PHOTOOG Photography writings by Olivier Giroux


Time out

It’s been a long time since I’ve written for the blog. With PMA fast approaching I’m hoping to get started again.

A variety of things have happened since November 10th:

  1. The photo industry went to sleep. What a boring couple of months we just got. With Photokina in the 2nd half of the year, it might be boring for a while still.
  2. My future with Leica’s M9 went from inevitably-imminent to definitely-evitable. It was forcibly dropped off the radar. It’s the problem with such large numbers.
  3. As a side-effect of (2) I got tired of shooting film again. It’s considerably more work for generally worse results. Without an M9 dangling in front of the Ikon, the interest fizzled away.
  4. Back to the D700 now, marching to 20000 clicks soon. Also looking at that ZF 21mm Distagon T* seriously again. The 1.0 version, I don’t find the price premium of the 2.0 is justified.
  5. With my return to Nikon and reduced spending cap, I’m starting to get excited about the D700X rumors. I’ll be sorely tempted if we see 25MP and 1080p show up for less than half the price of an M9.

Let's hope for an interesting PMA despite Canon's skipping it.

Comments (14) Trackbacks (0)
  1. So glad you’re back. I got frightened that the ZF 2.0 versions would make the originals disappear faster. I rushed to get the 21mm. I love it.

  2. Good catch with your 21ZF, it’s fantastic. I’m also worried the ZF 1.0 stock will evaporate. I’m keeping an eye on that.

  3. Welcome back Oliver! I was eagerly awaiting more posts from you. It finally arrived.

    Sorry to hear about your reduced spending cap. and having to drop the M9. But the renewed interest for ZF lenses and Nikon might not be very bad… I am preparing for a wedding to be shot with my D300 and my ZF lenses and I must say I love the ZF’s more and more. They are fantastic!

    Anyway, keep us posted!

    • Hi mpve,

      It’s completely doable to shoot a wedding on ZFs. When I did it, I used the 21ZF about 60% of the time, the 35ZF about 20%, and the remaining fraction was split between the 100ZF and the 70-200VR.

      Renting the missing pieces proved to be invaluable. I used LensRentals.Com for this. I had a great experience.



  4. Olivier, didn’t you say in another post that shooting a whole wedding with manual focus was exhausting? That you rented the Nikon 24-70 f/2.8 for another event to save the effort? I appreciated your review of that lens but specifically how do you compare the experiences of focusing?

    I photograph children’s events a lot and simply don’t trust myself to move fast enough to manually focus. However, I find that I make plenty of mistakes with autofocus. I’m trying to decide to give manual focus a try. I’d rather be shooting all my pictures with Zeiss.

    • Hi Martha,

      An excellent question!

      The manual-focus ZFs can be tiring because your mind has to be on-task for the entire event. A modern wedding shoot lasts 12 hours. Eventually your brain wants you to stop looking for the placement of the plane of focus.

      The 24-70/2.8 is tiring in a different way: it’s large and heavy. It’s capable of the same ‘look’ in its images but it’s slightly more work – that can factor into what’s tiring to keep track of.

      At the end of the day I didn’t like the 24-70/2.8 very much. It’s a very-above-average lens that didn’t sell its look as being unique to me. I now know I will never own one.

      One possible $1700 question is then: what am I going to do the next time someone asks me to shoot a wedding? I’ll probably rent a 24-70/2.8 again. I might not shoot the entire wedding with it, but maybe as much as half of it.

      My advice to you Martha, personally, is to rent the 24-70/2.8 from a place like LensRentals.Com and decide for yourself if it’s a keeper. You could very well think so. Based on what you say, it might bring you more peace of mind than forearm pain.



      • Clarification: it just occurred to me that I mentioned lens rentals twice in the same thread… but I’m not affiliated with them in any way. I think it’s awesome to be able to rent this equipment and I had a good experience with them. It doesn’t matter to me who you rent from. Cheers.

      • Hi Oliver,

        Thank you for this exhaustive answer. I am having the same questions regarding weddings and MF lenses. I am just afraid I will not get enough keepers at the end of the day when using MF lenses.

        On the other hand: your advice to use MF ZF and Nikon AF lenses when appropriate makes sense. The only thing is that I am afraid there is no consistent “look” throughout the shooting when you use two brands of lenses. CZ drawing is quite different from Nikon drawing.

        How is your experience in this respect?

