PHOTOOG Photography writings by Olivier Giroux


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On the left, for scale: the 100MP.

Filed under: Lenses 4 Comments

55mm Distagon, Concisely Explained

Even though there is still very little information available on this lens, I believe I just read in a web forum what is the definitive meaning of it.  This lens, and the new family to come with it, is the answer to the Leica S system.

There are a few tests published online that compare the D800 to the S2 (Ming Thein's is excellent, and free to view) and every one of them ends with "but the D800 doesn't have as good lenses".  This lens puts an end to that.

I can't wait to get more information.  More than a vague comment.

Also: I hope this isn't the industrial design they're going with.

- Olivier

Filed under: Lenses, Zeiss 11 Comments

Carl Zeiss 2/25 Distagon T* Review

The newly-redesigned, faster version of the 25mm Distagon is a power tool for reportage. With a higher asking price come improved handling and nearly flawless performance at near and middle distances. The new 25mm ZF.2 is more than a viable alternative for the big systems’ fast lenses of similar focal length, it just might be the preferred choice.


One Tiny Little Rumor

I doubt that there will be much excitement on the Internet over this rumor, but NikonRumor mentions a new Nikon patent for a 135mm f/1.8 VR lens.  Some ruminations after the jump...

Filed under: Lenses, Nikon Continue reading

A Lytro and a Biogon

These two are like night and day, foresight and hindsight.  Hindsight looks to the past and shoots 20/20; foresight not so much.  The Lytro is my daughter's camera and we'll be putting mileage on it soon.

On to the subject of the 21mm Biogon ZM.  Here's a pair of samples for the Biogon, and this time the links point to full-res files ( warning: 20MB jpegs) because they're intended for maximum pixel-peeping:


They're really very good.  They're also shot at f/8.  My first surprise was that the lens isn't anything special when shot at f/2.8, or even f/4 sometimes, the Distagon does better.

My second surprise is that, due to an accident of the shipper, I got to see a silver version of this lens in addition to the black one I have above.  The aperture ring on the silver lens was terrible - it was stiff and I could barely feel the detents.  I was really afraid my black copy would be the same, but thankfully it feels like a real Zeiss ZM.

More to come later.



Leica 75mm Summarit-M Review

The 75mm Summarit-M has garnered an unusual volume of praise compared to the other Summarit-M lenses, with many gushing reviewers equating its performance to that of the powerful 75mm Summicron ASPH. Although the truth of this lens is not likely to line up with such expectations, its chief virtue is still clear: this lens makes some very popular 2-lens and 3-lens outfits much more affordable. It is also clear that M photographers have adopted the lens as the new standard short-telephoto.


More Stuff On the Way



Carl Zeiss 1.4/35 Distagon T* Review

Despite strong roots in photojournalism, the Nikon F system somehow failed to maintain a stable of modern fast wide-normal lenses for most of its history. The landscape changed dramatically when, in the middle of 2010, Nikon users suddenly found themselves with choices of fast wide-normals to suit almost every budget and shooting style. The Zeiss Distagon in this review is the most controversial among these new options.


Faulty Distagon

Great news, I received a brand-new 1.4/35mm Distagon ZF.2 this week!  Unfortunately it is defective and will have to go back as soon as B&H will return from holiday.

The problem is that the ectronic aperture control is systematically off by half a stop.  i.e. 1.4->1.4, 1.7->1.4, 2->1.7, etc.  I suppose the widget that controls this was installed with a small offset inside the lens.  The manual aperture ring is accurate however, and my D700 is configured to use that instead now.

What's sad/funny is that this is only an issue because it's a ZF.2 lens; I would have been perfectly happy to buy this as a ZF.1 and would have nothing bad to say about this copy right now.  This is the first time something like this has happened to me (getting a bad product) and I'm annoyed that it happened to be a Zeiss lens -- the inspection certificate for the lens was signed despite this, so it's kind of meaningless.

The good news is that it is the first f/1.4 lens I actually want to shoot at f/1.4.

- Olivier


Nikkor 300mm f/4G AF-S IF-ED Review

As a class, 300mm f/4 lenses are the standard for the rational photographer in need of moderate reach. This Nikkor is a superb example of the class, but like the other Nikkor (non-exotic) telephotos it is relatively obsolete today. In short, a lens of this focal length needs to have stabilization.