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The Zeiss Touit 12/2.8 and AF Hunting


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I'm posting this out of frustration and confusion. Yesterday I picked up the 12mm ultra-wide at Adorama (an 18mm view on my NEX cameras). I gave up on finding a more affordable Sony or Sigma lens. The Sony 16mm I own is just not sharp. I was going to try the newer $200 Sigma 19mm, but its view of 28.5mm is not really what I need since I already have the wonderfully sharp Sony Zeiss 24 f/1.8. (There is simply not enough difference between a view of 36mm and 28.5mm for me to own and carry both lenses.) So I bit the bullet to the tune of $1,250 plus tax and bought the 12mm Touit. 

 

It's pouring rain out today, so I can't go out and work with the new lens. And I can't do much meaningful testing here in my small, cramped flat. 

 

When I put the Touit lens on my NEX-7 and turned on the camera the lens immediately started hunting back and forth . . . continuously. Hmm. When I depressed the shutter release half-way and the green focus aids showed up and the lens stopped hunting. If I hold the shutter release in that halfway position for a time, it still does not hunt. I snapped a few pics of my computer screen and my keyboard and they look sharp. I'll look at them in CS5 later today.

 

When I attached the lens to my NEX-6; the results were basically the same. 

 

Now these NEX cameras are not simple; the NEX-7 has 100 menu items . . . and I've been using the NEX-6 a lot more lately, so maybe (probably) I've forgotten some stuff. If I have to I can live with this hunting problem as long as I end up with sharp images. 

 

I read somewhere that a firmware update is due this month from Sony for NEX cameras. 

 

Perhaps some of you out there might see something in this situation that I'm missing. Any help would be most appreciated. 

 

Ed

 

 

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Ed, the Touit lenses reportedly do not support the NEX-6's hybrid autofocus system (only phase detect AF). Perhaps that has something to do with the difficulties you are experiencing. This could be where you read about possible firmware updates:

 

http://www.sonyalpharumors.com/in-future-there-may-be-zeiss-touit-zooms-for-nex/

 

Sounds like a lovely lens. Wish I could afford one. I'm currently preparing a batch of photos taken with the Sony 16 mm pancake lens and Sony's ultra wide angle converter (12 mm APS). Images are tack-sharp in the centers with the NEX-3 and no problems passing QC. The poor man's solution that will have to do for now.  Have fun with your new investment.

 

P.S. Looks as if the rumoured firmware updates will only affect AF in video mode (according to the above article). Perhaps there is some more up-to-date info out there.

Edited by John Mitchell
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Ed, see this comment under "AF Performance" in the Touit 12mm review linked to below it:

 

"Contrast AF needs to hunt back and forth to find the “contrast”, or sharp area. This method is very accurate, but not as fast as the hybrid AF supported by most of the other e-mount lenses."

 

http://sonyalphalab.com/product-review/e-mount-zeiss-touit-12mm-f2-8-lens-rolling-review/

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Thanks so much for that link, John. It sets my mind at ease to know that I'm not the one causing the problem and that everything is behaving "normally."

 

When it stopped raining I was able to get out with the lens for an hour and did some real-world testing. The Zeiss Touit 2.8/12 is sharp from edge to edge at the f stops I normally used: f/5.6, f/8 and f/11 and f/4. Several times that reviewer said the lens is heavy—it's not. It's 9.17 oz. The 24 Sony Zeiss is 7.9 oz. The 12mm does not feel heavy to me at all, and I'm the guy who switched systems because of weight. 

 

An 18mm view is wider than I would prefer. 24mm or even 20mm would be better. But I'll adjust. I'll give it a couple of more days, but I think I'll be keeping this lens. Views of 18mm, 36mm and 75mm will be my kit. If I can find a good adopter to trust, I may keep my Nikon 105 f/2.5 ai-s for a view of about 160mm. These adapters get very poor user reviews. 

 

Thank you.

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Thanks so much for that link, John. It sets my mind at ease to know that I'm not the one causing the problem and that everything is behaving "normally."

 

When it stopped raining I was able to get out with the lens for an hour and did some real-world testing. The Zeiss Touit 2.8/12 is sharp from edge to edge at the f stops I normally used: f/5.6, f/8 and f/11 and f/4. Several times that reviewer said the lens is heavy—it's not. It's 9.17 oz. The 24 Sony Zeiss is 7.9 oz. The 12mm does not feel heavy to me at all, and I'm the guy who switched systems because of weight. 

