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Communist 135mm Sonnars comparison
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 28, 2010 10:08 pm    Post subject: Communist 135mm Sonnars comparison Reply with quote

Latest UPDATE 24.4.2011

The Contenders
silver CZJ Sonnar 4/135
zebra CZJ Sonnar 3.5/135
MC CZJ Sonnar 3.5/135
silver Jupiter-11 4/135
silver pre-set Jupiter-11 4/135
MC Jupiter-37A 3.5/135



The VERDICT
(for the impatient persons)
Clear winners are silver CZJ Sonnar 4/135 and CZJ MC Sonnar 3.5/135. It's hard to pick one of these two. Silver Sonnar resolves slightly more details in infinity test, has better corner performance up to f5.6, renders better OOF lights stopped down due to it's more rounded 8 blade aperture and is cheaper. On the other side, MC version has little bit more accurate colors, is faster, focuses closer, has integrated sun shade and - of course - has nice red MC letters on front ring Wink Contrast performance of both lenses is comparable. For someone the pre-set aperture of silver version can be faster to operate.

Maybe I've got extremely good copy of the silver Sonnar, but I'm getting this slight resolvance advantage in most of my images.

Before this test I compared three copies of MC Sonnar. Their quality is very consistent in all tests. Only differences I noticed was subtle contrast and color rendering variation due to different coating (red, violet, red/violet), but nothing to worry about.

Overall the resolving power of all lenses is very good. Most differences goes probably to my errors in focusing.

All lenses benefits from stopping down and deliver peak performance at f8.

The 4/135 versions holds slight advantage in corner performance up to f5.6 against it's newer 3.5/135 brothers.

CZJ lenses deliver clearly more pleasing images against it's Russian cousins due to it's better coating.

Jupiter-37 isn't exact copy of Sonnar 3.5/135. The focal length is slightly longer.

The zebra Sonnar is worst from the CZJ lenses. Maybe bad copy, but my overall experience with CZJ zebra lenses is similar. They have not as good coating and colors are too warm for my eyes (except probably the zebra Pancolar). But I have another copy on the way, so I will surely come with update.

Russian Jupiters suffer from bad coatings. As almost all Russian lenses I've tested till this time. Again, it seems, that the older versions hold's slight advantage in sharpness test and Jupiter-37 delivers more accurate colors. But all Jupiters have perfectly circular aperture from wide-open down to f22. While CZJ 3.5 lenses, stopped-down, ruins the bokeh with ugly hexagons.

There is odd behavior with Jupiter-37. Stopped down the contrast is worse. It can be due to shiny parts in rear of lens barrel. So I put inside the matt light baffle from MC Sonnar and did the contrast test again. It was slightly better. Unfortunately, the difference remained noticeable.

UPDATE 29.10.
I received today my second copy of zebra CZJ Sonnar. So I took the two other copies of MC Sonnars original silver Sonnar and two other copies of silver Sonnars and did the infinity sharpness test again. You can find the new images below.
The second zebra performs much better than the previous copy wide open. But it has still the warmer colors of CZJ zebra lenses.
The two other silver Sonnars performs +/- equally to the first copy (but they need cleaning, despite they are near mint condition, they have haze on internal glass. This is probably cause of lower contrast of one of them).
MC Sonnars performs very well too.
It's much harder this time to select the best one. I see, that some lenses shows sharper parts on one side of image, other on other side wide open. Maybe there is not enough "infinity" at f3.5 or f4 and small inconsistencies in focusing are cause of this behavior? Or there are small differences how the lens sits on camera and this causes unwanted "tilt effect"? I use same adapter with all lenses. Or decentering of the lens elements?

UPDATE 19.11.
My final update. Added flare resistance test. This is not strong point of the sonnars, but keep in mind that this is truly extreme situation, sun directly in left top corner. Anyway the MC Sonnar seems to have some slight advantage.
Added close focus and CA test. There are no surprises to my previous tests. The MC and silver Sonnar holds the lead. Zebra retains the sharpness and contrast, but colors are distinctively warmer. Jupiters again suffer from worse coatings. I don't see significant differences in CAs and LoCAs. Pure resolvance power seems to be equal too.

