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Introducing the Zeus compact primes (dreamer edition)

robin0112358

Active Member
First company to make compact and light primes wins my wallet. If they could do it in 1980 they can do it now. Sigma has made an attempt, but the Contemporary line are still much larger than comparable vintage lenses. And some are heavier than the Lumix equivalent.

Features:
  • an aperture ring for tactile control
  • Zeiss looks, by which I mean sleek and simple
  • short metal hoods instead of giant plastic monsters
  • auto-focus, so there's a reason to buy them
  • no need to make them all the same size
Unique focal lengths could be chosen, so the new lenses don't conflict with the existing offering. This triumvirate would be a good start:
  • ZEUS 28mm F2.8
  • ZEUS 43mm F2
  • ZEUS 105mm F2.8
People will say "I want faster" but the idea here is to be "fast enough" and small.
 
If they could do it in 1980 they can do it now.
That is oversimplified.
In 1980 only film was used. By the relative weak film quality. It was what it was.

Today lenses has to deal by the characteristics of digital sensors.
By the high resolution of today's sensor possibilities, standards are pumped up.
At the other side lens designers also have to take into account the disadvantages of most digital sensors.
If "no use" of high grade special micro-prism overlays are used (like Leica do).
Corner quality deteriorates if lenses are to short to the sensor surface.

Sigma has made an attempt, but the Contemporary line are still much larger than comparable vintage lenses. And some are heavier than the Lumix equivalent.
Well not difficult to understand. Comparable vintage lenses don't come to the same optical quality.
And "if" these vintage lenses have AF. They are much slower than today's lenses with internal focus.
Plastic versus metal components can make a difference by weight. Real glass versus plastic lens parts as well.

Lens design always is a compromise.
If not by optical means, than by weight - dimensions or lack of fast AF.
 
That is oversimplified.

Indeed, since this is not an optics forum! But the basic premise is sound.

Your prognosis is too dire. I get excellent photos with lenses from the manual focus era. Indeed, many of these have escalated in price since they are so commonly converted for cinema use. Lenses from Zeiss and many other firms resolve just fine on digital sensors despite the technical challenges. (This is true even on 100 megapixel sensors.)

Fast AF is not a priority. This is not a set targeted at sports shooters, birders, etc. These markets are already well-served. Why do all lenses need to be designed for the same people? They don't. My screw-focus Pentax lenses worked just fine on DSLRs. Some are miniscule. In the decades since, lens tech has moved on substantially but still we have no replacements for the smaller vintage form factor.

With the S-9 released there will be increased demand for smaller lenses. Though, yes, in that case people without the technical skills (apparently the target market) will demand AI-like levels of AF... as many people already do. Admittedly, that particular market stands in contradiction to my own constraints.

BTW, there are other reasons for the trend to large lenses besides optical necessity. I might blame Canon for starting the "bigger = professional" model that many people still ascribe to. It's a masculine bragging thing.
 
Your prognosis is too dire.
No, it is just my experience over the years.
But keep in mind everyone do have other expectations.

I get excellent photos with lenses from the manual focus era.
Me to, but just "for some lenses" when I have the possibility to close down aperture values for about 2-3 stops.
Most of my older manual lenses (some "famous" by their quality in those times) doesn't match up any longer.

Fast AF is not a priority.
Maybe not for you. But depends what kind of subjects.
I am not a sports shooter, birders, etc. - Just only need "fast" AF for portraiture / people photography at wide open aperture values.
F1.4 - F2 - F2.8 by eye detection.

By the very thin DOF to difficult to fiddle around to struggle by manual focus.
My eye sight is also not that good any-more at my age.

All older "fast" lenses are not good enough by optics. To use wide open or just one aperture value stopped down.
But also can be dependant to your "artistic" approach. For some kind of photography you only want imaging "atmosphere".
 
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All older "fast" lenses are not good enough by optics. To use wide open or just one aperture value stopped down.

Experiences differ. Characteristics other than razor sharpness are valued by many photographers... amateur and pro alike. I have seen plenty of incredible photos taken on digital sensors with old Zeiss, Leica, and Pentax glass. Even wide open. You can keep asserting that it's impossible, but the evidence is there!

Tell me these photos don't blow your mind: David Zimand.

I agree that thin DOF is hard to manage but AF is not a panacea. The eye is not where you want focus to be often enough, since the nose lies in front of that plane! Just to take one example.

My eyesight sucks, by the way, but I have got a lot more joy from photography by focusing on the subject... pun intended!
 
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OK, so I don't pay much attention to Nikon but just discovered that they are now producing compact primes for their Z system. Though these are missing aperture rings, they prove that large lenses are not necessary (so long as other constraints are allowed). Two of these specs coincide with my fanciful Zeus set. It will be interesting to see if they add a portrait lens and how small it might be.

Nikkor Z 26mm f/2.8 (€450)
24mm deep / 125g

Nikkor Z 28mm f/2.8 (€260)
44mm deep / 157g

Nikkor Z 40mm f/2 (€260)
46mm deep / 170g
 
Characteristics other than razor sharpness are valued by many photographer... amateur and pro alike
Yes, all kinds off characteristics by out of focus areas, in front or behind the focus point. Different for both sides.
Chromatic aberrations, astigmatism, field curvature, coma, flare.

All "can" be part of an "artistic" approach. In which imaging "atmosphere" gives a more appealing look to images.
But in general, all my new lenses are better than my early past lenses.

It is more easy to "deteriorate" clinical sharp images by all kinds of digital or "real" hardware like filters to get your "artistic" characteristics.
Than the other way round to improve bad pictures by lack of sharpness and having all kinds of optical errors.

I agree that thin DOF is hard to manage but AF is not a panacea.
The eye is not where you want focus to be often enough, since the nose lies in front of that plane! Just to take one example.
Well, in no portrait do I find the nose more important than the eyes. :cool:
Maybe for those few exceptions where someone has such a unique nose to focus on it,
I would rather make that exception for that, to switch off the AF, and then perhaps focus it "manually". ;)
 
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Experiences differ. Characteristics other than razor sharpness are valued by many photographers... amateur and pro alike. I have seen plenty of incredible photos taken on digital sensors with old Zeiss, Leica, and Pentax glass. Even wide open. You can keep asserting that it's impossible, but the evidence is there!

Yup. Or take these, which are plenty sharp enough to satisfy me, using an old Vivitar 28/2.5 (made by Kiron) on my Sigma fp:

53757165645_3af8ffa011_h.jpg20240518-SDIM0416 by Travis Butler, on Flickr

53319871123_1e18ec52ef_h.jpg20231102-SDIM7948 by Travis Butler, on Flickr

53475078229_974a598aaa_h.jpg20240117-SDIM8870 by Travis Butler, on Flickr

53527792419_a06ced79ac_h.jpg20240209-SDIM9017 by Travis Butler, on Flickr

53703345592_82c42ab66f_h.jpg20230709-P1011711 by Travis Butler, on Flickr

53423691383_6816ac999e_h.jpg20231201-SDIM8429 by Travis Butler, on Flickr

Several of these highlight something that's more important to me than absolute razor-sharpness: tonality and color. I like rich color, but more important, I like the ability to capture and render very fine tonal graduations - the gloss on a waxed fender, the puffiness of a cloud. That's something missing from a lot of modern lenses, which are very sharp but 'flat' in their tonal rendering.

My eyesight sucks, by the way, but I have got a lot more joy from photography by focusing on the subject... pun intended!
Yeah, mine's not too great these days either. Focus peaking and good diopter adjustment on the EVF is my friend.
 

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