I take a very hard task. 50mm it, perhaps, the most popular focal distance and to collect the information on the best representatives of this family and to try them all is very difficult.
In the same time I start not from the beginning. I already tested almost 100 lenses (update 23/04/2015) with focal distance 50mm and I hope I will test more soon. But as “time doesn’t wait”, I will begin the review now.
In preparation of the article except my experience I also used the materials the-digital-picture, club.Foto.ru and others.

Our today’s heroes, 50 mm focal lenses
1. CANON EF 50 mm f/1.2 L USM
2. CANON EF 50 mm f/1.4 USM
3. CANON EF 50 mm f/2.5 Macro
4. CARL ZEISS 1.4/50 Planar T * ZE
5. Zeiss 50mm f/2.0 Makro-Planar T * ZE
6. Carl Zeiss Planar T * 50mm f/1.4 (C/Y)
7. SIGMA AF 50 mm F/1.4 EX DG HSM for Canon
8. Carl Zeiss Planar T * 50mm f/1.7 (C/Y)
9. Carl Zeiss Makro-Planar 60/2.8 (C/Y)
In this article we won’t press so strongly in tests and try to compare lenses “face to face”. I will try to consider their features that can affect on your choise.
The first point is CANON EF 50 mm f/1.2 L USM. We will begin with it.

1. CANON EF 50 mm f/1.2 L USM

CANON EF 50 mm f1.2 (2)

I use Canon for a long time (near 10 years) and I approximately know their marketing policy.
What it is possible to expect from this lens?
It is possible to expect a good color rendition, beautiful bokeh, the small chromatic aberrations (CA), high sharpness on center of a frame and average at the edges.
But we won’t run forward.
In general this lens doesn’t surprise me at all. Unless the diaphragm 1.2 is called the worker and it is so. I saw sharp pictures from it.
But be not mistaken, thinking that pictures with F1.2 will be ideally sharp. Such can’t simply be in case of present technologies. This too extremal value of a diaphragm and the it can be called worked only conditionally and in comparison with other lenses with the close values of a diaphragm.
The lens is always projected to give it best “figure” on the most open diaphragm. Therefore if you expect to cover F1.2-diaphragm to F2, consider that it will influence not in the best way on the picture.
Still, buying such speed lens, think what you will film on F1.2. Sharpness depth on F1.2 will be 1-2 sm most often and in case of portrait shooting in focus there can be only one eye, for example. Or it is even less. And if you cover a diaphragm to F1.8-F2, can think of cheaper lens?
In the same time we don’t forget that the lens can’t have equally good autofocus on all diaphragms. Probably, Canon 50/1.2L is set up with calculation of its use on open diaphragms.
Here is an example of the picture on the 1.2 diaphragm.

CANON EF 50 mm f1.2

CANON EF 50 mm f/1.2 L USM bokeh

CANON 50 mm 1.2

CANON EF 50 mm f/1.2 L USM. has 8 diaphragm leaves so its disk of unsharpness aims to be a circle that can not be good in respect of application of this lens as portrait one.

boke

at the left: CANON EF 50 mm f/1.2 L USM
at center: Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM
on the right: Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II

I won’t give test pictures from a photographic pattern here, but I can summarize that it is better, than CARL ZEISS 1.4/50 Planar T * ZE, but easily bit of Zeiss 50mm f/2.0 Makro-Planar T * ZE.
I can not compare it with Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM and Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II. They are not simmilar. They show terrible chromatic aberrations and are “fuzzy” on open diaphragms. So if you want to buy them, pay 1600 usd :-)
I can’t say more about its bokeh.

Weaknesses:
From it especially weaknesses, I would like to mark a build quality. It is nasty plastic with all problems. Interestingly, what his creators want to do? It is visible that it burst in the most unpleasant place.
Also I do not like it’s diameter for lens filter (72mm). There is such popular ( particular Canon) diameter – 77mm. Why again these disagreements… Though clearly, of course, we know why…
This greed of the vendor irritates a little.
That is still interesting. My old man CANON EF 50 mm f/2.5 Macro practically doesn’t concede CANON EF 50 mm f/1.2 L USM on resolution in the center, concedes in the middle of a frame from the edge and strongly loses only in angles.
Result from F2.8 frame center:

canon 50 1.2 vs 50 2.5

And costs CANON EF 50 mm f/2.5 Macro approx 300usd.
Difference of CANON EF 50 mm f/1.2 L USM:
— it is faster (USM)
— big lens speed (1.2 against 2.5)
— bokeh
Now we will pass to the next contestant. We still will return to CANON EF 50 mm f/1.2 L USM when we discuss the lenses Carl Zeiss.

