Carl Zeiss 2.8/21 Review (Biogon)

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.

Wicked 21's
Wicked 21's

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 Compares

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.

Zeiss 21 Distagon
Zeiss 21 Distagon
Voigtländer 21 Color Skopar
Voigtländer 21 Color Skopar

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.

Zeiss 21 Bokeh
Zeiss 21 Bokeh
Voigtländer 21 Bokeh
Voigtländer 21 Bokeh

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.

Zeiss 21
Zeiss 21
Voigtländer 21
Voigtländer 21

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:

Zeiss 21 w/ Mad Max
Zeiss 21 w/ Mad Max
Zeiss 21 - Wide Open
Zeiss 21 - Wide Open
Zeiss 21 - Wide Open
Zeiss 21 - Wide Open
Zeiss 21 - Wide Open
Zeiss 21 - Wide Open
Zeiss 21 - Wide Open
Zeiss 21 - Wide Open
Zeiss 21 - Wide Open
Zeiss 21 - Wide Open
Zeiss 21
Zeiss 21