Upload & Sell: Off
Edward, I really like the goat and roofline images above! Your images from Lebanon are also very well done, both the city/landscape shots and those of your family. It's very interesting to see daily life there, as typically all one hears about Lebanon in the media is related to armed conflicts, so I must admit my perception is quite skewed. Great to see it's quite different from that perception. And as Joe commented, there does seem to be some wealth there!
Sorry for the extended absence guys... just been busy and trying to fit in time to review the Voigtlander 21/1.8, process the images and write it all up! And so many posts since my last here, therefore sorry for not commenting on those.
So, about the Voigtlander 21/1.8.... here's the link to the review on my site: http://www.ronscheffler.com/techtalk/?page_id=130
For those interested in comparison images from the four lenses, full resolution download links are towards the bottom of the page. For those not inclined to read thousands of words (I've included a few photos to break the monotony ), there is a brief 'executive summary' at the beginning.
Overall, after only one week of use (so take it with a grain of salt, I suppose) my feeling is the new Voigtlander 21/1.8 is an excellent value and is quite close to the two Leica 21s. When there is a difference in favor of the Leicas, it's generally not by much.
Will I be selling my 21 Lux? I'm not inclined to do so just yet, but the same can be said for the Voigtlander. I'm pleasantly surprised with it and would like to get to know it better before deciding whether or not to let it go. On the chopping block though is the ZM21...
And because I know Joe wants to know.... No, the 21/1.8 is not as good at blurring backgrounds as the 21 Lux, but is a bit better than the ZM21/2.8. Because the 21/1.8 can focus to 50cm, if done so, background blur will be as much, if not slightly more, than the 21 Lux focused to its minimum focusing distance of 70cm. While it might be obvious that an f/1.8 lens won't blur the background as much as an f/1.4 lens, it's not quite that simple. There isn't all that much of a difference between the two when comparing background blur in the center of the frame. But, as one moves towards the edges/corner, the difference between the two becomes quite apparent. This is due to differences in field curvature characteristics. The 21 Lux has a pretty flat plane of focus. Actually, if something is in focus at the center of the frame, if it's parallel to the sensor plane and extends to the edge of the image, that edge area will also be in focus, at f/1.4, which is pretty impressive. The 21/1.8 on the other hand, performs similarly to many rangefinder wides. It has field curvature that bends away from the camera towards infinity, progressively from the center of the frame to the corners. What this means is out of focus elements towards the edges and corners are not blurred to the same degree as the 21 Lux because they're not as far away from the plane of focus. Another difference is that the 21/1.8 exhibits greater edge definition in out of focus areas, whereas the 21 Lux shares Summilux bokeh characteristics: neutral gaussian blur, or at least as well as a 21mm lens can create such neutral blur. Out of focus edge definition is not as distinct, resulting in an impression of greater, smoother blur.
There was also the question of whether the ZM21/2.8 compares favorably against the 21 SEM... Stopped down beyond f/5.6 it's difficult to notice much difference in sharpness. Where there might be some difference is in rendering. i.e. Zeiss-style vs. Leica-style, but I didn't really test to compare this (and how would one do so 'correctly' anyway?
This test also confirmed by belief that the 21 Lux is best used at f/1.4-2.0 and f/8-11. For certain applications where non-central image sharpness is required, or if placing the main subject off center in the f/2-8-5.6 range, it's outclassed by the other lenses, especially the 21/1.8 and 21 SEM. It would not be a good choice for 'landscape' work at middle apertures. In light of this, if you need a fast 21mm, but also want one that works 'normally' at middle apertures for off center details that you need properly sharp, then the 21/1.8 is the one to get. Otherwise, the best combo is the 21 Lux and 21 SEM, but at nearly 10x greater cost. In any case, no one lens is clearly superior over the others. Each has class leading aspects and the one that's right for you will depend on what features you value most.
Let me know if you have any questions or if I missed any points you'd like covered in the review.