2. CANON EF 50 mm f/1.4 USM

CANON EF 50 mm f 1.4 USM

Here is a short quote of “grateful” users:
1. lens to 2.0.
2. Terrifying CA on diaphragms to 1.8!!
3. Not tenacious autofocus.”
“Weaknesses: _
1. On 1.4 — 1.8 are awful CA
2. Too fuzzy on 1.4 — 2.0, normal sharpness begins with 2.8
3. The autofocus is slow and stablly smears in case of bad lighting
4. Quite weak build quality
5. Bokeh can be better
Surprisingly, what to tell?

And I do not think that this lens is absolutely bad. You shouldn’t expect miracles from it, because it is not a Hi-end lens. Yes, 1.4-2.0 are unoperated. Yes, open diaphragms have terrible CA. It a lens for those, who does not have enough money for Canon 50/1.2L but whom Canon 50/1.8 doesn’t arrange any more. CANON EF 50 mm f/1.4 USM is much more sharp at frame center on F1.8, than Canon 50/1.8.
Here are results from a photographic pattern (frame center) of F1.8:

canon 50 1.4 vs1.8

By this result it is visible — CANON EF 50 mm f/1.4 is much better at frame center on F1.8, than CANON EF 50 mm f/1.8.
If to compare to other lenses:
At the frame center of CANON EF 50 mm f/1.4 USM on F2.8 it is very close to CANON EF 50 mm f/1.2 L USM.  CANON EF 50 mm f/2.5 Macro slightly concedes to it.
In case of “front” comparing of CANON EF 50 mm f/1.4 USM with CANON EF 50 mm f/1.2 L USM on 1.4 (it is possible on the first lens) we will see that thre is no comparing. CANON EF 50 mm f/1.4 USM is not so good (big CA).

canon 50 1

After testing of such lenses I have a thought, maybe I should give the real working parameters of a lens at the end?
I.e. here, for example, CANON EF 50 mm f/1.4 USM would turn into CANON EF 50 mm f/2.0 USM. And it would be the truth.
On the other side there are many users of CANON EF 50 mm f/1.4 USM who try to close eyes on high CA and desperately fight against them in the RAW converter (though it is ineffectual), claiming, that F1.4 does not work.
So everyone will make a conclusion.

CANON EF 50 mm f/1.4 USM bokeh

bokeh canon 50 mm f 1.4

bokeh canon 50 mm f1.4

photo by canon EF 50 mm f 1.4

With which lenses it makes sense to compare? Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM?

Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM it is slightly better with its sharpness, than Canon 50/1.4 USM, and ochromatic aberrations is also much better (on 1.4 there are also a few of them in frame center). Read its remaining merits and demerits further.
I do not speak about Zeiss here. Their single worth part is CANON EF 50 mm f/1.2 L USM.
The Soviet lenses have interesting psychodelic bokeh in most cases. By contrast they lose CANON EF 50 mm f/1.4 USM and on back light resistance too.
Open diaphragms are often not really working. Zenitar-M, 50/1.7 and Helios 81H MC 50/2 can be an exception. But at Zenitar-M, 50/1.7 is less contasty. Helios 81H MC, 50/2  pleased me. But it has a manual focus and a diaphragm is controlled from a lens that nevertheless, doesn’t confuse.
And we go straight to the following camera.

3. CANON EF 50 mm f/2.5 Macro

CANON EF 50 mm f 2.5

A talk about this lens sharpness was earlier — it at great on its most open diaphragm 2.5. Microcontrast is very good too and it is on the  L-lenses from Canon level. It is necessary to discuss only its application and bokeh.
As CANON EF 50 mm f/2.5 Macro has a six- leaf diaphragm, and in the case of the closed diaphragm it has hexagons that restricts its application as a portrait.

photo by CANON EF 50 mm f 2.5 Macro

It is moderately fit as a portrait camera with flashout. For the fan and I don’t advise it. Without flashout on open diaphragms (2.5, 2.8) CANON EF 50 mm f/2.5 Macro is quite suitable for shooting of portraits. However it is necessary to pay attention to its slow autofocus and far leaving unit of lenses.

There are some examples of CANON EF 50 mm f/2.5 Macro bokeh

bokeh canon 50 mm f2.5

The basic purpose of the  CANON EF 50 mm f/2.5 Macro lens is macroshooting and it is great. CANON EF 50 mm f/2.5 Macro is quite professional macrolens, being set on macrofur (read also article of Possibility of macroshooting). Without macrofur and lengthening rings it too can be quite used as amateur macro – a lens with a distance focusing 0.23 m.
Examples of macroshooting of CANON EF 50 mm f/2.5 Macro

photo by canon 50 mm f2.5 Macro

4. CARL ZEISS 1.4/50 Planar T* ZE

CARL ZEISS 1.4 50 Planar T ZE

 

CARL ZEISS 1.4/50 Planar T * ZE slightly concedes on sharpness in frame center to the lens CANON EF 50 mm f/1.2 L USM. Thus it is better than CA (chromatic aberrations) in CANON EF 50 mm f/1.4 USM on all frame and against CANON EF 50 mm f/1.2 L USM at the edges of a frame.

canon50mm 12_vs_CZ-50-14 - копия
Sigma 50mm F1.4 vs Carl Zeiss 50 1.4
Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM wins all points on sharpness and costs in 500usd. Once again proving that sharpness it not all. A bokeh of Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM is the most primitive and boring. We will discuss it in my reviews, have patience…
I know without tests, who will win on sharpness. I even would tell “will destroy” competitors. But it will be on following pages…
And now about the most interesting.

