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Report from the Zeiss Touit Lens Launch in NYC

Zeiss 12 Zeiss 32

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#1 Zlatko Batistich

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Posted 15 May 2013 - 01:14 AM

gallery_6060_505_232896.jpg

 

On Tuesday, May 14, 2013, Zeiss held a press event at the Standard Hotel in New York City to launch it's new line of Touit lenses for compact system cameras (CSC).  The event was well-attended by writers from various media.

 
There was a video presentation on a big screen, followed by a talk by Richard Schleuning, Zeiss's National Sales Manager in Zeiss's Camera Lens Division.  Everyone was then invited to try out the new lenses.  A model was provided for the event, and attendees could walk and photograph along the High Line, an elevated linear park created from a former railroad line which runs along the lower west side of Manhattan.  The High Line runs right under the Standard Hotel.
 
Zeiss Touit lenses are a new line of autofocus lenses for Fuji X and Sony NEX cameras.  Two lenses were available at the launch:  the 12mm f/2.8 and the 32mm f/1.8.  Both lenses should be in stores in early June of this year.  A third lens, a 50mm f/2.8 macro, is expected in the late Fall of this year.  Zeiss expects to add more lenses to the Touit family in the next few years.
 
The Touit name comes from a genus of small neotropical parrots.  The name is intended to evoke compactness and agility.  The lenses also bear the names of classic Zeiss designs:  Distagon for the 12mm wide angle, and Planar for the 32m standard lenses.  
 
Some key facts about the new lenses:
 
- They are compact and lightweight, in keeping with the size and weight of cameras they're made for.
- They have a metal exterior with rubber grips for the focus and aperture rings.  Interior mechanical parts are metal and plastic; Zeiss didn't want the lenses to be too heavy.
- The lenses have the Zeiss T-star anti-reflective coating, along with advanced stray light reduction.
- They have an almost circular 9-bladed aperture for rounded out-of-focus highlights.
- Color characteristics will be similar throughout the Touit lens family.
- The manual focus ring is electronically coupled (there is no hard stop or distance scale).
- The aperture ring has clicks at 1/3 stops. (Touit lenses for the Fuji mount have aperture rings, unlike Touit lenses for the Sony mount.)
- The lenses are sold with a 2-year warranty.  An extra year is added if the buyer registers on the Zeiss web site, thus extending the warranty to a total of 3 years.
- The next version of Lightroom and Adobe Camera Raw will have profiles for Touit lenses.
- The Touit 12mm is an aspherical design with floating elements.  It is currently the widest lens for the Fuji X mount.
- The optimal aperture on the 32mm lens is f/4.  The optimal aperture on the 12mm lens is f/5.6.  MTF charts are available (or will be soon).
- Zeiss chose the autofocus motor for robustness and reliability, not for ultimate quietness.
- A lens hood is included with each lens.
- Touit lenses are not weather-sealed, and are not planned for Micro Four Thirds cameras.
 
Zeiss emphasizes the lenses' high image quality, durability and precision, along with full compatibility with Fuji X and Sony NEX cameras, including reliable autofocus.  Zeiss also emphasizes the modern, minimalistic design.
 
The talk included some discussion of the target market for Touit lenses.  Zeiss sees the CSC market as growing, while DSLR sales are expected to slightly decline.  Zeiss is targeting Touit lenses at the higher end of the CSC market.  Potential buyers include:
- People who already own Zeiss products, including DSLR lenses, rangefinder lenses, binoculars and spotting scopes.
- People who own DSLRs and seek smaller companion cameras, or want to replace their DSLR system with a lighter, less costly system.
- People who own point & shoot cameras and are upgrading to a CSC.
- Rangefinder users who don't want to spend $8,000 or more for a Leica digital M plus lens(es).
- Anyone with a Fuji X or Sony NEX camera.
- People who travel.
 
Here are my impressions after a few hours of use (of course, extended use is needed for more definitive impressions):
 
- The lenses have a nice looks and feel.  They definitely give the impression of quality.  Their size and weight is well-matched to the Fuji X series (I tried them on the X-Pro1).  
 
- The smooth exterior gives them an elegant look.  This is partly due to the rubber focus and aperture rings being flush with the body of each lens.  However, I would have preferred a slightly raised texture as I think it would have been easier to grip. 
 