 

An 18mm view is wider than I would prefer. 24mm or even 20mm would be better. But I'll adjust. I'll give it a couple of more days, but I think I'll be keeping this lens. Views of 18mm, 36mm and 75mm will be my kit. If I can find a good adopter to trust, I may keep my Nikon 105 f/2.5 ai-s for a view of about 160mm. These adapters get very poor user reviews. 

 

Thank you.

 

I got an adapter (see link below) from Rainbowimaging for a song. It's surprisingly well-made and works just fine. I use it sometimes with a couple of my old Minolta primes. There is probably a Nikon version as well.

 

http://www.rainbowimaging.biz/shop/product.php?id_product=119

 

Also, here's a review of this adapter:

 

http://sonyalphalab.com/2013/01/minolta-md-50mm-f2-lens-review-using-the-sony-nex-6-and-rainbowimaging-lens-adapter/

Edited by John Mitchell
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(Adapter, not adopter.) Yeah, John, I know they are out there. They run from about $15 to $300. The other day I was reading comments from customers and several were scary. I guess I'll order a Rainbowimaging $15 Nikon-to-NEX unit. I just hope it doesn't attack me. I remember reading a motel review on Tripadvisor: "I was afraid to get out of the car." 

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(Adapter, not adopter.) Yeah, John, I know they are out there. They run from about $15 to $300. The other day I was reading comments from customers and several were scary. I guess I'll order a Rainbowimaging $15 Nikon-to-NEX unit. I just hope it doesn't attack me. I remember reading a motel review on Tripadvisor: "I was afraid to get out of the car." 

 

Just make sure to get the toothless model. As mentioned, the Minolta one is quite sturdy. Sony would probably have charged 200 bucks for it. Good luck.

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I've got  Pentax, Olympus and Canon FD NEX adapters, all quite cheap, and all appear to be accurately made and durable enough. However only the Pentax adapter is correctly set up for infinity focus in accordance with the markings on the lens barrel, the others will allow focus past infinity. This is a better fault than falling short of infinity focus, but it does mean that you can't use the distance scale. I believe that it is possible to adjust the distance settings within the lens mechanism, but I have no intention of opening up my lenses in that way!

 

In practice there are relatively few subjects where you can't get away with manual focus, provided that you have the time to do it, while I often seem to get out of focus shots when using  auto focus. Perhaps the camera recognises that I am Luddite and/or a control freak at heart.

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I've got  Pentax, Olympus and Canon FD NEX adapters, all quite cheap, and all appear to be accurately made and durable enough. However only the Pentax adapter is correctly set up for infinity focus in accordance with the markings on the lens barrel, the others will allow focus past infinity. This is a better fault than falling short of infinity focus, but it does mean that you can't use the distance scale. I believe that it is possible to adjust the distance settings within the lens mechanism, but I have no intention of opening up my lenses in that way!

 

In practice there are relatively few subjects where you can't get away with manual focus, provided that you have the time to do it, while I often seem to get out of focus shots when using  auto focus. Perhaps the camera recognises that I am Luddite and/or a control freak at heart.

 

I enjoy using manual focus lenses now and then, but I find that I miss shots. My eyesight ain't what it used to be, so I just can't focus quickly or accurately enough sometimes. I've also become hooked on zooms over the years. You're right about the distance scales. The ones on my Minolta MF lenses aren't really all that usable with the adapter. However, it's pretty cool to be able to resurrect this old glass. I foolishly sold some my better MF lenses a few years ago. Whoever dreamed that mirrorless cameras like the NEX, etc. would come along. My favourite MF  lens for my NEX-3 is a 45mm f/2 "pancake" lens that Minolta introduced back in the late 70's. It's very light and compact and has good corner sharpness and contrast. Wish I hadn't sold my 28mm. Dumb move.

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John, since none of us can predict the future we also cannot assume blame for decisions made in the past that play out differently than we had thought they would. 

 

I have some egg on my face about some of the disparaging things I've been saying recently about Sony's line of lenses for their NEX system. I've just spent an hour looking through my folders and examining at 100% many Alamy images of mine that I've captured with the Sony 30 macro and the 16, which I've been most critical of. I also looked at some images taken with the Sony Zeiss 24, and yes, they are flawless. (I'm referring to image quality here, not my talent or lack of.)  