CARL ZEISS 1.4/50 Planar T * ZE bokeh
I slightly was exhausted with a bokeh of this lens. I do not have this problem in other lenses.. It is too much beautiful bokeh! :) I will try to retain myself from the publication of too large number a bokeh with CARL ZEISS 1.4/50 Planar T * ZE and to provide you only the most different methods of application of this bokeh.

photo by CARL ZEISS 1.4 50

ZEISS f1.4 50mm

Typical tourist plot. I have a lot of such compositions from travelings. They have one common point — disgustingly boring back. I.e. there are mountains and the sea, but they are indistinct in not interesting way. As though classical Gauss of a photoshop. And here take a look at the mountain behind a tree… And it on F2! If you think that matter only in appearance of unsharpness disks on more closed diaphragm, you will be wrong. I noted ago that the lenses Carl Zeiss make them darker and they don’t hinder emphasis of attention in the forefront. And Canon has bright blur discs, that spoils a pattern.

photo

One more classical subject and again CARL ZEISS 1.4/50 Planar T * ZE is great. It isn’t necessary to do anything in a photoshop (though the author persistently tints all photos, but I think he has Picture Style).

zeiss f 1.4 50

Shooting against light. Here I argue, that it is not processing, and he muffles it. I saw it on many photos — flares aren’t beaten out in the white. To some limit, of course …

CARL ZEISS 1.4 50photo

Forest surrealism. Again it is possible to isolate the person on a log. It would be great.

CARL ZEISS 1.4 50 photo

ZEISS 1.4 50

Attention to fine details. Everything is accurate.

photo byCARL ZEISS 1.4 50

Architecture. Besides all fine details are on a place. Distortion was probably insignificant.

In summary
On this lens, there is no button “masterpiece” as well as on the camera, but nevertheless. It has a potential and if you are able to involve this potential, yes, there will be masterpieces. So attentively watch plots on which it is great and make yours.

5.  Zeiss 50mm f/2.0 Makro-Planar T * ZE

Zeiss 50mm f 2.0 Makro-Planar TZE

Here we approached to our champion on sharpness of a frame.
Photos with Zeiss 50mm f/2.0 Makro-Planar T * ZE (in case of due ability) differ in sharpness and microcontrast. But there are also some features. One of them is contrast color. After viewing of pictures with Zeiss 50mm f/2.0 Makro-Planar T * ZE is a feeling that someone lifts saturation of flowers.

photo Zeiss 50mm f 2.0 Makro-Planar TZeiss 50mm f2.0 Makro-Planar T ZE

Perhaps it concerns not all flowers, but only separate red and blue colors. Some pictures with Carl Zeiss 50mm f/2.0 Makro-Planar T * ZE look quite normal.

Carl Zeiss 50mm f2.0 Makro-Planar T

Carl Zeiss 50mm f2 It is impossible to tell that it is obvious from this picture.
Therefore I suggest to come here and to be convince that Carl Zeiss 50mm f/2.0 Makro-Planar T * ZE surely is in the lead. Especially at the edges of a frame.
But it is nonsense in comparison with “field” tests. We finally aren’t going to study pictures under a microscope, and we want to receive some art result. Unless except for macroshooting. About it we will talk later.

The one feature of Carl Zeiss 50mm f/2.0 Makro-Planar T * ZE (except very contrast colors in some situations) is high microcontrast. I studied different pictures from different authors for a long time and was surprised. I couldn’t even imagine a lens with such microcontrast. I.e. something similar can be created in a photoshop by means of special actions sharpness raising, but so that it was done by a lens… moreover it is correct… Especially it is noticeable in leaves of trees and is shown in appearance of black (not gray) points between leaves. I will illustrate with fragments of pictures.

photo Carl Zeiss 50mm f2

photo zeiss f2 50 mm

But on the other hand sharpness and contrast still is not all. At least for portrait shooting. And what Carl Zeiss 50mm f/2.0 Makro-Planar T gives us in this plan?

Carl Zeiss 50mm f2.0 Makro-Planar

Sharpness is remarkable, the most high contrast, but what about bokeh? It especially isn’t noticeable.
And so on all photos. I reconsidered a lot of photoes by Carl Zeiss 50mm f/2.0 Makro-Planar T * ZE and I didn’t find generally any picture with big bokeh. The best pictures are here.

