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Archive 2009 · Zeiss ZF 100/2.0 versus Leica Summicron APO ASPH 90/2.0
  
 
Frank-Starling
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p.1 #1 · Zeiss ZF 100/2.0 versus Leica Summicron APO ASPH 90/2.0


Hi,

I am thinking of selling my stellar Zeiss ZF 100 Makro-Planar F/2.0 for a used Leica Summicron APO ASPH 90 F/2.0 (to be converted to Nikon bajonet by Leitax).

Reason? I use the Zeiss mainly for portrait at F/2.0 and I like a bit shorter focal length for portrait. Also I have read multiple times that the Leica Summicron APO 90/2.0 should be the best portrait lens (or at least one of the very best) available.

Can anyone compare or advice?

Peter

PS I do know the Leica will need stop down metering on my D700 but since I'll use it (often) wide open, this should not be a problem.



Nov 16, 2009 at 10:58 AM
Maximilian
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p.1 #2 · Zeiss ZF 100/2.0 versus Leica Summicron APO ASPH 90/2.0


You should be aware that the Leica Apo 90, while a fantastic lens at medium and long distance, shows a massive quality loss at typical portrait distance of 1m to 3m: the lens doesn't have floating elements and it really shows.
The problem is in my opinion not so much in the fact that the picture at wide open at close becomes soft (which in some instances can even be pleasant to some) but in the high amount of focus shift you have as you stop down, which makes a precise selection of the focus plane at apertures other than f/2 impossible.

On the other hand the Zeiss ZF 100, while far from being apo, has a quite complex and highly effective floating element system which keeps quality very stable along the focusing range.



Nov 16, 2009 at 11:13 AM
Frank-Starling
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p.1 #3 · Zeiss ZF 100/2.0 versus Leica Summicron APO ASPH 90/2.0


Thanks I did not know that. So in landscape maybe better use liveview on tripod to get accurate focus.


Nov 16, 2009 at 11:33 AM
Maximilian
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p.1 #4 · Zeiss ZF 100/2.0 versus Leica Summicron APO ASPH 90/2.0


Frank-Starling wrote:
Thanks I did not know that. So in landscape maybe better use liveview on tripod to get accurate focus.


well, only if you make close-range landscapes
The Leica apo 90 doesn't show any problmes with focus shift at typical landscape distances, things start to get worse below 4m and become troublesome below about 2,5m. Around infinity the global correction is optimal and very high, although some traces of oblique spherical aberration at the image edge can be detected at wide open, but as soon as at f/2.8 the quality is perfect.



Nov 16, 2009 at 11:48 AM
Conner999
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p.1 #5 · Zeiss ZF 100/2.0 versus Leica Summicron APO ASPH 90/2.0


Odd, my copy of the 90 APO was great at 1-3M. Owned a large number of Leica APO glass and the only one that was iffy at MFD was of course the 180/3.4. My 90AA lived at portrait distances.

I've owned both the 100/2 and 90AA and the while 100 Zeiss is brutally sharp, CA/fringing as you know, is an issue. The 90AA is equally or slightly better in the sharpness department, lower macro contrast than the Zeiss (naturally), smooth focusing and very compact. Never seen an issue with focus shift.

The bokeh on the 100 will be better under some circumstances. The 90AA doesn't have the consistently buttery bokeh of say the 90 pre-Asph or the CV 90/3.5 APO (mine was just as sharp as my mint 90AA - and actually replaced it).

You should now that the 90AA (or any Leica APO lens) MUST go back to the factory for any work, even a CLA, due to the large number of exotic elements and complex construction. Most reputable Leica shops won't touch one - far, far too easy to get it out of spec. It actually goes back thru the production and testing cycle. If looking for one, ask if CLA's and if so where. If not Leica Solms, walk away (or be prepared to send it in).

Good luck
Maximilian wrote:
You should be aware that the Leica Apo 90, while a fantastic lens at medium and long distance, shows a massive quality loss at typical portrait distance of 1m to 3m: the lens doesn't have floating elements and it really shows.
The problem is in my opinion not so much in the fact that the picture at wide open at close becomes soft (which in some instances can even be pleasant to some) but in the high amount of focus shift you have as you stop down, which makes a precise selection of the focus plane at apertures other than
...Show more



Nov 16, 2009 at 12:24 PM
VladiD
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p.1 #6 · Zeiss ZF 100/2.0 versus Leica Summicron APO ASPH 90/2.0


Peter,
I had the pleasure of owning the ZF 2/100 for a few months and can only say that I am really regretting selling it. Nothing else comes close to the way it draws its subjects.

