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Contents New Perspectives in an Old Port

Strong Portraits in 2

Carl Zeiss SLR Objective Lenses: The Lenses for Digital Video and Photography


Photography in Space


Near Darkness


What is distortion?


A newsletter for anyone who enjoys using, writing about, buying and selling Carl Zeiss camera lenses.

Carl Zeiss Camera Lens Division

Camera Lens News

31 33

October 2009

Camera Lens News No 33 Carl Zeiss

October 2009

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New Perspectives in an Old Port Christian Merten works with striking perspectives and offbeat subjects. The Hamburg-based photographer, who specializes in fashion, cosmetics and portrait shots, tested the Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 3,5/18 ZE for Canon on a cloudy day in the Port of Hamburg. CLN: You recently put the new Distagon lens through its paces. What were your impressions? Christian Merten: This super wideangle lens opens up a new dimension and hugely expands your photographic perspective – and I mean that both literally and figuratively! This is a lens that allows you to give free rein to your creativity on a wider scale, making exquisite little moments look really quite remarkable. CLN: What subjects and backdrops did you choose for the test? Christian Merten: I am typically a photographer who specializes in fashion and beauty shoots, so I was keen to focus on this theme for the Distagon test, too. That‘s why I decided to get in touch with the fashion designer Birte Weiner, so that

present clothes like that than the Port

CLN: What were you expecting

we could put together some ideas

of Hamburg! Solid bridges, rustic-style

from the lens?

on how to showcase her collection

backdrops, sweeping views...

in a novel and interesting way. She is

Christian Merten: ZEISS lens are

a student at the Academy of Fashion

renowned for their top-notch

and Design in Hamburg, and the

precision. So my expectations were

clothes she designs cry out for airy,

correspondingly high for my outing

spacious settings. Where better to

with the new Distagon T* 3,5/18 ZE.

Camera Lens News No 33 Carl Zeiss

October 2009

CLN: So how did the lens perform in the Port of Hamburg tests? Christian Merten: The lens totally fulfilled my expectations with regard to lens speed, sharpness and color rendition. It helped us to achieve top quality results that did justice to our original ideas. It lets you tinker with sharp focus and blur, and the lens copes brilliantly with backlighting. Colors are superbly rendered in natural tones. What a difference in quality compared to the results produced by other lenses! I am genuinely impressed; the Distagon T* 3,5/18 ZE has really been quite a revelation. And it’s great to be one of the first people to have tried out the very latest ZEISS lens!

Following the Distagon T* 3,5/18 ZE, Carl Zeiss now presents the second super wide angle lens with an EF bayonet: the Distagon T* 2,8/21 ZE is ideal for architecture photography and landscapes.

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Camera Lens News No 33 Carl Zeiss

October 2009

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Carl Zeiss SLR Objective Lenses: The Lenses for Digital Video and Photography The briefly flashing eyes of

Video or film look?

P&S-Technik (Germany) and later

the hero, the crumbling asphalt

The unmistakable look of moving

included in the products of Redrock

of the urban street canyon in

pictures is the result of tiny details:

(USA) and SG-Pro (England). The

which he he‘ll soon vanish, the

for example, the color fidelity that

digital video camera captures a

unknown being gradually appea-

is particularly evident in the hues of

35 mm intermediate image that is

ring in the foreground. Narration

skin color, the specific aesthetics of

reproduced on a rotating ground

through pictures is always a mat-

movements captured at 24 frames

glass screen by a high-speed camera

ter of the technique used. Details

per second as compared to the

lens. Particularly popular in this

and effects, such as the look of

frames of TV, and the lower depth

context are the purely manually-

the film or the follow focus cap-

of field which makes the cinematic

operated Canon-FD lenses and the

tivate the audience and pull the

presentation of objects possible.

manual Nikon lenses of the past.

