Planar vs. Sonnar vs. Planar
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Makten
Registered: Jul 14, 2008
Total Posts: 4042
Country: Sweden

I want a Zeiss 50 mm lens for my NEX but I have a hard time deciding on which. I currently own the ZF 50/1.4 Planar which I really loved on the D700, but I haven't tried it on APS-C yet and I suspect it could be a tad too soft wide open. It'll also be a bit too large with an adapter on the tiny 5N.

So, then we have the two ZM offerings; Planar 50/2 and Sonnar 50/1.5. The Planar seems great, but I'm afraid it could be a bit too "neutral" since I like the ZF so much. The Sonnar on the other hand, is maybe not at all like the ZF.

Anyone who owns two or three of these and can say something about the bokeh at ~3-5 meters distance? I don't care for bokeh for closeups, and that's sort of all you can find on the net. What I want is the übersmooth background that the ZF Planar can produce when you back off a bit. Especially the low contrast in the blur is desirable and that's something I haven't seen in any other lens.

This is stopped down to f/3.5 but I'm sure you can see what I'm talking about. The background just melts!







philber
Registered: May 21, 2008
Total Posts: 7344
Country: France

Martin, I owned a ZM 50 on my NEX 5. A superlative lens, and a Planar design. So, while it is übersharp and contrasty, there is stil (IMHO) this planar-ness that I love, but more puted than in the ZE/ZF 50P. It is not as in-your-face, for example, as the remarkable Contax 45 G, which can take on a sort of makro-look at times. Bokeh can be a bit jumpy at wide apertures and close range. Actually, I am half-considering getting one again, even though I have a G 45.
But, in your case, the Sonnar could be more attractive. You should ask Luka (denoir), he has one.



cbcbell
Registered: Jan 18, 2004
Total Posts: 27
Country: United States

This was just posted yesterday on Bjorn Utpott's blog:

http://www.bmupix.com/journal/2012/3/16/carl-zeiss-c-sonnar-t-50mm-f15-zm.html

Interesting that he characterizes the rendering of the Sony e-mount 50/1.8 as "clinical," and went for the Sonnar as something with its own character.



bluetsunami
Registered: Sep 03, 2008
Total Posts: 1151
Country: United States

I haven't tried it first hand but here are some mid-distance photos of the Sonnar pulled off of Flickr...

http://www.flickr.com/photos/47567413@N03/6121087761/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/wendine/3303250925/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/iainmac/1429152505/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/the_wrath_of_khan/5372559234/

Like the ZF/ZE Planar it seems to be very jittery when shot wide open but calms down when stopped down. I believe even Zeiss state that the design intent behind the lens allows for a slow and even blur transition.



douglasf13
Registered: Apr 09, 2008
Total Posts: 5896
Country: United States

I just posted this in another thread with the Sonnar.

http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/860134/505#10447358



Mike Tuomey
Registered: Jul 23, 2005
Total Posts: 2826
Country: United States

I have the 50 planar and c-sonnar, using them on film and digi M-bodies. I'll have to look thru my files for samples, will try to post later. The sonnar has especially nice bokeh from f2.8-f4, while the planar is excellent wide open, and really at any aperture. The planar is usually on my film M with delta 100, the sonnar on my M9 for lower light and people shooting.

When I want consistency I prefer the planar. But I shoot the sonnar 80% of the time

Planar (on film):


20110831-002-Web by Mike Tuomey, on Flickr


20110315-003-Web by Mike Tuomey, on Flickr


20110831-001-2-Web by Mike Tuomey, on Flickr

Sonnar (digi):


20100131002_edited-1-w by Mike Tuomey, on Flickr


20110709-056-Web by Mike Tuomey, on Flickr


20110709-059-Web by Mike Tuomey, on Flickr



edwardkaraa
Registered: Sep 27, 2004
Total Posts: 7132
Country: Thailand

Mike, very nice shots! I think I've already seen some of them.

I have the ZM 50 P and have owned the ZS 50 P for over a year.

To put it in a simple (over simplified maybe) way, the drawing style of the ZM 50 P is related to that of the Z* 50 MP while the drawing style the ZM 50 S is more related to that of the Z* 50 P.



redisburning
Registered: Jul 16, 2011
Total Posts: 1094
Country: United States

I have found my zm planar to be very consistent; that is to say I have never gotten a shot back and been surprised at the result which may or may not be a good thing.

this is the best I can offer given what you want to look at. sorry the background is a bit plain for most of the frame.


Untitled by redisburning, on Flickr



Makten
Registered: Jul 14, 2008
Total Posts: 4042
Country: Sweden

Thanks for all replies! I was very fast and grabbed a Sonnar a few hours ago, so I'll be back with some impressions later.



Gary Clennan
Registered: Mar 29, 2007
Total Posts: 4810
Country: Canada

I'm sure you will love the Sonnar. I have just about pulled the trigger on one many times...



Makten
Registered: Jul 14, 2008
Total Posts: 4042
Country: Sweden

Gary Clennan wrote:
I'm sure you will love the Sonnar. I have just about pulled the trigger on one many times...


I'm not so sure right now. It behaves very strange. Wide open, it's very soft but with a great bokeh, a "classic" look and uniform resolution across the APS-C frame. But once you begin to stop it down, the resolution in the corners drops significantly while the center gets bitingly sharp. This makes it unsuitable for planar objects at the same time as it's a tad too soft wide open. So I don't really see how to use it except for portraits and stuff with semi-shallow DOF.

