Upload & Sell: On
'I am very skeptical there is such a thing as a 'Zeiss look''
Man, you gotta have it in your eyes to see it...
Long answer, with all quotes courtesy of Zeiss:
Micro contrast, often hyphenated, or expressed as one word, consists of the ability to perceive very fine structures in an image, as the term suggests. Interestingly, and this is something Ctein has mentioned in the past, Zeiss also talk about in connection to micro contrast:
'structures, which we can just about see or just cannot see with the naked eye'
Yes, structures you cannot see are very important to the quality of the image, bet you never knew that before today ;-)
'One must always consider the MTF at several spatial frequencies...In real images, it always also depends on what the values at 20 and 40lp/mm are.'
See, when you talk 'micro contrast' you are talking MTF representations of a lens performance. It's exact and all people 'in the know' achnowledge it.
Now, you can actually improve micro contrast somewhat in post processing through edge enhancement. Sadly this does nothing for resolution, and does plenty for potential artifacts. It's my working hypothesis that many small sensor cameras have plenty of this edge enhancement going on, to help provide cover for a lack of resolution, but it's a work in progress. I dare not raise this in the relevant image threads!
Now how to tell if your lens has excellent micro contrast - even if you have not yet learnt to see it:
'If the lens is stopped down, all MTF values increase greatly; the curves are very close to each other at a high value. The MTF values therefore decrease only relatively slowly with increasing spatial frequency. This means excellent edge definition and very good micro contrast right down to the finest structures which can be reproduced by the sensor.'
You mention also the controversial term '3D'. Many people erroneously believe this quality equates to subject isolation, focus fade characteristics and/or bokeh qualities.
It, however, refers to the ability of a lens to faithfully reproduce image objects consistently across spatial frequencies (size of objects in images) and for a given spatial frequency from image centre out to the edges and corners of the image.
'...a flat MTF curve is representative of good contour definition.'
'For most image contents the subjective impression of sharpness depends on the
contour definition. The contour definition is high when the curves are flat.'
Now this property remains true of lenses that are not top drawer in terms of MTF performance. Lenses that people perceive as sharp - such as the Contax 80-200/4 - may not have ultra high MTF results, however its flat MTF lines indicate consistent object shaping across size of object and across image space.
Bottom line: rest assured that, even if you do not (yet, there is always hope!) see these qualities in the 50MP, others most assuredly will! It is one of CZ's best ever lenses for small format.