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Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon: Aperture Series 'Big Leaf Maple'

Pre-order Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon (black) or Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon (silver) for Leica M at B&H Photo.

See the in-depth technical discussion of the new Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon in Guide to Leica.

I’m packing for an extended trip to the mountains today (including a 5 day photo tour), so I’m really under time pressure, but I hope to to publish several series before I leave.

The 35/1.4 Distagon showed up yesterday, and I shot it for the first time yesterday afternoon and evening, with Ming Thein and I meeting and shooting together in person for the first time, over at Purissimma Creek Redwoods State Park.

I’ll be doing more work with the Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon as field shots suggest that it is now the best 35mm lens available for Leica M. And at about $2290 compared to about $5150 for the Leica Summilux, that’s a no-brainer for an M shooter.

I also have on hand the Leica 35/1.4 Summilux-M ASPH, Leica 35/2 Summicron-M ASPH, Zeiss ZM 35/2 Biogon, Zeiss ZM 35/2.8 C-Biogon and Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f/1.2 II ASPH. That’s a lot, but it should yield insights into many matters.

  Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ ƒ/1.4
Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ ƒ/1.4

Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon for Leica M: Best 35mm M Lens Yet?

Pre-order Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon (black) or Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon (silver) for Leica M at B&H Photo.

An in-depth technical discussion of the new Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon for Leica M is now published in Guide to Leica.

Includes MTF charts: full series from ƒ/1.4 to ƒ/16 on Leica M as well as ƒ/1.4 - ƒ/8 on Sony A7x cameras, field curvature chart at ƒ/1.4 and ƒ/4, the first five apertures of vignetting, distortion, effective aperture and DoF at the periphery discussion. Technical but highly instructive basis for understanding its performance.

With 1/3 the distortion of the Summilux, superior control over field curvature, more uniform and higher contrast wide open, more uniform sharpness sharpness across the field, absence of lateral color, no focus shift, the technical prowess on paper is confirmed by yesterday’s field shots showing.

The in-the-field performance at ƒ/1.4 is very impressive, which means that the famed Leica 2010 35mm f/1.4 Summilux-M not only has competition, but now appears to play second fiddle to the ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon.

Sample images will go up later today, as many as I can do while packing for my trip on which I’ll be doing much more work with the Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon.

  Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon for Leica M
Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon for Leica M

The new ZEISS Distagon T* 1,4/35 ZM for professional reportage photography

The ZEISS Distagon T* 1,4/35 ZM is latest member of the ZM lens family

OBERKOCHEN/Germany, September 16, 2014

The ZEISS Distagon T* 1,4/35 ZM continues the success story of the ZEISS ZM lens family and sets a new standard in the market.

First, it is notable for its very high speed. With a maximum aperture of f/1.4, the lens creates a pleasing bokeh, which optically enhances the background as the main composition element, while at the same time directing attention to the main motif in the foreground. The ZEISS Distagon T* 1,4/35 ZM, which is optimized for digital sensors, also stands out for its excellent flat image field. Thanks to the Distagon‘s optical design, the lens delivers high resolution across the entire image field.

Very fast and precise – the ZEISS Distagon T* 1,4/35 ZM is a “storyteller”. The main motif becomes the focus, whether it’s a portrait, a group of people or an everyday scene. Details are recognizable, as well as facial expressions, movements of the body, and surface structures. At the same time, the focal length of 35 millimeters captures the surroundings, placing the object within its natural context. If the photographer wishes to direct the viewer’s attention even more, he or she may compose the picture with the large aperture of f/1.4 with a low depth of field, thereby separating the focused motif from its background.

In poor lighting conditions the ZEISS Distagon T* 1,4/35 ZM is also a top performer. The large aperture ensures the photographer is independent from the ISO limitations of his camera. The lens also has excellent focusing characteristics when the light is weak.

Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon schematic
Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon schematic

For generations of photographers, individuality, rangefinder camera and a no-compromising optical quality have been an inseparable combination. The focal length of 35 millimeters is, and remains, the ‘basic lens’ that should not be absent on any camera with an M-mount.

In classic rangefinder photography, short focal lengths such as the ZEISS Distagon T* 1,4/35 ZM have advantages over longer focal lengths when it comes to focusing, because the picture seen through the optical finder corresponds almost completely to the motif actually shot. The limitation imposed by the viewfinder frame is negligible for the composition of the image. With this angular field, image dimensions still remain natural. The combination of an elegant-reserved rangefinder camera and a 35-mm lens puts the photographer at the center of the action – not too far away and not too close. It is not for nothing that this system has always been the standard tool for discerning reportage photographers.

In addition, as a member of the ZM family of lenses, the ZEISS Distagon T* 1,4/35 ZM has all of its assets. Complex measures inside the lens minimize any stray light that might occur. Die T* anti-reflective coating from ZEISS guarantees a very high degree of flare control.