Amazing effects can be realized

The low depth of field is a particularly

The moving picture thus attains a soft

in films and photography using

attractive design tool, but at the same

aesthetic appearance, a grainy look –

the SLR objective lenses made

time a true challenge of digital cine-

a smooth, non-digital overall image

by Carl Zeiss if you capitalize on

matography. When the surroundings

with no hard edges. The grain of the

their special features and follow

are imaged out of focus, the view of

ground-glass screen introduces blur

one or two tips.

the observer is automatically directed

as a result of the motion blur of the

to a point of interest which the came-

screen. In this context, the rotating

raman can deliberately extract from

speed and the type of surface must

the surroundings.

be selected carefully to ensure that

observer right into the action.

the image does not appear mushy or

Thoralf Abgarjan produces

For a long time, low depth of field

diffuse. Since the intermediate image

remained a domain of 35 mm film.

needs to be flipped – i.e. unreversed

This is due to the laws of physics as

and upright – another optical com-

the comparatively small sensors of

ponent, the flip module, is required.

digital video cameras (1/3 to 2/3 of

The back focus – i.e. focusing onto

an inch in size) do not allow for low

the imaging surface of the screen –

depth of field. Consequently, 35 mm

must be set and fixed with high

film allows a person in a room to be

precision by the filmmaker to ensure

set apart from the furnishings by the

that the images do not blurred.

deliberate use of low definition.

multimedia content for music and

This procedure also generates the

advertising: music composition

Depth of field via adapters:

desired depth of field in digital films.

and production for,

high effort, low-light

One crucial drawback is that the

Exquisa, Erdinger, ADAC, ÖAMTC,

transmission power

complex set-up leads to a loss of light

film projects for Koch-Universal,

One way of attaining targeted

intensity equivalent to up to three

Musik-Media-Verlag, YAMAHA,

blurring in digital films is the use

aperture stop settings. Considering

ADAC, ÖAMTC and many others.

of DOF adapters (DOF: depth of

that HD video cameras already have

field). The best known approach

difficulties in low light conditions,

to this issue was first provided by

this is a further shortcoming.

Camera Lens News No 33 Carl Zeiss

October 2009

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Depth of field without tricks:

excels through its superior low

the full-format sensor is key

light behavior. It is therefore self-

The Canon EOS-5D Mark II is the first

evident that only the fastest lenses,

camera to enable cinematographic

i.e. 1.4 - 1.2, should be used with

depth of field without additional loss

the unit because even the most

of light intensity, a feature that makes

sensitive sensor is useless if too little

it truly useful for professional film-

light passes through the lens.

making. The most interesting feature of the EOS-5D-Mark II to the video

Working in full HD, you need to have

photographer is optical imaging onto

razor-sharp images. Fixed focal length

a full-format sensor with the same

lenses produce much sharper images

geometric dimensions as 35 mm

than zoom lenses and tend to exhibit

analog film. The recording is in full

less distortion at the periphery. This

HD: progressive 1080p.

applies, in particular, to the Zeiss T*

Fig. 1: Canon EOS-5D-Mark II equipped with the Planar T* 1.4/50 ZE and Chrosziel Follow Focus

lenses. Moreover, fixed focal length The camera initially utilized some kind

lenses tend to exhibit substantially

of semiautomatic system which made

less „pumping“ than zoom lenses.

it quite difficult to manually set the

Pumping is observed when the geo-

aperture stop. This was impractical

metry of the object appears to change

for professional use, but this handi-

while focusing. However, only the

Fig. 2: Canon EOS-5D-Mark II used as a video-

cap was remedied with the release of

sharpness should shift while focus-

camera: ready-for-use Chrosziel rig equipped with

the eagerly awaited firmware update

sing, not the dimension of the image

1.1 in June 2009. Aperture stop, ISO


the Planar T* 1.4/50 ZE, Chrosziel Follow Focus, Redrock Mattebox, and Marshall Field Monitor

sensitivity and exposure time can now be set independently of each other

Common and important

quality videography such as mea-

in the manual mode. For filmmaking,

fixed focus lengths:

su-ring fields and face recognition.