In the end, you can't go wrong with any of them. It depends only on your budget and your will to do some PP. And don't forget, that I tested 12 different copies and only one of them was true lemon. So, if you don't have a 135mm east Sonnar in you collection yet, go for it!


The Test
I did two simple tests. All tests done on tripod with infrared remote control and 3s mirror lock-up. WB fixed. Lens hood was always on.
First is sharpness at infinity from wide open up to f11. WB set to daylight. RAW files converted in RawTherapee 3.0alpha with same profile. Only exposure corrected for some images. For maximum resolution I used AMaZE demosaicing and RL deconvolution sharpening. The output images are down-sampled to 11,7 MPx to hide some demosaicing and sharpening artifacts.
Second test stresses the coating of the lens. The owl stays on window-sill, so the images are taken against the light. It serves for comparison of bokeh rendering too. First image always wide-open, second at f5.6. JPEGs directly from camera, only down-sized.

UPDATE 19.11.
Flare resistance test was made at f5.6, JPEGs directly from camera, only down-sized.
Close focus and CA test made at wide open and f5.6 on tripod with infrared remote control and 3s mirror lock-up with flash. WB fixed to flash settings. Lens hood was always on. RAW files developed in RawTherapee. Same settings as infinity test, only this time I used Unsharp mask for sharpening to save processing time.

The Images
Here you can download all images and compare them yourself. Please comment, post you opinions and discuss your experiences. Thank you for viewing.

silver CZJ Sonnar 4/135
Contrast f4, f5,6


Sharpness f4, f5,6, f8, f11


UPDATE 29.10. f4, f5.6


UPDATE 29.10. second copy - f4, f5.6


UPDATE 29.10. third copy - f4, f5.6



UPDATE 19.11.
Flare f5.6


Close focus and CAs f4, f5.6



MC CZJ Sonnar 3.5/135
Contrast f3.5, f5.6


Sharpness f3.5, f4, f5.6, f8, f11


UPDATE 29.10. second copy - f3.5, f5.6


UPDATE 29.10. third copy - f3.5, f5.6


UPDATE 19.11.
Flare f5.6


Close focus and CAs f3.5, f5.6



zebra CZJ Sonnar 3.5/135
Contrast f3.5, f5.6


Sharpness f3.5, f5.6, f8, f11



UPDATE 29.10. second copy - f3.5, f5.6, f8


UPDATE 19.11.
Flare f5.6


Close focus and CAs f3.5, f5.6



silver Jupiter-11 4/135
Contrast f4, f5.6


Sharpness f4, f5.6, f8, f11


UPDATE 19.11.
Flare f5.6



silver pre-set Jupiter-11 4/135
Contrast f4, f5.6


Sharpness f4, f5.6, f8, f11


UPDATE 19.11.
Flare f5.6


Close focus and CAs f4, f5.6



MC Jupiter-37A 3.5/135
Contrast f3.5, f5.6


Sharpness f3.5,f4, f5.6, f8, f11
[/b]

UPDATE 19.11.
Flare f5.6


Close focus and CAs f3.5, f5.6



UPDATE 28.12.
Just found some older real world CA tests... 100% crops from 14MPx images. The CA of both Sonnars is very low. For comparison I added same shot from Elmarit 2.8/135 @f4, which is stopped down one of best corrected 2.8/135 lens I tested.

silver CZJ Sonnar 4/135 @f4


MC CZJ Sonnar 3.5/135 @f3.5


Leica Elmarit-R 2.8/135 @f4


UPDATE 23.4.2011
Anu wrote:
Also, you used a APS-C camera? (Please, borrow a high resolution FF Wink ).

Well, here is latest addendum with 5DmkII. Done on tripod with infrared remote control and 2s mirror lock-up. Lens hood was always on. WB set to daylight. Focused with liveview (on 5D is really usable). RAW files converted in Canon DPP with same profile. Sharpening set to Unsharp mask with parameters 1,10,1.

