Architecture, Interiors, Technology

Architecture with the Zeiss 35mm PC-D

There are plenty of people who would suggest that you can’t shoot architecture with a 35mm and you need a 24mm or wider.  I used to be in that camp too some extent but I have found that with a shift lens on a full frame body you can do a lot with a 35mm lens. It helps that I’m beginning to ‘see’ in 35mm for the first time in years thanks to starting my Little Chef project with the Zeiss 35/2.8 on a Sony A7r – partly because it’s a retro sort of field of view, typical of the compacts available in the chain’s 1980s heyday, and partly because it’s still my favourite lens for the system in terms of overall ‘feel’.

As well as having this very special lens I’m also lucky enough to live in a vibrant city with some amazing architecture and architectural events. So, when this year’s serpentine pavilion coincided with the launch of the V&A Museum’s new entrance I decided to challenge myself to shoot them both exclusively with the Zeiss PC-Distagon on a relatively new-to-me Canon full frame body.

This session was also the first time I’ve really shot architecture with intent for some time and I enjoyed both the lens and the challenge, though it’s slightly flawed. Having a very short throw between ∞ and 3m is bonkers in a lens that will be primarily used for critical shooting of buildings. Other than that the lens certainly wasn’t a limitation, easily matching the 50 Megapixel sensor of the Eos 5Ds when it was properly focussed and held steady – the latter being key as resolution increases. In all honesty I would place the Zeiss ahead of the Canon 35/2 IS for sharpness but perhaps that is to be expected as the Zeiss lens is designed for critical sharpness and low distortion where the Canon is more of a street shooter. The other issue is that when the PC-Distagon flares it’s not the nicest flare I’ve ever seen – one image in the Serpentine set shows this very clearly.

Architecturally both buildings are superb, although I do think that there is a lack of seating space in this years Serpentine Pavilion as the structure itself doesn’t have the perching places that some of the others have, so it’s not as enjoyable on a busy, sunny day as some of the earlier ones.

First gallery is of the V&A Exhibition Road Quarter, by Amanda Levete Architects and the second Gallery is of the Serpentine Pavilion, designed by Diébédo Francis Kéré…

Gallery One – V&A Exhibition Road Quarter & Entrance.

Gallery Two – 2017 Serpentine Pavilion

Architecture, Photography

A Mall with the Zeiss 18mm

This post is sort of an odd one, at least compared to other recent posts. It’s just a couple of shots that showcase a Contax lens. Earlier this week I was at a shopping mall the architectural practice I work for has been amending over the last couple of years. They demonstrate how the Sony A7r allows me to lift shadows and how nicely the 18mm Distagon handles architectural subjects, thanks to it’s low distortion. I did, however, have to correct for the vignette, even with the lens stopped down to f/8.

The last image is one of the straight out of camera JPEGs, so that you can see how much I’ve been able to pull from the RAW file.




Exciting News from Zeiss.

This blog is named for an old Zeiss trademark, because I like the lenses they produced for the Contax/Yashica system back in the 70s-90s. One of the main reasons I bought a Sony NEX-6 then A7r was to be able to use Zeiss lenses. I have the Sony/Zeiss FE35 & 55 and a couple of Contax G fit lenses too.

Nice though the Loxias looked they duplicate the ones I already have and I never felt that I wanted to spend so much on manual focus lenses. Therefore  I’m very pleased that Zeiss have now announced a new AF range for the A7 series- to wit (sic) the Batis range. Starting with a 25/2 and an 85/1.8.

I’m sure the 85 will be a great lens but, for me the 25 is the lens I’ve been waiting for since getting my A7r last year. I’m particularly keen to sell my 35/2.8 and try out the 25/2 as a good native FE wide angle would be a fantastic addition to my walk around kit. All I can say is thank goodness the lenses won’t be available for a few months as all funds are currently being soaked up getting our house up to scratch as a holiday rental.

If, dear reader, you would like to stay in Hastings, Edinburgh or London and help me raise the funds 😉 our Holiday flats are listed here… AirBnB

ZEISS Batis 2/25


Wyke Road (Contax G90mm Sample)

A bonus upload for today. This was seen in hackney Wick last December. Made with the Contax G fit 90mm this shot really shows the sharpness and ‘Pop’ that the lens can deliver on the A7r in good light. I was lucky enough to spot this lens, in the rare black version, in Cash Converters for a relative pittance and snapped it up. Rather than go down the helicoid route I had went for the latest version of the Tech-Art adapter which meant a bit of a wait before I could make use of it but n this walk I tried to use it as much as possible and I’m really pleased with the results.

Definitely a keeper and a great lightweight alternative to the C/Y fit 85/1.4 Planar with the added bonus of being an AF lens and, in all honesty, while the AF hunts a bit I’d say that it is quite usable and definite improvement on using the Canon 24-105L on my Metabones smart adapter III which drove me mad…

I am really enjoying the Manual aperture ring too, I wish more makers would follow Fuji’s lead on that front. There’s an honesty about changing that setting on the lens which is really appealing and direct.



Car Park

Not the most seasonal post ever, but it is still within the 12 days of Christmas…  Anyway, I was walking past the Castle Terrace car park in Edinburgh today and noticed that they had some quite extensive Christmas decorations, which seemed really odd for a car park. It’s remarkable that they probably make the place look even bleaker than normal. Maybe they are hoping Santa will park his sleigh there on Christmas Eve?