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Author Topic: My unscientific 50mm macro shootout: Canon vs Zeiss  (Read 3516 times)

kev8d

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My unscientific 50mm macro shootout: Canon vs Zeiss
« on: November 18, 2012, 05:48:11 PM »
I recently had the opportunity to get my hands on a Zeiss 50mm f/2 makro planar, and I took a few shots to compare it to my Canon 50mm f/2.5 macro. The camera was placed on a table, and the shutter was triggered via a 2 second timer. I tried my best to line the shots up, but they aren't perfect.

These are 100% crops of the centre part of the image. The USB key image is the cover photo on a USB key box, hence the fine printing lines.











5DmkII, 5DmkIII, 7D, 17-40 F/4L, 24-70 F/2.8L, 24-105 F/4L, 50 F/1.4, Zeiss 50 F/2 MP, 50 F/2.5, Nikkor 180 F/2.8 AIS, 70-200 F/2.8

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My unscientific 50mm macro shootout: Canon vs Zeiss
« on: November 18, 2012, 05:48:11 PM »

Mt Spokane Photography

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Re: My unscientific 50mm macro shootout: Canon vs Zeiss
« Reply #1 on: November 18, 2012, 06:03:04 PM »
When you test a camera-lens combination, the results are only valid for that exact combination.  You cannot assume that they mean anything with a different camera body.
We don't even know what that body was you used.

albron00

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Re: My unscientific 50mm macro shootout: Canon vs Zeiss
« Reply #2 on: November 18, 2012, 06:51:24 PM »
at f/2.5 Zeiss is sharper, at f/4 looks pretty same to me

kev8d

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Re: My unscientific 50mm macro shootout: Canon vs Zeiss
« Reply #3 on: November 18, 2012, 07:48:00 PM »
It's the same camera in both, manually focused in both using live view. 5Dmkii.

5DmkII, 5DmkIII, 7D, 17-40 F/4L, 24-70 F/2.8L, 24-105 F/4L, 50 F/1.4, Zeiss 50 F/2 MP, 50 F/2.5, Nikkor 180 F/2.8 AIS, 70-200 F/2.8

Mt Spokane Photography

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Re: My unscientific 50mm macro shootout: Canon vs Zeiss
« Reply #4 on: November 18, 2012, 08:10:57 PM »
Do you suppose a $1283 lens might be a little better than a $269 lens?
 
http://www.amazon.com/Zeiss-Planar-ZE-Manual-Cameras/dp/B002YP2WFK
 
The Zeiss 50mm Makro is one of the truly fine lenses that Carl Zeiss has produced. 
 
What is surprising is that a lens costing about 1/5 the price is so good.  And ... It will autofocus as well.
 
There are lots of well done reviews of this wonderful lens, but its comparing apples and oranges.
http://www.photozone.de/canon_eos_ff/535-zeiss50f2eosff?start=1

dafrank

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Re: My unscientific 50mm macro shootout: Canon vs Zeiss
« Reply #5 on: November 18, 2012, 08:29:40 PM »
Your test generally confirms what I've for so long, as the occasion arises, gone out of my way to point out - the incredible performance of the "little 50 who could" (see the beloved childrens' story about a locomotive for reference); this modest little lens outperforms most every outlandishly expensive rival. It is constructed so that it feels like it is in danger of falling apart at any moment, but it doesn't and, if cared for reasonably well, will last a lifetime. It focuses to 1:2 as is, and to 1:1 with a matched extender which I never bought. It's amazingly cheap, and, even wide open at f/2.5, is better than most 50's and really pretty darn good. Stopped down one stop or more, it will at least match almost any 50 made and exceed most in sharpness. The focus motor is not USM, plus the focus ring is skinny hard plastic and has a litlle bit of a wobbly feel to it in manual focus mode. Despite all these shortcomings, this lens, if you can still buy it new, is a steal at its selling price.

