Planar vs. Sonnar vs. Planar
/forum/topic/1095523/2

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

The problem here is that most people recommending the Sonnar haven't even tried it. It's NOT "as sharp as any good lens at f/5.6" and the rendering is nothing like other Zeiss lenses. I would never guess it was a Zeiss if I didn't know it.

Maybe it works for portraits on FF, but I don't see much use for it on APS-C. It's too soft wide open and DOF is too deep at f/2.8, while corners are still unsharp.

If the Planar ZF is "demanding", this is a hundred times worse. Very limited use for the price and I can't recommend it for anything but portraits really, which I never ever shoot.



JonasY
Registered: Aug 25, 2008
Total Posts: 416
Country: Sweden

There is a ZM50 for sale at fotosidan (in Sthlm) for a nice price. I would have bought it personally if I wasn't a bit short on cash atm, will have to wait a bit before I have the funds (I got a pleasant surprise when I realised how much I will get paid for my master thesis but those are due later this spring/summer). I have also been considering the Sonnar, as I intend to use it mainly for portraits, but 0.9m MFD and this thread turns me off ...

How does the Summicron 50/2 compare to the Planar? More expensive but not completely unreasonable (used ofc).



michaelwatkins
Registered: Oct 08, 2011
Total Posts: 1688
Country: Canada

I see a lot of shots that look great coming through the Sonnar. I do take portraits and also like a moody looking subject isolated from a landscape or what have you too, which is why I veered towards the Sonnar in the first place. But I also tend to like lenses with less rather than more field curvature for versatility. I don't want to own both. My GXR bag is getting heavy enough as is.

Has anyone ever done a comparison of both lenses against the same, varied, subjects. At different focus distances and apertures?

Lots of nice Sonnar shots again. This thread is doing absolutely nothing to help me in deciding. I have had a Sonnar on order from last fall but always wondered if I should change my order and go with the Planar instead.

Step it up guys! ;D



edwardkaraa
Registered: Sep 27, 2004
Total Posts: 7153
Country: Thailand

michaelwatkins wrote:
I see a lot of shots that look great coming through the Sonnar. I do take portraits and also like a moody looking subject isolated from a landscape or what have you too, which is why I veered towards the Sonnar in the first place. But I also tend to like lenses with less rather than more field curvature for versatility. I don't want to own both. My GXR bag is getting heavy enough as is.

Has anyone ever done a comparison of both lenses against the same, varied, subjects. At different focus distances and apertures?

Lots of nice Sonnar shots again. This thread is doing absolutely nothing to help me in deciding. I have had a Sonnar on order from last fall but always wondered if I should change my order and go with the Planar instead.

Step it up guys! ;D


Michael, IMHO the Planar is the way to go. The Sonnar is more of an option when you need something more artistic. Many RF users own both actually, but the Planar is the "mainstream" choice if you like.



sebboh
Registered: Nov 02, 2009
Total Posts: 10067
Country: United States

edwardkaraa wrote:
Michael, IMHO the Planar is the way to go. The Sonnar is more of an option when you need something more artistic. Many RF users own both actually, but the Planar is the "mainstream" choice if you like.


agreed, get the sonnar if you have a more traditional lens in a similar focal length (40mm?), otherwise your better off with a less specialized lens like the planar.



CVickery
Registered: May 14, 2004
Total Posts: 2564
Country: Canada

I have both at the moment. The Planar is a very nice lens...lots of Zeiss character. I recently picked up a Sonnar, precisely because it has a different look. I haven't shot either lens enough to form a much of an opinion on them, but the initial impression is that the Planar will be for sale soon (it actually was already, but I decided to send it for a CLA first). Some of this is due to the crop (M8 1.3x), I have other 'mainstream' lenses that give me what I want for normal, and wide. At 65mm equivalent, I'm looking for something different. YMMV



michaelwatkins
Registered: Oct 08, 2011
Total Posts: 1688
Country: Canada

I have the CV75 f/2.5 which has a less punchy look to it than my ZM18, 25, and 35/2, and certainly doesn't have the same characteristics as the Sonnar 50. I prefer the crisper overall look of the ZM's to the CV75, and keep contemplating selling the CV75 because of it.

I don't find the Biogons or the 18mm Distagon overly punchy at all, I just like how they render colour. Based on how I get on with the other ZMs probably I would prefer the Planar overall and if going that way could perhaps then justify keeping the CV75 as something different. That's probably a cheaper alternative than going with the Sonnar 50 and a Zeiss or Leica 85 or 90.

