Rolleiflex 2.8E Review

It happened again. I picked up another Rolleiflex, this time the 1956 2.8E with the Carl Zeiss Planar.  If you remember in the past, I had a Rolleiflex 3.5 with the Xeontar that I wasn't overly happy with. The lens had issues (fungus, cleaning marks) and the rear door wasn't in great condition (slight dent on the hinge that leaked light). Also, the viewfinder was really dark and almost unuseable at dusk. So, for many reasons, I dumped it a couple years ago.

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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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Leica M2 + M3 Review

This review of the Leica M2 & M3 won't be overly technical. Back in January I picked up a 1958 Leica M2 from the fine folks at Green Mountain Camera in Vermont - let's just say the deal was too good to pass up. During that time I had been shooting almost exclusively with this camera and a 1957 Summicron 2/50. Then in June, I picked up a 1961 Leica M3 from Youxin Ye of YYe Camera.  Until June, the Leica M2 was loaded with either Kodak Tri-X or Portra 160/400 film.  Now, the Leica M2 is usually loaded with just the Tri-X and my Carl Zeiss 2.8/35 while the Leica M3 is loaded with Portra 400 and the Leica Summicron 2/50 or Carl Zeiss C Sonnar T* 1.5/50.  This has spoiled me rotten and has returned me to a simplicity in look and style that I adore - so much so that the Leica ME sits rarely used on a shelf.

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Light Meters

I've been seeing quite a bit of talk on Twitter about light meters lately, perhaps because I follow mostly film shooters or simply because it's a trending topic in the photographic community. But regardless of which medium you shoot, you are metering light (if you don't know the difference between incident and reflective metering, do yourself a favor and Google that - I suggest this site). Many people let the camera do the metering behind the scenes while others like to take full control of this aspect of photography.

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Scanners: Noritsu and Frontier Side-by-Side

I was curious what the difference was between the Noritsu Film and Fuji Frontier scanners (see the Richard Photo Lab article here and Johnny's article here).  So, I'd like to thank the fine folks at Richard Photo Lab for allowing me to do this compare on two images from my Leica M2 shot on Kodak Portra 400 - exposed to 200. They were kind enough to scan a color negative of mine on the two scanners so I could judge for myself what's going on. Neither of the color negatives were scanned with PAC files on either scanner - both are RPL's "default" settings.

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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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4th Compare: Zeiss C Sonnar vs Leica Summilux-M (and 1955 Summicron)

So, I decided to throw the 1955 Summicron 2/50 Collapsable into the mix. Muhahaha! For this first test, the three were shot at their respective wide-openness from relatively the same vantage point (I was too low to use a tripod). Above is the modern f/1.5 Zeiss Sonnar. Below find the modern f/1.4 Summilux-M ASPH and 1955 f/2 Summicron versions. 

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3rd Compare: Zeiss C Sonnar vs Leica Summilux-M

Compare #3 looks at focus shift. For this one, I set both lenses to f/2, shutter to 1/180 second, ISO 160 and a distance of about 1 meter. In the viewfinder, the focus looked identical (to me) and I made no adjustments for focus shifting like in previous posts. Above is the Leica version, spot on. Below is the Zeiss. Of course, both are SOOC once again.

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2nd Compare: Zeiss C Sonnar vs Leica Summilux-M

For round #2, I have 4 SOOC shots for you today. Zeiss on the left, Leica on the right. Top row is wide open, second row is f/5.6. These were all taken at ISO 160 through Leica M-E on a tripod. See below for individual images. Take note of the subtle yet present vignetting of the two top images (Zeiss 1.5 / Leica 1.4). I'd suggest opening the crops below in separate tabs and switching between them - the differences begin to stand out.

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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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