the camera features sensational

The most important fixed focal

Although lenses for SLR cameras

low light behavior. Even at night,

lengths are 50 mm (the normal lens),

can be switched to manual mode,

exposures can be taken without any

28 mm (wide-angle for landscapes

this is basically only a minor applica-

significant noise – provided you have

and indoors), and the 85 mm tele-

tion. They often run imprecisely, or

a high-speed lens. One drawback is

photo lens which excels in portrait

even with substantial play in the

that the camera only offers a fixed

photography and „over-shoulder

worst case, and the focal points that

frame rate of 30 fps, making users

images“ in which a person in the

are so important for videography

anticipate the next firmware update

foreground is deliberately kept out

are difficult to reproduce.

that will accommodate the frame

of focus.

rate of 25 fps in Europe.

Purely manual lenses such as the Autofocus or manual focus?

ZEISS lenses are designed for manual

Fixed focal length or zoom?

A film-maker uses selective focus

focal adjustment. They offer much

Dedicated objective lenses for

mainly for scene design purposes

better precision than manually opera-


and therefore as a creative element

ted autofocus lenses.

Fixed focal length lenses have

of style. For this reason, camera

tremendous advantages over zoom

lenses are used in the manual mode

lenses – especially in digital video-

exclusively in videography even if

graphy. Their speed is at least twice

they feature autofocus. In addition,

as high: the Canon EOS 5D Mark II

all autofocus strategies fail in high

Camera Lens News No 33 Carl Zeiss

October 2009

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Why lenses from ZEISS are

optimal precision that vastly exceeds

particularly well-suited for

the precision of flexible universal


rings. Since the cameras are usually

Carl Zeiss lenses are characterized

sold with this zoom, it is very wide-

by their high speed and are designed

spread. However, it is not the optimal

solely for use as manually adjusted

choice for high quality videography.

lenses – ideal for videography.

Since I used to work with the DOF

They produce razor-sharp images

adapter quite a bit in the past, I

and enable selective focus. Their

Fig. 3: The Planar T* 1.4/50mm equipped with

became familiar with the advantages

maximum aperture of 1.4 is optimal

gear ring (Chrosziel) for the follow focus. The

of the Canon FD lenses for purely

as larger aperture stops such as 1.2 have such a small focusing range

reverse gear drive shown on the left is extremely important for intuitive operation.

that the overall image appears blurred.

manual focusing. It was therefore a great joy to me when purely manually focusing ZEISS lenses finally became

Limitation to 1.4 is therefore a

ND (neutral density, for situations

available for Canon cameras. For

realistic value.

with too much light, sunlight, snow,

my applications, it would also be

The lenses come with an excellent

etc.), polarizing filters (intensify sky,

ideal to have a manual aperture ring.

manual focus ring whose motion is

eliminate reflections) etc.

Currently, the aperture stop is con-

perfectly suited for follow-focus.

4. Monitor for focus assessment,

trolled electronically by the camera

preferably with „peaking“ display of

which is a slight drawback.

The lenses have a special look,

the images appear fresh and the

the focal point using other colors

bokeh effect (area of blur) appears

Chrosziel was kind enough to

very classy. The bokeh plays a parti-

Based on the technical data alone, it

custom-manufacture a gear ring for

cularly important role in the overall

is difficult to explain the differences

my 50 mm lens – I cannot imagine

impression of the image.

in pricing of the accessories which

better customer service. It has come

are substantial in some cases. It’s the

to my attention that Chrosziel is

Accessories for videographers

details that count: for example the

considering adding fixed gear rings

As soon as you start working with

direction of focus shift. The follow

to their product line for ZEISS lenses.

the new ZEISS lenses, you develop a

focus supplied by Munich-based

The crank on the follow focus is also

desire for selective focus adjustment.

