D800E tests: Zeiss 25 f/2.8

This is the second of my “lens walks” with the Nikon D800E. The goal is to familiarize myself with how my lenses perform on this new camera. Not only is it much higher resolution than my previous Nikon but it is a “full frame” body–it has a physically wider and taller sensor chip and thus shows more of the image that the lens is projecting into the camera body. Every lens looks wider than before, much wider.

Less obvious, a lens’s vignetting and reduction in edge and corner sharpness become more obvious now that you are seeing further into the corners. In addition, depth-of-field at any given aperture seems to change. With the same lens, to get that bigger chip to a 16×20 print requires less magnification than that smaller chip required and less magnification means that depth-of-field–the area in front of and behind the plane of focus that is perceived to also be in focus–gets thicker. (This sort of thing is endless fodder for internet discussion boards because it is rife with unacknowledged variables. Are you moving your position–and focus distance–to keep the subject framed the same in a small vs large chip comparison? Are you including printing both prints to the same size?)

So the lenses all behave in new and sometimes unexpected ways. And though it sounds oh so technical the real way most photographers use lenses–or at least the way I do and thus I assume everyone else does it the same way–is to get a sort of feel for each lens. This takes time. Lots of time.

When I grew up I had 35mm cameras–the film was equal in size to the modern full-frame digitals, such as the D800E. So I learned the lenses in that framework. After a time you could easily just look at a scene and know which lens to use. You could sort of see the depth-of-field in your head. Then came the digital camera with the smaller chips. Each lens was now magnified about 1.5x. It was weird. At first it was just difficult to adjust. I kept forgetting about the “crop factor” as it is called and would reach for a 50mm and find the view too tight. A 35mm on a small sensor camera is about equal to a 50mm on a large sensor camera but it was always uncomfortable for me to use. Nothing ever seemed right.

The conversion was slow at first (“Oh, thirty-five times one point five is about fifty) and then got faster (thirty-five is fifty) but the conversion never went away. I was just starting to pick the right lens without that slight pause–this after years of shooting with the smaller sensor–and now I’m back to the lens’s original behavior. I was worried at first that I would do a roundabout, silly conversion (“thirty-five times one point five is fifty–oh, wait, it’s just a thirty-five) and for the first few days I did do just that. But the conversion step is fading away, the lenses are behaving as they always have, and I don’t have to think about the details so much.

That’s the real reason I’m doing these “tests.” To get to know the lenses again.

Here is the link to my previous lens “test” of the Zeiss 21 on the D800E. Same camera, same walk, different lens. NEFs (Nikon RAW files) are linked under each image for your viewing pleasure. Feel free to repost the link to this article but please don’t post direct links to the NEF files.

 

 Click here to download the original NEF (Nikon RAW FIle).

Click here to download the original NEF (Nikon RAW FIle).

Click here to download the original NEF (Nikon RAW FIle).

 Click here to download the original NEF (Nikon RAW FIle).

 Click here to download the original NEF (Nikon RAW FIle).

 Click here to download the original NEF (Nikon RAW FIle).

Click here to download the original NEF (Nikon RAW FIle).

Click here to download the original NEF (Nikon RAW FIle).

Click here to download the original NEF (Nikon RAW FIle).

 Click here to download the original NEF (Nikon RAW FIle).

Click here to download the original NEF (Nikon RAW FIle).

Click here to download the original NEF (Nikon RAW FIle).

Click here to download the original NEF (Nikon RAW FIle).