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Author Topic: Canon L vs Zeiss ZE  (Read 11453 times)


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Canon L vs Zeiss ZE
« on: March 10, 2012, 09:23:26 AM »
Hi. I'm having a dilemma. Should I invest in Canon L glass or Zeiss ZE primes? Both seem like great lenses, but what seems more future-proof? Thanks for any help!

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Canon L vs Zeiss ZE
« on: March 10, 2012, 09:23:26 AM »


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Re: Canon L vs Zeiss ZE
« Reply #1 on: March 10, 2012, 10:04:50 AM »
Both are great. As some focal lengths, one is slightly better than the other, so it's lens dependent not a generalized difference.

Obviously, Zeiss lenses are manual focus only (but confirmation is available).  The body matters, too - manually focusing a fast prime with a standard focusing screen is challenging (you can't see the real DoF), so for example, I'd not get Zeiss lenses to use with the 5DIII since it doesn't have interchangeable focusing screens.
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Re: Canon L vs Zeiss ZE
« Reply #2 on: March 10, 2012, 10:25:42 AM »
I had a ZE 35 f/2 for a couple years, and loved it. I sold it because I need a wide angle that autofocuses when I shoot handheld. Plus, for my purpose, the 16-35 II zoom will have other advantages.

I think most people are using LiveView on the camera back, often at 10X, when composing shots on a tripod. That is to say, the question has to be asked whether the user intends to hand hold or use a fixed support.


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Re: Canon L vs Zeiss ZE
« Reply #3 on: March 10, 2012, 12:09:59 PM »
That really depends, do you shoot a lot of video?  Zeiss lenses are definitely the better choice for video, the focus ring is butter smooth and has much more throw than L lenses.  Also it has hard stops, if you put focus marks on an L lens and accidentally spin past infinity, the focus marks become useless.  They are built like tanks, all metal and even the lens hoods are metal.

I've had tons of L lenses and still have a good many, but I was blown away by the Zeiss glass.  Particularly the 21mm f/2.8, the 100mm f/2 Makro, and the 50mm f/2 Makro.  They are so sharp edge to edge it's unbelievable.  Even the 35 f/2 (one of their cheaper lenses) is as sharp as my 35L.  I would say that their Canon counterparts are equally sharp in the center, but the Zeiss glass is killing it in terms of edge sharpness.  Also they have very very uniform color across the board, so matching color between shots is very easy.  They definitely have a unique look, very contrasty but with incredibly fine detail.  If you hit the sweet spot on those lenses they separate the subject from the background like no other, creating almost a 3D effect (here is an example, not the best, but the first I could find)(100mm Makro):

I have been trying to make myself get rid of all my L lenses and replace them with Zeiss glass, but can't bring myself to let them go, but I think I'm almost there.  The thing about my 1.2 and 1.4 primes, I rarely shoot video below f/2, and the Zeiss glass retains sharpness well even stopped down, so I can live without the extra stops.  Sure they don't have AF, but that just means more money going to optics. 

I think the only Canon lens I'll end up keeping is my 14L II, as Zeiss doesn't make anything ultra wide ZE mount lenses at the moment.  But if the 15mm f/2.8 rumor comes true, I may have to give up the 14L as well.

« Last Edit: March 10, 2012, 12:22:34 PM by Axilrod »
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Re: Canon L vs Zeiss ZE
« Reply #4 on: March 10, 2012, 11:05:26 PM »
If you are considering "future-proofing" with Canon, i say stick with Canon glass. HOWEVER this is coming from someone who loves his Zeiss lenses!
Both Canon L and Zeiss are excellent choices. But in the case of the 5D lll and considering what Neuro said, not having the focus screen truly does make it more difficult to see the true DoF that your Zeiss can produce.
Personally, I own Canon L glass and Zeiss glass. I find the combination of the two to be great, especially when it comes to different outputs of color.
The best way to decide is to rent, compare and shoot for a bit. Find what works for you and go from there :)


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Re: Canon L vs Zeiss ZE
« Reply #5 on: March 11, 2012, 12:18:34 AM »
I honestly didn't find switching focus screens that big of a deal with the ZE.  Yes, the S screen helps a bit but it's not a huge difference.  After shooting with it for a short while you get a feel of what the lens is capable of and you know what your images are going to look like.  I definitely wouldn't let the lack of screens deter you from getting the lens.  A more important consideration is your subject matter when thinking about getting a Zeiss.

It is not an action lens.  It is superb for street scenes and landscapes, but it is very difficult to nail objects in motion unless you are a manual focus wizard. I consider myself very fast with MF lenses, but if something is moving fairly quickly I miss focus more often than not.  I use the 24-70 for moving things.

The drawing style of the ZE is very unique and it produces very distinct images.  The detail and contrast is 2nd to none.  The style definitely isn't for everyone, some find that images are almost 'too sharp'.

As has been mentioned, nothing beats comparing them side by side so rent them if you can.  I personally don't think you can go wrong with either, they are just different tools for different situations  :)

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Re: Canon L vs Zeiss ZE
« Reply #5 on: March 11, 2012, 12:18:34 AM »