Chrosziel has a reverse gear drive

very convenient and important to

The following accessories are helpful

which I find extremely important.

me: it makes it much easier for me to

and recommended for this:

The intuitive component offered by

overcome the limited range of angles

1. Rig, lifting the camera to the

a reverse gear drive should not be

that can be set with my left hand.

standardized level of the optical axis

underestimated. Intuitive means that

The monitor with peaking function

and facilitating the attachment of

you rotate forwards to move the

is indispensable as it allows me to

follow focus and matte box

focal point farther away. The preci-

assess the focus properly. Chrosziel

2. Follow focus: despite the precise

sion of the rig is evident from the

supplies the matching solution in an

motion of the focus ring, it is difficult

firm and fixed attachment of the

additional kit for this application as

to smoothly and precisely adjust

parts and by how easy they are to


the focus using the lens ring. The

disassemble when needed without

follow focus should be as precisely

hurting your hands.

as possible. Only then can the capa-

Objective lenses for videography and photography

bilities of these sophisticated lenses

Until now, Chrosziel has supplied a

The strengths of the lens – such as

be fully utilized.

fixed gear ring for the standard zoom

high-speed, razor-sharp images, a

3. Matte box to eliminate stray light

of Canon. The fixed ring that is

noble look and beautiful background

and as a holder for filters such as

seated directly on the lens ensures

blur – can also be advantageous to

Camera Lens News No 33 Carl Zeiss

October 2009

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Fig. 4: Carl Zeiss SLR lenses are ideally suited for

Fig. 5: The crank on the follow focus is a necessity,

Fig. 6: The matte box accommodates the filters

precise follow focus.

especially for camera lenses.

and provides protection against stray light.

Fig. 7: The matte box must be sealed tightly on

Fig. 8: The fixed gear ring on the lens.

Fig. 9: Free-hand night exposure: made possible

the objective lens (here with neoprene) to prevent

only by the high speed of the Zeiss 50 mm lens.

uncontrollable reflections from forming on the surfaces of the filters.

normal photography. Photographers

determination or rough setting using

you can takes your time. Nothing

must be aware of the following:

the viewfinder are from the true focal

here is left to automatic controls!

Snapshots are not a strength of

point. While this permits perfectly

And this feature is the strength of

ZEISS lenses since focusing usually

focused images, it takes time. Having

these lenses. The photographer

takes more time than with auto-

a good monitor with a „peaking“

has everything under control and

focus lenses.

feature significantly simplifies focusing

has the opportunity and the means

in videography.

to produce very good pictures.

Planar-T* lenses are ideal for fully

designed images with high aesthetic appeal. •

The imaging performance is so

Conclusion In my experience, the new SLR lenses

good and the images so sharp that

from Carl Zeiss are first class and

checking via the measuring field

unparalleled in digital videography

of the camera does not provide

with the Canon EOS-5D-Mark II. As

sufficiently accurate feedback alt-

lenses for purely manual focussing,

hough it generally works. The manual

they are perfectly suited for this

assessment of focus via the view-

application. The brilliant look of the

finder is also problematic, but the

lenses, their crispness, and the stylish

„live view“ feature can help. It

bokeh are excellent additions for

magnifies the image in the display

photography unless you talking about

by a factor of 5 to 10 and you can

snapshots and not well-balanced,

see how far the measuring field

perfectly-designed pictures for which

Camera Lens News No 33 Carl Zeiss

October 2009

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Photography in Space “That‘s one small step for man, one

the position of extremely small, one-

three lenses from different manufac-

giant step for mankind“ – words

kilogram satellites. The camera will

turers. The Planar T* 1,4/85 ZF-I was

that would go down in history when

be integrated into nano-satellites

quickly identified as the best of the

Neil Armstrong became the first

where it will take pictures of the stars

three. In the industrial version of the

human to set foot on the moon in

during flight. A computer program

ZF lenses, the focus ring and aperture

1969. His baggage included a lens

will then compare the size, brightness

can be fixed with just five screws.

from Carl Zeiss. Deployed on a

and arrangement of the celestial

Furthermore, Carl Zeiss supplied the

Hasselblad camera, it captured what

bodies in the images with known

institutes with very detailed informa-

had never been seen before – the

stars listed in a NASA star catalog.

