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XF14 v Zeiss 21 Comparison

Discussion in 'Fuji X-Mount Lens Forum' started by GTech, Jan 27, 2013.

  1. GTech

    GTech Active Member

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    I decided to pitch the new XF14 (on the X-Pro) against my Zeiss 21 (on the 5D2) in order to evaluate if the Zeiss was worth retaining.

    Please note this is not scientific just inquisitiveness on my part!

    Using a Sekonic 758 lighmeter as reference, I set both cameras up on a tripod and shot from f/2.8 through f/11.

    I noticed that the X-Pro at ISO 200 was ~1/3stop underexposed compared to the 5D2. I also noticed that the XF14 was not quite as wide as the Zeiss 21mm - maybe closer to 22mm (35mm equivalent).

    Wide open, the Zeiss showed significantly more vignetting and distortion (moustache like) than the XF14.

    Running the raw files through Capture One and adjusting for WB, exposure and vignetting differences, but not correcting any distortion or sharpening, I would say that from a pure detail point of view (microcontrast and resolution) the Zeiss 21mm on the 5D2 still has the edge - although only by a small margin.

    However, the X-Pro and XF14mm performed much better than I expected, given its compact size, sensor format and price difference. Colourwise, I actually preferred the slighly warmer tones of the XF14, although this could be adjusted on either in post.

    I have since decided to keep the Zeiss 21mm as one never knows what FF Canon may be around the corner! I also have a feeling the the Zeiss is not fully challenged by the 5D2 sensor and may offer more. Whereas the XF14 is probably close to its limit.

    For reference, hi-res and size matched CS6 converted jpegs (zipped) shot at f/2.8 can be found here.
     
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  2. umaefx

    umaefx New Member

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    Thank you for the great comparesent. I didn't expect 14mm to behave as good as famous Zeiss 21mm. I wonder how will upcoming Zeiss 12mm compare to it.
     
  3. damienlovegrove

    damienlovegrove Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for taking the trouble to write up your findings. I'll be doing the same test on Thursday with my 5D2 with 21mm Zeiss and my X-Pro1 and 14mm. It takes time to really learn a lens characteristic and I'll be keen to see what results I get with the 14. I find the 21mm slightly too wide at times so a 22mm eqv is very welcome.

    I'm holding out for the 30+mp Canon 3D? to replace my 5D2. At that resolution the Zeiss should be at it's best and the full frame SLR will once again have a image quality advantage over the Fuji X-Trans.

    Exciting times.
     
  4. John,

    Thanks so much for doing this.

    I brought the files into LR and evaluated them at 100% and my conclusions are different than yours. I can see more detail from the XF 14mm in some sections and more detail from the Zeiss in others. For example - The Fuji looks sharper: wicker couch, metal vent on roof (top left), detail under gutters (top). The Zeiss is better on the wood fence posts/rails, the front face of the brick patio and the tree on the right edge (considerably more detail).

    Perhaps a difference in focus point?

    And I love how optically corrected the Fuji is. Amazing.

    Thanks again.

    Chad
     
  5. AusPhotoHiker

    AusPhotoHiker Premium Member

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    Could the differences be explained by focus point and the DOF differences between APS-C and FF?
     
  6. GTech

    GTech Active Member

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    DOF on the Zeiss is no doubt shallower and the smaller aperture variants show significantly more detail in this respect. However, it's quite amazing how well the XF14 / X-Pro performs. I was out today walking my local woods and was very happy with the results. Looking forward to taking it to Florida next week and more so to China in May. I was impressed with the XF zoom but this lens will be welded to my X-Pro for a while!
     
  7. I'd love to see another comparison at f/5.6 or f/8, manually focused on the same point. Do you think you will do anymore of these comparisons John?

    I realize they are time consuming and not very fun.

    Thanks,
    Chad
     
  8. GTech

    GTech Active Member

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    As requested, here's a link to the size matched f/8 variants.

    Putting subtle colour differences aside, the Zeiss 21 starts to shine. To my eyes, detail and microcontrast is a notch above the XF14mm. Although, I'm equally happy with either output.

    There's no doubt in my mind that the Zeiss 21 has room for a higher res sensor......
     
  9. Wow, John, very kind of you! Thank you for taking the time to do this!

    Best,
    Chad
     
  10. For sure, the Zeiss walks away with it in this shot.
     
  11. Semla

    Semla Premium Member

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    The f/8 looks more what I expect from 5DII. The f/2.8 shot shows surprisingly much noise in 5DII shot. The lower right corner.

    Looking thru the grass, the watercolor effect is clearly visible in some areas on both X-Pro 1 shots. Most visible in the lower left corner.

