mirror-photo-therapy. A Carl Zeiss Y/C 28mm Distagon f2.8 on a
Sigma fp with accessory loupe.
It's no secret that in the film days Carl Zeiss teamed up with Japanese camera maker, Yashica, to bring out a line of cameras under the Contax brand. Zeiss designed, and for a time actually built a number of the lenses in the line-up in Germany. Most of the later lenses, still designed by Zeiss, were built under license in Japan.
The cameras were very nice but the lenses, according to reviewers of the day, were aimed to be competitors not for Canon and Nikon but for Leica. I shot with Contax cameras for a while in the late 1980's and early 1990's before moving on to a different system. I can't remember ever being displeased with any of the Carl Zeiss lenses and there are a few that made a big impact on me at the time.
Even though I rarely reach for wider angle lenses I recall being suitably impressed every time I worked with the 28mm f2.8 lens so when one came on the market recently, at a very comfortable price, I took a break from my heedless pursuit of status signaling cameras and lenses to buy it. If you plan to use a Contax Y/C on a current mirrorless camera you'll need a lens adapter. I planned to use the lens with an L-mount body and as luck would have it I already had the required adapter attached to a Carl Zeiss Y/C 50mm f1.7 Planar; also a very pleasant lens. Since I seem to be attracting more and more of the Carl Zeiss Y/C (Yashica/Contax) lenses I went ahead and ordered a second adapter from a company called Fotasy. The adapter was a bargain at $14.95.
Keep in mind that these are "dumb" adapters that don't transmit any information between lens and camera. You'll either be working manually or in aperture priority mode, and since the lenses were originally built as manual focusing lenses you'll find that no miracles have happened in the ensuing 30 years; they remain manual focusing lenses.
These lenses were built to a very high standard, mechanically, so you'll find the focusing rings to be smooth and not-too-easy-not-too-hard to turn and focus. The external aperture rings also have a "just right" feeling to them. The 28mm, 50mm and 135mm lenses all have the same 55mm filter diameter and yes, the filter mount is metal.
Austin has been blanketed by fog all day long and when I woke up and looked out the window my first thought was, "Oh Boy! Everything looks cool on foggy days. Let's get out there." It seems like any excuse for a good, long walk is a good excuse.
After my long, introspective article on Friday I felt the need just to kick back and not make any big waves today. I just wanted to do basic photo stuff and have fun out there. With that in mind I attached the 28mm lens+adapter to a Sigma fp, put the rear finder loupe onto the fp and headed toward my favorite downtown route. I had two goals in mind: I wanted to get some exercise and I wanted to see how different everything looked in the fog. Another side goal was to see how well I get along with the 28mm focal length. It's been a while since I owned a 28mm prime.
The camera was set to fine Jpeg and aperture preferred exposure. I engaged the auto ISO and set the WB to the cute little icon that means "cloudy." What I quickly re-discovered with the 28mm focal length is that the depth of field is big and wide. Unlike most modern lenses this one includes a depth of field scale actually engraved on the lens barrel. A bit of trial and error showed me that I could depend on a combination of the d-o-f scale and focus peaking for everything but the closest object focusing.
Since I wanted to see what the lens was capable of through its most used aperture range I shot some images at f2.8, more at f5.6 and a good number at f8.0. Mostly because those are the f-stops I find myself using with wide angle lenses most often. If I were constrained to use just one aperture setting it would be f5.6.
What did I learn? Well, I'll start by saying the lens is more than adequately sharp for the way I used it today. The camera was set for a 7:6 aspect ratio so I wasn't giving the corners any hard lifting. Within the boundaries the camera and I set the lens was pretty much perfect and had very low vignetting. I'm almost certain the corners would not have been as pretty had I been shooting across a whole 3:2 frame. But the other part of that question is: would it even matter/
The color rendering of the lens is accurate and neutral and the contrast of the lens is a bit higher than most of its contemporaries. All in all it's a great lens to shoot with. I also found that the 28mm focal length felt more natural to me than the 35mm focal length. Certainly just a personal opinion but it did feel easier to compose with the 28mm. Of course, you could argue that with the reduced aspect ratio of the frame I probably was shooting the equivalent of a 35mm lens but there we are. I've attached a caption to a few of the images but not to all of them. Remember to click on them if you want to see them bigger. I uploaded them at 3298 pixels on the long side but God only knows what Blogger will do to them in the upload process.
I also bought a used 135mm f2.8 Carl Zeiss Y/C Sonnar but I haven't played with that one yet. I owned a copy back in 1994 which I took with me to make photos at a Paris fashion show. It certainly seemed good enough back then. I guess we'll see in the next few days how this one acquisition stands up in the digital age.
There is a group of volunteers who maintain raised gardens of flowering plants
along the sides of the Pfluger Pedestrian Bridge. Even in the dead of winter
the flowers are there to make walking across even more pleasant.
The main focus is on the rose just to the left of center frame.
Please remember that I was shooting in dense fog...
This giant, communal picnic table is a permanent fixture on the east end of the dog park
just North of Lady Bird Lake, adjacent to the Seaholm Center.
People often have birthday parties and other celebrations here.
f8 and be there. The 28mm does a good job with details.
The view across the Butterfly Bridge. Looking into downtown.
Different every time I pass by.
curved mirror/parking garage studio #8.
Reviewers often mentioned that this lens was not as sharp or contrasty when
used for close ups. This image was taken about a foot or 13 inches from the closer
doll. I find it nicely sharp. When I look at 100 percent the doll's eyelashes are
rendered with exquisite sharpness. Maybe reviewers back in the last century
were much tougher.
It's so strange. I could have sworn I walked this route within the last week
and the mural just above (and below) did not exist. There had been a big, yellow wall there
for about a year. Now, all of a sudden, a new mural. The people you see in the frame
were not added for scale they are actually some of the people who did the painting.
They've come by to see what more needs to be done.
As you know, I am a fan of mural art and art in public places.
another ultra close shot with the lens set to f4.0.
I learned to shoot reflections in puddles by watching Chris Nichols when
he and Jordon Drake were doing equipment review videos for The Camera Store.
Everywhere I looked in downtown this morning people were either coming to or
going home from yoga classes. It's a full on mania.
I should note that I really like the way files come out of the Sigma fp. Even if they are just Jpegs.