The OP's test shows that this little Canon can easily compete with even a Zeiss lens costing vastly more money. I've shot 2 x 3 ft. nationally distributed commercial car posters for one of the "Big Three's" ad agencies with this lens on a 1Ds3, and the client, more used to medium format, thought it was plenty sharp and loved it. It ain't perfect, but it sure is a great deal, better than the "nifty 50" f/1.8, the 50 f1.4 (at least at apertures under f5.6 or so), the 50f/1.2 L at most matching apertures and more, as well as the Sigma f/1.4. Check it out for yourself on the-digital-picture.com website test. True, you can't shoot at very wide apertures with that kind of nifty bokeh, but barring that, this thing is amazing. It was designed about the time when dinosaurs roamed the earth and used an old tried and true optical formula that was more likely laid out on a napkin rather than a computer monitor, but, it just works.

Well, more than enough said.

Regards,
David
Outcomes are more important than intentions.
See my work at: http://www.davidfranklinphoto.com

drjlo

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Re: My unscientific 50mm macro shootout: Canon vs Zeiss
« Reply #6 on: November 18, 2012, 09:24:10 PM »
Well, when Canon releases the next 50mm, I sure hope it can match the sheer sharpness of the f/2.5 compact macro, while improving on its 6-blade bokeh, with USM.  Add wider aperture, hopefully at least to f/1.8 and retain 1:2 macro ability, and there's a lens I would definitely buy!

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Re: My unscientific 50mm macro shootout: Canon vs Zeiss
« Reply #6 on: November 18, 2012, 09:24:10 PM »

Frodo

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Re: My unscientific 50mm macro shootout: Canon vs Zeiss
« Reply #7 on: November 18, 2012, 11:48:09 PM »
Kev8d
I have the Canon 50 macro and very happy with it.  Its my sharpest lens, no distortion or CA to speak of, and flare resistant.  My only gripe is the lack of USM - I have a Canon 25mm extension tube to take me to 1:1.

Your test would be more useful if you added the apertures more commonly used for macrophotography: f8 and f11.
If gear matters: 5DII, 7D, G11, Samyang 14/2.8, EF 24-105/4, EF 35/2.0IS, EF 50/2.5 macro, EF 85/1.8, EF 200/2.8II, EF 400/5.6, Ext 1.4x, Lifesize conv, Ext tube EF25, 430EXII, 270EX, Yongnuo 603C

kev8d

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Re: My unscientific 50mm macro shootout: Canon vs Zeiss
« Reply #8 on: November 18, 2012, 11:51:24 PM »
Frodo:
I'll try to do a more accurate test tomorrow with the camera mounted on a tripod. I'll be sure to shoot at f8 and f11.

5DmkII, 5DmkIII, 7D, 17-40 F/4L, 24-70 F/2.8L, 24-105 F/4L, 50 F/1.4, Zeiss 50 F/2 MP, 50 F/2.5, Nikkor 180 F/2.8 AIS, 70-200 F/2.8

Old Shooter

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Re: My unscientific 50mm macro shootout: Canon vs Zeiss
« Reply #9 on: November 19, 2012, 01:21:35 AM »
I bought my f/2.5 macro in 1990 when I attended a forensic photography course. It was awesome then and it is still awesome! If you shoot it wide open - it will be a little soft... But drop it down two stops and the sharpness is incredible! Used it for years as my "ring shot" lens for weddings. Still using it today in Afghanistan as my student "mug shot" lens... I am anxiously awaiting my shorty forty - but until it arrives - I can truly say that my macro is the best value of any Canon lens that I own...
5DIII, XSi, A2, 10s (x2), 20-35L, 24-70L II, 28-70L, 70-200L, 70-200L IS II, 85L II, 135L, 40 Pancake, 50 Macro, 100 Macro, 135 Soft-Focus, Crappy EF-S Kit Lens, 430EX II, Metz 45 CL-4, Metz 60 CT-4 (x2), White Lightnings, and lots of other junk...

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Re: My unscientific 50mm macro shootout: Canon vs Zeiss
« Reply #9 on: November 19, 2012, 01:21:35 AM »