LensTalk Episode 2: Lightroom, 35mm lenses, Zeiss

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I have two hobbies: Photography and photographic gear. Both are related only to a small degree.

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23 thoughts on “LensTalk Episode 2: Lightroom, 35mm lenses, Zeiss”

  1. Nikon also produces lenses/imaging machines for semiconductor lithography, which is much more profitable and in demand segment, albeit not as large as their camera business.

    1. they definitely profitted from those $170 million they got from ASML and Zeiss 🙂 btw ASML has monopoly in this market…

  2. The desperate need for a speed compromised high performance 35mm, is truly annoying and mindbogglilng.

    I don’t think Zeiss will make a native E-mount 35mm in the near or even remote future, let alone a manual lens. I think the possibility of a GM isn’t to be discounted, and neither a new Voigtlander E-mount Nokton or Ultron. The recent 24mm GM and 21mm Nokton strongly suggests that both Sony and Voigtlander could deliver a high performance relatively compact 35mm lens. I would personally hope for a Voigtlander, but I don’t see why we couldn’t have both.
    I think the money is to be made from both, but that’s just my own needs justifying themselves.

    I have the temptation of getting the Loxia, but find it too expensive for what it is. I am getting the Loxia 2/50mm at some point, but for now I’m just holding on to my C/Y 3.4/35-50mm Vario-Sonnar. I might get the C/Y 2.8/35 which is a faster 35mm and slightly better, but I don’t think bokeh is going to be very good, and sunstars are a loss. At the $300 USD they mostly go for, it might not be a biggy, but obviously not a real solution.

    Conclusion: Arrghh!!!


        1. Already at step 7 but as they write: that can take up to 2 weeks since podcasts are checked manually it seems.

          Til then you should be able to subscribe via the feed url in my last comment.

  3. very nice chat. David had some interesting insights, i would love to hear him on the next podcast too.

    The new Sony 35mm f1.8 seems already rejected by you. It’s available now in germany, is anyone of you going to review it soon?

    1. The 1.8/35 is certainly a solid lens with good sharpness, decent bokeh, fast AF and small size. We are talking from a rather specific perspective and put a lot of emphasis on smaller details like CA correction, bokeh in the transition zone, bokeh contrast etc.. Here the GM24 for example made a really good impression but from the samples we have seen the FE 1.8/35 doesn’t so I think it is fair to call it a budget lens. A rather expensive one that is. But you are of course right we should have a closer look at it and I have sent a request to Sony to borrow one for a review.

      1. looking forward to a review of the 1.8/35!

        if the bokeh on the 1.4/24 GM is so good, i wonder if cropping it will get you better results compared to the new 1.8/35.

  4. Interesting conversation with a bunch of juicy details, educated speculation and necessary reflections, kudos!

    Taking a look at Zeiss’ website, it appears the rumor mentioned by David (1:11:48), that the Loxia lenses are basically Zeiss’ Interlock Compact lenses (https://www.zeiss.com/camera-lenses/int/automated-imaging/products/interlock-compact-lenses.html), appears to be spot-on. Maybe the industrial design explains the rather poor experience with regards to focus and aperture rings being to close, the uncomfortable mounting/un-mounting issue, and the Loxias’ rather ugly look and plain form. I haven’t looked at release dates, but I think David is right.

    In that regard, I think David’s guess that there probably won’t be more Loxia lenses being released any time soon, (1:12:14), sounds pretty sound as well. One can of course always hope, but I don’t think that’s what we ought to sit and do, and I think this blog partly speaks to that.

    The larger industrial Interlock lenses is significantly better featured, and it includes many well known designs, also in M42 and F mount (https://www.zeiss.com/camera-lenses/int/automated-imaging/products/interlock-lenses.html), but those are not compact lenses. Speaking of compact lenses, the industrial Dimensions lenses for micro four third sensors (https://www.zeiss.com/camera-lenses/us/automated-imaging/products/dimension-lenses.html) have some pretty mind-blowing MTF charts. The new Ventum 2.8/21 E-mount lens for drones, is also an Interlock Compact adaptation.

    In the description of the Interlock Compact lenses there’s this passage: “They fit to line scan cameras with sensors of 43 mm (4k – 8k) and area scan cameras with full frame sensors of 36 x 24 mm (up to 42 Mpixel).” Does the last part in brackets _ up to 42Mpizel refer to sensors available at the time this was written?

    The rather dim final note about the photography industry losing ground, and the size of its historical customer base shrinking, is rather sobering, but a necessary one, I believe. With manufacturers and magazines touting Leica lenses and 100Mpx sensors on phones, it’s probably to be expected.

