Zeiss 18mm f/4 Distagon

Leica M9 Zeiss 18mm f/4 Distagon


It probably comes as no great surprise that a Zeiss lens on a  Leica M9 body takes great pictures. There would be something wrong if it didn't. The 18mm f/4 Distagon is a superb lens. I liked the Zeiss 21mm f/2.8 I had but this is sharper, with a great colour rendition. 


Leica M9 Zeiss 18mm f/4 Distagon


Leica M9 Zeiss 18mm f/4 Distagon


I tried zone focusing with it, using the depth of field scale, and it did work. Infinity is Infinity on this lens so the depth of field markers are accurate. However with lenses such as this the point of focus is so sharp that I prefer to focus on my main subject rather than just let the depth of field have everything more or less in focus. There's a couple of articles on this below.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Depth_of_field


http://www.rogerandfrances.com/photoschool/ps%20how%20zone%20focus.html


Leica M9 Zeiss 18mm f/4 Distagon


Leica M9 Zeiss 18mm f/4 Distagon


All of the raw files for these pictures were run through Cornerfix, which sorted out the vignetting. 


Leica M9 Zeiss 18mm f/4 Distagon


For me an M-Mount lens is just as liable to get used on a m4/3 camera as on my Leica. Trying it on my GH2 it was again very impressive. These below were tripod mounted shots at f/11 and the originals are very sharp indeed. The colours are absolutely spot on as well.


Panasonic GH2  Zeiss 18mm f/4 Distagon


Panasonic GH2  Zeiss 18mm f/4 Distagon


Panasonic GH2  Zeiss 18mm f/4 Distagon


Panasonic GH2  Zeiss 18mm f/4 Distagon


Panasonic GH2  Zeiss 18mm f/4 Distagon


Even at this small web size you should be able to see just how sharp this lens is in this last picture. Also its ability to render the various shades of green.


I also took some shots outdoors with the lens set wide open at f/4. 


Panasonic GH2  Zeiss 18mm f/4 Distagon


Panasonic GH2  Zeiss 18mm f/4 Distagon


Panasonic GH2  Zeiss 18mm f/4 Distagon


Panasonic GH2  Zeiss 18mm f/4 Distagon


Panasonic GH2  Zeiss 18mm f/4 Distagon


Again, even at these small sizes the definition in these shots should be apparent. f/4 is not a particularly fast aperture, but the wide open performance was still very impressive. It was sharp across the frame which is not always the case with wide-angle lenses like this.


So another excellent Zeiss lens. I was pleased with it because my last experience with a Zeiss 18mm wasn't so good.


zeiss


The 18mm Distagon SLR lens that I used in my Nikon and Canon DSLR's and m4/3 was a very disappointing lens. I bought it despite reading quite a few negative reviews and after using it for a while wished I'd taken more notice of them. It did produce quite soft results, and had very poor edge definition even when stopped down.


This time the reviews I read of the 18mm M-mount were much more positive, and the lens has proved to be as good as they say. 


I first encountered Zeiss lenses some years ago when I used a Contax film camera. With only the one exception I have found them to be excellent. This 18mm Distagon is one of the best.


I'm pleased with it because of the difficulties I've had finding a really good wide angle lens. Many I've used have performed well stopped down or had good centre performance but have proved less good wide open or sharp across the frame.


One example of this is the Pentax 15mm f/4 limited lens I have for my Pentax K-5. While it gives excellent results stopped down, at f/4 its very soft at the edges, while being sharp at its centre. For some pictures that often doesn't matter but it can be a problem.


food shop


bewdley


I do like the lens, and it has a really nice colour rendition, but getting a wide-angle right, even with a prime lens doesn't seem to be as simple as you would think. However Zeiss have done a good job with the 18mm f/4 Distagon.


Words - David
Images- David and Ann