6.21.2016

The search for my ultimate 50mm lens to use on the Sony A7ii is on temporary hold as I try out an interesting lens. It's on probation.


I've been prowling through the commercial-o-sphere looking at 50mm lens options for the clever mirrorless cameras that Sony keeps dangling in front of me. I like 50's. I like them a lot. But there is something strange and off putting about spending $900 or $1200 to get a decent normal lens when the world is filled with magnificent 50mm models from days gone by. And mostly they are available for much more reasonable prices. The only additional price of admission is an inexpensive adapter...

Back in the early 1990's I had a brief flirtation with the line of cameras built by Yashica and sold under the Contax brand. They had a licensing agreement with Zeiss and under that agreement they created and marketed a line of lenses that were really quite good. I had two different 50's from them; the f1.4 and the f1.7 and both were very good lenses for me. I have to confess that while I know I was supposed to like the faster and more expensive lens better I always favored the images coming from the f1.7 version. The benefit of that littler Zeiss lens is that it's small, light and sharp. Even with an adapter along for the ride it is not burdensome on the A7ii and, in fact, is the perfect fit where I am concerned.

I ordered the lens and the adapter from a merchant on Amazon. I was fine with the stated delivery time which would place the duo here between the 23rd and the 27th of the month. Imagine my delight when I came home yesterday and the box from Amazon was hanging out of my mailbox. Three days early! Nice surprise.

Over the weekend I had a chance to play with the Rokinon 50mm 1.4 and, while I am sure it's a good performer, the new, little Zeiss package is much more ergonomic. My total cost for the lens and a C/Y to Nex adapter was less than $150. I've shot a few images but certainly not enough to say anything definitive about it. Yet. My cursory observations include: Wow! No vignetting. None. And, wow, the finder image is bright and contrasty. I've got the lens with me today and it's following me on my rounds. I'll shoot with it as much as I can. Then we'll see if inexpensive, Zeiss branded stuff from the 1990's can hold a candle to modern, un-adapted glass.


The lens is small and the adapter is simple.


7 comments:

john gee said...

don't forget the Contax 28mm 2.8 with nex adapter on your a6300..........nice 42mm as we say locally you'll be "cooking with gas"

TMJ said...

The Russian made, Soviet era Helios 58mm f2.0, to fit the Zenit SLR cameras, was one of my favourite 'standard lenses' being slightly longer than what is commonly referred to as 'standard'. I have made some of my all-time favourite images with that lens. You had to remember to manually stop the diaphragm down, but apart from that minor inconvenience, it was great.

The OM Zuiko 50mm f2.0 macro has the reputation of being one of the finest ever 50mm lenses made for 35mm film, good luck finding one now though. (The same applies to the Zuiko 90mm f2.0 macro, superb optically, rather rare).

EdPledger said...

Nice choice, got one of those as well as the 1.4. The sleeper in that group is the Yashica ML 50 1.7 so far as I am concerned. But the Zeiss has the nice T* coatings, and many give the 1.7 the nod over the 1.4. Be interested to hear how this works out.

JereK said...

Sizewise looks like an excellent match! looking forward to reading your feelings on it.

Ricardo Cordeiro said...

I had the CY Zeiss planar 50mm f/1.4 version back when I had Canon FF. The built quality is outstanding as is the sharpness, coatings and micro-contrast. But I couldn't stand the nervous bokeh that ruined my wide-aperture night street shots, the results were just chaotic.

I had to switch to a modern non-planar design of the Sigma EX 50mm f/1.4, a huge and heavy lens, but I loved it's drawing style, the performance wide-open and DOF transitions gave me the closes look to medium-format I've had on a 35mm full-frame. I wish Sigma made a more compact version of that lens for Sony E mount.

Clemens Lee said...

Buy them all! They're all cheap and slightly different drawing. And somewhere on this blog I remember I red about the Nikkor 50mm f/1.2 being perfect for portrait, which I also think! Unfortunately it is one of the few 1.2er I couldn't collect yet :). But I have used one from a colleague, wow.. Then the Contax G 45/2 is 47mm actually. Perfectly manually adaptable, and really special. Leica Summicron R 50/2 version 2, also an option and still much cheaper than a new Loxia. And actually I like the 1.4 Contax and also 45/2.8 over the 1.7. But all a matter of taste and how wonderful so much choice at a low cost.

DOug Chadwick said...

I have that Zeiss lens as well as the 35 2.8. I have not bothered to get an adapter for them yet as I use the 50mm 1.4 AI Nikkor and my 50 Summicron. But I will be interested to see what your opinions are. I have heard many good things about the 1.7.

Of them I use the Nikkor the most and often on the tilt adapter, but that was the adapter that needed help with flare control.