As promised, here is a review for a set of lens I’ve owned since 2011.
I didn’t buy them in one go mind you, it all started like all things when I had some spare cash from a recent an oversea business trip and decided to reward myself with something nice.
Always been a suckered for Carl Zeiss – the brand of lens that supposedly took magically photos when used, enchanting everything it was used on with its grace and elegance. I had never own any Zeiss prior to this and decided to pick up a focal length I would used often.
The 35mm f/2.0 – A revered focal length especially by many street photographers. I was still under the illusion that anyone could be a street photographer as long as they had the right gear and opportunity. How wrong I was then, I would learned many years down the road it took more than that – it required a passion that is very hard to learn.
But anyway, back to the review.
Carl Zeiss 35mm f/2.0 ZF.2
My first ever Zeiss lens.
It was certainly a beauty when I tried it out.
Like everything that buys their first zeiss lens, the first thing you will noticed is that all their lenses are made with metal.
Pure anodized metal, black powdered coated to give it that fine glossy finish. Harking back the old days when lens were made by master craftsmen.
This was something that felt more like a work of art than something you used as a tool. Like all fools you would think it gave you magical powers (at least that was what I thought then).
It was certainly something fun to use and no doubt there was some truth to the Zeiss brand.
Carl Zeiss 50mm f/2.0 ZF.2
Next one I bought was the 50mm f/2.0. This one I bought second hand from YL camera for the price of a new 50mm f/1.4.
Why did I get this instead of the f/1.4? Because it had better built and had a shorter focusing distance (whatever that means to be now).
To be frank, this one never saw much used. I would like to use it more often but it was just neither here nor there. Never being useful except for still life shooting.
Like the 35mm, it was well built – like a tank. Durable sleek and elegant. Mechanically perfect. It’s just a shame I haven’t found much use with it.
Carl Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 ZF.2
Now here, this was a lens I have dreamt about owning for a long time. Not exactly this brand. I was always lusting after this focal length at f/1.4. Dreaming of delicious bokeh.
It certainly delivered on that promised.
If the 35mm and 50mm was built like assault tanks then this was the artillery tank – blasting the target in its sight to pieces while ignoring everything else.
So does the Zeiss magic exist?
Does it really cast enchanting spells or perform miracles?
Yes and No.
Yes, Zeiss lenses are certainly well crafted and anyone who wants the best lens need look no further. Get them, just be sure on which focal length to get. The lenses are so well built, they will certainly outlive you. You could even pass them on as heirlooms if your descendants so desires.
No, in the sense the person who is using them needs to know what they are doing and how to take good photographs otherwise it would tantamount to “Casting pearls before swine.” – meaning even if you have such fantastic lenses, but still take lousy photos, then the fault lies entirely with the user.
Those wondering what using the lens is life, as mentioned the lenses are made of metal resulting in a tough but heavy lens. If you are those who like their rig to be light, I suggest looking else where. This is not the lens for you.
If you are looking for the best in optics that you can gradually grow with, this is the brand of lenses you should invest in. No matter what you throw at it, it will be captured with the best quality lens.
The only limiting factor here will be your imagination and skills. Mind you, using these lenses will certainly make, no, force you to be a better photographer since it is manual focus only.