- The X-Pro1 automatically turned on the appropriate frame lines for each lens.  The view through the 12mm lens is too wide for the optical finder, so it is best to use it with the X-Pro1's electronic viewfinder.  The 32mm lens without its hood doesn't block any part of the 32mm frame lines, except when focusing very close, and then only a tiny bit of the corner.  With the hood, a significant part of the frame is blocked (perhaps 1/8th), but it is still very usable.
 
- Autofocus speed seems to be inline with what we expect from the autofocus system of the X-Pro1; i.e., good but not as fast as that of a DSLR.  Autofocus accuracy seems to be excellent.
 
- Flare resistance seems to be excellent.  Even with the sun in the frame, there is less flare than I've ever seen in similar situations.
 
- My impression is that the quality of the bokeh of the 32mm lens is OK at f/1.8 but improves to very nice at f/2.8 and f/4.  Of course, this depends on the specific background and distance.
 
- Chromatic aberration was hard to find with either lens.  I only took a few shots in which I expected to see it, but it wasn't there or was trivial.
 
- For such a wide angle lens, the 12mm has remarkably little vignetting at f/2.8.
 
- The lens hoods snap into place.  With the 12mm, be especially sure to turn the lens hood until it snaps into place; otherwise, one of the hood's petals will likely be in the corner of each photo.
 
Some photos I made with the new Touit lenses are in the Gallery at this link:  

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I processed these from Raw files using Lightroom and/or Photoshop.   

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#2 robert

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Posted 15 May 2013 - 04:50 AM

Thanks very much to Zlatko for taking time out of his schedule to attend the press event, and for the report and photos!


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#3 refiningman

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Posted 15 May 2013 - 06:39 AM

Thanks very much to Zlatko for taking time out of his schedule to attend the press event, and for the report and photos!

 

Yes, +1


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#4 pers

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Posted 15 May 2013 - 06:42 AM

Good job, thanks for sharing your thoughts and photos with us.



#5 maroo

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Posted 15 May 2013 - 08:05 AM

Thanks!!!



#6 robert

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Posted 15 May 2013 - 08:33 AM

Some tests here from DSLR Magazine...in Spanish. :)

 

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#7 robert

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Posted 15 May 2013 - 08:37 AM


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#8 jlmphotos

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Posted 15 May 2013 - 10:05 AM

Sorry, but I see nothing special here.  Seems many are fascinated by Leica, Zeiss, etc.  I'm not.  And quite frankly with the Fuji 14 f2.8 why in heck would I want a Zeiss for 300 bucks more? I just don't get it.  And as I mentioned in a differnet posting, that lens name is utterly stupid.

Sorry...



#9 robert

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Posted 15 May 2013 - 10:08 AM

Umm...welcome to the forum?

 

If you want an 18mm equivalent, you can't get that from Fuji. That would be a good reason to go with Zeiss instead of the 14mm...

 

What did you mention in a different posting? You only have one post. :)


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#10 jlmphotos

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Posted 15 May 2013 - 10:11 AM

Hello Robert, THANK YOU for the welcome.  I'm usually not this b*tchy.  Sorry.  I posted in a different forum somewhere.   Can't remember.  

 

I still prefer my 14, 35, and my 18-55 on my X-E1, except I do use my Minolta 16 F2.8 Fisheye, 28mm and 58 F1.4 with a Rainbow adapter every now and then.  Pretty much my D800 and D700 stay at home in the safe.

Thanks for checking,

J



#11 robert

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Posted 15 May 2013 - 10:14 AM

The Fujinons are great lenses, as everyone here knows, of course. Having Zeiss as an option is a good thing, by any measure. However, if the price or the focal lengths don't fit the buyer, there is always the option of not buying them. :)


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#12 wyldberi

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Posted 15 May 2013 - 02:24 PM

I thought the write-up was excellent.

 

I didn't care much for the focus demonstrated in many of the photos provided. Those of the model were too soft IMO. Perhaps the software in the camera body needed to be updated to handle the Zeiss lens properly. In the second link above to the review published in the Spanish language magazine there were some very good pictures. The one I liked the best was of a bird's wing lying on the pavement taken probably at 3-4 feet distance. The zoomed image showed the detail the 32mm lens is capable of capturing.

