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Reader Likes The Zeiss 25mm f/2.8 Distagon After Trying It

Carsten B writes:

The Distagon 25/2.8 is according to many technically oriented reviews one of the weaker lenses in the Zeiss ZF lineup.

However, I find the focal length very appealing and borrowed one from my dealer based on your review, which goes beyond the purely technical evaluation and includes valuable comments on its character.

After a few days of shooting I got really attached to the lens. It has the nicest bokeh of any lens in that focal length range I tried (and that includes various Nikkors, among them the 14-24/2.8, the 24-70/2.8, the 24/3.5 PC-E and the 24/1.4), is very resistant against flare and plenty sharp in all pictures I have shot with it so far.

Definitely a keeper!

DIGLLOYD: Well put.

When one starts with the wrong premises (“shoot a resolution chart at close range and that’s the measure of lens“, one naturally finds that the Zeiss 25mm f/2.8 Distagon is a mediocre lens at close range on a planar target. It is why I don’t shoot resolution charts anymore— garbage in (inappropriate premises)= garbage out.

As another example, the Nikon AF-S 60mm f/2.8 at infinity easily outperforms the incredible Coastal Optics 60mm f/4 UV-VIS-IR APO macro on a planar target at infinity, at least at f/4 and f/5.6 (but not at f/8). Because of field curvature. There are many outstanding (and some very expensive) lenses that can be tested and “proven” to be inferior to lenses that I would not want to shoot. What I do in my Guides and reviews is to explore how a lens can be used to good effect, for visual impact, which is the only thing that counts in photography.

The 25mm f/2.8 Distagon remains one of my favorite lenses, producing exceptionally high contrast and sharp images at medium and far distance, and “drawing” in a manner you won’t find with standard fare. And also allowing extreme close ups that while not technically excellent, are intriguing. The foregoing is not a criticism of Nikon’s wide angle lenses, which are excellent, in a technical sense— I own them, but I’ll put it this way: I rarely shoot the Nikon lenses. Because it’s about the results that I like. That I like. Which is also not a statement about anyone else.

Exploring

If you regularly shoot a “slow” zoom lens, rent a fast f/1.4 prime lens (fixed focal length). If you typically shoot an autofocus lens, rent a Zeiss manual focus lens. If you usually shoot a wide angle, rent a telephoto. If you have a Nikon f/1.4 lens, rent the equivalent Zeiss lens. Etcetera. But fair warning: you might want to buy that lens you rent!

Technically performance at close range — so what?
Zeiss 25mm f/2.8 Distagon about 10cm from the subject
Lundy Canyon Aspen
Nikon D3x + Zeiss 25mm f/2.8 Distagon @ f/2.8, handheld
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