 

Every image I reviewed was shot with either the 16 or 30 macro, both of which I've dissed, on the NEX-3 or NEX-7. For most of 2013 I've been using the NEX-6 with the 24 or 50. 

 

I do not have a site of my own nor do I use Flicker or the like. But I do have some stuff on FAA and ARTFLAKES where you can see some of the images I've checked:   http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/ed-rooney.html

 

The white sculptures of Gay Liberation were taken with the 16mm. You can look at parts at 100% of any of these FAA images by clicking on a detail. It takes a couple of seconds to appear. The cheeseburger was shot with the Sony 30 macro as were the detail of the silver blues guitar and the red Ferrari. The Pond and Two in Times Square were captured with the Sony Zeiss 24. 

 

I have been misspeaking and being overcritical about Sony lenses. I'm sorry if I've misled any of you. I will be keeping the 16 and the 30 macro. 

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I've got  Pentax, Olympus and Canon FD NEX adapters, all quite cheap, and all appear to be accurately made and durable enough. However only the Pentax adapter is correctly set up for infinity focus in accordance with the markings on the lens barrel, the others will allow focus past infinity. This is a better fault than falling short of infinity focus, but it does mean that you can't use the distance scale. I believe that it is possible to adjust the distance settings within the lens mechanism, but I have no intention of opening up my lenses in that way!

 

In practice there are relatively few subjects where you can't get away with manual focus, provided that you have the time to do it, while I often seem to get out of focus shots when using  auto focus. Perhaps the camera recognises that I am Luddite and/or a control freak at heart.

 

I enjoy using manual focus lenses now and then, but I find that I miss shots. My eyesight ain't what it used to be, so I just can't focus quickly or accurately enough sometimes. I've also become hooked on zooms over the years. You're right about the distance scales. The ones on my Minolta MF lenses aren't really all that usable with the adapter. However, it's pretty cool to be able to resurrect this old glass. I foolishly sold some my better MF lenses a few years ago. Whoever dreamed that mirrorless cameras like the NEX, etc. would come along. My favourite MF  lens for my NEX-3 is a 45mm f/2 "pancake" lens that Minolta introduced back in the late 70's. It's very light and compact and has good corner sharpness and contrast. Wish I hadn't sold my 28mm. Dumb move.

 

On my old Nex-3 I got the firmware update that introduced peaking. A helpful tool that really works. Together with the MF-assist it makes focusing my manual OM lenses a breeze.

 

wim

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I've got  Pentax, Olympus and Canon FD NEX adapters, all quite cheap, and all appear to be accurately made and durable enough. However only the Pentax adapter is correctly set up for infinity focus in accordance with the markings on the lens barrel, the others will allow focus past infinity. This is a better fault than falling short of infinity focus, but it does mean that you can't use the distance scale. I believe that it is possible to adjust the distance settings within the lens mechanism, but I have no intention of opening up my lenses in that way!

 

In practice there are relatively few subjects where you can't get away with manual focus, provided that you have the time to do it, while I often seem to get out of focus shots when using  auto focus. Perhaps the camera recognises that I am Luddite and/or a control freak at heart.

 

I enjoy using manual focus lenses now and then, but I find that I miss shots. My eyesight ain't what it used to be, so I just can't focus quickly or accurately enough sometimes. I've also become hooked on zooms over the years. You're right about the distance scales. The ones on my Minolta MF lenses aren't really all that usable with the adapter. However, it's pretty cool to be able to resurrect this old glass. I foolishly sold some my better MF lenses a few years ago. Whoever dreamed that mirrorless cameras like the NEX, etc. would come along. My favourite MF  lens for my NEX-3 is a 45mm f/2 "pancake" lens that Minolta introduced back in the late 70's. It's very light and compact and has good corner sharpness and contrast. Wish I hadn't sold my 28mm. Dumb move.

 

On my old Nex-3 I got the firmware update that introduced peaking. A helpful tool that really works. Together with the MF-assist it makes focusing my manual OM lenses a breeze.

 

wim

 

Thanks, Wim. I have the latest firmware update and do use peaking. Guess I need to relearn my manual focusing skills. It has been a long time...

 

I'm planning to upgrade to the NEX-6, but finances still don't allow.

Edited by John Mitchell
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John, since none of us can predict the future we also cannot assume blame for decisions made in the past that play out differently than we had thought they would. 

