News from the 3rd Dimension

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Willkommen in der neuen Dimension

Most Adorable 50s - Zeiss Otus & Sonnar, Leica Noctilux & Summilux, SLR Magic HyperPrime

Some time ago, we already compared a large selection of more or less adorable 50mm lenses on an APS-C crop camera (NEX-7) here. Now it's time for a sequel where we squeeze out the currently most adored 50s attaching them to the 36 MP full frame Sony A7R.

The candidates this time were (from left to right, the Leica M bodies this time only acted as lens cap ;-)):

  • Leica Summilux 50mm f/1.4 ASPH
  • Zeiss FE Sonnar T* 55mm f/1.8
  • Zeiss Otus Apo Distagon T* 55mm f/1.4
  • SLR Magic HyperPrime CINE 50mm T0.95
  • Leica Noctilux 50mm f/0.95 ASPH

As far as I can remember, 50mm lenses always were a compromise and optimized for a certain purpose. So you had to decide between large aperture (typically f/1.4) portrait lenses designed for available light and optimized to isolate a subject in a range of 1 to 3 m from its environment with a smooth background blur or for a landscape lens that is perfectly sharp all over the frame at f/5.6 - f/8 on large distances. But 2013 Zeiss stepped in with a "no compromises" lens demonstrating that it is possible to build a lens covering all purposes with maximum image quality, the "Otus 1.4/55".

Only the Zeiss FE Sonnar T* 1.8/55 is a native lens that was launched by Sony together with their new series of full frame cameras, the A7 and A7R. All other lenses had to be adapted using a Leica M to E-mount adapter or (in case of the Otus in ZF.2 mount version) a F-mount to E-mount adapter. I do not want to bother you with too many details about these lenses. Some of them were already covered in other articles here and on other web sites and I am sure, you will be able to find out all technical data you need - otherwise feel free to contact me by E-mail.

In the first part of this comparison review we will use the lenses in real world situations where they are best suited for:


The following series was taken at a subject distance of about 1.2m (approx. 4 ft.). All images are


Bokeh Dreams from 21mm to 135mm with Sony A7 & A7R

Dec. 2013 - Since the new full frame mirrorless "ILCE" cameras (A7 and A7R) from Sony were presented in October, thanks to its small flange distance many users where thrilled by the option to adapt nearly every lens. In the wide angle range, there was quite a lot of frustration, but another article here shows some of the best options in the UWA range. In this article we will focus on lenses that give you great "virtual 3D" options to seperate objects by playing with depth of field (DOF) and beautiful bokeh. 

This article will cover the following lenses (downwards sorted by focal length and maximum aperture):


Let us start right with an example from the Sony STF 135mm f/2.8 T4.5:

(click on image to see other sizes)

Due to its very specialized construction, this lens fascinated me since a long time but its focal length was a bit long when used on crop sensors (APS-C, FourThirds etc.). The full frame sensor of the Sony A7R changed the game...


Flammenspuk - Fire Artistry Show "Kobold Streit" (Goblin Hassle)

November 2013 - Enjoy the "Kobold Streit" (goblin hassle) with lots of "Schabernack" (hoax) performed by Caro and Kathleen from "Duo Flammenspuk":

Please select fullscreen in the player's button bar for best viewing experience. If you can not see the embedded video, please try:

YouTube version
Vimeo 720p version
Vimeo 1080p version (download of full quality 1080p50 32 MBit version available for registered Vimeo users)
Direct download of full quality 1080p25 32 MBit version available until 8th December via WeTransfer.

The video was recorded using Sony A7R with Zeiss FE 2.8/35 and Carl Zeiss / Contax Planar T* 85mm f/1.4 lenses.

For more information about "Flammenspuk", please visit http://www.flammenspuk.de


UPDATED: Ultra Wide Angle M-Mount Lenses THAT WORK On Sony A7R (Leica "WATE" Tri Elmar 16-18-21mm f/4 ASPH and Voigtlander Ultron 21mm f/1.8 ASPH)

If you visited this article earlier, you may want to jump directly to the UPDATE.

Oct./Nov. 2013 - If you followed all that buzz and bashing on the new mirrorless fullframe cameras from Sony, the A7 and A7R (also named as ILCE-7 and ILCE-7R), you may have got the impression that these cameras are not suited to be used together with wide ange M-mount lenses from Leica, Zeiss and Voigtländer. My conflicting message is, that it will work perfectly fine, if you choose the right lens. 

You propably saw many articles like the "torture test" of Ron Sheffler, who came to the conclusion "Results on the a7 are for the most part disappointing. All I can surmise at the moment is that the toppings on the a7′s sensor work against achieving optimal (or in some cases, good enough) results with the rangefinder lenses I had available for this test". You propably also read Steve Huff's 1st impressions coming to the conclusion "But seriously, if you are primarily an ultra wide Leica M lens shooter, you may want to skip these bodies.".