Only 4 lenses tested. I don't already own the others.

In comparison to APS-C nothing surprising. Looks, like the Silver CZJ Sonnar still holds very slight advantage in resolving power and in the field in comparison to MC versions. The russian Jupiter11 is very capable lens even on FF, but it's bad coating holds it back. Looks like all lenses suffer from tiny decentering issues.
(these JPEGs are compressed at 96 quality because of abload.de 10MB limit, here you can download files compressed at 100 JPEG quality
http://www.mediafire.com/?v04uvc803mpbv, but they are huge ~15MB each)

silver pre-set Jupiter-11 4/135
f4, f5.6


silver CZJ Sonnar 4/135
f4, f5,6


MC CZJ Sonnar 3.5/135 (red coating) first copy in previous tests
f3.5, f5.6


MC CZJ Sonnar 3.5/135 (red-violet coating) new contender
f3.5, f5.6


UPDATE 24.4.2011
And one more update. This torture test shows, how well the lens handles backlighting situations... Looks like FF is significantly more demanding in this aspect than APS-C. Conclusion is short, the silver CZJ Sonnar is a killer!
Test conditions same as in previous update. Click the image for full-res to check the sharpness, focusing point is left top corner of Cacao box.

silver pre-set Jupiter-11 4/135
f4, f5.6





silver CZJ Sonnar 4/135
f4, f5,6




MC CZJ Sonnar 3.5/135 (red coating) first copy in previous tests
f3.5, f5.6




Last edited by BRunner on Sun Apr 24, 2011 9:33 pm; edited 7 times in total


PostPosted: Thu Oct 28, 2010 10:36 pm    Post subject: Re: Communist 135mm Sonnars comparison Reply with quote

BRunner wrote:

Maybe I've got extremely good copy of the silver Sonnar


No, you haven't. What you reported is exactly what is my own experience with the lenses.
I sold my 3.5/135, and I currently own two copies of the Silver 4/135. And I will never sell any.

P.S. loved the "communist Sonnars" thing Laughing
if they were only Russian lenses you could have called them bolshevik Sonnars Laughing


PostPosted: Fri Oct 29, 2010 12:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Actually, isn't the Jena "S" from the west?

Great test. I wish I used my numerous 135s more. The focal length just doesn't 'click' with me.


PostPosted: Fri Oct 29, 2010 12:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

themoleman342 wrote:
Actually, isn't the Jena "S" from the west?


No, the "Jena" or "Aus Jena" lenses are DDR Zeiss Jena lenses produced to be sold in the Western market and therefore (following an agreement with Zeiss Oberkochen) not bearing the traditional trademarks like the company name or the lens names (so Sonnar becomes S, Tessar becomes T and so on...)
Obviously, the lenses created for the western market were subject to strictest quality control compared to inland market lenses. So the percentage of "dogs" in them is much lower than in the lenses for inland market.


PostPosted: Fri Oct 29, 2010 12:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ah ok! Thanks Orio!


PostPosted: Fri Oct 29, 2010 1:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
The zebra Sonnar is worst from the CZJ lenses. Maybe bad copy, but my overall experience with CZJ zebra lenses is similar. They have not as good coating and colors are too warm for my eyes (except probably the zebra Pancolar). But I have another copy on the way, so I will surely come with update.

Have you test CA?. Based on my experience. I have both Sonnar MC and Zebra one. Zebra has less CA than MC. It's a like new MC. While zebra is just good rate. I made a silloute with zebra, it has no CA.
Contrast, sharpness etc. looks same to me.


PostPosted: Fri Oct 29, 2010 6:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Any chance of getting the raw-files? While I do agree using Amaze (I hate the upper/lower casing as I can't remember thich way it goes Wink ), but not about downsizing - analyzing beyong the possible artifacts should be done by the observers instead of being removed along with some detail, by downsizing.

I'll have a look at the actual photos later (and will read the text too Smile ), but looks quite well done test.


