes.



Apr 30, 2013 at 09:50 PM
Lasse Eriksson
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p.6 #10 · p.6 #10 · Zeiss 135mm f/2 Apo Sonnar vs Canon EF 135mm f/2L


alexdi wrote:
My response to the above: prove it. Let's not speculate why Leica bothers to correct for things. In my experience with a 200/2.8L (sister to the 135/2), CA correction in software is exceedingly effective. If you say it causes degradation, I want to see your samples. If you say I can't emulate a particular look (which is a subtle, subtle differentiation relative to what you can adjust) in ACR, send me the raws. I'll bet I can.

> Its not always apparent, but you might loose some sharpness.

I find this especially incongruous. It's the same thing he said earlier, which
...Show more

What about yor samples? And you prove it ? It's you who claim software can do everything.....



Apr 30, 2013 at 10:01 PM
 

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alexdi
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p.6 #11 · p.6 #11 · Zeiss 135mm f/2 Apo Sonnar vs Canon EF 135mm f/2L


I don't own either lens, I don't have the files. The 200/2.8L has been surprisingly well-behaved outdoors. For lack of a sparkling fountain, I'm having trouble getting a bad sample.


Apr 30, 2013 at 10:19 PM
Sven Jeppesen
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p.6 #12 · p.6 #12 · Zeiss 135mm f/2 Apo Sonnar vs Canon EF 135mm f/2L


This is from the diglloyd comparison between those two lenses. He also show many pics where you can see all this. And many of these shortcomings can't really be corrected on PS or LR. For some people it's not a big deal. For others it is. But you can't correct it and make it look the same as a lens without these falts:

"The Zeiss 135mm f/2 APO-Sonnar shows its strengths: it offers a very high level of micro contrast even wide open with no longitudinal chromatic aberration, minimized secondary longitudinal chromatic aberration and outstanding correction of off-center aberrations that results in near-circular specular highlights even wide open. Truly an impressive performance that few lenses can equal.

The Canon 135mm f/2L is surely a fine lens, but it shows its weakness here at wider apertures (uncorrected color and point aberrations), weaknesses that would be even more apparent with a demanding lighting situation and/or on an as-yet unavailable ~40-megapixel Canon DSLR."
"The same overall behavior is seen here. Especially at /2, observe that the Canon 135/12L shows a violet tinge near the black/white junction of the dress fabric as well a mild halo and smearing effect throughout, which cuts contrast on the fine details and smears them. The Zeiss APO Sonnar shows much better definition on the fine details in the fabric, and is free from the halo effect."



Apr 30, 2013 at 10:28 PM
alexdi
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p.6 #13 · p.6 #13 · Zeiss 135mm f/2 Apo Sonnar vs Canon EF 135mm f/2L


Well, Lloyd would know. But I'd still like to have a try. I can't access his review, it's not apparent whether he compared corrected results.


Apr 30, 2013 at 10:37 PM
Yakim Peled
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p.6 #14 · p.6 #14 · Zeiss 135mm f/2 Apo Sonnar vs Canon EF 135mm f/2L


I'm a sucker for AF so the Zeiss is not relevant to me. The 135/1.8 OS on the other hand....

Happy shooting,
Yakim.



May 01, 2013 at 11:54 AM
ggreene
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p.6 #15 · p.6 #15 · Zeiss 135mm f/2 Apo Sonnar vs Canon EF 135mm f/2L


Yakim Peled wrote:
I'm a sucker for AF so the Zeiss is not relevant to me. The 135/1.8 OS on the other hand....
Happy shooting,
Yakim.


Same here. Lack of AF is really limiting this zens to a narrow use. Waiting to see if Canon updates the 135 or if the rumored Sigma 135 comes true.



May 01, 2013 at 01:14 PM
Albi86
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p.6 #16 · p.6 #16 · Zeiss 135mm f/2 Apo Sonnar vs Canon EF 135mm f/2L


Honestly, the Canon 135L is a great lens and we all know that. A Zeiss lens, however, is a different specimen. You can say the same by comparing the 100L and the 100 MP: the only sensible conclusion would be that they are two great, yet different lenses that only share the same focal length.

This new Sonnar doesn't take anything away from the Canon. It's just better and costs more. You want a very good 135mm with AF? You buy the Canon (or soon enough the Sigma, if rumours are true). You want the best optics and the best build and the rest doesn't matter? You buy the Sonnar.

I don't see the point of bashing every lens out there that outperforms its Canon equivalent.



May 01, 2013 at 01:53 PM
gdanmitchell
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p.6 #17 · p.6 #17 · Zeiss 135mm f/2 Apo Sonnar vs Canon EF 135mm f/2L


Albi86 wrote:
I don't see the point of bashing every lens out there that outperforms its Canon equivalent.


Did someone bash the Zeiss lens?



May 01, 2013 at 04:06 PM
Sven Jeppesen
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p.6 #18 · p.6 #18 · Zeiss 135mm f/2 Apo Sonnar vs Canon EF 135mm f/2L


gdanmitchell wrote:
Did someone bash the Zeiss lens?


Maybe not bashing. But look and see how many people that say the Canon is better! And none of those have even tried the Zeiss...............
You have had five or ten long posts why people should use 135L instead of the Zeiss. And how many times have you used or even seen the Zeiss lens.........zero
Look at all the recent Canon upgrades on the mkII versions of an older lens. People praise them and write how much better the new version is. When a new Zeiss arrive with at least as much improvement in IQ over an older Canon lens it's suddenly not worth anything. It doesn't matter that the sharpness, CA and so on is much better. If this Zeiss lens had the Canon name instead it would be praised here.
I understand that a lot of people don't like to use MF lenses. And only stick to 100% AF lenses in their bags. But if you are such a person you have no reason to reply in a MF thread about a MF lens.
A comparison with a MF lens is only of interest for people that use or is interested in MF lenses.
I don't use 800mm lenses or large format cameras. But I don't reply in those threads and say people should not use them because of that.



May 01, 2013 at 05:05 PM
alexdi
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p.6 #19 · p.6 #19 · Zeiss 135mm f/2 Apo Sonnar vs Canon EF 135mm f/2L


Sven, nobody's said anything you're asserting. We all agree the Zeiss is a better optic. The question's been, is it better enough to merit buying when it costs twice as much and doesn't have AF. For most folks, the answer will be no.


May 01, 2013 at 05:25 PM
ggreene
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p.6 #20 · p.6 #20 · Zeiss 135mm f/2 Apo Sonnar vs Canon EF 135mm f/2L


Sven Jeppesen wrote:
I understand that a lot of people don't like to use MF lenses. And only stick to 100% AF lenses in their bags. But if you are such a person you have no reason to reply in a MF thread about a MF lens.


The OP was a link to a review directly comparing the Zeiss 135 with it's Canon counterpart. Like it or not AF is a part of the conversation. What good is all that IQ if you can't precisely focus on the subject at f2?



May 01, 2013 at 05:38 PM
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