Before going into detail of my conflicting message,


Flammenspuk - Fire Artistry Show "Spieluhr"

September 2013 - During a wedding I had the chance for another insight into the world of fire artistry performed by two exceptionally charming and creative girls. Enjoy some snippets from the Show "Spieluhr" by Caro and Kathleen from "Duo Flammenspuk"

Please select fullscreen in the player's button bar for best viewing experience. If you can not see the embedded video, please go to Feuer-Show "Spieluhr" - Duo Flammenspuk FullHD (1080p) from Hacky on Vimeo.

The video was recorded using SLR Magic HyperPrime CINE 35mm T0.95 and Sony 10-18mm F4 OSS.

For more information about "Flammenspuk", please visit http://www.flammenspuk.de


Sunny 35s - Zeiss Touit 1.8/32 vs. Sony 35mm f/1.8 OSS vs. SLR Magic HyperPrime CINE 35mm T0.95 comparison review

August 2013 - time for some summerly (re-)views. Before this autumn will propably distract us to new fullframe NEX camera bodies and lenses, let us compare some of the latest offerings in the range of bright ~35mm lenses with a field of view equivalent to a 50mm lens on fullframe sensors. Beside some others, you can currently choose between the new Zeiss Touit Planar T* 32mm f/1.8, the Sony 35mm f/1.8 OSS and the SLR Magic HyperPrime CINE 35mm T0.95 (available from September 2013). This article will provide you an in-depth comparison between these lenses.

Before we go into details, let's compare sizes of the main competitors:

Left: Sony 35mm f/1.8 OSS, right: Zeiss Touit Planar T* 1.8/32 and their lens hoods
(image taken with the HyperPrime CINE 35 T0.95 (stopped down to T4.0 still showing round circles of confusion)

The Sony lens is a tad more compact than the Zeiss, the latter appears a bit more solid and with nicer haptics.
Before we come to a more detailed comparison, let me show you an example that I find quite significant for this type of lens, as it gives a good idea about the viewing angle and the depth-of-field that you can achieve at 32mm f/1.8 on an APS-C crop sensor:

Triathlon world championship 2013 in Hamburg, shot with the Zeiss Touit 1.8/32 @ F1.8


The Wide Shootout - Comparing the Zeiss Touit 2.8/12 with the Sony 10-18mm F4 OSS

July 2013 - If you are looking for an ultra wide angle lens for Sony NEX APS-C sensors based cameras, meanwhile you have an "embarras de richesses" between the new Zeiss Touit Distagon T* 12mm f/2.8 and the Sony 10-18mm F4 OSS zoom lenses. This article will provide you an in-depth comparison between these two lenses.

Before we go into details, let's take a look at the lenses themselves:

Both lenses are surprisingly lightweight and compact. The Sony wide angel zoom weighs about 260g, the Zeiss prime about 300g including lenshood and caps. If you compare that to a full frame ultra wide angle like the Zeiss Distagon T* 15mm f/2.8 (730g) or the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 zoom (about 1kg), these lenses will burden you (and your wallet) significantly less than their full frame equivalents for the price of about one F-stop less low light performance and DOF options than a comparable fullframe combination.

Before comparing sharpness and bokeh, let me just give you some more examples taken with the Zeiss Touit 2.8/12. that show you typical application areas and compositions for such a kind of lens:


Still looking for the better Leica M?

Since the first copies of the new Leica M (Typ 240) appeared on the market early March 2013, there is a vast disparity between supply and demand of the new Leica M (Typ 240) causing a lot of discussion in the corresponding camera forums. In addition these discussions are heated up by quite contrary reviews and user stories expressing the whole range between absolute excitement and deep frustration. This article tries to focus on objective facts and findings determined since I entered the M community in early April. The review is underlined by many real world examples taken with M-mount lenses from Leica, Voigtlander and SLR Magic as well as some adapted Nikkor lenses. Additionally you find a short comparison to the Sony NEX-7.

Perhaps I may not be the typical Leica M customer as I do not care too much for the unique feature of the M: The optomechanical rangefinder. However this camera attracted me as it is currently the only mirrorless full frame digital camera on the market (except the Sony VG900 which is primarily a video camera) allowing to use all those really fantastic Leica M lenses and in contrast to the Leica M9 it is not limited to lenses with rangefinder coupling. Due to its live view and the optional EVF you can now use it for macro- and tele-photography and a wide range of adapted DSLR lenses as well aided by focus peaking and up to 10x magnification. Its new 24 MP CMOS sensor gains about 1 EV ISO performance and about 2 EV additional dynamic range compared to the CCD sensor of the M9 and allows to record 1080p videos at up to 25 fps with that camera as well. As I use a HyperPrime CINE 50mm T0.95 lens since about one year, I was also quite excited about that feature because at the moment it is the only combination allowing to use a 50mm f/0.92 full frame lens optimized for video. So the specifications and options sounded promising enough to ask my dealer to put me on the waiting list right in September 2012 when the camera was announced at the Photokina. In April I had the chance to get one in silver ("chrom") and immediately started exploring it.

Comparing the Leica M (with Summilux 50mm f/1.4 ASPH) to the Sony NEX-7 (with SLR Magic HyperPrime CINE 35mm T0.95)

One of the first questions on my list was: How does the M with a Leica Summilux 50mm f/1.4 ASPH compare to the Sony NEX-7 with a SLR Magic HyperPrime CINE 35mm T0.95?


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