Vlad



Nov 16, 2009 at 01:32 PM
DanPBrown
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p.1 #7 · Zeiss ZF 100/2.0 versus Leica Summicron APO ASPH 90/2.0


While not a Leica, the Olympus 90mm F/2 macro is a great lens for portrait photos. It is one of their greatest lenses and extremely sharp at all distances. Keh usually has one for around $850.
Dan
www.danbrownphotography.com



Nov 16, 2009 at 01:59 PM
Justin D
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p.1 #8 · Zeiss ZF 100/2.0 versus Leica Summicron APO ASPH 90/2.0


While not a Leica, the Olympus 90mm F/2 macro is a great lens for portrait photos. It is one of their greatest lenses and extremely sharp at all distances. Keh usually has one for around $850.I agree with this. I love my OM 90. However, fringing is sometimes bad on this lens. But the bokeh, the way it flatters the subject by somehow making them look like they're lit from within - it is an awesome portrait lens...


Nov 16, 2009 at 02:14 PM
gasrocks
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p.1 #9 · Zeiss ZF 100/2.0 versus Leica Summicron APO ASPH 90/2.0


Some time ago I asked here about which Leica R 90 (or so) lens would be best for portraits. Most people chose the 90/2 Cron over the APO. I traded my 90/2 Cron in when I got my 80/1.4 Lux.


Nov 16, 2009 at 03:13 PM
JimU
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p.1 #10 · Zeiss ZF 100/2.0 versus Leica Summicron APO ASPH 90/2.0


how do the 90'cron & 80'lux compare?


Nov 16, 2009 at 03:57 PM
 

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carstenw
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p.1 #11 · Zeiss ZF 100/2.0 versus Leica Summicron APO ASPH 90/2.0


I had those two as well. The 90 Cron (latest non-APO) has a very nice look to it, sharp but flattering. The 80 Lux is a step up in the flattering department, is not as sharp at f/2, but is sharper or equal at all smaller apertures. The 80 Lux is a really, really nice lens, and I only sold it because I sold my 5D and had nothing to put it on.


Nov 16, 2009 at 08:15 PM
gasrocks
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p.1 #12 · Zeiss ZF 100/2.0 versus Leica Summicron APO ASPH 90/2.0


Maybe you shoudlnt be asking me. I am biased. I just got my 4th Leica lens.


Nov 16, 2009 at 08:21 PM
John Black
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p.1 #13 · Zeiss ZF 100/2.0 versus Leica Summicron APO ASPH 90/2.0


Frankly, I would not worry so much about fringing or other technical aspects. The difference is in how the lenses draw. I can't speak to the 90R APO, but I've had both 90's on the M and 90 Elmarits from the R line. Leica has nice colors and fairly abstracted bokeh - all quite pleasant. The images tend to look 2 dimensional. I don't want to say "flat" because that sounds negative. The Leica images look more compressed, but with a more vivid bokeh -






The Zeiss Planars can have nice bokeh as well (and usually do). In my experience they render a more 3D way. This is blast from the past, about 5 years ago on a 1Ds. I picked it because it has a Leica-esque bokeh -



And this is textbook Planar IMO -




I would not sell the Zeiss without trying the Leica first. You may pick one over the other based on handling, focusing, etc. Either lens will be great; the winner will be based on subjective preferences rather than specs, etc. Ideally both lenses could be shot side by side in same setting, light, etc.



Nov 17, 2009 at 12:03 AM
TWoK
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p.1 #14 · Zeiss ZF 100/2.0 versus Leica Summicron APO ASPH 90/2.0


Conner999 wrote:
You should now that the 90AA (or any Leica APO lens) MUST go back to the factory for any work, even a CLA, due to the large number of exotic elements and complex construction. Most reputable Leica shops won't touch one - far, far too easy to get it out of spec. It actually goes back thru the production and testing cycle. If looking for one, ask if CLA's and if so where. If not Leica Solms, walk away (or be prepared to send it in).

I really don't see how that can be the case. There are plenty of complicated lenses out there and they largely come apart the same way.



Nov 17, 2009 at 02:01 AM
phuang3
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p.1 #15 · Zeiss ZF 100/2.0 versus Leica Summicron APO ASPH 90/2.0


Maximilian wrote:
You should be aware that the Leica Apo 90, while a fantastic lens at medium and long distance, shows a massive quality loss at typical portrait distance of 1m to 3m: the lens doesn't have floating elements and it really shows.
The problem is in my opinion not so much in the fact that the picture at wide open at close becomes soft (which in some instances can even be pleasant to some) but in the high amount of focus shift you have as you stop down, which makes a precise selection of the focus plane at apertures other than
...Show more


The 90 APO should have implemented the floating element, but Leica decided not to do that. I guess it was the 100 APO made the 90 APO not that great at close up. Yet, I found most of my portrait shot do not require f2, but f5.6 and up. Starting from f/2.8, the 90 APO is very sharp from MFD to infinity. For artistic work, f2 may be useful, but for commercial, most clients just don't like shallow DOF, especially when there are expensive background setups or laborious make ups.



