Zeiss 50mm f/2.0 T* ZM Review

The 50 mm lens is considered standard – perhaps even quintessential – when it comes to prime lenses in a photographer’s bag. This focal length offers just enough zoom for portraiture and photojournalism, while also accomodating some freedom to frame the environment around the subject.

The Zeiss 50 f/2 Planar ZM (Leica Mount) is a highly efficient and reliable lens for the Leica M-mount system. It is an exceptionally sharp and accurate lens for colour accuracy and contrast, surprising considering it originally released nearly 15 years ago.

I have enjoyed using this lens on both a Leica M9 and Leica M3, with the latter combination having been used to shoot the majority of my street photography and photojournalism since 2014. As with the Zeiss 35 f/2.8C, the Zeiss 50 allows for a highly portable and impressive system with low-light capabilities.

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Rolleiflex Rolleinar 1 Bay 1 review with examples from modern film

The Rolleinar close-up lens has become a staple piece of equipment that I carry in my camera bag. A convenient leather case allows for quick storage and retrieval of the Rolleinar, which is useful in many situations.

After aligning the lenses correctly (larger lens on top with dot aligned upwards, smaller lens on bottom in any position) you’re able to focus closer than the camera’s default 40 inches. It’s possible to use this for macro and portraiture photography.

The header image was captured on in a Rolleiflex 3.5 F K4A, equipped with the Rolleinar 1. The f/3.5 limit of the Rolleiflex combined with the extreme depth of field provided by the Rolleinar makes it easy to capture images in striking ways.

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Rolleiflex 3.5 K4A review with examples from modern film

Earlier this year I had the chance to purchase an excellent-condition Rolleiflex 3.5 (K4A) with full set of filters (coloured, U/V, etc.), a Rolleinar close-up lens, everready case, leather bag, and original papers for a total of $635 AUD ($445) on eBay. It was a great opportunity and an even better deal.

The image-taking mirrors and light sealing in old Rolleiflex cameras can begin to show degradation, so be aware of that if you purchase second-hand or via the internet. The Rolleiflex is largely user-serviceable if you have a general grasp of mechanical repairs and feel comfortable tinkering with mechanics.

My Rolleiflex features a 75 mm f/3.5 Zeiss Tessar lens, and shutter speeds from 1 to 1/500, bulb, and a working self-timer. The lens shows great colours and contrast, and provides sharp images when shot open at f/3.5. The viewing lens makes it easy to focus and compose images, and I do not find myself focusing back and forth excessively.

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Zeiss 35mm f/2.8 C Biogon T* ZM Review

Whether it’s for work or leisure, the 35 mm focal length feels perfect (to me). It’s tight enough for portraits and photojournalism, while also being wide enough to show the environment around a subject, or to capture an impromptu landscape.

The Zeiss 35 f/2.8 C Biogon T* ZM is a compact, lightweight, and highly reliable 35 mm lens for the Leica platform. Despite originally releasing in March, 2008, images captured with this lens appear to be much more modern in colour rendition and contrast. I prefer the visuals of this lens over my old Canon 35 f/1.4L, which I worked with for two years.

The Zeiss 35’s manual focus is fast and efficient, with just the right amount of glide, and a small tab on the focus ring makes it easy to quickly focus in on a position or subject. When equipped on a camera body this lens has a small form factor, and can conveniently be stowed in a jacket pocket, satchel bag, etc.

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