Would I miss having f/1.5 max aperture in a 50mm?

Hmnn.

No doubt Rich will come back with another nice shot, as he seems to have an endless supply, that will leave me wondering again.



aleksanderpolo
Registered: Jan 18, 2010
Total Posts: 880
Country: United States

There are too many lens that are similar to Planar with minor performance differences, Nokton, M-Hex, to name a few. But the look of Sonnar for portrait is different, gentle to the skin, modern coating, a kind of 3D look with round object without being harsh. So it is on my "do not sell" list while I can comfortably swap a Nokton with Planar or M-Hex without missing any lens in particular. But if you don't shoot portrait, there is little reason to keep it.



edwardkaraa
Registered: Sep 27, 2004
Total Posts: 7153
Country: Thailand

michaelwatkins wrote:

Would I miss having f/1.5 max aperture in a 50mm?



I asked myself this question when I was making the same decision. I have no hesitation shooting the Planar wide open, and in fact, I do it all the time. In order to get rid of the veiling haze, the Sonnar has to be shot at f/2.8 or smaller. So practically the Sonnar is a f/2.8 unless one is looking specifically for that dreamy rendering.



CVickery
Registered: May 14, 2004
Total Posts: 2564
Country: Canada

Here are a couple of shots that I took with the Sonnar, wide open and close to mfd. No artistic merit...just trying to see OOF rendering. (processed in LR4)



edwardkaraa
Registered: Sep 27, 2004
Total Posts: 7153
Country: Thailand

Nice shots, Cal! They show very well the strengths of the Sonnar.



douglasf13
Registered: Apr 09, 2008
Total Posts: 5926
Country: United States

aleksanderpolo wrote:
There are too many lens that are similar to Planar with minor performance differences, Nokton, M-Hex, to name a few. But the look of Sonnar for portrait is different, gentle to the skin, modern coating, a kind of 3D look with round object without being harsh. So it is on my "do not sell" list while I can comfortably swap a Nokton with Planar or M-Hex without missing any lens in particular. But if you don't shoot portrait, there is little reason to keep it.


Agreed. Everyone must remember that this lens is an updated version of a lens from the 30s, and, while it may be a little sharper than the vintage version, as the design is slightly different, it's the updated coatings that really separates them. I use a ZM 35/2 on NEX for my sharp, corner to corner, Planar-like, standard lens on NEX, and the C-Sonnar is more of a people lens, unless one wants a more "classic" rendering to their landscapes and such, or if one is shooting a scene that has various objects at different planes, because the lens is sharp when actually focused into the corners. The C-Sonnar has a unique OOF character compared to my other lenses, which is great for a 75mm equivalent lens, IMO. If I was shooting an M9 or film camera, I'd likely be using the 50 Planar...or maybe both.

If you want a sharper wide open 50/1.4 rangefinder lens, you've either gotta go Summilux ASPH, or Nokton 50/1.5, although, interestingly, on the 5N, the ZM 50/1.5 is actually sharper than the Nokton 50/1.5 in the corners past wide open, if you actually focus into the corners. The ZM just has so much field curvature that it isn't good for flat field subjects until f5.6, and then it still isn't great. For whatever reason, I've never warmed to my Notkon 50/1.5, and I've been meaning to sell it forever.



douglasf13
Registered: Apr 09, 2008
Total Posts: 5926
Country: United States

JonasY wrote:
There is a ZM50 for sale at fotosidan (in Sthlm) for a nice price. I would have bought it personally if I wasn't a bit short on cash atm, will have to wait a bit before I have the funds (I got a pleasant surprise when I realised how much I will get paid for my master thesis but those are due later this spring/summer). I have also been considering the Sonnar, as I intend to use it mainly for portraits, but 0.9m MFD and this thread turns me off ...

How does the Summicron 50/2 compare to the Planar? More expensive but not completely unreasonable (used ofc).


Hi, Jonas. You've got to check out a Hawk's helicoid adapter. It significantly shortens the mfd on your M lenses.



michaelwatkins
Registered: Oct 08, 2011
Total Posts: 1688
Country: Canada

I'm more than passively interested in this subject so have been looking around this evening for example images from both ZM50 variants.

EDITS include new links.

