Time to test a pair of lenses - Nikon 105VR vs Zeiss Makro-Planar T* 2/100

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I will fill in the title after the fun is over. I have 2 prime lenses, and I am thinking of selling one. They are almost identical focal lengths. The shots were shot from a locked down D600, switching only the lens. The speedlights were set to M 1/16 and never moved. All shots ISO 100, f8 1/60th processed in CNX2 with only an identical USM adjustment.

Odd shots are one lens, even shots the second. Anyone dare to guess what they are and which is which?

The gallery is here with original shots and they can be downloaded. The EXIF has been stripped.:tongue::biggrin:

1)

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2)

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While I don't know what these lenses are, my vote is to keep the odd numbered lens. I like the darker richer colors it produces. It also appears to be a bit sharper to my eyes as well.
 
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While I don't know what these lenses are, my vote is to keep the odd numbered lens. I like the darker richer colors it produces. It also appears to be a bit sharper to my eyes as well.
Yep, unless we're both crazy it seems that way to me as well... :smile:

Now, Chad, do the same again but this time with the D7k and see if
the different sensor/crop makes much of a difference... :wink:
 
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even lens a DC? If not, maybe more aperture blades? The OOF looks better to me on the even shots

Neither is a DC lens. They do have a different number of blades, and the blades have a different shape.
 
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Either the focus is different or they have a different DOF at f/8. Maybe the aperture is also different at f/8 since this is not always that accurate. Or is it possible the flash was different (I don't know enough about flashes, don't use them)?

The odd lens seems a little more contrasty and saturated which is nice, but the second lens just seem a little "better", but probably mostly as a result of the difference in focus/DOF. I would want to find out the reason for this before deciding.

Of course other parameters of the lenses would also influence (e.g. biggest aperture, etc.).
 

Rob Zijlstra

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The odd numbered are as said better, though it wouldn't surprise me if you see the originals, thats the other way; posting can do silly tricks!
I just would keep both!
 

Butlerkid

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The odd numbered images seem to have better color....maybe a tad sharper. However, the bokeh is more pleasing in the even numbered images. At least that's my impression...
 
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Are you going to use this this lens for normal or macro work...?

Personally, if macro I'd want the lens sharpest stopped down to f16-f20... For normal
I'd want the lens sharpest opened up...

JMHO, YMMV... :wink:
 
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One of them is exposing brighter than the other. Possibly because one has higher transmission or the aperture on one or both are not calibrated properly. For example, if you set the aperture to f/8 one may actually stop down to f7.7 while the other stops down to f8.4. If you want to compare the colors and contrast, you'll need to dial in a bit of exposure compensation for one, so the exposure are the same. Unless you get matching exposures for both lenses, and comparison between them is invalid. The lens which is overexposing looks worse in this comparison, but it may actually be the better lens when used properly.

Most macro lenses lose light due to extension at close range. Nikon macro lenses report the correct aperture at all focus distances. So, at 1:1, the max aperture is f/5 (correct me if that's wrong) due to extension at close range (I know the lens is IF but there is still some sort of internal extension going on). It's only f/2.8 at infinity. So if you set the aperture to f/8 and shoot at infinity, the camera closes the lens down 3 stops. However at 1:1, the lens is closed down only 2/3 of a stop to get to f/8. That's because Nikon macro lenses are designed to be f/8 regardless of the focus distance.

Does the ZF 100/2 also report the true aperture? Due to extension the aperture drops by just over 1 stop at 1:2, so at close range the max aperture will actually be closer to f2.8. If the ZF100/2 does not report the correct aperture, and you set the aperture to f/8, it will display f/8 in the viewfinder at all distances, but the real aperture will drop to f/11 at 1:2.

That means when comparing the two lenses at 1:2 magnification, if you set the aperture to f/8, the Nikon will shoot at f/8, but the ZF100/2 may possibly be shooting at f/11. The shutter speeds will be correspondingly different to keep the exposure (more or less) the same.

Why is this significant? In the even numbered pictures, the background blurs are larger than the odd numbered pictures, which suggests the aperture opening is wider. That means the even numbered pictures are taken with the 105VR, and the odd ones are the ZF 100/2.

Also, shots 3 and 4 are probably taken close to 1:2. The 105VR has IF focusing so the focal length shortens at close range. The ZF100/2 focuses by extension so the focal length remains the same. Shot 3 is cropped closer which suggests the focal length is longer. That supports my guess that even numbers shots are taken with 105VR, odd with ZF 100/2. :smile:
 
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One of them is exposing brighter than the other. Possibly because one has higher transmission or the aperture on one or both are not calibrated properly. For example, if you set the aperture to f/8 one may actually stop down to f7.7 while the other stops down to f8.4. If you want to compare the colors and contrast, you'll need to dial in a bit of exposure compensation for one, so the exposure are the same. Unless you get matching exposures for both lenses, and comparison between them is invalid. The lens which is overexposing looks worse in this comparison, but it may actually be the better lens when used properly.

Most macro lenses lose light due to extension at close range. Nikon macro lenses report the correct aperture at all focus distances. So, at 1:1, the max aperture is f/5 (correct me if that's wrong) due to extension at close range (I know the lens is IF but there is still some sort of internal extension going on). It's only f/2.8 at infinity. So if you set the aperture to f/8 and shoot at infinity, the camera closes the lens down 3 stops. However at 1:1, the lens is closed down only 2/3 of a stop to get to f/8. That's because Nikon macro lenses are designed to be f/8 regardless of the focus distance.

