Off to the airport to fly home in a minute, but I thought I would jot down some notes about the various lenses we were able to look at during the F3 workshop I ran here in Dubai. We had a set of the Sony PL primes, a Zeiss CP2, some Zeiss ZF.2 stills lenses, a Nikon 50mm and a Tokina 28-70mm ATX pro zoom. The stills lenses were all attached to the F3 using an MTF to Nikon adapter.
It was hard to see any difference between the Sony primes and the CP2, this was kind of expected. When comapring the PL’s to the Tokina zoom, the zoom was a little soft wide open at f2.6. Stopped down half a stop and it looked much better, but it needed to go down to f4 before it came close to matching the PL’s. Even then the PL’s had the edge, but then this is comparing a zoom to a prime. I would certainly have no hesitation over using the Tokina at f4 or more closed. The Nikon 50mm pancake, f1.8 was surprisingly good. Even wide open it produced a respectable image, stopped down to f2.8 it was a very close match to the PL’s. The Zeiss ZF.2’s were the budget stars of the show as even wide open these produced sharp, clean images with very similar bokeh and flare performance to the primes, very impressive performance.
Of course ergonomically the PL’s were better. Bigger focus rings, bigger iris rings and better focus scales. The CP2 impressed with it’s near 360 degrees rotation of the focus ring with very clear and accurate witness marks and wide distance spacing even approaching infinity. If I could afford a set of CP2’s that’s what I would buy, but I can’t. The Sony PL’s are good lenses, they don’t quite have the build quality of the CP2’s but they do represent excellent value for the money. If your budget won’t stretch to PL glass then the Zeiss ZF.2’s are about as close as you’ll get to a PL lens, but do watch out for the amount of telescoping when you focus the longer focal length ones. That can make using a matte box very tricky. I know my Nikon 50mm and Tokina 28mm primes work well. The Tokina 28-70 while not as sharp as the primes will still make a good all-round lens. All I need now is to get a nice 85mm and 135mm and I’ll be happy. Maybe a couple of ZF’s.