It’s not so long ago that I posted my first impression with the Zeiss Biogon 28/2.8 ZM on the Leica M8, and I’m already writing about a new lens again! How can that be?
Well, a couple of weeks ago I remember how I loved the rendering of my Zeiss 35/2 Biogon ZM that I had last year, but which I sold because the focal length vs. speed vs. size ratio just wasn’t my cup of tea. So I switched to Voigtländer glass, which I used until very recently, when I sold almost all my lenses. Yup, I sold my 28/2.8 M-Rokkor, my 28/1.9 Ultron, my 50/1.5 Nokton and my rarely used Micro Four Thirds lenses, the 14-42mm kit zoom and the 45-200mm tele zoom. And then I got two lovely, modern Zeiss lenses, which exhibit that fabulous “Zeiss look” with strong contrast, bold colours and superb subject separation.
Today, I received my 50/2 Planar (in silver, like the Biogon, to match my chrome M8), which I had purchased from Leica Shop in Vienna, Austria, a dealer I can very much recommend as their service and products are excellent.
The Planar is a classic design that dates back several decades, but is still able to provide outstanding results. Like all lenses in the ZM line, it does not feature aspherical glass elements. Instead, Zeiss have focused on improving spherical design to the point where it delivers the best possible image quality. The Biogon line of lenses is especially renowned for their excellence, being very complicated and highly corrected designs which are tack sharp wide open and virtually free of distortion. While the Planar design isn’t quite as sophisticated, the Planar 50/2 ZM doesn’t need to hide behind its ZM siblings. While showing some slight softness and spherical aberrations wide open, it is already very good. Not quite as “clinical” as the 50/1.5 Nokton (which is an aspherical lens), but much more characterful, which I like very much.
So, for your enjoyment and as a practical demonstration of the Planar’s abilities, here’s a selection of pictures I took today. Mind that these were all shot without a UV/IR filter.