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Zeiss 18mm VS 21mm

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  • Zeiss 18mm VS 21mm

    I'm really in doubt on this one since I want to buy one or the other in ZF format.

    Many seems to prefer the 21 Distagon which is a legendary lens. For what I can read many users are somewhat fundamentalists towards this lens when comparing both. I've read many saying "21mm, period!".

    Well... Sorry but I just don't find it that easy (I wish it was).

    Photozone says that the 21 is in another league even if they tend to give a Highly recommended to the 18mm (but they didn't). Anyway, using the 18mm on the upcoming 4K production camera (which I've pre-reserved), I'm going to end with a 26mm VS 30mm when using the 21mm.

    I don't know about you guys but from 30mm to 26mm seems almost nothing but indeed it is a difference that pays off on some tight sets. 21mm MTF chart is better but then again I'm not going to use the 18mm on a full frame but on a S35 sensor.

    Besides all this, the 18mm is cheaper.

    If I did make a survey out of this which way did you lean on? 21 or 18?

    Thanks

    PS - I ask to the moderators to delete this same post on the cinematography section (where I wrongly posted it the first time)

  • #2
    If you want to *own* a high quality lens, spend the money on the 21mm. An 18 is nice on Super35, and I would rent an 18mm T/1.3 Zeiss Superspeed if I needed it. Not because you need f/1.2, but because the Superspeeds are much cheaper to rent than the Ultras and Masterprimes. You could also rent the Zeiss 15mm, and get an f/2.8 instead of f/3.5 from the 18 (15 and 21, instead of 18 and 21).

    Back several years ago when we were adapting Contax Zeiss lenses on Canon cameras, I stayed away from the 18. Although it's probably pretty good, it was really never a "gem" of a lens, compared to the 21, 28, 50, 100 makro, etc.

    Right now, with the ZF lenses, I think the best ones are the 15/2.8, 21/2.8, 25/2, 35/2 or 35/1.4, 50/2, and 100/2.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by RobertJ View Post
      Back several years ago when we were adapting Contax Zeiss lenses on Canon cameras, I stayed away from the 18. Although it's probably pretty good, it was really never a "gem" of a lens, compared to the 21, 28, 50, 100 makro, etc.

      Right now, with the ZF lenses, I think the best ones are the 15/2.8, 21/2.8, 25/2, 35/2 or 35/1.4, 50/2, and 100/2.
      Thank you for your feedback Robert. I also have the notion that the 21 is a superior lens compared to the 18. You have mentioned the 15 and that was my first choice if money was no object but right now I've invested in a 35/2, 50/1.4, and an 85/1.4.

      The 15 is way out of my reach for now but the 21 isn't. The main question remains nonetheless. Do you consider the 21 to be the ultimate choice even if we aren't using it's corner capabilities and knowing that the FOV is narrower compared to the 18?

      My question is... Does the 21 compensates with real image quality and higher price what it looses in FOV?

      The f/3.5 isn't and issue since shallow DOF is what it is in a wide lens and vignetting goes almost unnoticed in S35 format, even wide open.

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      • #4
        How can you validate a measurable value like resolution against an aesthetic value like FOV or DOF?

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Nomad View Post
          How can you validate a measurable value like resolution against an aesthetic value like FOV or DOF?
          Exactly right! Thank you for putting the correct words in my bad english (I'm on this - european - side of the Atlantic).

          That's why I've said that this isn't as simple as many says it is. You have put my dilemma in the right words and what I'm asking the community is to share their thoughts on what value is of most importance to you:

          Aesthetics and resolution, even if I find the aesthetic value to be somewhat subjective on this matter. For what is worth part of the 21mm aesthetics comes from the fact that it has an edge on resolution in absolute terms.

          But picking on your statement the question remains. Do you think the 21mm attributes to be visible on screen compared to the 18mm? If not, my option is much much easier. I will prefer the wider FOV.
          Last edited by naavt; 05-29-2013, 07:37 AM.

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          • #6
            Well, all I can tell you is that the 21mm is pretty much my favourite lens that I've ever owned. I have the CP.2 which is based on the same glass as the ZF version. It's just an all-round lovely lens, and the images it produces have that "certain something" that makes them special.

            I probably shoot around 80% of my work on just the 21mm and 85mm Zeisses.

            As for the FoV, on S35mm it is a little frustrating in that you do sometimes miss the extra couple of degrees between 21mm and 18mm (as a result, I always carry a wider lens with me just in case).

