Brief Review: Zeiss Distagon 18mm f/4 ZM Lens

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by Amin, Jul 20, 2014.

  1. Amin

    Amin Administrator

    399
    Mar 28, 2013
    14700943081_84d7c6c7db_o.


    The latest lens addition to my bag is the Zeiss 18mm f/4 ZM Distagon. In researching this purchase, I found surprisingly few online reviews. Still, I found a good price on a used copy and decided to go for it.

    After a few days of ownership, this lens has exceeded my expectations to the point where I thought I'd share some image samples and observations here.

    Coded as an Elmarit-M 21mm f/2.8 (11134), there is little to no noticeable color drift at the edges when using this lens on a Leica M 240 (thanks to Antonio for this tip):

    14511917477_4a15c044a6_b.


    My copy of the lens has a replacement mount that allowed me to code it for automatic recognition:

    14517442100_4d673853aa_o.

    I use the LensTagger Lightroom plugin to alter the EXIF information so that it indicates the correct lens model and focal length.

    Sharpness in the central part of the image is acceptable with the lens at f/4. Central sharpness is very good at f/5.6, and the edges are looking good at f/8. Stopped down to f/11, it delivers corner to corner sharpness. Sharp enough that even after perspective distortion of the above shot, it retains a high level of detail. Click the image below to see the 100% full size version:

    14507593108_42a143c25d_b.

    That was taken handheld at 1/90s (EXIF inaccurate), so it may not represent the sharpest results I can get from the lens, but it looks good to me.

    There is little distortion such a wide lens. Aside from a bit of purple fringing in tree branches against blown skies, I've seen little to no color fringing.

    Some other shots taken with this lens during two brief family walks this weekend:


    14691209394_98ebaafd54_b.
    L1002273 by Amin Sabet, on Flickr - Slight crop


    14713313743_3e508b7a9c_b.
    Bates Hall by Amin Sabet, on Flickr


    14507220928_aee6f2dd04_b.
    L1002189 by Amin Sabet, on Flickr - Intentionally softened, glow added


    14507208108_c240b89980_b.
    L1002409 by Amin Sabet, on Flickr


    14679781552_bf53475fec_b.
    L1002106 by Amin Sabet, on Flickr


    The following are two f/4-11 aperture series (near and far targets) for download in JPEG or DNG format. I focused using the rangefinder and did not change focus when going from f/4 to f/11.

    JPEGs (C1 process, sharpening @ 300/0.8/1; NR @ 15/35/1):

    f4 near target - https://s3.amazonaws.com/18mmDistagon/JPEG/L1002415.jpg
    f5.6 near target - https://s3.amazonaws.com/18mmDistagon/JPEG/L1002416.jpg
    f8 near target - https://s3.amazonaws.com/18mmDistagon/JPEG/L1002417.jpg
    f11 near target - https://s3.amazonaws.com/18mmDistagon/JPEG/L1002418.jpg

    f4 far target - https://s3.amazonaws.com/18mmDistagon/JPEG/L1002420.jpg
    f5.6 far target - https://s3.amazonaws.com/18mmDistagon/JPEG/L1002421.jpg
    f8 far target - https://s3.amazonaws.com/18mmDistagon/JPEG/L1002422.jpg
    f11 far target - https://s3.amazonaws.com/18mmDistagon/JPEG/L1002423.jpg


    DNG files:

    f4 near target - https://s3.amazonaws.com/18mmDistagon/DNG/L1002415.dng
    f5.6 near target - https://s3.amazonaws.com/18mmDistagon/DNG/L1002416.dng
    f8 near target - https://s3.amazonaws.com/18mmDistagon/DNG/L1002417.dng
    f11 near target - https://s3.amazonaws.com/18mmDistagon/DNG/L1002418.dng

    f4 far target - https://s3.amazonaws.com/18mmDistagon/DNG/L1002420.dng
    f5.6 far target - https://s3.amazonaws.com/18mmDistagon/DNG/L1002421.dng
    f8 far target - https://s3.amazonaws.com/18mmDistagon/DNG/L1002422.dng
    f11 far target - https://s3.amazonaws.com/18mmDistagon/DNG/L1002423.dng


    I'm very pleased with this purchase. Easily the highest performing ultrawide prime I've ever owned.
     
    • Like Like x 8
  2. ajramirez

    ajramirez Leica Place Veteran

    267
    Mar 30, 2013
    Caguas, Puerto Rico
    Antonio
    Yep, it's a pretty sweet lens.
     
  3. xdayv

    xdayv Leica Place Veteran

    404
    Mar 31, 2013
    Tacloban City, Philippines
    Dave
    Amin, are you keeping this lens? So your "four" is like this? 18, 35, 50, 90.
     
  4. Amin

    Amin Administrator

    399
    Mar 28, 2013
    Dave, definitely. I don't feel that I need a lens between 18 and 35. Totally set now once my 90 gets back from DAG with the focus adjustment.
     
    • Like Like x 1