    Photography, as an art form, is quite dependent on technology and someone making the right tools. There’s certainly a need to think about the future of photography, and how to source and produce the tech and optics photographers want and need. In this respect, the appearance of small manufacturers from China – like Laowa, 7artisans or Viltrox – is, I believe, a positive development. I think a market with smaller manufacturers that are interested in making a business more directed to photographers than the historical and large manufacturers, is positive compared to a scenario of consolidation, duopolies and the likes, as mentioned by David. I think photographers – the consumer base – has an obvious role to play in how these things ultimately play out, and here we have to think more about where we want to take photography, rather than espousing silly brand loyalties and and idiotic fanboyisms. A diversity of approaches and products from different manufacturers is more interesting and healthier than everyone trying to outmaneuver each other with essentially the same products.

    Anyhow, great episode!

    1. I wouldn’t call it a rumor. They’re the same lenses, essentially (if there’s any difference it will be to account for sensor stack).

      Which application drove lens design probably depends. Sticking rigidly to a fixed diameter is probably driven by the industrial side (although common filter sizes, similar haptics can be useful for video, as is the smooth aperture). Nice bokeh and rendering, thought, has nothing to do with industry.

      The less than helpful aperture ring position might come from the industrial application (and certainly won’t be fixed for the series), but the lenses being hard to remove from the camera is simply a mis-feature likely mandated by sexy design (to which the industrial versions are not beholden).

      None of this precludes a few more focal lengths (e.g. a 28mm, or a 75), tough it probably precludes going much wider/longer than we have. It also doesn’t preclude them, at some point reviewing the older designs.

      What does make it harder though is that Cosina might be more interested in building Voigtlanders than Loxias. And if that’s the case, the industrial application might really be the only thing that saves the Loxias. If there’s an industrial demand, why not build the equivalent Loxia, even if it’s pricier (because uninterested Cosina charges extra)? And if it’s driven by industry, redoing the 35mm probably isn’t going to happen (who in industry cares about harsh rendering).

      1. Good points about the Loxia series design flaws – mounting/un-mounting issue, focus and aperture ring proximity, filter thread and form factor – and where they could stem from. I guess we will ultimately never know.
        My two cents are basically that considering the Loxia lenses being derived from an initial industrial design, might to some degree help explain some of the design flaws. On the other hand, we don’t know to what degree the overall design – and differences between the Interlock compact and Loxias – took into account two separate lens line-ups and applications from the onset, and their respective optimization.

        To me the interesting point of the discussion, ultimately revolves around the possibility to anticipate what we in all likelihood might get from Zeiss in the future, and how knowing the industrial provenance of the Loxia lenses, can help to anticipate future developments.
        As you well point out, while nothing precludes Zeiss from adding focal lengths within the 52mm filter thread limitations, or even release reviewed versions, it doesn’t seem very likely.

        I don’t have any reference or knowledge to go on with regards to the dealings between Zeiss and Cosina, and how that influences what Zeiss can or will offer, or if that’s a reasonable speculation. However, it doesn’t sound very likely that it could be in the interest of Cosina to stand between Zeiss and E-mount customers.

        All in all, the frustration of not having the lenses we would wish for, leads us to dig a little to try and anticipate whether our needs will be covered in the near future, of if it’s best to get the second best option in the meantime. I’d love for C/V to announce a new compact high performance f/1.8 or f/2 35mm, a 180mm Apo Lanthar hopefully faster than f/4, the Nokton 1.5/75 for E-mount, and even a 28mm with the performance and compromise of the Nokton 21mm f/1.4, but I can only sit tight and wait and do a little speculation.
        If Voigtlander doesn’t announce a 35mm for their next batch of releases, nor a 180mm Apo Lanthar, I will inevitably have to settle for the 2/35 Loxia and hold on to my C/Y 4.5-5.6/100-300 Vario-Sonnar. What I seriously doubt, though, is that we will see a reviewed manual focus 35mm lens in the Loxia line-up. That’s more or less the calculation I’m personally interested in making. I’m glad David pointed to the Interlock Compact lens line-up and added that piece of information, it contributes to make sense of what is likely to come.


    2. Agreed + great listen, really enjoyed this podcast and especially interesting hearing everyone’s thoughts on Zeiss + David’s insights.. hope he will be back for future episodes!
      Really hope Zeiss bring about a somewhat compact / premium mirrorless Otus style line… but the mystery seems it will continue until some of the dust from Canon Nikon Sony Panasonic etc mirrorless mounts settles…

  5. Excellent discussion, informative and entertaining. Really impressed by the participants knowledge. Looking forward to more.

  6. I am curious about your thoughts on the older Sony-Zeiss lenses. The 35mm f/1.4, and 24-70 f/4 are looking pretty “long in the tooth.” Do you think the flow of new lenses from Canon and Nikon will move Sony to start replacing some of these early efforts with newer G or even GM versions?

      1. Yes, I had hoped the 35mm f/1.8 would at least be a G lens. Reports seem to show that it is very sharp but CA is an issue… one wonders what just one or two ED elements could have yielded. At this point I am going to stick with the Loxia, since I am only interested in f/4-f/11. It will be interesting to see what primes Tamron is going to announce.

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