Any Zeiss ZM users here?

Discussion in '35mm Cameras' started by Rol_Lei Nut, Oct 29, 2008.

  1. Rol_Lei Nut

    Rol_Lei Nut Guest


    I currently have a Cosina-Voigtländer 21mm, which is o.k., but I find
    that it vignettes too much and could be sharper in the corners, even
    when stopped down.

    So I'm considering buying the Zeiss ZM C 21mm 4.5, or alternatively, the
    ZM 18mm 4.0.

    Has anyone used these lenses? Will the ZM 21mm be significantly better
    than the CV one? How does the 18mm compare to the 21mm (apart from focal
    length, of course)?

    And, yes, I do have high expectations here! 18 & 21mm are my favorite
    FLs, I already have both in SLR versions.

    Btw: Mostly landscapes & architecture.



    Remove lenscap to answer
    Rol_Lei Nut, Oct 29, 2008
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  2. Rol_Lei Nut

    Bruce Guest

    I have made extensive use of the Carl Zeiss ZM Biogon C 21mm 4.5 for
    architectural work. Its design was inspired by the performance of the
    legendary 21mm 4.5 for the Contarex, which is still among the very
    best 21mm lenses ever made. However, it is not an updated version of
    that lens because the numbers and disposition of elements differ.

    The optical performance of the ZM lens is every bit as good as the
    original. The resolution is excellent right across the frame even
    when used wide open. There is no rectilinear distortion when focused
    at infinity. None!

    The ZM Biogon 21mm f/2.8 is also a fine lens, offering an extra 1.3
    stops of speed and low (but non-zero) distortion. For the ultimate in
    a sharp, zero distortion 21mm lens, the f/4.5 version cannot be
    bettered, even by the Leica ASPH. I have no doubt you would be very
    happy with either.

    I only use SLRs now, and my 21mm of choice is actually a Carl Zeiss
    Jena Flektogon 20mm f/2.8. That's because I am not willing to pay the
    silly high prices of a 21mm Zeiss for SLR use. The Jena lens has
    extremely low distortion but needs to be stopped down to f/5.6 or f/8
    to obtain sharpness into the corners. It also has a flaky diaphragm,
    for which spares are hard to find. I have had it repaired twice and
    it has just broken again. This is apparently now quite a common fault
    in Jena lenses of all focal lengths.
    Bruce, Oct 29, 2008
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  3. Rol_Lei Nut

    Rol_Lei Nut Guest


    That sounds like an excellent reccommendation for the C 21mm...
    If it is fully usable wide open, I don't need a faster lens.

    BTW: I have a Carl Zeiss Jena 20mm f/4.0 (Exakta mount) which is
    supposed to be even better than the f/2.8 version. Not having ever used
    the f/2.8 version, I can't make any comparisons, but the f/4.0's
    diaphram has also never caused any problems (reportedly also more
    reliable than the f/2.8 version).
    And, yes, the Flektogon is globally better than the CV 21mm (apart from
    flare) and is tied with one other lens for second place as my favorite
    (O.K. it is tied with the old Leica R 21mm, while the Leica R 19mm II
    is the king and the old Zeiss 18mm is a close third - though better for
    flare than the second place lenses).


    Remove lenscap to answer
    Rol_Lei Nut, Oct 30, 2008
  4. Rol_Lei Nut

    Bruce Guest

    You're welcome.
    You should also search on the various Leica and rangefinder forums
    before buying.

    I would be happy with f/4 if it came with better reliability.

    The f/2.8 I have (last version) has extremely effective multi-coating,
    certainly better than the Nikon AF Nikkor 20mm f/2.8 I used to own.

    Have you tried the Carl Zeiss (for Contax) Distagon 21mm f/2.8? Used
    examples fetch silly high prices on eBay, but the performance is
    reckoned to be extremely good. There is to be a Cosina-made version
    in Canon EF, Nikon F (AI) and Pentax K mounts costing Euro 1399,00
    including 19% German VAT, with deliveries starting in December 2008.
    That's about the same price as used Contax versions go for in
    excellent condition.
    Bruce, Oct 30, 2008
  5. Rol_Lei Nut

    Rol_Lei Nut Guest

    I've actually gone through 4 20mm f/4.0 Flektogons (cherry picking).
    They and the 25mm seem to be mechanically more reilable than some of the
    other CZJ lenses.
    What I miss is a good dedicated lens shade (something that Leica excels at).

    I use Rolleiflex bodies for my Zeiss lenses.

    Apparently something like five 21mm Distagons were ever made in
    Rolleiflex mount, so that the prices they fetch (if they even appear at
    all) will be even sillier! :-(


    Remove lenscap to answer
    Rol_Lei Nut, Oct 30, 2008
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