 

There were also a few nice shots taken with the 12mm wide angle. These were landscapes and seascapes mostly. But when the subject changed to a street lined with building facades, I started getting a cramped feeling; I want to call it a sense of barrel distortion, even though the lines did not present a curved appearance. It's an impression I don't get with the Fuji 14mm; it's probably an artifact of the wider AOV of the 12mm lens. I don't have the experience shooting with wider lenses to say what it is.


Edited by wyldberi, 15 May 2013 - 02:35 PM.

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#13 Kodiak

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Posted 15 May 2013 - 04:30 PM

The first ever $1,200+ prime lenses without DOF scales? An excellent glass enclosed in a "smooth, modern, cool looking" casing, but crippled photographic instrument. Ironically Carl Zeiss understands the importance of the DOF scales, see:

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So Zeiss decided to make lenses for people who:

(1) do not care about the DOF scale (what is it? how would they use it? ...do I need it? no.)

(2) are prepared to spend over $1,200 for one lens

I wonder how many customers fitting the above profile would not immediately ask: really, $1,200 lens and no zoom?!

 

BTW, it appears that Carl Zeiss Touit series designers are a bit confused about what is/is not possible. This is what they repeated three times (!) in their blog:

"...“focus by wire” system – it is not mechanically coupled with the moveable lens groups inside(...) Therefore, a distance scale or DOF markings cannot be added." See:

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Cannot be done? really? As the old saying goes: while some are busy explaining why it can not be done, others are busy doing it... 


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#14 robert

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Posted 15 May 2013 - 04:36 PM

Umm...welcome to the forum?

 

Deja vu?

 

Which lens on the market today that uses focus by wire also has DOF scales? I know of lenses that allow manual disabling of the focus by wire (Olympus and the 14mm Fuji) but I do not know of any focus by wire lens that has a scale.

 

It's always interesting to see people join and their first post is snark. :)


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#15 David Schneider

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Posted 15 May 2013 - 04:55 PM

With the 12mm, I would guess everything from 3' or 1m to infinity would be in focus if focus point is 6' or 2m away at f5.6.  That's about what I figure with my 17mm on full frame dslr.  So not sure there's a real benefit to dof scale on that wide an angle lens.  Gets a bit hard to see dof scale at anything closer as well. 

 

We seem to forget that you aren't going to have every available feature on these camera and lenses.  Not going to have the focusing speed of a dslr, the quality of medium format, the size of a pocketable camera, and the cost of a low end dslr. 


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#16 Kodiak

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Posted 15 May 2013 - 05:36 PM

Umm... thank you for warm welcome :'-)

 

"Which lens on the market today that uses focus by wire also has DOF scales?" - many. You listed a few yourself. A focus by wire lens does not stop being a focus by wire lens when in manual focusing mode. In the implementations I know the focusing by wire is NOT disabled when in the manual focusing mode; there is no mechanical Tokina's style mechanical only "focus clutch" (though obviously it is would be possible).

 

It's always interesting to see people making various assumptions based on "when he/she joined, how many times he/she posted" :) 


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#17 Kodiak

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Posted 15 May 2013 - 05:42 PM

Well, do not take my word for it. See other lenses (it can be done, right?), see the papers published by serious lens manufacturers, including Carl Zeiss (it is important to have in some serious work, in certain situations). A $1,200+ prime is NOT a budget lens.

 

With the 12mm, I would guess everything from 3' or 1m to infinity would be in focus if focus point is 6' or 2m away at f5.6.  That's about what I figure with my 17mm on full frame dslr.  So not sure there's a real benefit to dof scale on that wide an angle lens.  Gets a bit hard to see dof scale at anything closer as well. 

 

We seem to forget that you aren't going to have every available feature on these camera and lenses.  Not going to have the focusing speed of a dslr, the quality of medium format, the size of a pocketable camera, and the cost of a low end dslr. 



#18 robert

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Posted 15 May 2013 - 05:56 PM

Name a focus by wire lens for mirrorless that has a DOF scale. Focus by wire lenses can focus manually or auto...

 

There are only two lenses for mirrorless that I know of that are hybrid designs; i.e., the user can choose manual via a clutch style mechanism, and a DOF scale appears. AF isn't possible in this mode. The user can choose AF, where the DOF scale disappears. The 12mm Olympus and the 14mm Fujinon are such designs.