        • Hi Mpve,

          It’s true that the look is different, but it’s most different when the light is good and ISO is low. In those cases you shouldn’t have too much trouble with keepers on manual focus because depth of field should be generous. Then stick to what you prefer.

          When light gets really crappy (think: reception, temple/church) then the difference between the Nikkor and the Zeisses is much less visible. That would be a good time to mix in the lenses to optimize the keeper rate.

          I recommend you go through complete wedding galleries shot by professionals – not just the top 1 or 2 pictures that are usually in portfolios, magazines and promos. Then you’ll see that these guys have to contend with really terrible light just as much as the next guy and the results they deliver then are nowhere near the best that either Nikkors or Zeisses can do, the quality of the lens then is almost irrelevant. Going through these galleries really helped set my expectations realistically.

  5. Olivier, thank you very much for this candid description of your experiences. So many times I fall into a duality, all this or all that, you’re with us or with the terrorists, either one/not both that makes no sense. What you say rings absolutely true: mix it up according to the situation.

    In fact, before the holidays I was shooting an indoor situation with the 70-200mm and it was just too long. I caved and bought the 24-70mm. I’m glad I did for a holiday show that came up, plus a wonderful experience with some fire jugglers that I would not have been capable of capturing manually. The 24-70mm was perfect for it.

    Speaking of LensRentals (from whom I also get paid nothing), that’s where I bought my Zeiss 21mm. They sold it to me as being in “9” condition with minor scratches on the barrel. When I got it, I found a little chunk of metal missing at the edge next to the focus ring and a scrape that looked like the lens had been flung from a speeding car. To me, these were not minor marks. The lens seemed to function fine but I had my doubts about the long term effects of such obvious violence.

    I emailed photos and Roger the owner replied immediately. He surmised that I’d been shipped the wrong lens and that I should return it, while they shipped me the “9” I had paid for. This was two days before Thanksgiving. I felt a little leery, thinking maybe they try to pull this on everybody. However, I got my “9” THE NEXT DAY–they paid extra for that. They didn’t count Thanksgiving in my three-day trial period either. Of course I love the lens and just as nice for the future, I’m very impressed with LensRentals.

  6. It’s completely doable to shoot a wedding on ZFs.

  7. Hello again Oliver,

    At quarter thought (or maybe even 25th thought 😉 ) it slipped into my mind that you wrote:
    “As a side-effect of (2) I got tired of shooting film again. It’s considerably more work for generally worse results.”

    Did not I read somewhere on your blog that you are scanning your negatives with a Coolscan 5000? And does that give genarally worse result compared to your Nikon D700-Zeiss combo’s?

    I am curious because I have the same compelling choice:
    A fully functioning Hexar RF with wonderful lenses compared to a D300 with wonderful lenses. And, to be honest, I love to shoot with the Hexar RF more then I do the D300. It is smaller, lighter in weight and has the RF which makes a huge difference for some styles of photography. I intend to do a comparison digital-analogue using this equipment in the future but I am very curious to your experiences.

    And eh… Does this mean your Ikon lies idle in the closet with these wonderful lenses you bought them? Are they for sale (just curious).

    Looking forward to your reply.



    • Hi Marc-Paul,

      Yes, the Leica+film+scanner combo is almost always worse than the Zeiss+D700 combo. It’s possible there exist scenarios where it is better (Kodak Ektar or ISO-50 B&W) but I don’t shoot in that envelope. For the most part the ISO scale _begins_ at 320 for me, and I’m most happy around 640 or 1000.

      Most recently I’ve been badly burned by ISO-640 film. It’s horrible – and comparatively the D700 is just getting warmed up at 640. I may return to ISO-320 C41 B&W one day, I was happy with that for a good while, I should never have left it.

      I’m not likely to be happy about the state of things until I get an M9.

      I’ve thought of selling the Ikon and Zeiss Biogon, even prepared a whole sale blurb to place on a forum. Just never pulled the trigger.



      • THX for the reply Oliver! It clarifies a lot.

        To me, I am shooting almost always Velvia 100F or XP2/FP4 and sometimes Delta 3200. I like the “film look” even when scanned more as compared to the digital B&W look. So if there is room for a higher quality in film+scanner I will probably find it with my testing in the coming quarter or so.

        I will let you know the results.

        About the Biogon + camera combo:
        It is a precious set of equipment! You will regret it if you ever part with it I think! And, even Erwin Puts says the Biogon is better as the 35 summicron ASPH!

        Enjoy your shooting!

        Kind regards,


Leave a comment

No trackbacks yet.