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Distagon 18mm f/4
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 23, 2008 1:15 pm    Post subject: Distagon 18mm f/4 Reply with quote

After more than 1 year of tentatives, and 2 returned purchases, I have been finally able to find one sharp copy of Contax Distagon 18mm.
After my previous experiences I decided that I needed to buy this lens only locally, so I could try before buy.
This copy is not perfect, it has a little coating erasure on the rear lens, no doubt (it is my opinion) caused by a tentative of using this lens with an unshaved 5D (the owner of the lens has a 5D).
However, after torture-testing against the sun, I verified that the coating problem does not affect the picture. I also verified that this is by far the sharpest copy of this lens that I have tried so far. So I decided to ignore the coating thing and buy it.
Here's a sample photo taken with the Distagon 18 wide open.
Photo is full frame 5D.
First full resized, then 100% crop:




PostPosted: Sat Feb 23, 2008 1:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow ! Great capture ! Crop is fantastic!


PostPosted: Sat Feb 23, 2008 1:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Attila wrote:
Wow ! Great capture ! Crop is fantastic!


Think that it's wide open!


PostPosted: Sat Feb 23, 2008 1:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Amazing, Orio. I have never seen a lens shorter than 20mm capable of taking pictures like that wide open .

Cheers!

Abbazz


PostPosted: Sat Feb 23, 2008 1:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

aie caramba !


PostPosted: Sat Feb 23, 2008 1:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is sensational. Also a very nice picture, but the image quality is really striking me.


PostPosted: Sat Feb 23, 2008 2:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

How say other fact THE LENS is CARL ZEISS Smile


PostPosted: Sat Feb 23, 2008 2:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My 50mm F2,8 Tessar (Carl Zeiss Jena) is far from that image quality. the other point is that I love wide angle so much. Its so much more presence, its so immediate, I feel much more as if I was there, compared to 50mm and above.


PostPosted: Sat Feb 23, 2008 3:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Impressive indeed (but not surprising, after all it's a Zeiss lens). Wink
Congratulations! Very Happy


PostPosted: Sat Feb 23, 2008 4:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

congrats Orio!
impressive 18mm F4 Shocked


PostPosted: Sat Feb 23, 2008 5:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Finally a keeper 18 f4. I have had that lens as well in the past. My copy was squishy soft until f8 with weak corners. I never got anything close to this sharp wide open. Congrats Orio. I hope the price was right. Ignore the "S" distortion it is a distagon signature for shortest FL. I would suggest to do the white wall vignette test just to be sure. Cool


PostPosted: Sat Feb 23, 2008 5:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

F16SUNSHINE wrote:
Finally a keeper 18 f4. I have had that lens as well in the past. My copy was squishy soft until f8 with weak corners. I never got anything close to this sharp wide open. Congrats Orio. I hope the price was right. Ignore the "S" distortion it is a distagon signature for shortest FL. I would suggest to do the white wall vignette test just to be sure. Cool


Corners are soft and vignetting in my copy too. You can see the vignetting in the full image resize of my cat picture. The performance wide open is excellent for me in the near focus range, as you can see from the crop. I would rate it average at infinity, for what I could test. I think this lens will provide the optimum performance when photographing interiors, as the sharpness in the near range is remarkable. Under this respect, it is very similar to how the Nikkor 3.5/20mm performs: excellent in near range, average at infinity.
By f/8, however, both the Nikkor and the Distagon become very good also at infinity, as you pointed out.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 23, 2008 5:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Important info, my copy is MM, made in Japan.