PostPosted: Fri Oct 29, 2010 6:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

IAZA wrote:
Quote:
The zebra Sonnar is worst from the CZJ lenses. Maybe bad copy, but my overall experience with CZJ zebra lenses is similar. They have not as good coating and colors are too warm for my eyes (except probably the zebra Pancolar). But I have another copy on the way, so I will surely come with update.

Have you test CA?. Based on my experience. I have both Sonnar MC and Zebra one. Zebra has less CA than MC. It's a like new MC. While zebra is just good rate. I made a silloute with zebra, it has no CA.
Contrast, sharpness etc. looks same to me.


Which CA? LoCA or LaCA? Is your experience objective, or subjective?

If I can get the raws from BRunner, I'll enjoy doing some analysis of my own - after all, this is how scientific method works (ok, I need the lenses too - just mail them to me, will you BRunner? Wink ).


PostPosted: Fri Oct 29, 2010 7:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great test! I did a far simpler test a while back and the MC Sonnar came out on top there too. It even outperformed my Contax version!!


PostPosted: Fri Oct 29, 2010 7:36 am    Post subject: Re: Communist 135mm Sonnars comparison Reply with quote

BRunner wrote:
The Contenders
silver CZJ Sonnar 4/135
zebra CZJ Sonnar 3.5/135
MC CZJ Sonnar 3.5/135
silver Jupiter-11 4/135
silver pre-set Jupiter-11 4/135
MC Jupiter-37A 3.5/135


I appreciate your effort.

I have already browsed quickly the wide-open infinity shots at 200% on 18.4 inch screen - very high magnification - roughly similar to maybe 1.5 meter print inspected at 20cm distance. Initial observations: the Soviets have the least consistent image acrosss the frame. The Silver Surfer..eh, Silver Sonnar has the most acuity of all (though I didn't check the f/4 images of the f/3.5 lenses), though the MCS seemed maybe a bt better at some (closer) parts of the image. There is a bit of inconsistency, and the Soviets especially suffered from decentering. Surprising the MCS had most purple fringing, though the changing light may play a part there, as the Amaze-algorithm, but it is also possible that at this focus distance the lens doesn't correct for UV/IR as well as the others. (I must admit that there is no concensus about the cause of purple fringing, but I sign to the school which believes it to be because photo lenses are not designed to correct the UV and IR vawelengths, but visible light instead, and because the camera sensors are sensitive to both UV and IR, evil things may happen. Though, I have still some problems with this hypothesis too. I need to give a deep thought to this someday.)

I would love, if you'd post/mail not only the RAWs (I'm not really interested at anything but wide open (and/or f/4) shots. I also dare to ask you in my infinite arrogance, if you could please me by taking resolution test shots at closer distance - after all, infinity is probably not the most shot target with these lenses, and different lenses are optimized for different shooting distances.

Also, you used a APS-C camera? (Please, borrow a high resolution FF Wink ).

When you used Amaze, did you have the automatic chromatic aberration correction turned off (I don't know if it is on by default or not, etc.)


PostPosted: Fri Oct 29, 2010 8:15 am    Post subject: Re: Communist 135mm Sonnars comparison Reply with quote

BRunner wrote:
The zebra Sonnar is worst from the CZJ lenses. Maybe bad copy, but my overall experience with CZJ zebra lenses is similar. They have not as good coating and colors are too warm for my eyes (except probably the zebra Pancolar). But I have another copy on the way, so I will surely come with update.

My experience was quite opposite, mine zebra was slightly sharper than majority of MCed models I tried.


PostPosted: Fri Oct 29, 2010 8:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pretty! The silver and MC Sonnars pretty much kill others in this test. Smile

thx for sharing


PostPosted: Fri Oct 29, 2010 12:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

IAZA wrote:
Quote:
The zebra Sonnar is worst from the CZJ lenses. Maybe bad copy, but my overall experience with CZJ zebra lenses is similar. They have not as good coating and colors are too warm for my eyes (except probably the zebra Pancolar). But I have another copy on the way, so I will surely come with update.