Carl Zeiss 50mm f/2.0 Makro-Planar T * ZE bokeh

bokeh zeiss 50mm2bokeh zeiss50 mm f2

My judgement — bokeh it not the strength of Carl Zeiss 50mm f/2.0 Makro-Planar T * ZE. So we will transfer now again to it good points.
And this absence of distortion, contrast and sharpness. In other words — shooting of architecture. On the following page are some examples.

Carl Zeiss 50mm f/2.0 Makro-Planar T * ZE — shooting of architecture

Carl Zeiss 50mm f2.0 architecture

zeiss 50 f2

Tremendous sharpness and contrast. I think, in this picture it is possible to enumerate all machines which are present at a frame. Try to look in a photoshop on a large scale.
But there is more to come. Now there are some landscapes.

Carl Zeiss 50mm f/2.0 Makro-Planar T * ZE — photographing of landscapes
In the field this lens is very good. Colors sometimes are not good and not always natural but if you like “more juicy”, Carl Zeiss 50mm f/2.0 Makro-Planar T * ZE is for you.

photo zeiss50 f2zeiss 50 f2 photo

And here I will stop myself in order not to turn the blog into the copy of Flikr.
I promised to tell about macroshooting at the end. That… Excellent macroshooting. Probably, generally the best of the possible. Especially the autofocus is not necessary. Here even you can no doubt.
The single moment — it gives increase 1:2, i.e. not in the real size (1:1). But it has very high microcontrast high and it is easy to shoot any snails, fragments of cockleshells and everything that will come to mind. The alternative from Canon, Canon 50/2.5 Macro also gives only 1:2 so there is no choice in this segment. If it is necessary 1:1, so welcome to 100mm focal lens.

zeiss 50 2 macroshooting

Lets sum up the result on possible application of Carl Zeiss 50mm f/2.0 Makro-Planar T * of ZE:
— macroshooting (5 of 5 points. I don’t know whatl to tell, it the best here)
— portrait shooting. It is moderately suitable because of muffled bokeh. I.e. it is good, but it is quite complicated to show it. Sharpness and contrast are great. Another matter, whether is necessary it for a female portrait? And man’s is quit good. Female it is necessary to finish with filter (or to put on a lens or in a photoshop)
— architectural shooting. Remarkably. Carl Zeiss 50mm f/2.0 Makro-Planar T * ZE can be the last short step before purchase of the gimbal camera. Also standard profiles work good which can be pumped up from Adobe library work.
— landscape shooting. Remarkably approaches. Especially I liked microcontrast on leaves of trees. It introduces some picture look. As though it was drawn by a brush. It hinders on grass sometimes… The picture seems to sharp. In the same time when you shoot rocks it again gives amazingly contrasting picture. So here it is necessary to consider features of a lens.
— reporting shooting. Restrictedly it is suitable in view of absence of an autofocus. The lens is intended for slow shooting.

6. Carl Zeiss Planar T * 50mm f/1.4 (C/Y)

Carl Zeiss Planar T 50mm f1.4 (CY)

Why lenses from Carl Zeiss are so remarkable, so it that the firm exists already for a long time (I won’t give its history, you will read it in Wikipedia) and before modern lenses Nikon and Canon, it also made a lot of great lenses. Lenses for the Contax and for the Yashica cameras were one of variations. The words Contax and Yashica are also coded in the name of this lens, thereby hinting at a bayonet joint of this lens. The Contax cameras already aren’t made, but not because they were bad but because the good camera does not need a commerciall advertisment. Still these cameras have a lot of admirers and not without the reason, they have unique advantages. Especially Contax is the Carl Zeiss brand and it made lenses for this brand. You won’t reproach Carl Zeiss  with consumer goods in any way.
The part of lenses that were made under Contax and the Japanese company Yashica, and later the same Yashica, but already as a part of Japanese Kyocera. But they don’t concede in anything to the German versions as Carl Zeiss carefully checked its production.

You can read the article ‘ If there is a difference between the lenses Carl Zeiss “made in Japan” and “made in West Germany.

Lenses from Carl Zeiss with bayonet joint С/Y can interest us only in one sense in comparison with modern lenses of the same brand — they are much cheaper than the modern versions. They have small shortcomings, but often not such and essential. And here firm bokeh is available and quality of production is sometimes higher than contemporaries.

Shortcomings of lenses with C/Y a bayonet joint
— There is some unsuccessful structure of a diaphragm ( I know little about: 50/1.4 C/Y, 85/1.4, 135/2.8 AE versions)
— manual control by a diaphragm from a lens (it is difficult to be focused closing a diaphragm. it becomes very dark in the view-finder beginning with F8, and to someone with F5.6. In new lenses everything becomes in the camera and such effect won’t be, the diaphragm is closed only at the time of shooting)
— not on all cameras it is possible to deliver such lenses. on some it is absolutely impossible, on some of them it is required to finish it by a file. I will give the table below and comment.
All users declared that these lenses are sharp, have small distortion and small CA (chromatic aberrations). Except some separate rejected lenses which are also on sale. They are not new and often even were mounted by someone (we read the fairy tale “monkey and glasses”).
From those Carl Zeiss Contax lenses that I have — all show great contrast range according to the diagrams of MTF, it is very high.
Now I will comment it by points.

