I recently completed a workshop tour where I was asked to talk about why I use Zeiss lenses and so as part of this I decided to do a very quick side by side comparison. ** N.B. This is NOT a scientific , controlled environment, apples for apples test. It's a comparison in it's simplest form using the glass that I own. Lens choice is as much about look as is one sharper than another. Please bear this in mind before blowing a gasket in the comments :) ** I put Zeiss ZF.2 and CP.2 up against some Canon L-series and EF lenses because I wanted to see the difference.
The main objective was too satisfy my own curiosity as to what are the differences between these lenses. I know Zeiss are generally sharper edge to edge but what about contrast. It's been my experience that the Zeiss are warmer in tone and have a tad more contrast than the Canon's. Also from and operational perspective I prefer working wit the Zeiss because they have on barrel aperture control and a smooth 270 degree focus rotation.
It is not an exact test rather a simple side by side to highlight the subtle differences.
But back to my wee comparison film.
I shot this on the Blackmagic Cinema Camera and the footage is un graded for maximum accuracy. I shot ProRes Video and monitored exposure using a Marshall V-LCD 90MD using the Waveform monitor to maintain exposure.
- L series 24mm f1.4
- Canon L -Series 16-35mm f2.8 9 to cover focal lengths from 18mm and 35mm
- Canon L Series 70-200mm f2.8 to cover focal length of 85mm
- Canon EF 100mm macro f2.8
- 18mm ZF.2f3.5
- 25mm ZF.2 f2.0
- 35mm ZF.2 f1.4
- 85mm CP.2 T2.9
- 100mm ZF.2 f2.0
Here it is so you can make your own mind up.
I prefer the warmth and resolution of the Zeiss lenses. I think they manage to retain detail particularly when the image is zoomed in even at 400%. They seem top hold more contrast also. To be completely fair I did not put every focal length up like for like as I don't own the full set of Canon Primes but if you are looking for a great set of affordable cine primes then the Zeiss ZF.2 will give you a lot of bang for buck. Just bear in mind that the Zeiss lenses do not have any IS options and so if Image Stabilisation is an important factor then these will not give you that - otherwise lenses rock.