Monday, January 26, 2009
The new lens
A week ago, Scott and I made a Saturday morning run to Keeble & Shuchat, one of the Bay Area's best camera stores. Scott was looking for a tripod and I was just looking (honest, dear). While Scott perused the very lightweight (and expensive) Manfrotto carbon-fiber tripods I gazed at the Leica shelf. I have been half-way looking for a 50mm lens for my Leica rangefinders.
In the old days, I used the Leica as a wide angle camera. My Nikons had normal and telephoto lenses mounted as I made my rounds, working mostly for daily newspapers. The Leica 21mm was very sharp and distortion free, and gave me an edge over the 24mm Nikkor then used by most photojournalists. The 35mm was a great 'normal' lens, and very useful shooting groups at social events. People on the ends didn't get that fat look that lesser wide angles produce.
Nowadays I'm using my Leicas as much as possible - in part to make my left arm and hand work by focusing the Leica (using rangefinder technology invented early in the last century). So a 'normal' angle lens was on the wish list. At the store, a new Leitz 50mm f2 lens was $2000. A beat demo lens was $1700. No thanks.
However, a Zeiss Ikon camera was sitting on the shelf, with a 50mm Zeiss Planar T* - my old film Contax camera had a Planar, as did my Hasselblad - I had always loved the images from both. The salesman quoted a price for the Zeiss lens that was a third of the Leitz 50mm. I made the command decision, and ordered one in black, to match my Leica bodies.
The lens arrived last Thursday - the pictures above were made with the new lens. The picture at top is a crop from the picture at left, and shows the Planar's crisp resolution and very nice saturation. This new Planar does not disappoint...