CZ 50 mm 1.4 vs1.7

If Carl Zeiss 50/1.7 C/Y doesn’t cause any rejection, pay attention to a diaphragm of Carl Zeiss 50/1.4 C/Y of the AE version. And now we will look at a test photo with Carl Zeiss 50/1.4 C/Y AE. On new versions (ZE) of lenses the diaphragm tips are rounded, and here still are not. And on some lenses, for example Carl Zeiss 50/1.7 C/Y it almost imperceptibly and is visible slightly on F2, and on Carl Zeiss 50/1.4 C/Y AE this effect unfortunately is noticeable. Here it is necessary to mark that there were also newer versions of this lens — MM (Carl Zeiss 50/1.4 C/Y MMJ and MMG) on which there is absolutely other structure of a diaphragm and it gives quite acceptable polygons in bokeh.

bokeh-planar 50mm cyYou have a risk to receive these strange geometrical figures in some pictures with the AE-version. You will receive them on a little covered diaphragm (F2, F2.8) and the close layout of a dot light source. But it happened not frequently. At least on a photo with Carl Zeiss 50/1.4 C/Y most often normal if to watch on users photo. The recommendation — always to shoot on completely open diaphragm than there would be any problem. It is “round”, when it is completely open and will also give “a cat’s eye” on unsharpness disks.

Manual control by a diaphragm doesn’t need any comments, but after all I will mark what to be focused on F11, in studio, rather inconveniently. It is necessary to be focused on F2.8-F.5.6, and then to close a diaphragm to the required value. Clear business, what for object shooting there is no any problem but if you photograph the person? The person can’t be in one position. I.e. studio portrait shooting by such lens is very complicated.
Ah, well… If to photograph with flashout something absolutely small-sized, that is still a problem which is described in the article Focus Offset (the front-bek focus of an autofocus) or it is necessary to disconnect an autofocus and to be focused manually that in general is normal for this situations.
Another matter if you photograph without flashout. Here are any problems. Make approximately focus or by means of the focus screen (I recommend to read the article Changeover of the Focus Screen).
On this picture pay attention to a lensback. It is drowned in a lens, but when you make focus on infinity, it  gets out of lens casing limits on some models (lenses).CZ 50 mm 1.4 bayonet_cy

It touches a mirror. In most cases it is not bad, except its jamming and is treated by change of focusing with more short-range distance. But sometimes after frequent jammings the mirror comes unstuck and takes off.
There are some solutions. In particular to file a casing of a lensblock if it possible. This inventory is not always present and generally I recommend some vandal actions. Also fans to saw, sometimes saw a mirror (1mm would be enough), but I don’t recommend it. The mirror can cling, as far as I know, only on 5D cameras. There is no problems on 1D.

Versions of the Carl Zeiss 50/1.4 C/Y lenses
AE — an original series of lenses, ensure functioning of a lens in a diaphragm priority. MM — updated, can work in an exposure priority if the camera is able. MM differs from AE that it has greatest value of a diaphragm (22 or 16),  it is marked with the green color (that the camera worked in an exposure priority, it is necessary to set this “green” diaphragm). G and J — is made in Germany and Japan (these are informal fan components)
T * — this enlightenment and it  is very good, though differs on color sometimes.

Compatibility of the modern digital reflex cameras with the lenses Carl Zeiss C/Ycompat-table

In this table (for which thanks to the site http://www.pebbleplace.com/Personal/Contax_db.html, designations such:
Decryption of the table
Y — means Yes, any problems.
N are – No, not compatible. Theoretical it is possible to combine, but it is consuming and it is difficult.
I  – means that there is no consensus. Some users say that this combination works for them, and some say that doesn’t work.
? — there are no data.
Designations of the columns FF, 5D, 1.3x AND 1.6x
• FF means  – all are full frame dSLRs and include Canon 1Ds, 1Ds Mark II and 1Ds Mark III. Pay attention, FF doesn’t include Canon 5D and the Canon 5D Mark II.
• 5D means Canon 5D and the Canon 5D Mark II. Being full frame, Canon 5D and 5D Mark II are defined in a separate column as the mirror of 5D family differs from a mirror of Canon 1Ds family.
• 1.3x treats cameras with a sensor of Canon APS-H and specks 1.25x or 1.3x. It includes Canon 1D family which consists from 1D, 1D of Mark II, 1D of Mark IIn, 1D of Mark III and 1D of Mark VI.
• 1.6x belongs in the cameras APS-C, including cameras with EF bayonet joint (D30, D60 and 10D) and EF-S (20D, 30D, 40D, 50D, 60D, 7D, 300D, 350D/XT, 400D/XTi, 450D/XSi, 500D/T1i and 550D/T2i).

