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135mm sonnar lenses tested
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 21, 2010 9:39 pm    Post subject: 135mm sonnar lenses tested Reply with quote

I seem to have hoarded a fair few sonnar based lenses just recently and was waiting for the sun to come out, in order to do a group test. But...it hasn't stopped raining Laughing So I did a very basic indoor flower test instead.

Sorry the test subject is a bit dull! I positioned the flowers in between two windows with light coming in from both sides, in order to test the coating of these lenses, much like with the 85mm monkey test the other day. No hoods or filters were used, and RAW files were not processed other than the standard Adobe RAW settings. All lenses are in great condition, bar the Nikkor which is a 5.00 beater Laughing There are a few small coating defects to the rear of the lens.

The contenders:

Carl Zeiss Jena 135/3.5 zebra - M42
Carl Zeiss Jena 135/3.5 MC - M42
Carl Zeiss Jena 135/3.5 MC - PB
Carl Zeiss Sonnar 135/2.8 - C/Y (AE)
Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar 80-200/4 - C/Y (MM)
Jupiter 11 135/4 - M42 (alu)
Jupiter 11A 135/4 - M42 (black)
Jupiter 37A 135/3.5 - M42 (black)
Nikkor Auto-Q 135/3.5 - F (black and silver)

Resized to 800 x 533

Carl Zeiss Jena 135/3.5 zebra - M42



Carl Zeiss Jena 135/3.5 MC - M42



Carl Zeiss Jena 135/3.5 MC - PB



Carl Zeiss Sonnar 135/2.8 - C/Y (AE)



Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar 80-200/4 - C/Y (MM)



Jupiter 11 135/4 - M42 (alu)



Jupiter 11A 135/4 - M42 (black)



Jupiter 37A 135/3.5 - M42 (black)



Nikkor Auto-Q 135/3.5 - F (black and silver)



100% crops

Carl Zeiss Jena 135/3.5 zebra - M42



Carl Zeiss Jena 135/3.5 MC - M42



Carl Zeiss Jena 135/3.5 MC - PB



Carl Zeiss Sonnar 135/2.8 - C/Y (AE)



Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar 80-200/4 - C/Y (MM)



Jupiter 11 135/4 - M42 (alu)



Jupiter 11A 135/4 - M42 (black)



Jupiter 37A 135/3.5 - M42 (black)



Nikkor Auto-Q 135/3.5 - F (black and silver)



Conclusion

This is a very basic test, but it confirms what we already know - all these sonnar based lenses perform extremely well. They are all very sharp and render some nice pop. The multicoated lenses deal with the rear lighting issue much better (as expected) and therefore show more contrast and better colour saturation.

What is suprising is that (in my opinion) the Jena lenses' coating fares better than that of the 135/2.8 Contax lens! The Vario-Sonnar did remarkably well too. The zebra, non-multi coated lens is also a fantastic performer. The Jupiter 11 and 37A are single coated and struggled a bit, but under difficult lighting can still have images rescued in pp (see below). The Jupiter 11A did extremely well and shows the best bang for buck, I was very surprised.

The Nikkor was also good, even with the slight coating defects.

Here is the Jupiter 11 shot, which struggled the most with the backlighting, with a bit of pp:



PostPosted: Sat Aug 21, 2010 11:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

These results are so alike that it would be impossible for anyone to ever tell a difference in general use. I have an M42 Jupiter 11 coming and am happy to see it performing at the level of these others.


PostPosted: Sun Aug 22, 2010 12:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

11 lenses? Wow~
I see very few difference.
Vario-Sonnar 80-200/4 is a wonderful zoom indeed and CZJ 135/3.5 MC is my pick.
Need more photos.


PostPosted: Sun Aug 22, 2010 1:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Important information is missing - or at least I have not found it:

- at what aperture were the shots taken?
- what kind of white balancing did you make and did you do it for each lens? Or did you use AWB?
- how did you meter the light?
- was the exposure calculated once at the beginning and then lenses set manually, or did you use camera auto exposure for each shot?

Aside from my personal opinion on tests (I find them useless), there is this thing about tests, either they are made with the most precision of information and coherency, and set individually for each lens tested, or, they lose what usefulness they might have.
In other words, lens tests are for super-precise people - and this is the reason why I don't make them - I always forget about something important! Laughing

But the biggest shortcoming of tests is - they are usually made in controlled situations. Like studio sets. Careful and controlled situations, tend to flatten the differences between the lenses, as they optimize the conditions and therefore smooth out the rough edges from the start.
One may say - hey, that's what good photographers do! Create the ideal situations. And I would say, yes, if you photograph in a studio. But since most people uses lenses to photograph outdoors, in a variety of uncontrolled conditions, the significance of the studio tests is a lot weakened. Environment conditions can make decisive differences, and you can fully evaulate a lens only when you get it through the most varied, unexpected, uncontrolled conditions. That is where you measure the difference between an ok lens and a great lens.
In a controlled studio environment, the ok lenses tend to look alike the great lenses.
Sorry to have let my thoughts wander - I do not mean at all to diminish your effort! It's just that I think that the judgement on a lens, or a set of lenses, can not be reduced to the performance in a controlled studio set.


PostPosted: Sun Aug 22, 2010 2:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm very impressed with the results of the 11A. I would of hoped the 37A would of done better.
Thanks for the test.


