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Here comes the Zeiss 135mm f/2 APO for Macros!


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#1 Michael Erlewine

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Posted 19 June 2013 - 15:57

Yep, it is probably as good as they say it is, at least so far in my opinion. It makes the case for my argument with myself about Zeiss lenses. I have and have used the two Zeiss Makro-Planars, the 50mm and the 100mm, and I never liked them because while they were sharp enough (for sure), their lack of correction made the final photos look almost HDR (in a bad way). I loved handling them but not shooting with them. I know many would not agree with me about the Makro-Planars, but that is why we have opinions, right? This is not true of the new Zeiss 135mm APO.

Is it a CV-125mm APO killer? Not for very close work, but for all other work, yes it may well be, perhaps not a "killer," but a peer. The new Zeiss 135mm APO seems to have broken that spell and immediately gained access to my inner sanctum of sacred lenses just because they took the time to correct it.

The lens is big, heavy, and a tiny bit crude-looking IMO, and those are not endearing qualities. However, forget about all of that, because the lens is sharp and actually APO, at least enough for my taste.

One serious downside is that the close focus is something like 2.6 feet, which is not close at all. However, slap it on the Nikon D7100 and I am right back in the ballpark for macro use, although I will have to get used to being so far back from my subject, but that should not matter, right?

It compares well to the CV-125 APO-Lanthar, plus it works electronically with the Nikons. It is, of course, manual focus. I have a lot more experimenting to do, and I am busy selling a company, so I don't have as much time for this as I would like.

Below are two stacks (Zerene) done on the D7100, the first is the Zeiss APO and the second the Voigtlander CV-125 APO. I tried to do single shots (no stacking), but there are too many variables for me. Stacking kind of levels the tables IMO. At least that is how I like to test them since that is how I will be using them.

I see differences, but nothing too major. Consider that you can purchase the Zeiss APO for less than at CV-125mm, so that is something.

Attached Images

  • D7A_1102-CV125-VH.jpg
  • D7A_1201-2-Edit-Zeiss-VH.jpg

Edited by Michael Erlewine, 19 June 2013 - 20:46 .


#2 Fons Baerken

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Posted 19 June 2013 - 17:09

the voigtlander looks more subtle to my mind



#3 Colin-M

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Posted 19 June 2013 - 20:30

Mmm, maybe I'm not getting enough detail to discriminate on my iPad, but I prefer the second image.
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#4 Michael Erlewine

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Posted 19 June 2013 - 20:50

Here are the Zeiss 135 APO (first) and the Voigtlander CV-125 APO (second), single shot (no stack) at F/4, no corrections, etc. to either photo.

Attached Images

  • D7A_1190-Zeis-4-VH.jpg
  • D7A_1093-CV-F4-VH.jpg


#5 Michael Erlewine

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Posted 19 June 2013 - 20:52

Here are the Zeiss 135 APO (first) and the Voigtlander CV-125 APO (second), single shot (no stack) at F/11, no corrections, etc. to either photo.

Attached Images

  • D7A_1194-Zeis-11-VH.jpg
  • D7A_1097-CVF-11-VH.jpg


#6 Luc de Schepper

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Posted 19 June 2013 - 20:52

I prefer the rendering of the Zeiss. Would love to use this lens.



#7 Fons Baerken

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Posted 19 June 2013 - 21:03

the voigtlander looks more subtle to my mind

 

like i said, the zeiss as usual shows more saturation



#8 Michael Erlewine

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Posted 19 June 2013 - 21:08

I am still looking at the Zeiss. It seems to have greater DOF than the CV-125 at the same f/stop. It is sharper (I believe) than the CV-125. It seems like a good lens, the first Zeiss I have liked of the few I have. 

 

The jury is still out, but it confirms my personal theory that APO correction is the way to my photographic heart, no matter what some others say. Removing the various aberrations greatly improves images. Otherwise I would love the Zeiss Makro-Planars, which are great in every other way.



#9 wildoat

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Posted 19 June 2013 - 22:21

Interesting that you mention the depth of field, I always believed depth of field was 

not affected by brand of lens and in this case you state the longer focal length

Zeiss appears to have greater depth of field, guess then the laws of optical physics

can be variable then.

Either way the Zeiss does seem to offer some wonderful image quality.


 

 

 

 

 

 

Moose says " if you have a very expensive lens and you have a very cheap tripod, you're nuts"  




 


#10 Michael Erlewine

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Posted 19 June 2013 - 22:24

Perhaps you misread. What I was trying to say is that between the two lenses, for the same f/stop, there appear to be differences. I don't think the laws of physics were violated, but the mechanics of the two lenses may for some reason be different, right?


