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!

Impressions from Photokina 2012 (Part 2)

Carl Zeiss is my favourite lens manufacturer, and most my lenses are of it. Hence, the exhibition of Carl Zeiss was after Canon for me the second mast-see in Photokina. This year it was decorated and organized like 2 years ago. Inside a giant walk-through lens the visitors could learn about the history and production of lenses by this famous company.Image

All current cine and photo lenses were available for trying out with the usual setup of objects – stones, flowers, etc. Every photo lens was presented in 2 versions – ZE and ZF.2 – on two camera bodies – Canon and Nikon.Image

Although I am not a vidiographer, I was impressed by a Blackmagic camera with a Zeiss lens.Image

I made some test shots with the new Distagon T* 2,8/15, and, of course, with the new Apo Sonnar T* 2/135 that is due to be released in December this year. I also tried out the fantastic Distagon T* 1,4/35 that I am planing to purchase in near future.

Below you see some test images (of course, unprocessed) made with Apo Sonnar T* 2/135 mounted on Canon EOS 5D Mark II. There was no tripod, and I was hand holding the camera. To reduce motion blur, I set ISO 800. In my opinion this lens really shines when used wide open:

f/2.0 (click on the image to view full-size JPEG)

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f/2.8 (click on the image to view full-size JPEG)

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f/2.0 (click on the image to view full-size JPEG)

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Unfortunately the camera was set to record JPEG files, so I have no RAW. Please, do not take too serious the details of image quality of the JPEGs given here: Remember that they are just snap shots, i.e. were made not in proper testing conditions. Only colour, bokeh and contrast are relevant in these images, but not resolution, etc.

To be continued

Impressions from Photokina 2012 (Part 1)

This year’s Photokina – the largest photo and cine technology trade show of the world in Cologne, Germany – has now ended. The day before, I visited it and would like to report here some impressions.Image

 

Probably the biggest interest of visitors was attracted by presentations of Canon, Fujifilm, Nikon and Olympus. When was entering the exhibition halls through the southern entrance it appeared as if it was a home show of Canon that had a huge stand in the hall 3.2. With a group of photographers from my region I had a meeting with a representative of Canon who showed us their exhibition.ImageImage

 

The biggest highlight in Canon’s Photokina stand was certainly the new full frame camera EOS 6D.Image

I had a chance to try out a pre-release version of it. However, it wasn’t able to record images yet. Therefore, I couldn’t judge about image quality.

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The awesome EF 85 mm f/1.2 – which is probably the best lens Canon has ever made – was mounted on this 6D. The lens was heavier than the camera body.

I had been particularly interested in this camera model because I was considering to purchase it for use with remote control over WiFi. Now, having looked at it at Photokina, I changed my mind. The Canon representative who was showing it explained that this camera isn’t intended for professional use. His exact words were that Canon doesn’t want it to be a competitor for 5D series. Therefore, the 6D will lack some features that the manufacturers provides with the professional models. Basically, EOS 6D is just a full frame camera in a body of EOS 60D. Compared to 5D, it will have a lower frame rate in serial shooting, only 11 autofocus points, almost no dust protection, lower shutter speed… These disadvantages of 6D, however, do not justify for me the huge difference in price. If this camera will be offered for the currently expected price of about 1600$, it will be only about a half of the current price of Canon EOS 5D Mark III with WiFi support (i.e. combined with WFT-E7).

A really very big surprise was for me the absence of Manfrotto (and, of course, Gitzo) at Photokina 2012. I haven’t found any statement of them about the reasons. It was very sad not to see this renowned company this year – particularly when their competitors were presenting very good new models of tripods and tripod accessories. Velbon and other Asian companies presented nice innovations in this area. Also the German company Cullmann managed a break through. They presented their new series of super strong tripods Titan along with very good lightweight carbon tripods. Though, their tripod heads still aren’t impressing me, the tripods look and feel really great. Now I wish to test one.

Carl Zeiss was presenting the new model of their Apo Sonnar T* 2/135 mm for Canon and Nikon mounts. I could try it out on a Canon 5D Mark II, and have saved some test images, that I am going to publish also here in one of the next posts.

To be continued.

A monster is lurking in a pond ;-)

A monster is lurking in a pool ;-)

A somewhat arty photo of a diving pool frog. I was trying to get a shot of it in both environments when the frog was swimming at water surface. Then the frog suddenly dived, and my camera dived with it.

Canon EOS 5D Mark II, Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 25/2.8 ZF, ISO 800, f/16, 1/250s

Loosing a Carl Zeiss lens cap may be expensive

Guten Tag Hr. Tiutenko,

ein org. Zeiss Deckel würde 22,– Euro kosten. Alternativ haben wir einen Objektivdeckel ohne Beschriftung für 5,90 Euro.

Good afternoon Mr. Tiutenko,

an original Zeiss lens cap would cost 22.– euros. Alternatively, we have a lens cap without label – for 5.90 euros.
— a German Carl Zeiss dealer

A plastic lens cap with “Carl Zeiss” label on it costs almost 4 times more than a blank one. If you have a Zeiss lens with an original cap, be careful not to lose it! I have lost one a couple of months ago and had to get a replacement. Above you see a reply from a Carl Zeiss dealer.

Carl Zeiss 2.8/25 T* ZF with Canon EF Adapter: First Use in the Field

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I tried the Zeiss 2.8/25 T* ZF for the first time in the field yesterday. As I mentioned in another post to this blog some time ago, this is a Nikon mount lens that I purchased for its unique working distance of only several centimeters. This makes wide-agle shots like this one possible. Unlike with fisheye lenses that are typically used for this kind of photography, with the Zeiss 25mm the distortion is not noticeable. Since I have Canon cameras, I use this lens with an adapter. This means, that all controls are manual. Since the aperture also has to be set manually, the image in the viewfinder is dark. To my big surprise, however, the Live View image was lighter, and focusing was much easier.