The aperture consists of 10 aperture blades and is therefore almost circular. The iris can be set in steps of 1/3 through the precise and sensitive notch mechanism and with exact photometric increments. The easy-to-grip focus ring with an ergonomic finger rest enables fast, precise focusing. The mechanical quality is outstanding; the focus operation is smooth, with a large rotation angle. And the robust all-metal barrel guarantees a long product life in the rough everyday life of professional photographers.

“For the M system there is today almost no alternative to the Distagon T* 1,4/35 ZM. It is the best ZM lens that you can get under these conditions,” assures Christophe Casenave, Product Manager with ZEISS Camera Lenses.

The ZEISS Distagon T* 1,4/35 ZM will be available worldwide, in silver and black, starting in the fourth quarter of 2014. The expected recommended retail price is €1,679.84 * or US$ 2.290,00* (excl. VAT).

More information can be found at www.zeiss.com/photo

  Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ ƒ/2.8
Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ ƒ/2.8

Available in black or silver.

  Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon for Leica M  

Daryl writes:

Was I surprised to see your review today.

I ordered the lens this morning after looking at the MTF curves and your review confirms my initial thoughts about a phenomenal lens.

Another great surprise is you have upped your game again, thank you, and I want to read all the information you have posted on this lens. Are you working with LensRentals.com on the new data?

DIGLLOYD: I had a few days to prepare the material (MTF and other charts are courtesy of Carl Zeiss). My very own copy (silver) showed up less than 24 hours ago, but I got right on it and shot it last night. Examples coming shortly.

Photokina a Yawner, but At Least One More Thing

No end of surprises, a Canon 7D Mark II arrives. The “II” pretty much says it all (I’m sure its a very nice evolution of same-old, not a criticism of that model). Where is the 50 (or at lest 40) megapixel Canon full frame after 5 years of all but frozen full-frame offerings? Maybe it’s still to be announced (which year is open to debate).

If I can wake up at 03:00 AM tomorrow (tonight), I’ll have something of great interest to a certain group of shooters. If not, then maybe 7AM or so. Along with first examples if UPS shows up in about two hours as expected.

Bummer not to have Olympus image stabilized 4K video iteration.

David S writes:

I think that the big hole in the 7D Mk II specs is no 4K video. I think that that’s a much more gaping omission than no increase in pixel count. As you point out, the Mk II is about gradual progress with improved auto-focus for both stills and video – the improvements here seem to be quite significant though. The original 7D lagged the 5D Mk III in AF performance quite noticeably (I know from personal experience with both cameras) but the 7D II should fix that and make it as good as or better than the 5D III in that regard.

fter all, AF is where DSLRs really shine and makes them an optimum choice for sports, wildlife, candid shots or any situation where fast and accurate AF will deliver the best image quality; that’s where mirror-less can’t compete with DSLRs, when fast AF speed is of the essence for optimum image quality. The new Dual-Pixel sensor should also bring a significant improvement to video auto-focus (although auto-focus when shooting video is probably still risky for many situations). The headphone jack and uncompressed HDMI output are also good additions for videographers.

DIGLLOYD: All good points, particularly on 4K video. DSLRs have always produced marginal video of any kind to date IMO, ironically outshone by far by cameras like the Panasonic GH4.

Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar Aperture Series 'DeChambeau Yellow Wagon'

Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar (about $4490) for Nikon or Canon.

This ƒ/1.4 to ƒ/16 aperture series in Guide to Zeiss explores the slight telephoto effect and choice of aperture.

Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar Aperture Series 'DeChambeau Yellow Wagon'

  DeChambeau Yellow Wagon Nikon D810 + Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar @ ƒ/2
DeChambeau Yellow Wagon
Nikon D810 + Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar @ ƒ/2

Compared: Voigtlander Ultron 21mm f/1.8 vs Leica 21mm f/3.4 Super-Elmar-M ASPH (M240, Wyman Canyon Lower Cabin Interior)

Voigtlander Ultron 21m f/1.8 lens is about $1149 for Leica M.

In Guide to Leica at the Voigtlander Ultron 21mm f/1.8.

Compared: vs Leica 21/3.4 SEM and Voigtlander 21/4 (M240, Wyman Cabin Interior)

Includes HD and UltraHD aperture series and the Voigtlander Color-Skopar 21mm f/4 is included as well.

  Lower Cabin in Wyman Canyon Leica M Typ 240 + Voigtlander Ultron 21mm f/1.8 @ f/4
Lower Cabin in Wyman Canyon
Leica M Typ 240 + Voigtlander Ultron 21mm f/1.8 @ f/4

Chris L writes:

As a Voigtländer aficionado, I thought I should know if such a beast
existed in mounts other than Leica M.

Neither BHphoto nor Cosina/Voigt themselves mention it in Canon EF or
Nikon F mounts.