Have you test CA?. Based on my experience. I have both Sonnar MC and Zebra one. Zebra has less CA than MC. It's a like new MC. While zebra is just good rate. I made a silloute with zebra, it has no CA.
Contrast, sharpness etc. looks same to me.


+1

I used them for years and years and the conclution is constant in all situations.

But it seems that we have special copies of the not MC.

And the MC lost the mechanical compensation fo the aperture for close focus pics. The building of the MC is a lot cheaper. The SC lens has a coating constant not variable, while the MC change the MC (red, blue, etc. reflexions in the front element, so change the colors transmition too, and then not the same lens althought are sonnam MC).

The monitor is not so good to revelate a difference between lenses with a resolution power near the 100 or 150 pair of lines/mm.



Rino.


PostPosted: Fri Oct 29, 2010 3:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

estudleon wrote:

And the MC lost the mechanical compensation fo the aperture for close focus pics. The building of the MC is a lot cheaper. The SC lens has a


Uh, MC has the compensation, while the old silver surfer for example does not.


PostPosted: Fri Oct 29, 2010 3:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

No MC that I had along the time opened the aperture when I closed focus.

Look at the aperture ring, the not MC have a little space behind the 3,5 mark, the MC doesn't have it !!

Can you see it in your not MC lens?

If you have the not MC lens at F/3,5 and focus to close distance, the aperture is opened to mantein the 3,5 aperture, the more close, the more opened aperture. And it ocurrs at all apertures. Not the MC version.

See your copy, it seems to be a not MC. Wink

The 4/135 sonnar had it too.

Rino


PostPosted: Fri Oct 29, 2010 3:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

From my own experience of the MC Sonnar, I am not surprised. I tried the 37A but sold it as it wasn't as sharp. I currently own Tair11A (closest competitor), Pentacon preset, Auto Chinon & Canon Soft focus.


PostPosted: Fri Oct 29, 2010 5:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I updated the first post with new set of images:
Quote:
UPDATE 29.10.
I received today my second copy of zebra CZJ Sonnar. So I took the two other copies of MC Sonnars original silver Sonnar and two other copies of silver Sonnars and did the infinity sharpness test again. You can find the new images below.
The second zebra performs much better than the previous copy wide open. But it has still the warmer colors of CZJ zebra lenses.
The two other silver Sonnars performs +/- equally to the first copy (but they need cleaning, despite they are near mint condition, they have haze on internal glass. This is probably cause of lower contrast of one of them).
MC Sonnars performs wery well too.
It's much harder this time to select the best one. I see, that some lenses shows sharper parts on one side of image, other on other side wide open. Maybe there is not enough "infinity" at f3.5 or f4 and small inconsistencies in focusing are cause of this behaviour? Or there are small differences how the lens sits on camera and this causes unwanted "tilt effect"? I use same adapter with all lenses. Or decentering of the lens elements?


PostPosted: Fri Oct 29, 2010 5:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

IAZA wrote:
Have you test CA?. Based on my experience. I have both Sonnar MC and Zebra one. Zebra has less CA than MC. It's a like new MC. While zebra is just good rate. I made a silloute with zebra, it has no CA.
Contrast, sharpness etc. looks same to me.

The CA looks very similarly for all lenses. My experience is, that on lenses with better coating, the CAs are more pronounced. The other cause can be, that the CZJ Sonnar is designed for single coating and was not recomputed for thicker MCs.


PostPosted: Fri Oct 29, 2010 5:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I must say make a comment ..

and this has nothing to do with the test made by Brunner which looks very promising.

But Brunner, please = is it really necessary to use a word such as 'Communist' in your title?