Does the ZF 100/2 also report the true aperture? Due to extension the aperture drops by just over 1 stop at 1:2, so at close range the max aperture will actually be closer to f2.8. If the ZF100/2 does not report the correct aperture, and you set the aperture to f/8, it will display f/8 in the viewfinder at all distances, but the real aperture will drop to f/11 at 1:2.

That means when comparing the two lenses at 1:2 magnification, if you set the aperture to f/8, the Nikon will shoot at f/8, but the ZF100/2 may possibly be shooting at f/11. The shutter speeds will be correspondingly different to keep the exposure (more or less) the same.

Why is this significant? In the even numbered pictures, the background blurs are larger than the odd numbered pictures, which suggests the aperture opening is wider. That means the even numbered pictures are taken with the 105VR, and the odd ones are the ZF 100/2.

Also, shots 3 and 4 are probably taken close to 1:2. The 105VR has IF focusing so the focal length shortens at close range. The ZF100/2 focuses by extension so the focal length remains the same. Shot 3 is cropped closer which suggests the focal length is longer. That supports my guess that even numbers shots are taken with 105VR, odd with ZF 100/2. :smile:
Excellent analysis Roland!

For me, exposures which are this far off can not be evaluated for IQ differences.

JT
 
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Chad,

Given the differences in light transmission between the images, even though exposure parameters were well controlled, it may be worth trying to equalize the histograms for the images for easier comparison of the differences between the lenses.

Roland, thanks for the excellent analysis. I did not know that about set aperture vs. effective aperture at close distances regarding the Nikon. That was very educational!

I have only used the Zeiss extensively. What sets it apart from the rest of the pack is its performance at mid and long distances wide open, and its stopped down infinity performance. For pure macro, many other factors will contribute to IQ than the differences between the two lenses. And of course AF and VR can be very, very handy.
 
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One of them is exposing brighter than the other. Possibly because one has higher transmission or the aperture on one or both are not calibrated properly. For example, if you set the aperture to f/8 one may actually stop down to f7.7 while the other stops down to f8.4. If you want to compare the colors and contrast, you'll need to dial in a bit of exposure compensation for one, so the exposure are the same. Unless you get matching exposures for both lenses, and comparison between them is invalid. The lens which is overexposing looks worse in this comparison, but it may actually be the better lens when used properly.

Most macro lenses lose light due to extension at close range. Nikon macro lenses report the correct aperture at all focus distances. So, at 1:1, the max aperture is f/5 (correct me if that's wrong) due to extension at close range (I know the lens is IF but there is still some sort of internal extension going on). It's only f/2.8 at infinity. So if you set the aperture to f/8 and shoot at infinity, the camera closes the lens down 3 stops. However at 1:1, the lens is closed down only 2/3 of a stop to get to f/8. That's because Nikon macro lenses are designed to be f/8 regardless of the focus distance.

Does the ZF 100/2 also report the true aperture? Due to extension the aperture drops by just over 1 stop at 1:2, so at close range the max aperture will actually be closer to f2.8. If the ZF100/2 does not report the correct aperture, and you set the aperture to f/8, it will display f/8 in the viewfinder at all distances, but the real aperture will drop to f/11 at 1:2.

That means when comparing the two lenses at 1:2 magnification, if you set the aperture to f/8, the Nikon will shoot at f/8, but the ZF100/2 may possibly be shooting at f/11. The shutter speeds will be correspondingly different to keep the exposure (more or less) the same.

Why is this significant? In the even numbered pictures, the background blurs are larger than the odd numbered pictures, which suggests the aperture opening is wider. That means the even numbered pictures are taken with the 105VR, and the odd ones are the ZF 100/2.

Also, shots 3 and 4 are probably taken close to 1:2. The 105VR has IF focusing so the focal length shortens at close range. The ZF100/2 focuses by extension so the focal length remains the same. Shot 3 is cropped closer which suggests the focal length is longer. That supports my guess that even numbers shots are taken with 105VR, odd with ZF 100/2. :smile:

I learn something new everyday. Your "guess" is spot on. The ZF is not the new version, so it does not report anything to the best of my knowledge, but works like an AI-s. I did set the Non-CPU setting in the D600 to correspond to it, and thought that f8 would be just above any variation, but didn't consider that the extension would cause a drop in transmission. Thanks for the excellent analysis.
 
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Chad,

Given the differences in light transmission between the images, even though exposure parameters were well controlled, it may be worth trying to equalize the histograms for the images for easier comparison of the differences between the lenses.

Roland, thanks for the excellent analysis. I did not know that about set aperture vs. effective aperture at close distances regarding the Nikon. That was very educational!

I have only used the Zeiss extensively. What sets it apart from the rest of the pack is its performance at mid and long distances wide open, and its stopped down infinity performance. For pure macro, many other factors will contribute to IQ than the differences between the two lenses. And of course AF and VR can be very, very handy.
I agree - I need to start over. My thought was that I would keep the ZF for more general work and close up, rather than true macro work. So my real question then became whether to sell the 105VR and replace it with a longer FL lens or not. But I do love my 105VR and needed a push...:biggrin:
 

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