Here actually and all text information which I counted important and which I possess at the moment.
I want to add to the previous material only that Carl Zeiss 50/1.4 C/Y is the same Carl Zeiss 50/1.4 ZE, only without automatic diaphragm and still some trifles. You will have an identical picture.
I will simply give samples of pictures with Carl Zeiss Planar T * 50mm f/1.4 (C/Y) further

GZ 50 f1.4 CYCZ50 mm 1.4 CY

7. SIGMA AF 50 mm F/1.4 EX DG HSM for Canon

SIGMA AF 50 mm F1.4 EX DG HSM

We will begin with sharpness. Also we will compare SIGMA AF 50 mm F/1.4 EX DG HSM directly to Canon 50/1.2L USM, it is good in sharpness. Excuse, I will a little deviate from detective genre here :)
Comparing of SIGMA AF 50 mm F/1.4 EX DG HSM with Canon 50/1.2L USM on sharpness

sigma50-1 And what we see? The sigma is sharper, than Canon 50/1.2L USM at frame center! And at the edges are generally convincingly benefits. And what it becomes??? The lens for~ 530usd convincingly wins against a lens ~ 1560usd! How it is possible?
And it is possible because quality of a lens consists not only of its sharpness.
Though engineers of Sigma and made very successful lens. In this case they not simply created one more alternative 50mm to a lens Canon (Canon 50/1.4 USM, Canon 50/1.8 USM), and almost reached the Canon 50/1.2L USM level. And if to consider a difference in the price what to take from these two lenses, there would’t be any doubts.
Most of potential buyers won’t dig too deeply and to compare bokeh (especially if this parameter is subjective), distortion and light resistance. So this lens obviously hinders sales of Canon.
But we won’t sing the praises the too sweet. Anything ideal doesn’t happen also miracles too.

Known shortcomings of SIGMA AF 50 mm F/1.4 EX DG HSM
— distortion is expressed more strongly, than at Canon 50/1.2L USM
— soft bokeh. (disputable minus)
— a motor is slower and much more noisy, than at L-lenses
— big problems with quality. Buyers should select a lens from 5 new. And it is better to do, connecting the camera to a notebook. SIGMA AF 50 mm F/1.4 EX DG HSM often sins with the strong the front-back focus. On some models of the Canon it improves directly in the camera. And if you the “happy” owner of the camera without setup autofocus, you have to adjust the camera under specific SIGMA AF 50 mm F/1.4 EX DG HSM in the Canon service center.
We have no official services of Sigma at present. Buying Sigma through Internet you strongly risk.

And now about the pleasant…
advantages of SIGMA AF 50 mm F/1.4 EX DG HSM
— sharpness is higher, than at the majority of fix lenses on 50mm. SIGMA AF 50 mm F/1.4 EX DG HSM unless is better than Zeiss 50mm f/2.0 Makro-Planar T * ZE and some Leica models (from this that I know).
— 9 lobes of a diaphragm. It gives ideally round disks of unsharpness and is a premise for good bokeh and possibility of  beautiful portraits shooting. I have the judgement about this bokeh of Sigma and I already stated it above.
— good complete set of a lens (lens hood, cover).
— successful diameter of a front lens under light filters (unlike Canon). 77mm. There are a lot of different light filters for it.
I will show u results

Total:
Remarkable lens for the price. In case good approach to a choice of a specific lens you will be able to receive very sharp and high-aperture lens, and already completed with the lens hood!
Surely pay attention on its bokeh before your choice. Perhaps, in this case it is the main factor before you buy SIGMA AF 50 mm F/1.4 EX DG HSM or not. At least SIGMA AF 50 mm F/1.4 EX DG HSM the best that you can receive for this money. But if you are able to give more and you don’t  afraid to buy it without autofocus… That I would take CARL ZEISS 1.4/50 Planar T * to ZE. It will be almost same on sharpness, but its bokeh is more interesting in my opinion. With SIGMA AF 50 mm F/1.4 EX DG HSM I noted such moment — it is generally a few pictures with bokeh. Not a few as with Carl Zeiss 50mm f/2.0 Makro-Planar T * ZE, but much less, than with CARL ZEISS 1.4/50 Planar T * ZE where people simply “revel” it.

