Review: Carl Zeiss Jena 109mm 1.6 Visionar

Introduction

projection lens projector cinema carl zeiss jena czj row rathenower optische werke kino 109mm 1.6
Carl Zeiss Jena Visionar 109mm 1.6 modified to Canon EF on Sony A7rII

The Visionar 109mm 1.6 is a cinema projector lens from Carl Zeiss Jena which was made in the GDR. These projector lenses are often very fast and cheap, but they also come with a few downsides. This is the first projector lens we will review at this blog, so find out if there is still a place for these today.

Sample Images

projection lens projector cinema carl zeiss jena czj row rathenower optische werke kino 109mm 1.6
Sony A7rII | Carl Zeiss Jena Visionar 109mm 1.6 | f/1.6
projection lens projector cinema carl zeiss jena czj row rathenower optische werke kino 109mm 1.6
Sony A7rII | Carl Zeiss Jena Visionar 109mm 1.6 | f/1.6
projection lens projector cinema carl zeiss jena czj row rathenower optische werke kino 109mm 1.6
Sony A7rII | Carl Zeiss Jena Visionar 109mm 1.6 | f/1.6

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The Team’s favorite lenses – May 2018 Edition

Half a year has passed and much has changed, not only in our camera bags. This is our second “Team’s Favourites” since David from Australia joined us. How time flies!

David’s favorites

In deciding what to mention this time, I have gone partly by usage. The ones that have made the most pictures I like since last time, for whatever reason. And where there’s a tie, I’ll favour something I didn’t list last time to provide more variety for you! So don’t think that I don’t still love the three lenses in last year’s edition!

Voigtländer Nokton 1.2/40

This is a lens with a slightly mixed reputation. Many people are raving about it: the best standard lens you can get. Others are complaining about some issues (axial colour, field curvature, focus shift as you stop down) and don’t like it at all. I love the lens, but it’s unrealistic to imagine that an f1.2 lens of this size – tiny by f1.2 standards – could be flawless. It would be bigger than an Otus if were! After all Otuses are only f1.4.

So what do you get? Excellent performance stopped down, with lovely sunstars and good contrast and flare resistance (the last amazing given it’s f1.2). You get decent central performance wide open at distances more than a metre or so, much better than classic f1.2 lenses. You get the thinnest available DOF for a lens of this angle of view: which is very nice, because it’s a focal length which repays thin DOF in images, and one where it’s hard to achieve thin DOF technically. So you get multiple lenses in one. If you can be bothered using a two element achromatic close up lens, you can massively enhance the wide open close distance quality. You need to focus at f4 for f4 and smaller apertures, and you need to pay a bit of attention to field curvature.You also need to watch out for situations in which the corner bokeh can get a little nervous  (but in many situations the bokeh is glorious). But if you are happy with all that, you get an wonderful lens, capable of many different and interesting looks.

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Comparison: Voigtlander 40mm 1.2 and 35mm 1.7 + 5m PCX

Introduction

comparison voigtlander 40mm 1.2 nokton e ultron 35mm 1.7 35 40 f/1.2 f/1.7 opto sigma optosigma front filter 5m pcx 5000mm
Voigtlander 40mm 1.2 Nokton E and Voigtlander 35mm 1.7 Ultron VM with 5m Optosigma PCX filter

Many people are still looking for a small yet fast 35mm lens for their fullframe E-mount cameras (especially those who need AF). I have found what I am looking for in the Voigtlander 35mm 1.7 VM + 5m PCX filter, but many people don’t want to bother with this mod and prefer a native solution. So how does the modded 35mm compare to Voigtlander’s native 40mm 1.2 Nokton E?

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