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    #11
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    You can probably find a hundred reviews about the ZF lenses on the web. One of them (Ken Rockwell's) is negative. Every other review I found is gushing.

    Rockwell's review is hostile from the opening sentence. Using phrases such as "the cheap FM-10" and "manual focus went obsolete 20 years ago" are just hostile and fuddy. Reading it, it sounded like he had a chip on his shoulder from the beginning. Now, I don't know or care what he prefers, but what I wanted was excellent performance, beautiful imagery, and the slickest, sweetest manual focus I could get, and the ZF has it. Oh, and it also happens to have gorgeous build quality overall, and stellar performance, and really has nothing in common with a "cheap FM-10".

    I was initially bothered by Ken Rockwell's review, and frankly it made me hold off on buying any of these lenses for quite a while. But after something like a dozen other, screamingly praising reviews everywhere else, I took the gamble. I got the 50mm because it was the cheapest, and ... it's the cheapest. It's my least favorite. If anyone was going to complain about any of the ZFs, it would be this one. But even so, if you stop it down a couple of stops, it begins to become wonderful. So I no longer put any stock in that review. Besides, what he wanted is not what I want -- he wanted a lens he could "focus with one finger" and that had autofocus. I wanted a lens that delivered cinema-worthy results, for a lot less than the Compact Primes.

    Secondly, the ZFs are not the same lenses as the Contax ones were. The optical design is different, and reviews have shown the ZFs to outperform the older Contax designs.

    Third, pick one up and hold it -- you'll be able to tell the difference between a ZF and any other SLR lens. It does exactly what I want -- gorgeous image rendering, beautiful solid delicious construction quality, and heavenly manual focus with massively long focus throw.

    Fourth, lenses are a matter of preference, some like and prefer the warm/soft Cooke look, others prefer the Leica look, I happen to crave the Zeiss look of super-sharp and ultra-contrasty.

    Fifth, I repeat -- Zeiss now sells the same glass to the cinema world as the Compact Primes, where each lens is rehoused in a PL housing with proper cinema focus and throw, witness marks for the focus and iris, and standardized fronts. Those lenses cost upwards of $4,000 each, and a complete set of seven costs over $27,000. The glass is the exact same in the ZFs. For $250 apiece you can get these lenses modified to perform much more like cinema lenses, so for 1/3 the price you're getting cinema-ized versions that perform like a professional cinema lens set...

    In any case, any of these SLR lenses are massive overkill for SLR video use. If you want to buy a lens for shooting HDSLR video, a cheap 50mm will be just as sharp as a ZF or other premium stills lens.
    Last edited by Barry_Green; 12-08-2009 at 01:21 PM.


     

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    #12
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    Thank you so much for your article Barry. It was a very neutral, balanced, informative perspective. We should REQUIRE that everyone in the DVXUser community read this.....so we cut out all of the "background noise".

    Thanks again for all you do for our community!


     

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    #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barry_Green View Post
    You can probably find a hundred reviews about the ZF lenses on the web. One of them (Ken Rockwell's) is negative. Every other review I found is gushing.

    Rockwell's review is hostile from the opening sentence. Using phrases such as "the cheap FM-10" and "manual focus went obsolete 20 years ago" are just hostile and fuddy. Reading it, it sounded like he had a chip on his shoulder from the beginning. Now, I don't know or care what he prefers, but what I wanted was excellent performance, beautiful imagery, and the slickest, sweetest manual focus I could get, and the ZF has it. Oh, and it also happens to have gorgeous build quality overall, and stellar performance, and really has nothing in common with a "cheap FM-10".

    I was initially bothered by Ken Rockwell's review, and frankly it made me hold off on buying any of these lenses for quite a while. But after something like a dozen other, screamingly praising reviews everywhere else, I took the gamble. I got the 50mm because it was the cheapest, and ... it's the cheapest. It's my least favorite. If anyone was going to complain about any of the ZFs, it would be this one. But even so, if you stop it down a couple of stops, it begins to become wonderful. So I no longer put any stock in that review. Besides, what he wanted is not what I want -- he wanted a lens he could "focus with one finger" and that had autofocus. I wanted a lens that delivered cinema-worthy results, for a lot less than the Compact Primes.

