Ok, not really. I’ll take vision anyday over the shiny toys. It doesn’t always have to be one or the other, though. This is one of those rare posts that talks about gear and if you’re not ready to hear me geek-out, perhaps now is a good time to go read What The Duck or something.
I have been planning this for a while. Lacking a 50mm lens for a while I bought a Zeiss Planar 1.4/50 (HERE’s the lens on the B&H Site) It wasn’t a moment of weakness. But it could have been, this is a nice lens! Sharp and fast, no surprise there. But here’s the kicker. It’s a Nikon mount lens. I shoot Canon (for now). With a Novoflex EOS/NIK adapter (B&H Link HERE) I can put this on my Canon bodies just fine. So why then, would I pay for a lens I had to buy an additional (and, at almost $300, expensive) adapter for? Good question.
First, the Zeiss lenses are amazing. Beautifully built and with incredible optics, this is a no-compromise lens and the thought of buying Canon’s 50/1.2 just didn’t sit well with me for the money they cost (not that the Zeiss lenses are cheap but this one was just over $800CAD and the Canon L is $1800CAD). And did I mention how beautifully these are made? They feel like a lens should and are all metal – including the lens hoods.
Second, while Zeiss makes these lenses with a Canon mount, the Nikon F mount version has an aperture ring on the lens which the Canon version does not; so this is a step back to my old-school roots. I wanted an exceptional manual focus lens, and with a little digging around I discovered that the combo would give me both manual focus and manual aperture. Love it!
Third, as I look to the day when I will shoot both Canon and Nikon bodies, this allows me to begin building a collection of prime lenses – a 21, 50, and 85 – that I can use on both mounts. One day in the not-to-distant future I want to shoot both Nikon and Canon (another topic for another post) but for now I’m not keen to duplicate my lenses. However I also want a selection of good primes for travel and this will eventually let me invest in one set of glass I can use for both bodies. Until now I had no idea it could be done.
For many of you this won’t matter a bit, but if you’re looking for some of the best primes – and the Zeiss 21mm is arguably one of the best wide angles available – and want manual functions and brand-neutrality of some degree, this is an exciting option. Downsides? Well, it’s manual so the more I stop down the darker things get in that viewfinder. And there’s no EXIF data coming from the lens. And it’s manual so I’ll miss some shots while I re-acquire my manual-focus chops. But as part of the purpose of all this was to slow down a little, that’s a gain, not a loss. And with this Novoflex adapter, I can start borrowing older lenses from my unsuspecting Nikon friends. You hear that, Delnea? Yeah, I’m talking to you!
Now, I’m off to Italy to try this baby out. Remember, Vision is Better – but Gear is Good!