DIGLLOYD: the Voigtlander Ultron 21mm f/1.8 is an M-mount lens (Leica M rangefinder) with a short backfocus ; it is impossible to use it on a DSLR.

It could be used via an adapter on mirrorless cameras like the Sony A7s/A7/A7R, but ray angle issues would severely degrade its peripheral quality at wider apertures. Stopped down to ƒ/8 - ƒ/11 it might perform well however. See the coverage of various wide angle Leica M lenses on Sony A7/A7R in Guide to Leica.

Server Change: New Image Server

A new high performance image server is in place for this site.

With a suitably fast internet connection, an entire ƒ/1.4 - ƒ/16 aperture series in 4K Ultra HD size can be viewed in about 5 seconds (you’d want a 4K display for the UltraHD size, generally speaking, otherwise the regular 2560 X 1600 size is more appropriate).

Nikon D750: Incremental Move Forward, but Plows no New Ground

Pre-order the Nikon D750 at B&H Photo.

As an incremental and worthwhile advance, the Nikon D750 makes sense: a full-frame sensor with tiltable rear LCD (allows angled shooting more easily), and the now de rigueur wireless support which surely will be embedded in all cameras before long.

The Nikon D750 looks to be a solid offering. In viewing its rear control layout, its seem to match the D810 control layout, which is important for anyone considering a D810 + D750 pairing: the variance between the D600 and D800 drove me crazy when shooting the two together. But I cannot say whether its operational behavior is identical.

Innovation is not to be found, not even following in Sony’s footsteps by offering 4K video and an optional hot-shoe-mount EVF. And surely it is time for Nikon to think about ditching that mirror box in at least one model for a high res EVF model. The D750 is a solid incremental advance and that is not a bad thing, but neither is it exciting.

In terms of value, when I look at any camera over $2000, I look at the total system cost over time. At about $2299, its $1000 less than than the Nikon D810 which seems like a lot more, and it is a lot more—without context. But consider lenses and accessories: what is the total system cost and in that context, does a D750 make sense versus a D810? The D810 seems likely to hold better resale value too. 24 megapixels is enough for most all purposes but if one is shooting high-grade lenses, then it makes more sense to go to 36, because 36 is if nothing else oversampling or higher image quality in total.

Nikon D750 rear controls
Nikon D750 rear controls

September 12, 2014

Tonight, Nikon announced the D750, an exciting addition to its FX-format D-SLR camera lineup. This full frame camera features a powerful combination of pro-caliber photo and video features for both professionals and enthusiasts in a compact and lightweight body. The Nikon D750 features a 24.3-megapixel sensor and is the first FX-Format Nikon D-SLR to feature a tilting Vari-angle LCD display and built-in Wi-Fi capabilities.

Additionally, Nikon has also announced a new compact SB-500 multimedia Speedlight with a built in LED, and the fast AF-S NIKKOR 20mm f/1.8G ED lens, the latest addition to Nikon’s expanding line of f/1.8 prime lenses.

Nikon D750
· Powerful photo and video features for both professionals and advanced enthusiasts
· New 24.3-megapixel FX-format CMOS sensor provides rich colors and gradation
o EXPEED 4 Image Processor (similar to D810 and D4S) increases efficiency and performance
· Offers the ability to share images instantly with built-in Wi-Fi
· Nikon’s first FX-format D-SLR with a tilting LCD display (3.2 in. 1,229K dot), helps frame photos and videos from a variety of previously difficult angles
· Pro 51-point AF System great for tracking wildlife or sports
o Group Area AF
o Lock in subjects in as little as -3 EV illumination
· 6.5 frames per second (fps) burst rate at full resolution
· Reaches the same level of advanced video functionality as the Nikon D810
o Full HD 1920x1080 resolution at 60/30/24p
o Power Aperture for smooth transitions and other advanced video features
o Record to dual SD memory card slots or output via HDMI
· Optional MB-D16 battery pack provides extended battery life and vertical grip
· Available in late September for $2,299.95 SRP (body only) and as a kit with the AF-S NIKKOR 24-120mm f/4 VR lens in mid-October

SB-500 Speedlight

· Compact yet powerful Speedlight and LED video light
· Covers wide 16mm/24mm (FX/DX) with a 90-degree vertical swivel and 180-degree rotation
o Great for bouncing light of ceilings and soft lighting effects
· Simplified controls and easily integrated into a CLS system
· Powerful (100 lux) LED light for video applications
· Runs on two AA batteries
· Available in late September for $249.95 SRP

AF-S NIKKOR 20mm f/1.8G ED
· Ultra-fast wide-angle addition to f/1.8 series of FX-format lenses
· First ultra-wide lens with a f/1.8 aperture, great for architecture, interiors and landscapes
· Capable of quiet and fast AF operation
· Nano Crystal Coat reduces ghost and flare
· Available in late September for $799.95 SRP

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