Zeiss Batis 135 Review

So, I got my hands on the tasty Zeiss Batis 2.8/135 lens last month. I've been so lucky to have an extraordinary relationship with Zeiss over the past 7 years, allowing me to receive review copies of everything in the Zeiss line-up for my Leica (ZM) and Nikon (ZF/ZF.2) mounts. Sadly, I hadn't grabbed any review lenses from them since moving away...

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The Belted Galloway

En route to New York City this fall, I swung by my folks house in Ellington, Connecticut for my fill of cretons, pork pie and booze. Ellington is the town I grew up in filled with rolling hills, cornfields, cows and a sparse handful of residents. I didn't really appreciate the rural landscape when I called Ellington home, but when I go back these days, with camera in hand, it's a photographer's delight. The road my parents live on crosses a couple towns in a very short span - and about a mile from their house sits the town line for Somers, Ct. This is also a town where livestock seems to outnumber resident humans - and the farm (Scantic Valley Farm) nestled in the valley below my parents house is a pure delight. Cornfield mazes, barns, strawberry fields, pumpkin patches, chickens, pigs, cats, dogs and - my favorite eye candy - the majestic Belted Galloway.

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Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 1.4/35 ZM Review

Welcome to a new year and a fresh new Carl Zeiss review! I was lucky enough to have my hands on the Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 1.4/35 lens for the entire month of December (thank you Ben and Nicole @ Zeiss). I kept it mounted to my Leica M-A for the entire test and shot quite a variety of subjects (including the infamous Mr. Patience), lighting and stops to give a fairly rounded test of this lens - then a handful of compares.

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Manhattan on Film

Last month I headed off to New York City to attend the PhotoPlus Expo and play with the new Zeiss 35mm as well as the new Leica M-A film and Edition 60 digital cameras. While I wasn't at the conference, I was out walking the city trying to capture the vibes on film with one of my best friends, Dori. We ended up doing just one afternoon at the Expo, visiting with Ben, Richard and Nicole from Carl Zeiss Lenses as well as Christopher from Leica.  We spent some time walking to all the booths on the vendor floor, watching some demonstrations and playing with what gear we could play with. Favorites for me were the Zeiss 1.4/35 Distagon and the Leica M-A - though that Leica Edition 60 was awfully nice to shoot.

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NH Highland Games on Film

Last weekend was the 40th Annual New Hampshire Highland Games in Lincoln, NH. I went up north with Linda and her amazing father Jim (both of Scottish descent) to explore this wonderful festival. For gear, I packed my Leica M3 paired with the Carl Zeiss C Sonnar T* 1.5/50, my Leica M2 paired with the Carl Zeiss C Biogon T* 2.8/35, my Weston Master V light meter and my Ona bag loaded with Kodak Portra 400 and Tri-X. In typical Scottish fashion, the weather was a balmy 49º F for most of the day with the on and off spitting of misty rain. It was perfect.  We got to the mountain mid-morning to the sounds of pipes belting out traditional tunes. Though cold, your nose was immediately filled with the scents of great Scottish food - especially my favorite - the meat pie.  I mean really, what's better than a pie filled up with meat? Jim was brave enough to dig into a plate of Haggis - my stomach isn't quite iron enough for Haggis though.

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On Learning Film Photography

Like riding a bike, relearning film is coming back quick, as if greeting an old friend for the first time in ages. As I promised earlier on, I plan to document what I learn as I return to the field of film photography to help those just getting back or starting to explore film for the first time. Since jumping to digital in 2008, I am pretty amazed at how much I need to remember, though. 

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Carl Zeiss C Sonnar 1.5/50 Review

Over the past few weeks, I have been posting mini-reviews on the gorgeous Carl Zeiss C Sonnar 1.5/50 lens (brass/chrome Leica Mount edition tested). This is an amazing portrait lens, giving the right amount of warmth, color and softness that you want to see. For most of my review time, I was busy pitting it against the monster Leica Summilux-M 1.4/50 ASPH.

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5th Compare: Zeiss C Sonnar vs Leica Summilux-M

Yes. I know most distortion checks are against brick walls or actual grids. But since I don't shoot a ton of brick walls and am not a techie, I decided to shoot my window. I focused on the middle "square" section and held the camera as level as possible Above is the Zeiss - below is the Leica. Both unedited. Amazing how much brighter the Leica is at f/1.4 compared to the Zeiss f/1.5 at matching ISO / shutter.

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Carl Zeiss C Sonnar 1.5/50: Portrait Work

This may be the perfect lens for female portraits. (I say female here, as I like male portraits to show more detail in the hair and skin pores and like just a bit of softness to female portraits.) The above photo of my baby girl was taken with overcast skies, mid-day.  This was wide open at 1.5 @ 1/4000 second ISO 160.

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1st Compare: Zeiss C Sonnar vs Leica Summilux-M

I'll let this first compare speak for itself. These were both taken at ISO 160 at their respective wide-open apertures. Shutter was adjusted for changing light - so by no means scientific here. Just an average Joe's snaps, compared side by side. What are your thoughts? See individual images below - click to embiggen.

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