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Zeiss ZF 100mm f/2 Makro-Planar

As I mentioned in my Jan 20 entry, the Zeiss ZF 100mm f/2 Makro Planar (about $1499) is a world-class lens, a lens that delivers the goods on the Nikon D3x and the Canon 5D Mark II even wide open, with performance in reserve for future higher resolution cameras. It’s a disappointment that we can’t get DSLRs today without anti-aliasing filters or with monochrome sensors, so that full lens sharpness could be captured.

If you’re shooting top gear, get a top lens! The ZF 100/2 is not apochromatic, but it’s also about $1582, not $3895, which is what a new Leica 90/2 APO Summicron ASPH costs—and guess what? The Leica might be a tad sharper at infinity, but the ZF 100/2 has other talents: color balance, flat field near and far, incredible bokeh, not to mention being an f/2 macro lens that mounts without modification on Nikon (the Leica 90/2 can be used with adapter on Canon, but not Nikon). Every lens has strengths and some have weaknesses, but the ZF 100/2 Makro-Planar brings a lot of strengths together in one package.

Recent shooting on both the Nikon D3x and Canon 5D Mark II shows that the 100/2 Makro-Planar is one of those lenses you’ll just never, ever want to sell once you have it.

The image below was taken in flat (low contrast) blue light, a challenge for any lens, but the marriage of the Zeiss ZF 100/2 Makro-Planar and the D3x deliver very sharp and pleasing results.


Nikon D3x + Zeiss ZF 100/2 Makro-Planar @ f/5.6

No matter what I try in DPP (color, contrast, saturation, color temperature, etc), I can’t seem to get the same pleasing color and “zing” out of the Canon 5D Mark II as with the D3x (the same 100/2 Makro-Planar at f/5.6 was used on both cameras). Caveat: lighting almost certainly varied here, one of the dangers of outdoor comparisons. However, the overcast sky cast no shadows in either image; both were subject to heavy overcast conditions.


Canon 5D Mark II + Zeiss ZF 100/2 Makro-Planar @ f/5.6

 

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