Nov 18, 2009 at 01:49 PM
Conner999
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p.1 #16 · Zeiss ZF 100/2.0 versus Leica Summicron APO ASPH 90/2.0


Tis apparently. Had my doubts as well and actually called Canada's largest Leica service shop to ask if true or folklore when I was shopping for one. Apparently it's true. More 'normal' lenses, no worries, but lenses like the 90AA, be it due to the elements involved or more likely the tight tolerances, have to go back to Leica if you want to ensure the best before & after performance. They wouldn't touch one - and indicated any reputable Leica shop should refuse as well. Lloyd Chambers had his 90 AA serviced in Solms for same reason (albeit with a quicker turn around than most people tend to see for obvious PR reasons).

Just something to bear in mind - Solms is not known for fast (measure time in weeks and sometimes months) nor efficient service AND it is not unheard of to have lenses come back even from Leica not quite as stellar as they were before they went in and have to go back.

In short - CLAs on lenses like the 90AA should only be done if REALLY needed and if you can afford to be without it for awhile.

My copy was a great performer with no issues, but I wanted to make an informed decision BEFORE I bought it.

As prior poster indicated, the 90AA is very nice at F2, but it really lives up to it's rep at 2.8+. My copy of the 100 ZF was universally sharp starting WO at MFD - but focusing it was like stirring cement. Intolerable. That said, if they come out with a ZE version and I can find a smooth unit, I'd be tempted to re-acquire one for portrait-distance shallow DoF work; but at the expected price, I'd probably replace my 100 APO Macro (what a lens..) instead with and gain true APO performance at the expense of a stop. In the mean time my M645 120/4 A macro just rocks.

TWoK wrote:
I really don't see how that can be the case. There are plenty of complicated lenses out there and they largely come apart the same way.



Edited on Nov 18, 2009 at 04:56 PM · View previous versions



Nov 18, 2009 at 04:43 PM
Frank-Starling
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p.1 #17 · Zeiss ZF 100/2.0 versus Leica Summicron APO ASPH 90/2.0


Concerning the portrait use of those lenses, I would certainly appreciate more comments on the use of following lenses:

- Zeiss ZF 100 F/2.0
- Leica Summicron 90 F/2.0
- Leica Summicron 90 F/2.0 APO ASPHERICAL (AA)
- Leica Summilux 80 F/1.4

So mainly use at relatively short distance (head and shoulders portraiture).
Experiences on sharpness, colourrendition, bokeh, ... are all welcome.
Also experiences concerning the results in partciular on Nikon, using the Leitax conversion.



Nov 18, 2009 at 04:50 PM
Conner999
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p.1 #18 · Zeiss ZF 100/2.0 versus Leica Summicron APO ASPH 90/2.0


You'll get 101 opinions and probably at least one argument, but having owned them all, from MY perspective:

- 100 ZF. Sharp starting WO, nice bokeh, poor CA and fringing control, Zeiss 3D effect, tight focus in come copies, very spendy given not APO and alternatives.
- 90/2. Bokeh king, classic 'Mandler glow' portrait lens, best of lot in terms of bang/buck. Ok at F2, but only gets VERY sharp in center at about 5.6. Older, neglected copies can have stiff focus.
- 90AA. Bokeh can be iffy, great APO performance, sharp at F2, VERY start starting at 2.8. Spendy. Smooth focusing.
- 80/1.4 - Picture larger 90/2 that gets razor sharp in center starting at 2.8 vs 5.6. Bokeh great, another Mandler classic, have gotten spendier. Best CA control I've seen from a NON APO lens that fast in roughly that FL.


Only used on Canon. If I were to rank them for me given I shoot same type of stuff you're suggesting:

- 80mm, 90/2, 90AA & 100 ZF tied.


That said, I currently use a $175 M645 80/1.9 for that work and LOVE it. Just goes to show ;>



Nov 18, 2009 at 05:06 PM
olyacme
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p.1 #19 · Zeiss ZF 100/2.0 versus Leica Summicron APO ASPH 90/2.0


Conner999 wrote:
Tis apparently. Had my doubts as well and actually called Canada's largest Leica service shop to ask if true or folklore when I was shopping for one. Apparently it's true. More 'normal' lenses, no worries, but lenses like the 90AA, be it due to the elements involved or more likely the tight tolerances, have to go back to Leica if you want to ensure the best before & after performance.


There is some rationale for this. Tilts of spherical ground surfaces have a much less damaging effect than tilts of aspherical surfaces. It's possible that the most exotic designs require optical collimation during assembly for best performance, while a conventional lens can afford a little slop before performance is measurably degraded.



Nov 19, 2009 at 01:32 AM
Wilfredo
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p.1 #20 · Zeiss ZF 100/2.0 versus Leica Summicron APO ASPH 90/2.0


Leica bokeh is very different, softer and creamier. I recently purchased a used 90mm Elmarit and I'm really enjoying it. It was relatively inexpensive. I also have an 85mm Zeiss which I really love. You might want to keep your lens and pick-up an Elmarit. I like it but can't give you an elaborate technical reason why. Here's a simple portrait I did with a Digital Rebel T1i and the Elmarit @ f2.8, and a seagull portrait with the Elmarit on a 5D II.

www.BenitezRivera.com












Nov 19, 2009 at 05:04 AM
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