 

There are no lenses for mirrorless that are strictly focus by wire that have DOF scales. This is typical of mirrorless systems due to the contrast detect AF systems they typically use. The X100S has a hybrid CDAF/PDAF system of course, but still uses focus by wire, and there is no scale.

 

Zeiss could have gone with such a clutch mechanism. Most certainly, such a design would increase the cost. $1200 is on the high side for a mirrorless for Fuji or NEX as it is, so this is probably why they didn't do a hybrid system. It is actually the highest price lens for Fuji, and a little bit more than the 24mm Zeiss for NEX.

 

And as David pointed out earlier, scales are not really all that useful on such a wide lens.

 

Scales do exist on AF/MF DSLR lenses but really are quite useless for the most part.


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#19 Kodiak

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Posted 15 May 2013 - 07:25 PM

I never suggested that the DOF scale should be visible in AF mode: while possible, implementing this would be difficult.

 

There appears to be some confusion how AF and MF works in the "focus by wire" lenses. In the MF mode the "focus by wire" is NOT REPLACED by a direct mechanical coupling between the glass element(s) and the focus ring. Rotating external focus ring in the MF mode controls electronic circuit driving electric motor which in turn moves the glass; the lens is still "focused by wire", it is not directly focused mechanically. If you want to be more specific:

  • MF mode: a lens is operating in "manual focus, focus by wire",
  • AF mode: a lens is operating in "auto focus, focus by wire".

Re: "[the DOF scale is] not really all that useful on such a wide lens" - well:

  • the DOF scales are also missing on Touit 32mm f/1.8 and 50mm f/2.8 - not wide lenses, right?
  • many wide lenses have the DOF scales (for example older, more expensive Zeiss Distagon 15mm f/2.8),
  • the importance of the DOF scales for SOME work (also for wide lenses) is very well documented, also by Carl Zeiss

 

Not sure why some people feel such strong need to defend this issue against all logic and verifiable facts. One can ignore the DOF scales if one does not need them. But it is not possible to use them if they are not there. A $1,200+ prime is NOT a budget lens, why is it so difficult to accept that some people may be expecting a bit more from Carl Zeiss?

 

...it appears that we went through this reasoning loop a few times already, I have nothing more to add, signing off now...
 

 

Name a focus by wire lens for mirrorless that has a DOF scale. Focus by wire lenses can focus manually or auto without having to choose one mode or the other.

 

There are only two lenses for mirrorless that I know of that are hybrid designs; i.e., the user can choose manual via a clutch style mechanism, and a DOF scale appears. AF isn't possible in this mode. The user can choose AF, where the DOF scale disappears. The 12mm Olympus and the 14mm Fujinon are such designs.

 

There are no lenses for mirrorless that are strictly focus by wire that have DOF scales. This is typical of mirrorless systems due to the contrast detect AF systems they typically use. The X100S has a hybrid CDAF/PDAF system of course, but still uses focus by wire, and there is no scale.

 

Zeiss could have gone with such a clutch mechanism. Most certainly, such a design would increase the cost. $1200 is on the high side for a mirrorless for Fuji or NEX as it is, so this is probably why they didn't do a hybrid system. And as David pointed out earlier, it's not really all that useful on such a wide lens.

 

Scales do exist on AF/MF DSLR lenses but really are quite useless for the most part.


Edited by Kodiak, 15 May 2013 - 07:27 PM.


#20 robert

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Posted 15 May 2013 - 07:55 PM

I never suggested that the DOF scale should be visible in AF mode: while possible, implementing this would be difficult

 

 

Yes, maybe that's why no such lens exists for mirrorless. :)

 

Not to mention that the vast majority of shooters in this market prefer to use AF.

 

 

  • the DOF scales are also missing on Touit 32mm f/1.8 and 50mm f/2.8 - not wide lenses, right?

 

 

Nor do they exist on any other mirrorless lenses in those focal length ranges...

 

many wide lenses have the DOF scales (for example older, more expensive Zeiss Distagon 15mm f/2.8),

 

Yes! That one has a scale...but....it is also not focus by wire, nor even AF. All the Zeiss DSLR lenses are manual focus.

 

Don't get me wrong...this isn't to say DOF scales are not useful, but a manual focus lens really isn't a valid comparison with a focus by wire lens.

