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Reader Asks: Coastal Optics 60mm f/4 UV-VIS-IR APO-macro vs Zeiss 50mm f/2 Makro-Planar

Coastal Optics
60mm f/4 UV-VIS-IR APO Macro

Peter W writes:

I am enjoying all of your coverage of the D800.... I guess I will need to purchase the DAP add-on to go with my Leica and Zeiss subscriptions, so that I can see the full detail of your work with the D800.

I ordered a D800E within 24 hours of B&H first offering pre-orders, but I can see that they have run afoul of Nikon somehow. Who knows when I will have the body? I am amazed by the infinite patience that Henry Posner displays in all of his very professional posts on dpreview.com.

Will you post some shots with your Zeiss 50 F/2?

I am really impressed by your Stanford bicycle shots with the Coastal Optics lens! It looks snappier than the Velvia 120 images I shot years ago with a Schneider lens.

Am I correct to infer that you prefer the Coastal Optics to the Zeiss 50 f/2 (yes, I understand the retail $ difference, but the effects of scale in production way more than explain the difference in price)? Where can I order it, and is it possible to link through your site so you get the spiff? Does anyone rent them to test first?

What I am really hoping is that the new Leica M with its 24 MP sensor will give us M lens lovers a similar "emulsion" to work with as the D800 offers. That body is supposed to be released this summer when Leica opens all of its USA retail stores (a la Apple), so you probably have a very busy year ahead in photography.

DIGLLOYD: I don’t think anyone should assume that B&H has “run afoul” of Nikon. Rather, I think Nikon has its own issues, perhaps being cautious with a new launch and perhaps having production issues and perhaps watching carefully for new camera problems before launching into full-scale production. Add in massive demand, and that’s the picture.

I plan to shoot all of the Zeiss ZF.2 lenses on the Nikon D800, but that is a months-long project. But remember that the Coastal Optics 60/4 is a $4650 lens with an f/4 aperture using almost all fluorite elements. It is a very special beast, and f/4 is not exactly flexible for low-light. The Zeiss ZF.2 50/2 Makro-Planar is a full two stops faster and 1/3 the price. It is not apochromatic, and could not be without raising the price considerably, but it is a symmetric design capable of lovely results.

A big part of the appeal of the Coastal 60/4 images comes from a complete absence of any color errors of any kind, which leads to an unusual clarity. No other lens can match its color correction. Not Leica M, not Leica S, not Leica R, not Zeiss. I’m speaking of publicly for sale DSLR lenses of course. Also, its spectral transmission is unusually even from UV through infrared, leading to highly unusual color rendition— incredibly lifelike. I have been remiss in not using it more often.

You can order the 60/4 directly from Coastal Optics. LensRentals.com rents it.

We shall learn more about the new Leica in May, apparently. The rumors I hear are of a monochrome M10, which would be disappointing to me— I’d like to see a 36MP Leica M10 with Live View. That seems unlikely.


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