Edited by Michael Erlewine, 19 June 2013 - 22:25 .


#11 wildoat

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Posted 19 June 2013 - 22:53

I didn't misread, maybe I misinterpreted, right?


 

 

 

 

 

 

Moose says " if you have a very expensive lens and you have a very cheap tripod, you're nuts"  




 


#12 Michael Erlewine

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Posted 19 June 2013 - 23:07

I guess you know what you thought. The point was that the two lenses appear to show different DOF despite their f/stops being marked the same. 



#13 rvink

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Posted 20 June 2013 - 00:54

One serious downside is that the close focus is something like 2.6 feet, which is not close at all.

 

Maybe not for a macro, but 2.6 feet (0.8m) is pretty close for a non-macro 135mm lens.

 

 

Below are two stacks (Zerene) done on the D7100, the first is the Zeiss APO and the second the Voigtlander CV-125 APO.

 

The first looks more saturated, but that might be my monitor... as the viewing angle changes towards the top of my screen the colors get darker and richer, so anything higher up the screen looks better.

However, the two pictures aren't quite the same anyway, the angle of view and shadows on the lower right are different so it's hard to make any firm conclusions, except they both look good :)

 

 

Here are the Zeiss 135 APO (first) and the Voigtlander CV-125 APO (second), single shot (no stack) at F/4, no corrections, etc. to either photo.

 

As others have said, it's hard to believe the two are shot at the same aperture, the Zeiss pictures look stopped down at least a stop more than the Voigtlander. Worth looking into further. The Voigtlander apears to have a smoother rendition, even after taking the differences in DOF into account.



#14 Michael Erlewine

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Posted 20 June 2013 - 07:45

The two lenses are different focal lengths and require different distances from the subject as you all know. It is hard therefore to get the same angle.

My take is that both lenses are more than adequate for my purposes. The Zeiss may be a little sharper and perhaps the CV-125 handles color better. It is still early in my testing of the lenses, like the first day, so it will take time.

The fact that neither lens stands out that much from the other says something. The CV-125 is lighter, smaller, but more expensive. If nothing else, those who can't find the CV-125 may be happy with the Zeiss.

#15 PedroS

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Posted 20 June 2013 - 09:09

Thanks for sharing Michael, your work is much appreciated.

To me is again a no go for the Zeiss...


Thanks
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#16 Michael Erlewine

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Posted 20 June 2013 - 09:44

PedroS:

 

Well, at least Zeiss finally has the right idea: correct the lenses and remove the fringing, etc.



#17 Michael Erlewine

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Posted 20 June 2013 - 09:48

I wrote to Lloyd Chambers because he is making such a stir about this Zeiss lens and asked if he would like me to send him a CV-125 APO-Lanthar to check out and this is the response I got FYI:

 

 " Voigtlander:  Thank you, but no subscriber interest to make it worthwhile, and it's academic, not being available without undue effort.  Also, I seriously doubt its merits in other ways given my experience with its two APO siblings, which I have: sharpness is only one issue.  In this regard, the Zeiss is unbeatable."

 

My own view is that the CV-125 does not compare (it is better) to the other two Voigtlanders, both of which I have and that Chambers ought not make judgment without actually testing the lens. Just my two cents.

 

Whatever happened from just wanting to know? Not everything is about the marketplace.


Edited by Michael Erlewine, 20 June 2013 - 11:47 .


#18 Tejpor

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Posted 20 June 2013 - 10:22

Nice effort Michael, one comparison I would have loved to see. It seems Lloyd has his own prejudice. What a disgrace.



#19 bjornthun

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Posted 20 June 2013 - 11:40

Loyd Chambers has tested several Leica R lenses that are hard to come by, require mount conversion to be used on a Nikon, and that are now only available second hand, so his response to Michael is strange.
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#20 Michael Erlewine

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Posted 20 June 2013 - 11:50

Tha

 

Loyd Chambers has tested several Leica R lenses that are hard to come by, require mount conversion to be used on a Nikon, and that are now only available second hand, so his response to Michael is strange.

 

That's I right. I have converted the Leica 100mm Macro APO Elmarit-R and the 60mm Macro Elmarit-R, so with all the hype about the CV-125mm, it would be good to compare it to the new Zeiss. I am not a test, except by looking at results, so i will do the best i can. I just posted another Zeiss image in a separate post.






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