 

I have some egg on my face about some of the disparaging things I've been saying recently about Sony's line of lenses for their NEX system. I've just spent an hour looking through my folders and examining at 100% many Alamy images of mine that I've captured with the Sony 30 macro and the 16, which I've been most critical of. I also looked at some images taken with the Sony Zeiss 24, and yes, they are flawless. (I'm referring to image quality here, not my talent or lack of.)  

 

Every image I reviewed was shot with either the 16 or 30 macro, both of which I've dissed, on the NEX-3 or NEX-7. For most of 2013 I've been using the NEX-6 with the 24 or 50. 

 

I do not have a site of my own nor do I use Flicker or the like. But I do have some stuff on FAA and ARTFLAKES where you can see some of the images I've checked:   http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/ed-rooney.html

 

The white sculptures of Gay Liberation were taken with the 16mm. You can look at parts at 100% of any of these FAA images by clicking on a detail. It takes a couple of seconds to appear. The cheeseburger was shot with the Sony 30 macro as were the detail of the silver blues guitar and the red Ferrari. The Pond and Two in Times Square were captured with the Sony Zeiss 24. 

 

I have been misspeaking and being overcritical about Sony lenses. I'm sorry if I've misled any of you. I will be keeping the 16 and the 30 macro. 

 

Nice work, Ed. They all look plenty sharp to me. The Sony 16mm has issues, but I find that it can produce excellent results if I'm careful. Personally, I don't mind the increasing softness towards the edges/corners. It can accentuate the main subject if it is placed in the centre of the frame. Here is one I shot last week with the 16mm with the 0.75X wide angle conversion lens attached. Even with the converter, the centre is nice and sharp, which is what I wanted:

 

DC8XYW.jpg

Edited by John Mitchell
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NEX cameras have a complex relationship between the focusing aperture and working aperture which depends on the mode used, and the light level. If you use Program mode, instead of A which is my normal choice, the lens will actually focus at full aperture - but if you use A, and set for example f/8, the lens will try to focus at f/8 in bright light but may open to f/3.5 (the default aperture also used for video) to focus in low light levels. It's a bit hard to remember exactly how the behaviour varies.

 

Try setting some different modes and apertures, and looking at your lens from the front, to study exactly what happens with the aperture. The 12mm, if it tries to focus at a stopped down aperture, will probably not focus accurately at all as the depth of field is so great it will confirm focus at any random distance between say 1m and infinity, when set to f/11. It absolutely needs to be at f/2.8 when focusing, to get the benefit of the Zeiss quality and avoid slow focus issues causes by not being able to detect any changes in contrast.

 

Study it and report back. I think you'll find your solution.

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David,

 

that is a valuable nugget there.

I just looked at my RX 100 and that one seems to focus wide open at all shooting modes.

I'll check again in bright sunlight.

Like the Nex-3 there's quite a learning curve for where all the options are and which button does what in which mode. It'll grow on me. Unless having no remote becomes unbearable ;-)

Did nobody find a workaround for that? (-except for the mechanical one with velcro.)

 

wim

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David,

 

that is a valuable nugget there.

I just looked at my RX 100 and that one seems to focus wide open at all shooting modes.

I'll check again in bright sunlight.

Like the Nex-3 there's quite a learning curve for where all the options are and which button does what in which mode. It'll grow on me. Unless having no remote becomes unbearable ;-)

Did nobody find a workaround for that? (-except for the mechanical one with velcro.)

 

wim

 

I use the self-timer for long exposures with the NEX-3, but a lot can happen in 10 seconds. I'd be interested in hearing about the "mechanical one with velcro" that you mentioned. Is it available online somewhere? I really miss mechanical cable releases. But, hey, that's progress for you.

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Hama has a strap with a connector for a conventional cable release. Here on Amazon.

People have made things with clamps and metal strips as well: here; here and here.

 

I wish I could shoot the RX100 tethered.

 

wim

 

Thanks, Wim, the Hama cable release looks interesting. I'll see if I can find a seller on this side of the pond. I've seen some of the DIY jobs that you linked to. Not sure I would want to go that route. I have an electronic "cable" release for my Sony Alpha DSLR. But of course Sony, in its wisdom, decided that NEX and RX100 owners wouldn't be allowed the option of being able to use this important accessory. Sometimes you really have to wonder about camera manufacturers.