    I wonder if the same effect causes the significant difference at the wall in the right corner behind the tree? The texture of the wall is totally different.

    And look at the reflection of the tree branches in the second window from the right on the patio. Oil painting.
     
  12. GTech

    GTech Active Member

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    ergoforce, you have a keen eye!

    I thought it worthwhile running the f/8 variant through Fuji's packaged RFC EX....

    Linked here (due to forum resizing)

    What do you think? Less watercoloring?
     
  13. Semla

    Semla Premium Member

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    It looks better but it's still something wrong with the grass. To the left of the wooden fence post, there is a section where the grass seems to be out of focus. That was the area showing most prominent watercolor effect in the previous X-Pro 1 f/8 shot. It should be as sharp as other grass area nearby but it's not.

    Going thru the grass again, the X-Pro 1 shot lacks alot of the fine tonal gradations of green and yellow. Same goes for the shadows and details, which are all visible in 5DII f/8 shot. X-Pro 1 grass is almost just one shade of green. Liveless.

    To the farthest right corner at the foot of the tree, the details in the blackest areas are gone. The soil and the low fence of logs in front of the tree looks burnt.

    The wall behind the tree still has a very different texture compared to 5DII f/8 shot.

    The f/8 shot with Zeiss 21mm and 5DII sharpened up really nicely and the colours and local contrast are excellent.

    The f/8 shot with XF 14mm and X-Pro 1 didn't get much better from the f/2.8 shot.

    Right now I have to say the Zeiss 21mm and 5DII combination is clearly the much better one for landscape shots. The way X-Pro 1 (or the converters) handles the yellow and green gradations are disappointing.
     
  14. GTech

    GTech Active Member

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    Unfortunately, thats the seems to be the trade off with the current crop of RCs, one gets you closer to the colours another closer to the detail. One's better at high ISO while another smears and introduces colour casts .

    I'll leave this topic now with a final foray into C1, I've tweaked the f/8 variant to get as close as I can to the 5D2 file.

    jpeg link here

    Yes, it still falls short of 5D2/Zeiss 21 territory (which I concluded a few posts back) but it aint bad for a rig thats 1/3 price and 1/2 the weight. It'll do me fine for travel photography!
     
  15. Semla

    Semla Premium Member

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    Now you got the watercolor effect back both in the grass and on the wall. The grass looks more alive though. But 5DII/Zeiss has more details and gradations still.

    I hear what you are saying about the price and weight. I agree.

    I wonder how it would look like using SilkyPro or RPP.

    I am little curious about Sigma DP2 Merrill as when it comes to the image quality, it probably beats all full frame at low ISO. Just wondering how I would handle to wait 12-18 seconds for each image to save on the card... And 45mm equiv. is little too narrow for landscapes. DP1 would suit better as 28mm equiv, but it is said to be not as good optically as DP2.
     
  16. AusPhotoHiker

    AusPhotoHiker Premium Member

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    Interesting comparison. I agree we have a mixed bag of RC's at the moment. Still hoping Adobe is going to surprise us and kick a goal.

    John, have you tried AccuRaw on this file? There is a lot of test samples here now, it would be a useful comparison.
     
  17. GTech

    GTech Active Member

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    I tried Silkypix Pro v5, couldn't get close to RFC EX rendering, I have an ongoing support case with ISL, which they have validated and are working on. I haven't used RPP as its mac only and my workstation is win 7, might try it on my MacBook later.
     
  18. GTech

    GTech Active Member

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    Being a little inquisitive (obsessive?). I grabbed a copy of AccuRaw for my Macbook and run the f/8 variant through it.

    JPEG here!

    AccuRaw clearly needs a custom ICC profile, Hence the 16bit tiff output from AccuRaw was loaded into C1 and a quick and dirty profile was created based on C1's generic X-Pro 1 profile.. The colours are still a little off, but I'm impressed with the output. Much of the watercolor has disappeared and the detail lifted by C1's pre-sharpening 1 setting is very good to my eyes. WDYT?
     
  19. AusPhotoHiker

    AusPhotoHiker Premium Member

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    Looks promising. The potted conifer on the left of the terrace has believable leaves, unlike the C1 version.

    Oh, don't forget to pick up your camera bag behind the plants! :)
     
  20. Wow John, you are going above and beyond the call of duty.

    What all of these different RAW processor versions tell me is that the detail is there in the X-Trans shots, we just need a processor that can handle the horsepower!

    I keep looking back up in that top left corner where the 14mm just decimates the Zeiss on the black roof vent cap. Do you think this might be a problem with the 21mm or just the native performance?

    I'm not going to say either lens is better or worse than the other but I will say that it looks like Fuji knocked it out of the park with the 14mm.
     

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