 

 

Not sure why some people feel such strong need to defend this issue against all logic and verifiable facts. One can ignore the DOF scales if one does not need them. But it is not possible to use them if they are not there. A $1,200+ prime is NOT a budget lens, why is it so difficult to accept that some people may be expecting a bit more from Carl Zeiss?

 

 

It appears you are perhaps not reading what I have posted. This is not a commentary on the usefulness of DOF scales.

 

It's not really issue, per se; it's just not the nature of a standard focus by wire lens for mirrorless cameras to have scales.

 

Therefore, the position could be easily taken (and I suggest it would be very easily defended) that it's probably not really fair to ding Zeiss for not implementing something that has, in fact, never been implemented in a standard focus by wire lens...

 

For those shooters who deem focus scales vital, there are lenses and cameras available...such as the strictly manual focus 15mm Distagon which you mentioned, which is made for both Nikon and Canon.

 

Of course, the only option for Fuji X is the hybrid design 14mm Fujinon.

 

All the best,

Robert


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#21 wyldberi

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Posted 15 May 2013 - 08:25 PM

It's always interesting to see people making various assumptions based on "when he/she joined, how many times he/she posted" :)

 

Then again, maybe that has something to do with the way the number of posts made by the contributor automatically appears under the "User Data Section" appearing in the left margin at the top of each post they make. :)


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#22 Kodiak

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Posted 15 May 2013 - 08:46 PM

"not really fair to ding Zeiss for not implementing something that has, in fact, never been implemented in a standard focus by wire lens"  - in fact, nobody does that. And in fact, the DOF scale for MF mode in focus by wire lenses was implemented many times. You are missing the crucial point here: a "focus by wire lens" in MF mode STILL operates electronically, it is STILL "focused by wire". It does not switch to a "mechanical focus mode"! What you call a "hybrid design" is actually focus by wire design, there is no mechanical coupling between the distance ring and the glass lenses inside.

 

Yes, maybe that's why no such lens exists for mirrorless. :)

 

Not to mention that the vast majority of shooters in this market prefer to use AF.

 

 

Nor do they exist on any other mirrorless lenses in those focal length ranges...

 

 

Yes! That one has a scale...but....it is also not focus by wire, nor even AF. All the Zeiss DSLR lenses are manual focus.

 

Don't get me wrong...this isn't to say DOF scales are not useful, but a manual focus lens really isn't a valid comparison with a focus by wire lens.

 

 

It appears you are perhaps not reading what I have posted. This is not a commentary on the usefulness of DOF scales.

 

It's not really issue, per se; it's just not the nature of a standard focus by wire lens for mirrorless cameras to have scales.

 

Therefore, the position could be easily taken (and I suggest it would be very easily defended) that it's probably not really fair to ding Zeiss for not implementing something that has, in fact, never been implemented in a standard focus by wire lens...

 

For those shooters who deem focus scales vital, there are lenses and cameras available...such as the strictly manual focus 15mm Distagon which you mentioned, which is made for both Nikon and Canon.

 

Of course, the only option for Fuji X is the hybrid design 14mm Fujinon.

 

All the best,

Robert



#23 David Schneider

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Posted 15 May 2013 - 08:50 PM

No disagreement that a $1200 lens is not a budget lens. Not priced like a Leica or Hasselblad HC, but still not budget. However, the lens is going on a relatively low priced body.

And we need to keep in mind how gear keeps changing and we lose and gain features. Try adding a split screen viewfinder screen to most dslr's and medium format cameras today for example.

#24 Kodiak

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Posted 15 May 2013 - 08:51 PM

No, this only tells "how many posts", but NIL info about who the poster really is. Making any assumption on this basis is, well rather naiive. And adjusting attitude of response on that basis is... you make your own mind. 

 

Then again, maybe that has something to do with the way the number of posts made by the contributor automatically appears under the "User Data Section" appearing in the left margin at the top of each post they make. :)



#25 robert

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Posted 15 May 2013 - 08:54 PM

And in fact, the DOF scale for MF mode in focus by wire lenses was implemented many times. You are missing the crucial point here: a "focus by wire lens" in MF mode STILL operates electronically, it is STILL "focused by wire". It does not switch to a "mechanical focus mode"! What you call a "hybrid design" is actually focus by wire design, there is no mechanical coupling between the distance ring and the glass lenses inside.