I think these lenses are lenses and also I really doubt about that they went into politics at the time when produced Smile

Let me know.

tf


PostPosted: Fri Oct 29, 2010 5:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I personally see no problem with the word communist, maybe the original poster could have used "soviet" instead but I regard neither of those words as an insult or dirty word. The purpose was clearly to designate lenses built on the other side (from here) of the iron curtain. The linkage between the communist lens factories is obvious: some of them were merged by state (like Meyer and Pentacon), some even shared materials and maybe projects (example, some barrels of Flek 2.4/35 branded Carl Zeiss Jena look obviously Pentacon-made and I don't exclude that they were built in Pentacon facilities) and so is the fact that factories tools and materials from Jena were brought to the soviet factories of Krasnogorsk and Kiev and were used in th production of USSR lenses. The economical structure of the countries was the same. So to me it makes a lot of sense to indentify this type of bond between those lenses.


PostPosted: Fri Oct 29, 2010 5:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I thought the same thing Stan. I detest someone saying "commie cameras". A better phrase would be Eastern Bloc cameras.

And even though it's interesting to pixel peep to compare the resolutions, it doesn't change my opinion. I still prefer the bokeh and especially the colours of the J37A.


PostPosted: Fri Oct 29, 2010 6:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Anu wrote:
If I can get the raws from BRunner, I'll enjoy doing some analysis of my own - after all, this is how scientific method works (ok, I need the lenses too - just mail them to me, will you BRunner? Wink ).

No problem, with raw Anu, after I finish upload I'll PM you the links. If anyone other is interested send me a PM. But beware, it's huge amount of data, around 600MB.

Most of the lenses are going to be sold, except one MC, two silver Sonnars and pre-set Jupiter-11. So, you PayPal me some and I mail you the lenses Wink Or we can trade some lenses too...

Anu wrote:
Also, you used a APS-C camera? (Please, borrow a high resolution FF Wink ).

When you used Amaze, did you have the automatic chromatic aberration correction turned off (I don't know if it is on by default or not, etc.)

Yes, I used Samsung GX20 (same camera as Pentax K20D). Unfortunately I have no access to 5D MkII or comparable camera Sad

The "Auto CA correction" is disabled, as well "False color suppression steps" is set to "0".

Anu wrote:
I also dare to ask you in my infinite arrogance, if you could please me by taking resolution test shots at closer distance - after all, infinity is probably not the most shot target with these lenses, and different lenses are optimized for different shooting distances.

I tried to do close focus tests, but it's very difficult to keep focusing consistency between lenses. The focusing errors cover most of the differences between them. When I tried to shoot the resolution charts, I discovered, that is almost impossible to set the sensor plane perfectly parallel to the chart. And this causes unwanted tilt effect which ruins corner performance at wider apertures.
Please, suggest test methodology where I can keep more consistent results.


PostPosted: Fri Oct 29, 2010 6:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

trifox wrote:
...But Brunner, please = is it really necessary to use a word such as 'Communist' in your title?...

More appropriate word would be "socialist", but people from former "Western Bloc" are more familiar with "communist". Although, there wasn't a country with communist order. Only socialist countries.

I was 15 when our country turned back to democratic order. I remember the "socialism". And even after 20 years I still see the differences between eastern and western countries. Not only on material level but in minds of people too. It will last for few more generations to remedy all this damages.

But despite all this, it didn't even crossed my mind, that someone can take it politically. Orio explained my grounds for choosing this word perfectly.

I hope, you get my point. My English is bad and definitely not suited for writing political essay Smile


Last edited by BRunner on Fri Oct 29, 2010 7:06 pm; edited 1 time in total


PostPosted: Fri Oct 29, 2010 7:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

peterqd wrote:
And even though it's interesting to pixel peep to compare the resolutions, it doesn't change my opinion. I still prefer the bokeh and especially the colours of the J37A.

You mean wide-open bokeh or stopped-down? Colours are matter of taste, someone prefer warmer rendering of zebra Sonnar, I prefer the colder and more accurate rendering of MC Sonnars.
But the most important difference for me is in the contrast. Just look at the owl images. The pictures made with Russian lenses looks much "flatter".


PostPosted: Fri Oct 29, 2010 7:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Did you shoot the owl before Jupiter's modding or after it?