Thursday, May 17, 2012

The PhoBlographer Tests the Zeiss Planar 50mm f2 M Lens on Micro Four Thirds

Zeiss Planar 50mm f2 on Olympus E-P1 by Phoblographer
Image Source:
I read an interesting post about using the Zeiss Planar 50mm f2 (Leica M mount) lens on Micro Four-Thirds cameras.
(Click Here) to see the original post at
The author (Felix Esser) makes several important points. First, he says that while he's satisfied with the Zeiss lens performance on both the Olympus E-P1 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1, neither delivers a certain image quality that he sees using the same lens on the Leica M8. This is difficult to evaluate. Each M4/3 camera has so many settings, I find it a little hard to believe that one couldn't fiddle long enough and pretty much replicated the Leica's color, tone, and sharpness. The Micro 4/3 cameras have more recent sensor technology than the M8. The only differentiating thing I can think of is the lack of an IR filter on the M8 sensor, which is supposed to increase sharpness, but at the cost of color accuracy. I find with my M8 that the add-on UV/IR filters are absolutely necessary to achieve good color rendition, so I any benefit from not having the filter there must be lost.
I also found Felix's comments comparing the Olympus E-P1 and Lumix DMC-G1 of interest. It seems that he prefers the native jpeg output of the Olympus, but finds the Panasonic much easier to use with legacy manual focus lenses. This is mainly because of the increased resolution of the G1's electronic viewfinder (EVF). I bet he'd really like it if he tried the DMC-G3 or DMC-GH2.
Felix also provides a little information on the history of the Planar, which has always rivaled the Leica Summicron, both considered benchmarks for image quality in the normal lens range.
I don't have a 50mm Planar. I do have a Zeiss 25mm Biogon T f2.8, which should make a very nice 50mm equivalent on Micro 4/3. The 25mm Biogon is as well-recognized for image quality as the Planar. On my Leica M8, the Biogon makes a wonderful 35mm replacement (at ~33mm equivalent field of view).
However, I must admit, I rarely use the Biogon on M4/3. Why? A few reasons: 1) manual focus, 2) f2.8 (I prefer faster), 3) the existence of the Pana-Leica Summilux 25mm f1.4. The Summilux offers autofocus, 2 stops of increased speed, and excellent image quality. So, it's just a little hard to grab the Biogon and leave the Summilux behind.
I would be interested in hearing others' opinions about this. For a normal lens, I don't see much reason to use anything other than the Pana-Leica 25mm Summilux on my M4/3 cameras.