As far as I know, it's been implemented in only two lenses for mirrorless with a hybrid design...am I missing any others?

 

What exactly is crucial here with regards to the hybrid implementation? I don't recall stating there was a mechanical coupling...


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#26 robert

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Posted 15 May 2013 - 08:56 PM

No, this only tells "how many posts", but NIL info about who the poster really is. Making any assumption on this basis is, well rather naiive. And adjusting attitude of response on that basis is... you make your own mind. 

 

The comment was made because it was the second time in this thread there was a first post who debuted with snark. :) 

 

No assumption was made, just a comment. ;)


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#27 Kodiak

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Posted 15 May 2013 - 08:59 PM

My assumption would be that a $1,200 prime is targeting more advanced users with top of the range camera bodies - definitely not a NEX-3 users. But in this specific case it is easy to compare, as we have two functionally very similar products: 14mm Fuji and 12mm Touit. If I did not know both lenses, and someone masked the manufacturer names and asked me to guess which one is more expensive, and is made by Zeiss, myself (knowing other Zeiss lenses for many, many years) - I would have guessed incorrectly.

 

No disagreement that a $1200 lens is not a budget lens. Not priced like a Leica or Hasselblad HC, but still not budget. However, the lens is going on a relatively low priced body.

And we need to keep in mind how gear keeps changing and we lose and gain features. Try adding a split screen viewfinder screen to most dslr's and medium format cameras today for example.



#28 Kodiak

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Posted 15 May 2013 - 09:20 PM

Not so, the 14mm Fujinon has proper DOF scale and is suitable for zone focusing.

Yes, there are more focus by wire lenses with DOF scales. To prove that "such thing is possible to do in focus by wire lens" one example is sufficient, isn't it? One more? Here you go, a third one: Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 17mm 1:1.8 (I could probably find more, but what is the point? the facts are: yes, it can be done, yes, it is done by others, yes Zeiss did a lot of writing about the DOF scale importance in the past).

 

What is crucial? To understand that this statement is simply false: "There are no lenses for mirrorless that are strictly focus by wire that have DOF scales". Yes, there are. Gosh. Again: a focus by wire lens in MF mode does not stop being a focus by wire lens. It is still "focusing by wire" in the MF mode.

 

As far as I know, it's been implemented in only two lenses for mirrorless with a hybrid design...am I missing any others?

 

It must also be noted that the 14mm Fujinon has a distance scale but no DOF markings....so perhaps I should revise this to state a DOF scale truly only exists in *one* such 'hybrid' lens.

 

What exactly is crucial here with regards to the hybrid implementation? I don't recall stating there was a mechanical coupling...


Edited by Kodiak, 15 May 2013 - 09:26 PM.


#29 David Schneider

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Posted 15 May 2013 - 09:31 PM

I haven't made that comparison. Can say I have about 1,200-1,500 images on my Fuji 14mm and it is an excellent performer. And the 18-55mm has been a gem. Seems Fuji is making excellent lenses for the X series. Will wait for the Fuji wide zoom before I add something wider than the 14mm and then see the options.

#30 robert

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Posted 15 May 2013 - 10:38 PM

 

To understand that this statement is simply false: "There are no lenses for mirrorless that are strictly focus by wire that have DOF scales". Yes, there are. Gosh. Again: a focus by wire lens in MF mode does not stop being a focus by wire lens. It is still "focusing by wire" in the MF mode.

 

By the context of the posts, it's an accurate statement. "Strictly focus by wire" is, by context, not a "hybrid" design. (Hybrid of course being simply a spur-of-the-moment term used here for differentiation purposes.)

 

A hybrid design of course has to be adjusted or set by the user in some manner for any scales to be operative, or any hard-stops (close or infinity focus) to be enabled.

 

Of course, it must be pointed out that *any* lens on an X camera can be zone focused, even without the scale on the lens....for no additional engineering or manufacturing expense on the part of the lens maker. 

 

Of course, such focus is difficult to do on the standard or longer lenses, which goes a long way to explain why the only hybrids happen to be wides...

 

This is simply a design choice by Zeiss. Perhaps they chose it because the lenses have close relatives that support another system, and really are the same lenses with minor variations to fit both systems. (As an aside, to my knowledge there are no such hybrid focus lenses for NEX.)


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