Review: Zeiss Loxia 2.8/21 Distagon T*

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Since the introduction of the Contax Distagon 2.8/21 in the early 1990’s, the 21mm lenses from Zeiss have a long and glorious history of being some of the best wide angle lenses in the world. While the Loxia 2.0/35 and the Loxia 2.0/50 are refined ZM-Designs, the Zeiss Loxia 2.8/21 is the first Loxia lens that features a new optical design. Lets have a look if the Loxia 2.8/21 can keep the heritage alive.
31/05/17 Update by Bastian: I have been using this lens regularly for a year now and Jannik asked me if there is anything I would like to contribute to his review, so I added a few notes and sample images.

Sample Images

Zeiss Loxia 2.8/21 | f/5.6 | ISO 100 | A7II
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Zeiss Loxia 2.8/21 | f/5.6 | ISO 100 | A7II | Full Size
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Zeiss Loxia 2.8/21 | f/2.8 | ISO 100 | Sony A7R

Continue reading Review: Zeiss Loxia 2.8/21 Distagon T*

Review: Leica 90mm 2.0 Summicron M

Introduction

sony a7s a7 series a7r ilce-7s pre asph summicron m leica leitz 90mm 2.0
Sony A7s with Leica 90mm 2.0 Summicron M (pre Asph) and VM-E close focus adapter (Helicoid)

The Leica Summicron-M 90mm 2.0 in the version reviewed here has been Leica’s top of the line portrait lens from 1980 to 1998.  In search for a decent yet fast and small portrait lens for the A7 series I decided to give this one a try, so read on to find out how it fared and if it can still be found in my bag.

Sample Images

venice sony a7s summicron-m 90mm 2.0 a7 reflection
Sony A7s | Leica Summicron M 90mm 2.0 | f/8 | panorama from 4 shots | full resolution
sony a7s summicron-m 90mm 2.0 a7s portrait wedding men groom husband
Sony A7s | Leica Summicron M 90mm 2.0 | f/2 | full resolution
bokeh summicron-m 90mm 2,0 f2 sony a7s leica leitz
Sony A7s | Leica Summicron M 90mm 2.0 | f/2 | full resolution

Continue reading Review: Leica 90mm 2.0 Summicron M

Minolta MD Rokkor 50mm 1:1.4

under construction

SpecificationsMinolta MD 1.4/50

Diameter63mm
Length40mm
Filter Thread55mm
Weight245g
Max. Magnification1:6.6
Close Focusing Distance from the sensor45cm
Close Focusing Distance from the front of the lens36
Number of aperture blades6
Elements/ Groups7

Price:  (July  2016): about 50€ in good condition at ebay.de or $ at ebay.com (affiliate links).

Versions

Minolta made three optically different 1.4/50 lenses.

  1. The MC Rokkor 50mm 1:1.4 PG is the oldest one with the nicest built quality and very good image quality
  2. The MD Rokkor 50mm 1:1.4 with 55mm filter thread. It is 60gramms lighter than the MC and the close focusing distance decreased from 50cm to 45cm.  This page is about this lens.
  3. The MD (Rokkor) 50mm 1:1.4 with 49mm filter thread.

For more technical details visit the Minolta SR lens index.

Build quality and handling

Builts quality is very good, only the name plate and aperture ring are made from plastic, the rest is made from metal.

All in all it is a rather small lens and it balances very well on the Sony a7. The original lens shade is made from plastics, has a decent size and isn’t too bulky. Because the front element is rather exposed I would recommend using it.

The focusing ring travels around 100° from 45cm to 1m and a further 60° to infinity. The focusing has just the right amount of resistance but it is a bit small (8mm) for my taste.

The aperture ring has half stops from f/2.0 to f/16 and no stop between f/1.4 and f/2.0.
MD50f1p4-3

 

 Image Samples in low resolution

 

weekend

winter detail

return of the light

the mill
You can find many more samples in this flickr set.

Optical performance

These results are based on the use with a Sony Alpha 7.

Bokeh

Minolta MD 50mm 1:1.4 @f/1.4
f/1.4: rather defined outlines
Minolta MD 50mm 1:1.4 @f/2
f/2: still defined outline but noticeably less
Minolta MD 50mm 1:1.4 @f/2.8
f/2.8: much less defined outlines but visible hexagons

Chromatic Aberrations

Sharpness
Minolta_MD_50mmf14 infinty test

Alternatives

Minolta MC 1.2/58: Quite a bit smoother bokeh and 8, not just 6 aperture blades make it a superior lens when bokeh is important. Sharpness is similar, the 1.4/50 might be a tad better. It also costs about 6 times as much and is nearly 150g heavier.

Minolta MC 1.7/55Not as sharp at wider apertures but it has nicer bokeh and is a bit smaller.

Minolta MD 2/50Worse bokeh but it is sharp across most of the frame from f/2, very small and only weights half of the MC 1.4/50. This is reflected in the build quality though. It is also free of lateral CA and distortion which the 1.4/50 is not.

Zeiss C/Y Planar 1.4/50: The Planar has more effective coatings which results in a much better flare resistance and higher contrast at wider apertures. The Minolta is a lot cheaper though.

Canon nFD 1.4/50: The Canon is quite a bit sharper at f/1.4 and f/2 but  and it doesn’t feel nearly as solid. Price is similar.

Zeiss Loxia 2/50: A modern lens which is sharp across the frame from f/2 with high contrast and exif transmission. Bokeh is the only real weakness I found. Oh an the price of course.

Sony FE 1.8/55 ZA: The Sony is super sharp from f/1.8 and it has much smoother bokeh. Manual focus is a pain in the a** though and it is expensive.

Conclusion

A typical 1.4/50 lens: Rather soft wide open, good for portraits by f/2, excellent by f/2.8 but it needs to be stopped down to f/8 for landscapes.

Images Samples in high resolution

Minolta MD 50mm 1:1.4 @f/2
f/2

Minolta MD 50mm 1:1.4 @f/2.8

f/2.8 or maybe f/2.4

Minolta MD Rokkor 1.4/50 @f/4

f/4 – very good sharpness with a notable drop in the far corners

 

Minolta MD 50mm 1:1.4 @f/5.6
f/5.6

 

Minolta MD Rokkor 1.4/50 @f/8
f/8

Further Reading

For more Minolta lenses check out my Minolta list.

To learn about manual lenses in general this beginners guide might be helpful.

 

Manual Lenses | Sony Alpha