Carl Zeiss’ top-class service for top-class lenses

A disclaimer: I have no business relations with Carl Zeiss AG, and this article isn’t intended as advertising – neither hidden nor open. Everything written below reflects solely my personal opinion.

Last Sunday was the first sunny and warm weekend after the unusually long and snowy winter here in Central Europe. Since I had to stay at home for the last 6 months, for me it was the opening of this year’s photography season. I went to a nearby place where the breeding activities of common toads were already under way. Actually, this wasn’t a photographic excursion. Instead, I was going to try out some new gear that I had got for an upcoming videography project. For this work, I took with me my Zeiss Distagon T* 3,5/18 ZE and Planar T* 1,4/85 ZE along with Sigma 150 mm f/2.8 DG Macro.

Near the end of my filming activities, I decided to capture some more of the landscape with the Distagon lens and put it on the camera that was mounted on a rig. When I was attaching the follow-focus device, I removed the lens hood for a moment and then put it on again. Either I was already tired or had lost cautiousness after months of inactivity, but I put on the hood a little tilted and damaged the locking mechanism. If you try to put a plastic hood on a Canon lens in a wrong way, it just wouldn’t lock, but nothing would get broken unless you have applied too much force. Usual hoods just have a thread in plastic that latches on the lens. In Zeiss lenses the hood is more high-tech: The lock is a real mechanism that has several parts and is all made of metal. Its construction and locking function is much more complex than in plastic hoods of other manufacturers.

Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 3,5/18 lens hood

Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 3,5/18 lens hood

The hood should be attached in a way that the label “Carl Zeiss” shows on the top side. First, three cutouts at the edge of the hood mount need to be aligned with suitable notches on lens’ front ring. After that you rotate the hood a little clockwise and it clicks in place: Metal plates inside the lock snap on the groove in the lens’ front and fixate the hood. I had used this lens for about two years already and never thought that improper alignment can so easy cause this lock to get stuck. After that the hood can’t be attached anymore. This is exactly what happened last Sunday.

While a plastic hood of other lens manufacturers is relatively cheap and, if it was broken, can be replaced with a new one, Zeiss hoods are expensive, so that repair makes sense. This hood of Distagon T* 3,5/18 costs over 120€ and not only reduces flare and improves image contrast but also protects the lens that costs 1300€. Therefore, I wasn’t going to use the lens without hood which had therefore to be repaired as quickly as possible.

On Monday, the next day after accident, I sent a parcel with the broken hood to Carl Zeiss service. I am not sure about other countries, but in Germany Carl Zeiss lenses are being serviced directly by the manufacturer. So, my lens hood went straight to Carl Zeiss headquarters in Oberkochen. This morning, on Thursday, less than three days after, I received it back – repaired, probably on the same day when they received it… But more than that: The service was completely free of charge.

I always have been amazed by technical quality and artistic performance of Zeiss lenses, and if I could afford, I’d purchased all ZE, i.e. Canon mount, series of them. Now I am also impressed by their service. Thank you, Carl Zeiss!

Carl Zeiss 2.8/25 T* ZF on Canon as Herping Lens

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Today I tried out the Carl Zeiss 2.8/25 T* ZF with a subject that I actually planned this lens to use for. Above you see my first herp photo with this lens – a Common Frog (Rana temporaria). I had no flash with me this time, and was shooting with high ISO – 1600. Nevertheless the shutter speed was quite slow – 0.8 sec – due to narrow aperture – f/22. Even with this aperture which is maximum for this lens the background blur is quite strong when the subject is so small and so close. The frog was only about 5 cm from the front of the lens.

To eliminate overexposure in the top of the frame, I am using this lens with a B&W gradient filter.

The image presented here is a full frame, and with normal processing – gradation curve, saturation and vibrance increase, sharpening.

Bottom line: This view angle is not as wide as in fisheye lenses, and with small subjects the background is too much blurred even at maximum aperture. Shooting with f/22 is very difficult because the image in viewfinder is almost black. On positive side, the distortion is virtually absent. The lens provides typical for Zeiss nice realistic colour rendering and contrast.