Edited by John Mitchell
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NEX cameras have a complex relationship between the focusing aperture and working aperture which depends on the mode used, and the light level. If you use Program mode, instead of A which is my normal choice, the lens will actually focus at full aperture - but if you use A, and set for example f/8, the lens will try to focus at f/8 in bright light but may open to f/3.5 (the default aperture also used for video) to focus in low light levels. It's a bit hard to remember exactly how the behaviour varies.

 

Try setting some different modes and apertures, and looking at your lens from the front, to study exactly what happens with the aperture. The 12mm, if it tries to focus at a stopped down aperture, will probably not focus accurately at all as the depth of field is so great it will confirm focus at any random distance between say 1m and infinity, when set to f/11. It absolutely needs to be at f/2.8 when focusing, to get the benefit of the Zeiss quality and avoid slow focus issues causes by not being able to detect any changes in contrast.

 

Study it and report back. I think you'll find your solution.

 

Wouldn't using "flexible spot" AF also help with Ed's hunting problem? That's what I tend to use with the "ultra wide angle" converter on the Sony 16mm lens, although hunting isn't really a problem with this lens combo.

Edited by John Mitchell
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Thanks, Wim, the Hama cable release looks interesting. I'll see if I can find a seller on this side of the pond. I've seen some of the DIY jobs that you linked to. Not sure I would want to go that route. I have an electronic "cable" release for my Sony Alpha DSLR. But of course Sony, in its wisdom, decided that NEX and RX100 owners wouldn't be allowed the option of being able to use this important accessory. Sometimes you really have to wonder about camera manufacturers.

 

John, why don't you get an electronic Infra Red remote? I use a cheap "Ye Digital" thing which works with the NEX 6 - you have to be in front of the camera to make it happen as you have to point at the sensor, but it's better than the 10 second timer. Don't know if it will operate with the NEX 3.

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Thanks, Wim, the Hama cable release looks interesting. I'll see if I can find a seller on this side of the pond. I've seen some of the DIY jobs that you linked to. Not sure I would want to go that route. I have an electronic "cable" release for my Sony Alpha DSLR. But of course Sony, in its wisdom, decided that NEX and RX100 owners wouldn't be allowed the option of being able to use this important accessory. Sometimes you really have to wonder about camera manufacturers.

 

John, why don't you get an electronic Infra Red remote? I use a cheap "Ye Digital" thing which works with the NEX 6 - you have to be in front of the camera to make it happen as you have to point at the sensor, but it's better than the 10 second timer. Don't know if it will operate with the NEX 3.

 

Unfortunately, for some reason Sony did not include this feature on the NEX-3, only on the NEX-5, which is basically the same camera in all other respects. All the more reason for me to upgrade to the 6. I'm working on it.

 

Thanks for the suggestion, though.

 

BTW, I've read that the IR remotes don't always work very well in daylight. Is that correct?

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BTW, I've read that the IR remotes don't always work very well in daylight. Is that correct?

 

Not had any problems to date, it works both indoors and outdoors, but I confess that I have not made great deal of use of it.

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As some of you may have guessed, I returned the lens this morning; a $1,360.94 weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I bought the lens on Monday (what was I thinking?) and returned it to Adorama today. When they asked me why, I told them:

 

"The Carl Zeiss AF system is not ready for prime time, and I'm not interested in paying a major manufacturer big money to do their beta testing."

 

As I said last night I've taken some very sharp images with my Sony 16. (Frankly, the 12mm (a view of 18mm) is too wide except for the rare occasion. I'm not an ultra-wide kind of guy. :)   

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As some of you may have guessed, I returned the lens this morning; a $1,360.94 weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I bought the lens on Monday (what was I thinking?) and returned it to Adorama today. When they asked me why, I told them:

 

"The Carl Zeiss AF system is not ready for prime time, and I'm not interested in paying a major manufacturer big money to do their beta testing."

 

As I said last night I've taken some very sharp images with my Sony 16. (Frankly, the 12mm (a view of 18mm) is too wide except for the rare occasion. I'm not an ultra-wide kind of guy. :)   

 

Probably a wise move. That's a lot of moolah. You probably won't miss the lens. One really has to carefully weigh equipment expenditures with the possible financial returns (usually low) these days. It does sound as if Zeiss is counting on photographers shelling out for the prestige that goes along with their name. Not that they don't make excellent lenses, but still...

Edited by John Mitchell
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