SIGMA AF 50 mm F/1.4 EX DG HSM bokeh

SIGMA AF 50mm F1.4 EX DG HSMSIGMA AF 50mm F1.4 EX DGphoto sigma AF 50mm F1.4 EX DG HSM

8. Carl Zeiss Planar T * 50mm f/1.7 (C/Y)

Carl Zeiss Planar T 50mm f1.7 CY

In old the Carl Zeiss lenses I am interested in two questions.
1) whether Nikon, Kenon bokeh is better, than at modern, than the Soviet lenses
2) whether they have higher sharpness, than besides at Nikon, Kenon and the Soviet lenses
Bokeh is a difficult thing and I decided to compare my Carl Zeiss Planar T * 50mm f/1.7 (C/Y) bokeh to Zenitar-M, 50/1.7 MS which bokeh in general is pleasant to me. Both optical Planar schemes. Especially that their diaphragm structure is similar and there are 6 diaphragm leaves. In general for a portrait on the closed diaphragm it not really well.

Carl Zeiss Planar T * 50mm f/1.7 (C/Y) and Zenitar-M, 50/1.7 MS

Carl Zeiss Planar T * 50mm f/1.7 (C/Y) and Zenitar-M, 50/1.7 MS

To expose a value of a diaphragm on manual lenses happens is not so easy. These pictures I shooted from tripod which didn’t move before installation of the second lens. On both cameras the diaphragm was established on 8. But by the size of “nuts” we can see a clearly visible bokeh that at Zenitar-M, 50/1.7 MC diaphragm, there it is bigger, than at Carl Zeiss Planar 50/1.7 C/Y.
Nevertheless we achieved our objectives — I showed you what disks of unsharpness turn out at the closed diaphragm on lenses with six leaves. How often do you have this thing? It seems to me isn’t present because I specially used a diaphragm of F8 which in reality is used only in studio for shooting of portraits.
And what would be on more opened diaphragms, like F8?. On 1.7, for example? This diaphragm is interesting, because the picture is more beautiful.

Examples of bokeh with Carl Zeiss Planar 50/1.7 C/Y and Zenitar-M, 50/1.7 MC

left: Zenitar-M, 50/1.7 MC, right: Carl Zeiss Planar 50/1.7 C/Y

left: Zenitar-M, 50/1.7 MC, right: Carl Zeiss Planar 50/1.7 C/Y

However unsharpness disks in bokeh of Carl Zeiss Planar 50/1.7 C/Y didn’t turn into circles, unlike Zenitar-M, 50/1.7 MC. Thus its bokeh is already possible to consider non-standard. Is it or not needs to be looked on concrete photoes. If I saw any polygons, like MS of Zenitar-ME1 1.7/50mm here, I would tell at once that the lens is for the fan. But in this case the disk form is round and we will try to use it.

Now we will try them on sharpness on an open diaphragm of F1.7. I tried to guide focus precisely, but do not forget, that focus is should be made manually. The focus is more directed at Carl Zeiss Planar 50/1.7 C/Y (pictures appear in focus on F1.7 more often), than on Zenitar 1.7/50mm MS. I don’t have any explanations, because the focusing ring is the same. Strange…

left: Carl Zeiss Planar 50/1.7 C/Y, right: Zenitar-M, 50/1.7 MC

left: Carl Zeiss Planar 50/1.7 C/Y, right: Zenitar-M, 50/1.7 MC

histogramIt is clearly visible that the histogram of Zenitar 50/1.7 MC is displaced in light areas. What is possible to make in that case? To tighten the slider of dark areas to the red line. Then we will have a contrast picture. But it will lose the quality because the initial histogram will be stretched on a large number of shades. I.e. there would be so much shades like at the beginning, though you would think that the picture is  “approximately” identical to a picture of Carl Zeiss Planar 50/1.7 C/Y. Actually missing shades will be filled by the neighbors and therefore the picture with Zenitar 50/1.7 MC will strongly lose information on color.

The sharpness test on F2.5
In order to understand the level of  Carl Zeiss Planar 50/1.7 C/Y lens, I added to the test the best lens of Canon 50/2.5 Macro on sharpness. In general the macro – lenses are famous for the higher microcontrast and the best sharpness on all field shots (remember that Carl Zeiss Makro-Planar 50/2 ZE from the same article).
I used F2.5 as it is the most open diaphragm at Canon 50/2.5 Macro.

Canon 50/2.5 Macro, Carl Zeiss Planar 50/1.7 C/Y, Zenitar 50/1.7 MC

Canon 50/2.5 Macro, Carl Zeiss Planar 50/1.7 C/Y, Zenitar 50/1.7 MC

4And again Zenitar 50/1.7 MC gives us the strange lightened picture thus that on all lenses there were identical installations and the light was from the generator (constant, the modeling lamp).
Here my attempts to correct an exposition in RAW, at a discount that, perhaps, Zenitar 50/1.7 MC is lighter lens. At the end of tests I still will consider its optical scheme. In this plan I “am tormented by vague doubts”. Yes, it harms to a picture, but it is difficult to compare pictures “approximately”.
As we see the exposition didn’t give us the equal histogram. There was still this whitish edge which we should govern finally in Levels that in addition harms to a picture (I wrote about it above).

