PHOTOOG Photography writings by Olivier Giroux


Convolutions of the Mind

I've radically changed some aspects of my photographic worldview over the last few days.

I've come to terms with the idea that Zeiss ZE is almost certainly for EOS, and that the 5D Mk-II (or 7D, or...?) is almost certainly going to raise the bar to the same extent the 5D did years ago. After all the wishing it not be so, I think nobody ever really surpasses Canon at sensor design.

Sean Reid's excellent review of the D700 puts that camera much closer to the older 5D than I had anticipated. I had expected some kind of clear lead, but what's there is faint to say the least. In the end Reid's review is making a really good case for 1Ds Mk-III being in a league of its own (Lloyd Chambers demonstrates as well, here too). This is the league I expect the 5D Mk-II will join, and to bring one better, i.e. basically just adding gapless microlenses to the excellent Canon 21.1MP sensor.

This (would, in theory?) upset my worldview because it's clear to me that there is more imaging quality to be got there than by combining Zeiss ZFs with the D700, which was my plan up until now. The existing ZF lenses on the 1Ds Mk-III produce more impressive images than they do on the D3.

People close to me were shocked, to say the least, that after... after the messianic D700 finally got here... that I would speak openly of maybe switching systems. I reassured them that I wasn't going to leave the F-mount, but that I may embrace the Canon technology. What does that mean?

It turns out that a ZF lens on an F-to-EOS adapter ring is about as functional as the same ZF lens is on an F body, and probably similar to a ZE lens (in theory). It's also the case that the ZF on an adapter is a lot more future-proof than a ZE lens is, because the latter could never be fitted to anything else but the EOS mount. So by continuing on my current journey, switching to full-manual and expanding my piece of the ZF line, I'm actually freeing myself from a specific camera system and opening up to a real choice among bodies.

So we'll see... there's no point in talking about switching until there's a product out there, but if the right product comes along then I might in fact buy a Canon body.

I hate how everything stacks up on the 15th. It's annoying. I would have preferred a spread over the week... ...

Comments (4) Trackbacks (0)
  1. Have you been watching the “moon”?
    its been shining more and more light on the camera. Apparently the press release is the 17th, cant come fast enough (along with Zeiss on the 15th)

    As per your questions,

  2. It is not clear to me what functionality is missing when using a ZF lens on a Canon body (with adaptor). What do we have there and what not? Can we for example use aperture priority?

  3. Hey JC, yeah I’ve been watching the moon. Launch the product already so I can consider ordering it!!! ;^)

    Anonymous, the difference between using a ZF on a Nikon body or a Canon body is very small. Neither bodies will do shutter-priority or program-auto. Both bodies can do manual and aperture priority, with matrix/pattern metering, and including flash metering. So there’s a lot of functionality here.

    The first negative difference is that you are effectively always in DOF-Preview on the Canon, you always see through whatever the current aperture is. You can either roll the aperture ring back and forth when you focus, or you live with it and focus at f/5.6 or whatever. If you shoot nearly wide-open in low light then it doesn’t really matter. If there’s lots of light it doesn’t really matter. If you’re in live view it doesn’t really matter… etc… I don’t see this as a big deal.

    The second negative difference is even less significant: the EXIF data will not say what lens was used. On a Nikon D3/D300/D700 you can teach the body what your lenses are and they will record that in the EXIF. Not a big deal either way.

    There is a chance that the Zeiss ZE lenses will be more functional however. Because the mount has to be fully electronic, I would expect all metering modes to be available (add shutter and program). There is the odd chance you’ll see auto-focus too, though I wouldn’t bank on it.

    In the end I see ZF having a lot more future-proofing and that’s the killer feature for me. Looking around the web I can easily point you at a couple of photographers living happily with Zeiss lenses on their Canons today, and I’d be happy to follow their code.

  4. Olivier,

    Thanks for your very well documented answer on my earlier question.

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