    Secondly, the ZFs are not the same lenses as the Contax ones were. The optical design is different, and reviews have shown the ZFs to outperform the older Contax designs.

    Third, pick one up and hold it -- you'll be able to tell the difference between a ZF and any other SLR lens. It does exactly what I want -- gorgeous image rendering, beautiful solid delicious construction quality, and heavenly manual focus with massively long focus throw.

    Fourth, lenses are a matter of preference, some like and prefer the warm/soft Cooke look, others prefer the Leica look, I happen to crave the Zeiss look of super-sharp and ultra-contrasty.

    Fifth, I repeat -- Zeiss now sells the same glass to the cinema world as the Compact Primes, where each lens is rehoused in a PL housing with proper cinema focus and throw, witness marks for the focus and iris, and standardized fronts. Those lenses cost upwards of $4,000 each, and a complete set of seven costs over $27,000. The glass is the exact same in the ZFs. For $250 apiece you can get these lenses modified to perform much more like cinema lenses, so for 1/3 the price you're getting cinema-ized versions that perform like a professional cinema lens set...

    In any case, any of these SLR lenses are massive overkill for SLR video use. If you want to buy a lens for shooting HDSLR video, a cheap 50mm will be just as sharp as a ZF or other premium stills lens.
    Barry-

    I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts. I imagined/hoped that you were familiar with the Rockwell review of the ZF lenses.

    I believe you have addressed the issues that any dvxuser would consider when they were looking for glass to be used with the GH1.

    Be well

    Rob


     

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    #14
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    ignoring the manual focus part, ken rockwell seems happy with the performance.


     

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    #15
    Senior Member konton's Avatar
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    Great to hear your thoughts on this. Now if I can just find that body only GH1 . . .

    Justin


     

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    #16
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    You pretty much came to the same conclusion I did. I can't see one better than the other and I'm also keeping them both until something better comes along.

    Future cameras from both Canon and Panasonic will be very interesting indeed.


     

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    #17
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    Great article, Barry, as usual. I've been strugglin' with myself for some tryin' to decide between the GH1 and the 7D and, finally, it was the 7D. I know I'll miss some of the GH1 features (especially, the smaller form factor and the articulated screen) but I already have some nice L glass and I would like to use my SmallHD for monitoring, so, these have been decisive factors in favor of the Canon.

    One thing -- In your article you say that "still-camera lenses aren't parfocals, they don't hold focus at all" and insist in this affirmation later when you says: "Already I've mentioned that you don't have parfocal lenses, meaning you can't zoom in, focus, and zoom back out". Well, this is not the case. Or, it's not correct in all cases. Most of still zoom lenses are not parfocal -a lot of cheap or variable aperture ones-, but some of the best ones are. I canīt talk about other brands, but these Canon lenses are parfocal:


    • EF 16-35mm f/2.8L USM
    • EF 17-40mm f/4L USM
    • EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM
    • EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM
    • EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM
    • EF 70-200mm f/4L USM
    • EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM
    • EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III USM
    • EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III
    • EF 90-300mm f/4.5-5.6 USM
    • EF 90-300mm f/4.5-5.6
    You have this information provided by Chuck Westfall from Canon USA here: http://www.rogercavanagh.com/helpinfo/30_parfocal.stm

    I know for sure that my Leica-R 28-90 2.8-4.5 ASPH and 80-200 4 are parfocal too.


     

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    #18
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    You're right, some lenses are. I was referring to the kit lenses that come with the SLRs.


     

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    #19
    Junior Member Freeze's Avatar
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    Thanks Barry for the informative and non-biased information. Would really love to have both but am confident on going with the 7D as my main cam.


     

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    #20
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    As a professional video camera to replace an HPX170 or EX1, which one would I use? Neither. No possible way. They aren't ready for that. Way too limiting, and the potential image artifacting that happens because of the extreme aliasing they both use, means that for me, as my own choice, I would not risk my reputation or my paycheck by using one of these instead of a professional video camera.
    Well, my decision is made. Thanks again Barry.

    Peter


     

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