ZM 50mm f/2 Planar

ZeissImages.com includes some photographs made by FM members.
http://zeissimages.com/standardgallery.php?lenstype=321&showall

Street portraits, India; this person's blog contains quite a few shots with the ZM50/2 albeit on a M9 so the depth of field difference at any given aperture will be... different. Here's one post containing a few with the ZM 50/2 Planar:
http://www.hendralauw.com/2011/09/waiting-for-customers/

Flickr groups, 50/2 Planar:
http://www.flickr.com/groups/zeissikon50mm/
http://www.flickr.com/groups/86731438@N00/pool/tags/ZeissPlanar50mmf2.0

Rangefinderforum.com 50/2 Planar image thread:
http://www.rangefinderforum.com/forums/showthread.php?threadid=98280w

ZM 50mm f/1.5 C Sonnar
http://zeissimages.com/standardgallery.php?lenstype=322&showall

Flickr group, 50/1.5 Sonnar
http://www.flickr.com/groups/zeissikon50mm-c/

Decisions, decisions.



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

Right now it looks like I'm buying a Contax 45/2 Planar as well, and then I can decide later if I'm gonna keep the Sonnar or not. I really want to like it, so maybe I just need some practice. But for my standard "flat abstracts" I still need something else and that could be the Contax.

Edit: I'm also considering how these lenses will perform on a future FF camera, which probably will make the Sonnar more justice. The ZF Planar on the other hand, is up for sale. Not that I don't like it but it's unnecessarily large compared to the ZM offerings.



zhangyue
Registered: Jan 28, 2011
Total Posts: 2649
Country: United States

Donít have time to post during weekend. BUT, Is it Sonnar a f1.5 lens, so I am not sure there is a choice if you want low light and isolation, ZM Planar won't work. I reread my comment about Sonnar, looks pretty negative, I think I should rephrase it:

For people or subject lens, this is wonderful. Sharp enough for me. I donít think there is any Haze with it, at least minimal PP will fix it if you have high standard than I. Actually, I'd love to see a sharper lens at f1.4 than sonnar other than 50lux. Examples ? There are no much choice if you demand f1.4 in M size.

Below is close to 100% crop, maybe 80-90%. To give you an idea wide open performance. Flickr give me some problem when loading picture yesterday, I have to use 90% quality setting to be able to upload, otherwise it give me oversize error message. It is sharp enough for my standard.







This is f1.5 at MFD no crop to give you an idea how it will rendering DOF







And this is f2.8, I think it has lovely rendering. Definitely has better OOF rendering than my 50 rigid at f2, I havenít have chance to try Rigid at f2.8 for portrait yet.







For landscape, it is good, but not very special, I don't feel it excel in micro contrast or sharpness. This is the portion I feel it shot compare to ZF P50, for given price $750 vs $1100, it is over priced, or P50 is a bargain for whatever your take. It is rangefinder coupled, so you pay a premium for it without using M system.

I took this shot on my way to work. Hand hold at f5.6. This may not very scientific, but you can compare the center to side and corner performance relatively. Again, I have some problem with my Flickr yesterday. So all these are at 90% setting. Sharpness:50, pix:0.5, detail:50, fade:25

Whole image:





Center





Right side





Left side





Right bottom





Left bottom






There might be wind cause the left bottom grass more blur. But you can see the selling point of this lens is f1.5 fast glass with good Zeiss color and POP. It can be a wonderful tool for capable photographer to get wonderful image. But IMO, It is not shine on Landscape shot. Though, at web display, I challenge anyone can see the difference at up to 1600x1600.

Based on MTF of ZM P50, it has soft corner as well at FF. So if you need speed and rendering for people, seems choice is clear: Sonnar.


aleksanderpolo
Registered: Jan 18, 2010
Total Posts: 880
Country: United States

I like the 45G, hate focusing it on adapter, there is always some play as I focus back and forth, very imprecise feeling. So I would rather pay more and get a ZM, but it's just me.



edwardkaraa
Registered: Sep 27, 2004
Total Posts: 7153
Country: Thailand

I'm sorry zhangyue but your lens seems to be decentered. You better take a few test shots just to make sure.



zhangyue
Registered: Jan 28, 2011
Total Posts: 2649
Country: United States

edwardkaraa wrote:
I'm sorry zhangyue but your lens seems to be decentered. You better take a few test shots just to make sure.

Might be the case, I will exam more image once I have chance. The left side seems having noticeable more blur if it is not due to my hand holding.



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

Thanks for the example! Is that on FF or APS-C? I get even worse results on my NEX, so then mine is decentered too. But I really don't think so since all corners are equally unsharp.



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