Listening to: Ludovico Einaudi - Ritornare
Reading: Njal's Tale
Watching: BBC- The Planet Earth
Playing: No time for games now
Eating: Sushi again...and again!
Drinking: Rum and coke
Well today I picked up a Carl Zeiss 85mm 1.4 Planar lens. Although the lens is not mine, I got first dibs to play with it as its owner is out of town at the moment and wanted to make sure it was ok before handing money over.
So the lens is Nikon F (AIS) mount so it needed a Nikon camera to test it with. Of course I could have used the 5D to test it if I had an adapter but that is hardly a good way to test out a lens for problems. So the camera that ended up testing the 85mm diamond was a D300.
First off let me say this, I am a Canon/Leica user. I started with an AE1 and moved on to other Canon EF stuff later on. After a while with the 20D I wanted to shoot film still which is where the Leica came into play. I am used to the set up of these two camera systems and can strip them with my eyes shut like a soldier you see in those films.
Back in the day Nikon was interesting but the F3 was more money then high school student like me could afford so a cheap Canon AE1 with 50 1.8 for an eighth of the price was fine with me. Over the years later Nikon's F3 recently the FM3a were still of great interest to me but I never bit the bullet. I was looking at their digital stuff starting with the D70 but just never found it up to par with the excellent film platform they had produced. In my option Nikon had gone all backwards and lost their way, a digital FM3a would have been ideal for me and my classic photographic platform roots. That never happened so I moved on. Many years with the 20D and tens of thousands of exposures later and I find myself in the same boat I was in 3 years ago. The 20D is a work horse, the lenses....save for a select few, have seriously disappointed me. The Canon 70-200 2.8 IS I feel is a must have lens, but my typical use lenses, the 17-40 and 50 1.4 had issues.
Anyway when I started to play with rangefinders suddenly I was shocked how good lenses should have been. The dinkiest Voigtlander lens coming out of Cosina easily beat the pulp out of the Canon lenses. Then I got into Leica and Zeiss and things went out of control, Leica lenses are really good, but I think the Zeiss ones might be better. Then Zeiss said they were going to make lenses in Nikon mount and manual focus for us slobs who still use such things. My goodness my head started to spin, Canon's insistence to keep its mount locked at all costs made me waver. I played with adapters and such but that is just not as satisfying for the photo on the go. My M42 Yashinon 50 1.4 DS is soooo much better then the Canon 50 1.4 in terms of....everything short of sharpness, it renders a more smoother feel rather then the bite hard sharpness of the canon, but still more then usable.
But still, Nikon digital cameras disappointed me. The D200 just didnt push the right buttons with me and I looked away again, instead readying myself for the Leica M8, but after that came out and I finally had enough money for one, they had already shot up in price and rumor is they are going up again soon. So I said to hell with Leica and kept the money.
Then today I picked up this Zeiss 85 1.4 which was bloody heavy (hey, I am used to rangefinder cameras now, what can I say?) and was clicking it on a Nikon FE2 (which I didnt care for all that much) but then got the lens on a D300 and wow, the D300 is Nikon back in the game. The D3 of course is a King of cameras type tool, but in my mind Nikon was the "camera for everyman" platform that gave good image capabilities to the masses. This D300 is seriously up there at the top of the platform. I dont like modern camera design, this bulbous, ugly, very large style is a turn off for someone who worked with the older style SLR's and rangefinders. The D300 though makes all the right choices in the body style. Even with the same modern design quirks it manages to not feel big despite having the Zeiss 85 1.4 (which handled great on the D300 btw). One thing I did notice though is that when the lens said 1.4 the camera said O, 2.0 was 1 and something like that all the way up, the camera was not showing the right aperture the lens had selected on it, but all the exposures were right. Duno what that is about.
Compared to the Canon 5D (which my girlfriend has) I say the D300 is much more comfortable to hold. The right hand grip area doesnt feel fat, which is does on the 5D for me and also my hands didnt feel cramped up after using the D300 for a while, which happens with the 5D sometimes. Everything on the Nikon is backwards to the Canon/Leica things im used to but its ok, takes a minor moment to figure out. Everything else though felt great, even the shutter click feels good and I was not having any problems manual focusing the Zeiss lens even wide open without a manual focus screen which is almost impossible on the 5D with anything more the f5.6
Anyway, this D300....im completely sold. Since my Canon camera is about to eat the dust and my canon 50 1.4 has the notorious focus problem, and the 17-40 lens is too slow for me and will one way or the other get sold I am sitting on a near clean slate. Rumors of Leica's digital m mount CL camera dont interest me, some way or another they will figure out a way to make the new cheaper Leica digital (if they even do it) monstrously expensive is a given. A Canon 5D mk 2 is of interest since I cant keep taking my girlfriend's and Zeiss has poisoned me with their fantastic optics and rendering qualities. I emailed Zeiss and they said there are a lot of problems making lenses for Canon and their closed platform, so I wont hold my breath.
Hm.....Nikon D300 and Zeiss 28 f.2.....a thought at least.
But I dont want to shoot crop frame anymore....