More testing needs to be done of course. Here's one wide open, uncropped on the NEX-5N and I'd say it's about as sharp wide open on APS-C as the ZF planar is on FF. Which means that most people would be very disappointed.








Edit: 100% crop, and remember that this is equal to 36 mpix on FF...







sebboh
Registered: Nov 02, 2009
Total Posts: 10024
Country: United States

Makten wrote:
Gary Clennan wrote:
I'm sure you will love the Sonnar. I have just about pulled the trigger on one many times...


I'm not so sure right now. It behaves very strange. Wide open, it's very soft but with a great bokeh, a "classic" look and uniform resolution across the APS-C frame. But once you begin to stop it down, the resolution in the corners drops significantly while the center gets bitingly sharp. This makes it unsuitable for planar objects at the same time as it's a tad too soft wide open. So I don't really see how to use it except for portraits and stuff with semi-shallow DOF.

More testing needs to be done of course. Here's one wide open, uncropped on the NEX-5N and I'd say it's about as sharp wide open on APS-C as the ZF planar is on FF. Which means that most people would be very disappointed.


i think the planar is a much better choice for your high contrast everything in focus abstracts. from what i've seen the the c-sonnar never gets really sharp in the corners on aps-c. it's a fun lens with a very unique look though.



douglasf13
Registered: Apr 09, 2008
Total Posts: 5896
Country: United States

Wait, are you saying your Sonnar is sharper in the corners wide open than it is at f5.6?? Mine certainly isn't Planar sharp at the edges, but it's not THAT bad. Certainly better than the Nokton 35/1.4 at the corners, FWIW, although both of them have field curvature, and focusing a little past infinity improves the corners.

Either way, if I need corner to corner sharpness, I shoot the ZM 35/2 (or maybe my new Contax G 45.) The Sonnar is for people shots and general "vibey-ness," for lack of a better term. Of course, at f5.6, I'm not totally opposed to shooting flat field subjects with it, and it should be mostly fine at my 13x19 print size, but there are certainly better options for that type of thing.

The C-Sonnar has what Zeiss calls "round" sharpness. I spend most of my time shooting it in the f2-2.8 range, which seems a nice combination of sharpness and bokeh for people shots.



Makten
Registered: Jul 14, 2008
Total Posts: 4042
Country: Sweden

sebboh wrote:i think the planar is a much better choice for your high contrast everything in focus abstracts.

Probably, but maybe that's a good reason to shoot something else for a while.

douglasf13 wrote:
Wait, are you saying your Sonnar is sharper in the corners wide open than it is at f5.6?? Mine certainly isn't Planar sharp at the edges, but it's not THAT bad. Certainly better than the Nokton 35/1.4 at the corners, FWIW, although both of them have field curvature, and focusing a little past infinity improves the corners.


Haven't tried that much, but it's A LOT sharper in the corners at f/1.4 than at f/2.8. You can see that it's blur discs too, so it's probably just curvature of field.
My 35/1.4 Nokton was the same on Leica M8. Just unusable stopped down but quite nice wide open when it came to corner performance.

Either way, if I need corner to corner sharpness, I shoot the ZM 35/2 (or maybe my new Contax G 45.) The Sonnar is for people shots and general "vibey-ness," for lack of a better term. Of course, at f5.6, I'm not totally opposed to shooting flat field subjects with it, and it should be mostly fine at my 13x19 print size, but there are better options for that.

Yeah, I'll try to take it for what it is. But it's a bit annoying if you get mushy corners even well stopped down. I guess I'll have to bring the Summicron-C 40/2 for that, which is dead sharp at f/2.8 and on but awful wide open ("Leica glow" ).

The C-Sonnar has what Zeiss calls "round" sharpness.

I think this is the least "Zeissy" Zeiss lens I've tried so far. Could as well have been an old Nikon or so. Nothing bad with that, but it wasn't really what I expected.



Rich M
Registered: Jul 15, 2002
Total Posts: 258
Country: United States

Actually, I fid the Sonnar to be pretty versatile, even on an APS-C. The first two shots are classic wide open Sonnar......the third is at f/8.





















R



douglasf13
Registered: Apr 09, 2008
Total Posts: 5896
Country: United States

Gotcha. Yeah, past wide open, you've got some pretty major field curvature to deal with. By f5.6-8, the dof makes up for it, mostly, but it's not perfect. The lens could do some interesting things in a scene with a lot of dimension, but it sounds like you need the 50/2.



douglasf13
Registered: Apr 09, 2008
Total Posts: 5896
Country: United States

Rich, that shot at the beach is wonderful.



philber
Registered: May 21, 2008
Total Posts: 7344
Country: France

douglasf13 wrote:
Rich, that shoot at the beach is wonderful.


+1



Makten
Registered: Jul 14, 2008
Total Posts: 4042
Country: Sweden

This is a bit scary, because I have no idea of what to use this lens for. It's obviously good, but awful for the things I usually shoot. And it's bloody expensive too!

The Hawks adapter allows for some interesting closeups.

f/1.5...








f/2.8...








Tripod? Nah, I could have used any generic cheapo 50/1.8.

f/1.5...








f/5.6...








But at the same time there can be magic at times even with full DOF.

f/1.5...








I'll probably end up selling it for a Planar instead, but tomorrow I will play some more.


Rich M
Registered: Jul 15, 2002
Total Posts: 258
Country: United States

philber wrote:
douglasf13 wrote:
Rich, that shoot at the beach is wonderful.


+1


Thank you both.



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