For the past month, I was not only testing the Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 2.8/21 on my Nikon D700, but I was also testing the Biogon 2.8/21 on my Sony NEX (Leica Mount) in preparation for my new Leica M-E.
The Zeiss 21
First off, I want to talk about the Carl Zeiss Biogon T* 2.8/21 (Leica Mount). Compared to it's big brother (600 grams - seen below), it's ultra-low weight at 280 grams. Despite it's size, it has all the quality of the Distagon, as you would expect from Zeiss. You can get fairly close with this - within 0.5 meter (same as the Voigtländer 4/21), but not as close as the Distagon which is at 0.22 meter. It was a really nice lens to shoot wide-open, retaining great details and sharpness. The only limitations I had with this lens were the limitations of my Sony NEX - which is now remedied with a Leica M-E! Anyhow, barrel rotation is long and smooth, allowing micro-adjustment to focus. The apature ring clicks nicely in 1/3 steps from f/2.8-22. I also like that the ring is at the far end of the barrel - nice easy access. You'll see from the results below that it's fairly distortion-free - a need shooting at this length.
The main tests I ran were in direct comparison to the Voigtläner Color Skopar 4/21. The files I present for you this time are 100% RAW files - meaning zero edits other than conversion to jpg. There were no filters used on either lens - so everything is straight from the camera performance. Keep in mind this was all done on a Sony NEX, not my Leica - so there is crop factor here.
First shot I want to talk about is the above. Both were taken at f/8 - ISO 200. The Zeiss seems a slightly more contrasty than the Voigtlüander. But I have to say, both did a really nice job.
The two above were taken at f/4 (to be fair to the Voigtländer - but the Zeiss could have gone further to 2.8). Once again, the contrast and sharpness of the Zeiss edges out the Voigtländer.
Look at these two, above. Again, pretty close - but the Zeiss just has that edge. Clarity and contrast are huge with me, but I'll let you decide on your own. Finally, here are a handful of other shots taken with just the Zeiss. Again, these are all RAW and unedited: