Both Leica and Zeiss chose this day for their press events. Here's a summary, all from my point of view of course...
ZE is for EOS.
There’s a PDF with some stories here.
Zeiss’ ZE have the same optics as the ZF lenses, plus electronic communication and minus aperture rings. All metering modes are supported, only focus remains manual. The 1.4/85 is also prettier in EF mount. ;^)
It’ll take a while before all the ZF lenses are available in ZE. At first they’re launching with only the 1.4/50 and 1.4/85. Not the best picks IMO, and that’s probably a pass at the Japanese market. If you’re interested in ZE optics you should wait for the 2/35, 2/50 and 2/100 to come out and get one or more of those.
Or not wait, and just get the ZFs on adapter rings. This is something that’s on mind right now. The ZEs could never be fitted to mount on anything else than an EOS camera, first due to the shallow and wide mount, and second to the fact that only EOS cameras speak EOS-an. In comparison the ZFs can be fitted onto virtually any mount with cheap adapter rings, and they do not suffer electronic problems by virtue of having no electronics. So someone shooting ZFs is really free to migrate between body systems over the decades that these lenses will serve. Food for thought.
The Distagon 2.8/21 is coming back!
This is the biggest news today in my book.
Currently only revealed in this article in German. Should cost approx 1500$ when it gets here in 2009. Add this one to the short list of “must haves” (for a Zeiss fan) above. The probability that I will get one is approx 100%.
4/85 Tele-Tessar T* ZM.
In that same article they also announced a 4/85 rangefinder lens, an obvious missing piece of their Zeiss Ikon set. Now they offer a clear choice of alternatives to Leica for every focal length: the 2.8/21, 2/35, 2/50 and now 4/85 are all price/value winners. If only they had a digital version of the Ikon camera…
Now the Leica news :^/
So there’s a “new” camera, called M8.2, and it’s basically irrelevant. They changed the red dot to a black dot, and the paint is more durable now (*correction: it's durable paint instead of black chrome, collect them all*).
Here’s an eye chart that the Leica-users forum put together...
Standing out is that 50mm f/0.95 Noctilux-M ASPH, listed >$10K. A trophy lens really, there’s no practical reason for it, since the best way to get a solid 2 extra stops of performance would be to fix the M8’s sensor. It’s not like the M8’s rangefinder base is actually long enough to accurately focus f/0.95 anyway. Ironically it’s the 55-yr old M3 that will do best with this lens, and 400ASA B&W film is perfect for that f/0.95 aperture.
It’ll be interesting to see if this is based on a super-sized 50mm Summilux-M ASPH. I expect these two are closely related, and so I don’t think this is Leica really flexing their muscle today.
Next are the 21mm & 24mm f/1.4 Summilux-M ASPH. Now the 21mm is interesting because it’s something we’ve never seen before, I don’t think. This is where I think Leica is making a loud and clear statement: they have the technical ability and the design talent to pull it off, to their quality standard no less. Can’t wait to look at the charts for these.
Finally the other lens on the right above is the “populist” appeal, it’s the 24mm f/3.8 Elmar-M, priced just under $2K. I don't really get the point of this lens, from a customer's perspective. It’s bracketed by potentially better choices on either side: there’s already an excellent 28mm f/2.8 Elmarit-M ASPH for 1800$ and the top-of-its-class Zeiss 21mm f/2.8 Biogon T* ZM that sells for 1100$. The new lens would need never-before-seen MTF to be competitive, IMO.
I wasn’t hoping to see any new lenses from Leica, personally. I wanted to see a new camera with an okay sensor and lower price – something you could pair up to the 28mm f/2.8 Elmarit-M ASPH for about $4~5K total. Hey I'm not asking for "cheap", just "competitive", or is this too much to ask?
Zeiss is firing on all cylinders. ZE will rake in good money, and the Distagon 21 is going to feel like the second coming for a whole class of photographers...
Leica plays to their base with a classic from the Leica book. Although I'm very critical of this move, it's probably going to net them reasonable money from their audience.