tion on the lens, which was vital

dusty surface of the moon, its barren

The program can determine precisely

for the successful modification. The

landscape pockmarked by numerous

where the satellite was when it took

first-class quality of the lenses, for

meteorites, the first footprints in

the picture. The new star camera

which Carl Zeiss is known the world

the Sea of Tranquility. NASA also

is based on an SDL camera model

over, also played a key role.

used cameras with Carl Zeiss optics

known for its particularly accurate

for later trips to the moon. Now, 40

target localization and extremely low

A lens has to take a lot of punishment

years later, the Space Dynamics

energy consumption. The prototype

in space. Mechanical forces during

Laboratory (SDL) at the University

will demonstrate its capabilities

launch, temperature fluctuations,

of Utah and the Washington Naval

during a test flight on the Interna-

pressure and the vacuum of space

research Laboratory (NRL) are once

tional Space Station.

demand the utmost. Like the moon

again preparing a ZEISS lens for

lens for Apollo 11, the Planar

space – albeit with a different

The costs and development time

T* 1,4/85 ZF-I was modified to survive

mission in mind.

for such a camera are enormous.

in these extreme conditions.

The scientists wanted to use existing The two institutes jointly developed

lenses and modify them for the

The researchers first took the lens

the prototype of a miniature star

current job in order to keep costs to

completely apart, and removed the

camera that will be used to determine

a minimum. They put to the test

grease, lubricants and cements. These substances, which normally ensure that the lenses remain in one piece and work properly, would contaminate the optics in space. The scientists then took precautions to maintain optimal pressure compensation. To do this, they aired out the spaces between the single lens elements and bored holes in the lens housing to enable air exchange. Finally, they removed the diaphragm that is not needed for the special mission of the camera. After all, every gram and every millimeter counts when it comes to adapting the camerato the size and weight

Scientists use existing ZEISS lenses and modify them to fit their needs.

limits of the nano-satellites.

Camera Lens News No 33 Carl Zeiss

October 2009

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The greatest challenge was properly reassembling the lens after the corrections. Excellent image quality requires each part of the lens to be perfectly aligned and matched to the other components. During production, Carl Zeiss therefore conducts extensive measurements and quality controls after each step to ensure the high quality. As a result, a ZEISS lens is once again making its way into space. It is uncertain if it will ever return to the earth – weight limits have

Additional holes are drilled to enable air exchange which enables optimal pressure compensation.

forced astronauts to leave many cameras and lenses behind over the past 40 years.

The finished camera module must deliver excellent image quality despite the modifications.

Camera Lens News No 33 Carl Zeiss

October 2009

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Strong Portraits in Near Darkness There’s just something about abadoned buildings. Where people used to live and work; where the machines have long been silent. Silence spreads like wildfire. The relics of the past are literally peeling, decaying, and covered in leaves and dust, but somehow still present. When I am out on the road, I am always on the lookout for old factory buildings, warehouses and deserted train stations. If I notice an interesting site, I immediately think of ways to take pictures. It often takes a bit of courage to climb in, get dirty and explore the old ruins. Every discovery is exciting: what is The first shoot was in an empty

I liked the strong, selective definition

structure near Stuttgart. The light

achieved with the lens. I was also

Because of my passion for dilapidated

was not good, however, the Planar

impressed by the astoundingly natural

buildings, I took my ZEISS Planar

T* 1,4/50 ZE certainly proved its

color rendition.