PostPosted: Sat Feb 23, 2008 6:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here is, for comparison, the same scene shot stopped down:




Unfortunately, due to stopping down, I had to lenghten shutter time, so the cat came out blurred.
Anyway you can see from the full shot that the vignetting is gone and the definition in the corners is also clear.
The centre with the main subject has not really gained in sharpness. We can imagin that if it was not blurred, the sharpness would have been similar to the wide open shot. What is clear is that here we earned more DOF, as we can see from the trees in the BG.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 23, 2008 6:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Orio
That is a completely extraordinary lens. Your persistence has clearly paid off. Vignetting on digital is almost a non-issue, since it is so easy to correct (wasn't actually difficult even with film). Distortion is always a much bigger issue, and it seems that this lens is wonderfully constrained.


patrickh

PS I would offer to adopt your cat..... Smile Smile Smile


PostPosted: Sat Feb 23, 2008 6:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

patrickh wrote:
Orio
That is a completely extraordinary lens. Your persistence has clearly paid off. Vignetting on digital is almost a non-issue, since it is so easy to correct


Yes, also, I will seldom use the lens wide open. I always use super wides stopped down. Often down to minimum aperture, as I like to see "infinite" DOF (which of course is not, only feels like).

However, there are people like Simon who like the vignetting as expressive feature, so I think this lens would have a use in that regards, since all superwides vignette wide open, but few of them are so sharp wide open.

I actually am not an enemy of vignetting per se, I sort of like it also when it happens. I have a "cultural resistance" in applying it with software where it was not there originally, but that's more my own problem than a real one. If vignetting is part of how the photo turned out in that moment, I tend to keep it (unless really obnoxious).

patrickh wrote:
PS I would offer to adopt your cat..... Smile Smile Smile


Very Happy My house maid and her son say that too Very Happy But Melissa wants only me, when she tries to give her a kiss, Melissa stretches away Laughing


PostPosted: Sat Feb 23, 2008 11:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This one (also crop) is still blurred, but a bit better focused Very Happy



PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2008 3:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Distortion: the verticals are not as pure as in the Flek 4/20, but, based on the reports, I was fearing worse than this. While in fact I find them more than acceptable. I can perceive only a very faint hint of S distortion in the rightmost wall. For the rest of the buildings, it is virtually unnoticeable:



PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2008 3:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Amazing lens... Surprised
Is it not 80mm... Laughing where is the distortion..


Last edited by Ballu on Mon Feb 25, 2008 4:02 pm; edited 1 time in total


PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2008 5:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Orio this distortion is really very, very acceptable. The reports I have read and, some other samples I have seen were not as good as what you are showing here. Once again congratulations. You have a nice copy from these examples. It would be great for you and Simon to meet up and compare the distagon 18 with the zuiko 18. Cool


PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2008 12:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ballu wrote:
Amazing lens... Surprised
are its not 80mm... Laughing


Yes, if it wasn't for the type of bokeh, which gives it away immediately, the crops could really be mistaken for a sharp tele work

Ballu wrote:
where is the distortion..

Well, there's a little moustache in the rightmost bulding, if you look at the lines (both of building and of the wire), you can see a slight "belly" in the middle, then two slightly depressed areas near, then both edges rise slightly again.
But it's really noticeable only if you look closely for it. Any casual viewing would not notice it. I guess we can call it so minimal to be "virtually meaningless".
For sure, people accustomed to zooms would never notice it! Even the best of zooms distorts much more than this.
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2008 12:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

F16SUNSHINE wrote:
Orio this distortion is really very, very acceptable. The reports I have read and, some other samples I have seen were not as good as what you are showing here. Once again congratulations. You have a nice copy from these examples.


Yes, I think I've been lucky this time around.

F16SUNSHINE wrote:
It would be great for you and Simon to meet up and compare the distagon 18 with the zuiko 18. Cool


Well, MTFs show that Zuiko is the best 18mm.
However, copy variation may influence the single comparisons.
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2008 2:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The distortion is more than just acceptable, it is amazingly little for an 18mm lens!! Shocked (My Cosina 20mm shows a much higher one. Without PS tricks, they really can disturb.)


PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2008 11:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I really like the 3D effect wide open.

Nice shots.


PostPosted: Mon Mar 03, 2008 8:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's a fine lens. Distortion is not a problem.

Vignetting would be eliminated by my 1.7x crop camera, a Sigma SD14.

The cat's eye at 100% crop shows the lens is unbeatable. The realism due to sharpness and contrast in the buildings pic is also what I am looking for in a lens, and distortion not a problem there.