PostPosted: Sun Aug 22, 2010 2:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

walter g wrote:
I'm very impressed with the results of the 11A. I would of hoped the 37A would of done better.


Don't forget about copy variations... especially with soviet lenses.
(not to mention, minor variations in focusing distance, etc...)
Always take this type of tests with caution.


PostPosted: Sun Aug 22, 2010 3:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Orio wrote:
walter g wrote:
I'm very impressed with the results of the 11A. I would of hoped the 37A would of done better.


Don't forget about copy variations... especially with soviet lenses.
(not to mention, minor variations in focusing distance, etc...)
Always take this type of tests with caution.


Thank you, I understand. I have the 37A on my to buy list. But after seeing these results I'm adding the 11A to the list. I will test each to see which I like better.
I will be asking advice on what to look for before I buy.


PostPosted: Sun Aug 22, 2010 4:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the comparison, nicely done!

I agree with Orio, "real-use" situations are the key factor to determining which lens is better, esp. in such closely paired lenses (guess it gets down to which lens is the most comfortable to use). I tried to determine several times which of my 50mm is better (pancolar vs the canon) and always come up with the conclusion that the canon is just slightly sharper and cooler in colors... But i still use the Pancolar far more often and am very satisfied with the results. I prefer it over the nifty.


PostPosted: Sun Aug 22, 2010 6:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice comparison. It was already pointed out that some information was missing - was WB fixed, what camera was used and so on. Still nice patiently taken shots, much better thhan the usual "compartisons" some folks do.

What this shows (again), is that all 135mm lenses which have a non-ambitious design, are solid performers in this kind of test.

Copy vartiations were mentioned somewhere in the thread and I would like to point out an interesting, though irrelevant fact, that this is more an issue with modern lenses than older ones - probably due to number of elements, cost cuts and so on.

Since you have the skill and lenses, I would dare to ask you to perform another test, this time for axial CA. And a complicated bokeh test with controlled light would be nice too Wink

But thank you for your effort - well worth going through these pictures!


PostPosted: Sun Aug 22, 2010 9:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

woodrim wrote:
These results are so alike that it would be impossible for anyone to ever tell a difference in general use.


In sharpness, yes, very small apparent differences, but colour saturation is quite different among these lenses and veiling glare/low contrast is obvious on some of them.

Orio wrote:
Important information is missing - or at least I have not found it:

- at what aperture were the shots taken?


F/4. It's in the filename (seen in the link) of each shot.


PostPosted: Sun Aug 22, 2010 10:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Orio - I agree, this is a basic test. But...I've used all of these lenses in the field and have found them all to produce lovely images. Really just wanted to confirm that they are very, very similar. The reality is that the weather has been too poor of late to do any outside photography, which is a shame as it would have been nice to do a proper bokeh and CA test (as Anu suggested) Sad

All shots were at f4 at ISO 100 on a tripod with my Canon EOS 40D, focused using liveview and a 2 second timer to avoid camera shake. AWB was used and there was no artificial lighting (just the strong window natural backlight to test the lens coatings).

I didn't set a fixed shutter speed as light was likely to vary over the hour or so, but if the histogram looked vastly wrong, I re-shot.

I still believe, indoor or outdoor test, that any of these lenses will produce cracking results - one just needs to be mindful of the coatings and their limitations Smile


PostPosted: Thu Jul 26, 2012 3:25 am    Post subject: CZJ sonnar 135mm/f3.5 zebra confirmation Reply with quote

Hi I am a newbie here, I just purchased a CZJ sonnar 135mm/f3.5 (zebra). I am not sure whether or not my lens has all the glass optics in it. I havent got the mount for the camera yet so haven't tried it mounted on my nikon, but when I looked through the lens (looking from the rear end) with naked eye (as if I am using a telescope) I could see objects in front of the lens clearly, as if there is no lenses inside that will cause the objects to be completely out of focus. I can see that the rear and front glass optics are there, but cant tell whether there are other glass optics in between. I also own a nikkor 135mm manual lens, everything is blurry when used in the same manner as mentioned above, but worked well when used on camera.

I need confirmation from those with the same lens, whether or not object should be viewable at all with naked eyes.

Please let me know if I am not clear enough, and any response will be appreciated.

I am able to post a picture that I have taken using another camera to show what I am trying to say here Smile if necessary.


PostPosted: Thu Jul 26, 2012 6:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Welcome to the forum.

It sounds like there's something wrong with your lens.


PostPosted: Thu Aug 21, 2014 9:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Resurrecting an old thread, but could not find a newer one.
A couple of images from today taken with 3.5/135 zebra lens.
Both taken at full aperture.
Apologies for the subject matter, but still waiting for spring here.
OH




PostPosted: Thu Aug 21, 2014 2:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have 4 of these lenses myself and I would say what we see here is a fair representation of their capabilities. I would say for my lenses the Jupiter 37a is best (and more contrasty than this sample), followed by CZJ Sonnar black m42 version, Nikkor then the Jupiter 11.

Video shot using the J37a is beautiful, it has a nice quality about it that looks 'retro' in a way.

Tests of any type will mean something. We all have opinions too about how to do it, but criticising your method severely then backtracking is low.

A good test, I think.