T* 1,4/50 ZE and Distagon T* 2,8/21 ZF

metal in the gloomy ambience. I

lenses with me into the abandoned

obtained high image quality even at

I then tested the Planar T* 1,4/50

buildings and tested how well

full aperture. When taking portraits,

for pictures in an old train station in

they capture the room and work to

I like to work with the contrast

Stuttgart. In portrait photography,

perfection with so little light.

created between focused and blurred

the objective is to embed the models

areas because it adds a very distinc-

in their environment, to come to

tive character to the picture.

terms with the lighting and to find

hiding behind the next door?

the right image composition. While taking pictures against this backdrop, I wanted the few light areas to lift the model out of the darkness. The lens did a very good job of capturing the contrasts, resulting in really breathtaking images. I was impressed. Finally, I used a Distagon T* 2,8/21 ZF in an old building near Berlin. I usually use 50 mm lenses for portraits because they make it possible to generate a feeling of closeness. However, if space is to be a key element of the composition, I need a wide-angle lens that captures the

Camera Lens News No 33 Carl Zeiss

October 2009

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dimensions. The super wide-angle enabled me to completely capture the large room and infuse the image with enormous depth. Despite the difficult lighting conditions, I was once again able to achieve fantastic image quality.

The fixed focal length of the ZEISS lenses turned out to be perfect for portraits. With manual focusing, you work more carefully and know precisely when you press the trigger.

As a result, you are more likely to

Delia Baum takes amazing

capture that special moment. There

portraits in the nooks and crannies

are certainly situations, such as glare,

of abandoned buildings. The

when manual focusing can be a bit

young photographer from

tricky. However, the precise setting

Leonberg, Germany, tested the

possibilities are a clear advantage

Planar T* 1,4/50 ZE and Distagon

when I want to specifically showcase

T* 2,8/ 21 ZF lenses with a Nikon

a subject. My models should not

D3 in her favorite environment.

have empty faces but appeal to and

At first she found working with a

engage the observer. People, com-

fixed focal length a bit unusual,

position, details, light and colors must

but soon became a fan. Delia

interact perfectly. When I succeed

Baum is 22 and is currently lear-

in showing character and vibrancy,

ning to be a photographer at the

the portrait is a success.

RenĂŠ Staud Studio in Leonberg.

Camera Lens News No 33 Carl Zeiss

October 2009

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What is distortion? The majority of camera lenses produce images in line with the laws of central perspective. This kind of projection of three-dimensional space onto a two-dimensional image surface is also called gnomonic projection. This Greek term (gnomon = gnomon = shadow-producing rod) denotes a type of sundial because, as with a sundial, an image point is produced by connecting a point in the object space to the center of the projection using a straight line; the image point is where this straight line intersects the flat projection surface.

is not the physical aperture stop, but

The center of projection of the image

rather its virtual image – and as such

is the tip of the rod used by DĂźrer‘s

may even be situated outside the lens

artist to draw attention to the charms

altogether. This is often the case with

of the young lady in this picture. The

short telescopic lenses.

projection surface is the frame fitted with a grid placed between the two

The gnomonic (central perspective)

and is used by the artist to transfer the

projection has a special feature where

image points onto his drawing paper

all straight lines of the object space

with the proper perspective.

are reproduced in the image as a straight line regardless of where they

The center of projection of camera

are situated and to where they are

lenses is their entrance pupil, i.e.


the image of the aperture stop viewed from the front. When taking

Distortion is defined as an image

panorama photos, it is necessary

aberration in which this property is

to swivel around the entrance pupil

no longer exactly fulfilled. A lens that

to ensure that objects in the fore-

exhibits distortion produces slightly

ground and background are not

warped images of lines that do not

shifted with respect to each other.

pass through the center of the image.

This special point is often also called the nodal point, but it has a very different meaning in optics. There is nothing particularly mysterious about the entrance pupil either, since anyone can see it without any special aids and estimate its approximate position. However, the entrance pupil

Camera Lens News A newsletter for all who use, buy, sell, like, report about and are interested in Carl Zeiss camera lenses. All information in Camera Lens News is accurate to the best of our knowledge at the time of publication. Publisher: Carl Zeiss AG Camera Lens Division Marketing 73446 Oberkochen Germany Phone: +49 (0) 7364/ 20-6175 Email: Internet:

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Contents New Perspectives in an Old Port 2 Strong Portraits in Near Darkness 10 A newsletter for anyone who enjoys using, writing about, buy...