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Zeiss 50mm f/1.4 Planar T*

50mm
Review Date: Jul 31, 2014 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,280.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Zeiss quality build. Great images. Easy to focus- long throw.
Cons:
A bit heavy in weight. But I can live with that in the long run. Expensive but the purchase can be rationalized.

I have good access to quite a few primes in the 50mm range - Takumar SMC (1.4 and 1.8), Canon EF (1.4, 1.8 and macro), Cosina 1.4, Mamiya 1.8 , Pentacon 1.8, Yashica DSM (1.4 and 1.7) etc.
I have used them in various conditions - portrait, landscape and macro. I was reluctant to buy another 50mm but after reading the reviews of the Zeiss 50mm Macro, I decided to take the plunge and get one. 11 months later, I am not disappointed.
It is the heaviest of the lenses but definitely seems to be the best built of them. A great finish overall. Focus ring in nicely damped. The all metal lens hood is sturdy and all metal.
The images are great. Sharp out to the edges at all apertures. Minor chromatic aberration at F2 under certain circumstances but nothing worth complaining about. I have noted others say that it is soft at the edges at F2. I do not find this to be a major problem as it is not excessively soft - even at 100% viewing. I usually use the F2 - 4 for portraits and F8 - 16 for macro.
A great lens for macro (1:2), portraits and landscape. Definitely a lens that everyone should try.


 
Zeiss 50mm f/2 Makro-Planar T*

50macro
Review Date: Jul 31, 2014 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,280.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Easy to use. Great build - I can pass this lens to my grandchildren! Delivers as expected. Focus ring nicely damped. The images...... enough said.
Cons:
Cost - not a full negative but you get what you pay for. It is larger in size that most of the other 50mm macros that I have but its compacts to a smaller size for traveling.

Again, the good reviews this lens had prompted me to buy one to try. The lens feels solid like the old style Takumars and Canons, unlike many of the newer lenses with lots of plastic in them.
The focus ring is damped and to me has a nice solid feel to it. It does not shift when you are letting it go. The large angular rotation makes it easy to precisely focus on a target.
A maximum F2 aperture is great when using the lens for portraits but the F8, 11 and 16s are what I use for macro. Very minor chromatic aberration noticed at F2 - in situations where I believe that it would be hard to avoid.
No major bad points that I can find. I have had then lens for 9 months and it is a pleasure to use it.


 
Samyang 14mm f/2.8 IF ED UMC

Screen_Shot_2013-11-14_at_4_33_56_PM
Review Date: Jul 13, 2014 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: I got this lens on an impulse buy from a friend who bought it but was not sure if he liked it - he does buy a lot of gear. I must say that considering the price, it is an amazing lens. You have to live with manual focus but at this focal length, it is hard not to have things in focus. The focus ring is smooth and well damped. The long focus throw makes it easy to fine tune your focal point. As long as you are aware of it's shortcomings, I find it to be very useable for me. I have seen nothing else at this price point.
Cons:
Strong vignetting at 2.8 - 4 and the difficulty of using ND/Polarizing filters. the filter issue is a bog one for landscapes.



 
Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 Planar T*

85mm
Review Date: Dec 20, 2013 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Very good build, smooth focus, solid lens, amazing pictures
Cons:
Cost - but you do get what you pay for. Manual focusing - easy with live view or get a relevant focus screen

I bough this lens as my first Zeiss to see what all the fuss was about. My first image with the lens was of a flower that I had taken with other lenses - a Canon 100mm macro, 100mm Pentax, etc.. Needless to say, I saw what everyone was raving about and was struck with "Zeiss Acquisition Syndrome"!
All I can say is you have to try a Zeiss lens and compare it to your existing lenses. Got rid of all my other 85mm primes and I use the Zeiss unless conditions depict otherwise - like sports and moving objects.
Manual focus is relatively easy once you have live view or a suitable focus screen. Not as easy as pressing the button with an auto focus lens but it allows you to readily choose the feature you want to be sharpest. Just takes a little bit of practice.

Update July 31 2014 - By now, the novelty has worn off on getting a new lens. I have now owned this lens for a year. All I can say it that this lens continues to deliver amazing pictures. I do miss a shot every now and then but it now normal procedure to take two or three images in succession and look for the best one. Not much different that what I used to do using auto focus. I also find that due to the manual focus aspect, I now slow down and spend more time looking at the subject before taking pictures. The result is my keep rate is higher and my composition is better.


 
Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM

EF10-22
Review Date: Jun 13, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $720.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Some distortion when photographing items at a close distance but not noticeable for far off once. Allows me to take wide angle pictures in one shot where before I had to take panoramic ones and merger them together. Useful when waves/beach photos are involved.
Cons:
Costly for a non L lens but worth it to me. Will vignette when multiple filters are used at the 10-12mm end.

Got mine about 1 month ago for use on a 30D and 50D. It was sale at B&H during a Canon rebate program. Mainly chose it for the wide angle to use in lightning and landscape photography. Images are relatively sharp across the FOV - not as good as the 24mm L but very close. Variations are more noticeable in closeup shots and high contrast situations. When/if I shift to a full frame camera, I will be modifying this lens to fit.
One nice item was that it can use the same filters as the 24-70 and 70-200 F2.8 if you already have those in your kit.
It opened up a whole new aspect of landscape photography to me.