            I haven't shot with the 18mm personally, but I've seen samples from the lens that looked nice to me (but then I've never seen a sample from any of the ZF lenses that I thought lacked for much - they've always been the stills lenses I've coveted). At the end of the day though, people rave about the 21mm for a reason - I say go for the lens that gets you excited everytime you pull it out. For me that's the 21mm.

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            • #7
              I have the Zeiss Distagon 18mm/3.5 on an EF BMCC and enjoy it quite a bit. You can see it in action here:

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              • #8
                Thanks for all you inputs. I've just bought an 18mm yesterday to add to my Zeiss arsenal. My primary reasons for the choice were the extra FOV and not so much real world performance difference compared to the 21mm for what I can see everywhere.

                The extra stop loss is annoying though. It didn't arrive yet but I think I'll be happy with it. Let's wait and see

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                • #9
                  I think it is important to remember that reviews of lenses aimed at fullframe 6k aquisition dont correlate to taking 2.5k from the centre portion

                  Personally I dont think either is wide enough on the BMC chip to be the widest in the arsenal - Id therefore be interested in a 14 and the 21, but with S35 Id take the 18...

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by morgan_moore View Post
                    Personally I dont think either is wide enough on the BMC chip to be the widest in the arsenal - Id therefore be interested in a 14 and the 21, but with S35 Id take the 18...
                    If you read my original post you will see that I've pre-reserved a Production camera (S35 sensor). So my previous evaluation of a "wide angle" (18 vs 21), and it's respective FOV was to take that into account.

                    Glad to know that you ended up making the same choice as I did +1

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                    • #11
                      The point still stands with ff lenses and their reviews when used for s35 - you are using the sweet spot and should not be out off by pixel peeping still togs opinion of lenses ..

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by morgan_moore View Post
                        The point still stands with ff lenses and their reviews when used for s35 - you are using the sweet spot and should not be out off by pixel peeping still togs opinion of lenses ..
                        Oddly Photozone gives it a better score on FX format compared to DX. Logics says that you're right and I'm with you on the same boat but I've read some Philip Bloom post a couple of months ago where he stated that DX lenses performed better than FX ones on APS sized sensors like Canons and Nikons.

                        The logic says that the same principle would apply to S35 sensors with FX lenses, even if common judgement (use of lens sweet spot), says the opposite. Nowadays I really just don't know who to believe anymore. It's probably a good idea to pick both 5 and 7d and make a series of shot tests and see the results by myself.

                        Anyway, It's bought now and the only thing to do if it does not live to the expectations when it finally arrives to my door is to sell it and buy the 21mm (I really hope not for the sake of my wallet). For now the only thing bothering me is the slow aperture. All my other Zeiss lenses are f1.4 and f2. That's about 2 stops less compared to my actual slower lens. Lets wait and see...
                        Last edited by naavt; 06-12-2013, 05:09 PM.

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                        • #13
                          Indeed probably the lenses designed to work on a sensor size work best with that sensor size - you are balancing two things LPI and Edge abberations

                          For example the finest 10-8 plate camera lens would still have low LPI on a sensor 50 time smaller

                          The nature of lens design means they always push the limits inducing edge abberations when using a sensor the lens designed for

                          So its a trade off

                          But my point is that many read still/FF35 reviews of lenses and join a mantra that they are soft at the edges - which they are on a FF35 chip, but in the case of an S35 or smaller chip those edge aberrations are irrelevant to the selection process

                          Enjoy the 18 - I think it is the perfect 'general purpose wide' on S35

                          S

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by morgan_moore View Post
                            Indeed probably the lenses designed to work on a sensor size work best with that sensor size - you are balancing two things LPI and Edge abberations

                            For example the finest 10-8 plate camera lens would still have low LPI on a sensor 50 time smaller

                            The nature of lens design means they always push the limits inducing edge abberations when using a sensor the lens designed for

                            So its a trade off

                            But my point is that many read still/FF35 reviews of lenses and join a mantra that they are soft at the edges - which they are on a FF35 chip, but in the case of an S35 or smaller chip those edge aberrations are irrelevant to the selection process
                            That a good point.

                            Originally posted by morgan_moore View Post
                            Enjoy the 18 - I think it is the perfect 'general purpose wide' on S35
                            I think I will Thanks

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                            • #15
                              Speaking of 18mm vs 21mm, are either any good for the equivalent of 50mm (on a full frame) on the BMCC (EF)? What about distortion, vignetting?

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