As a result of Canon 50/2.5 Macro shows us the strongest HA on an open diaphragm. On Canon 50/2.5 Macro I was focused by means of an auto focus and it was a mistake. The auto focus didn’t get a little. You can read also the article Focus Shift (the front-back focus of an auto focus). In a manual option I was well focused on both lenses (Carl Zeiss Planar 50/1.7 C/Y and Zenitar 50/1.7 MC) even without special focus screen about which it is possible to read the article Replacement of the Focus Screen.
If to speak about sharpness, even on such small fragment in the center of a shot it is visible small unsharpness at Zenitar 50/1.7 MC, and I did many doubles. It will be already uninteresting what would be onthe edges, considering unsharpness in the center.
Carl Zeiss Planar 50/1.7 C/Y justified the proud name. It has a good sharpness in the center of a shot. Enviable contrast without any completions in Adobe Photoshop, unlike Zenitar 50/1.7 MC.
And finally return back a little and look at a picture Zenitar 50/1.7 MC. It’s nuts seems slightly more, than it is and it is also possible to assume that the diaphragm was open more widely. Intermediate division between 4 and 2 is not signed. I assumed that it is 2.8 (classics of a genre) and put it on half-divisions between 2 and 2.8. Nevertheless 2.5  or 2.8 couldn’t affect on the photo, especially as the installation is approximately similar, and its “nuts” are round and the size is the same as on Canon 50/2.5 Macro.

Optical schemes of Carl Zeiss Planar 50/1.7 C/Y and Zenitar 50/1.7 MC

left: Zenitar 50/1.7 MC, right: Carl Zeiss Planar 50/1.7 C/Y

left: Zenitar 50/1.7 MC, right: Carl Zeiss Planar 50/1.7 C/Y

Optical scheme Zenitar 50/1.7 MC: 6 elements in 5 groups
Optical scheme Carl Zeiss Planar 50/1.7 C/Y: 7 elements in 6 groups
Yes, they are DIFFERENT, in spite of the fact that both are Planar.

The Carl Zeiss Planar 50/1.7 C/Y installation on the Canon 5D mark II chamber, etc.
We will return to the installation of a lens. I tested lenses on the Canon 5d mark II chamber and there were any problems with installation of Carl Zeiss Planar 50/1.7 C/Y , though some users note jamming of a mirror. Perhaps it is connected with that I took the AE version, but not MM. I took AE intentionally, though it is older for this reason. In general, the MM version has smaller ledges.If you have crop 1.3, 1.6 or a 1d camera, you won’t have any problems at all.

Here are some examples.

cz 50mm 1.7cz 50 mm1.7

Frankly speaking, I am lazy to study bokeh of other Soviet lenses. But if it is interesting to someone, write it in comments and I will make it. And maybe isn’t necessary for anybody.
There are a lot of plans… and I do not have time. There is a plan to improve my review of 85mm lenses and to make it much more detailed, like this one.
Also there is a plan to make the review of 35mm lenses. In particular Carl Zeiss Distagon 35/2.8 C/Y which I took a little in hands and in general, it was great. Here a photo.

zeiss photo

Interestingly to examine each brick… even at the edges of a shot and I didn’t notice sharpness falling. Probably, a little. But it is necessary to put on the full frame camera to reach a limit of this lens, and I removed at that moment on Canon 1D mark II N.

9. Carl Zeiss Makro-Planar 60/2.8

Carl Zeiss Makro-Planar 60 2.8

I will add one more. And in spite of the fact that the focal length is slightly more, it nevertheless treats this category. In particular because it has an interesting destiny and it is a prototype which was described earlier in this article Carl Zeiss Makro-Planar 50/2 ZE. It is well visible from schedules of MTF of these two lenses and their optical schemes.5

left: Carl Zeiss Makro-Planar 60/2.8, right: Carl Zeiss Makro-Planar 50/2

left: Carl Zeiss Makro-Planar 60/2.8, right: Carl Zeiss Makro-Planar 50/2

The lens is quite weighty and pleasantly pleases with the construct from glass and metal. It is 30 or more years, and it looks as new. Everything works ideally. Picture are not worse than from modern Carl Zeiss Makro-Planar 50/2 ZE. And actually why they have to be worse?

photo Carl Zeiss Makro-Planar 60 2.8bokeh Carl Zeiss Makro-Planar 602.8

For the photographer accustomed to manual focus it, has to be, one of the most interesting lenses. It can be used both as portrait and as a macrolens. But its bokeh…., it is the samr as at Carl Zeiss Makro-Planar 50/2 ZE.
I use it as portrait, macro and for shooting of architecture. He copes with these stories remarkably.

photo cz

My recommendation — to buy it. Now it is my most demanded lens for shootings “as a hobby”. I want to involve still Carl Zeiss Makro-Planar 100/2.8 because it has better optical parameters, but the point of view 60mm is more convenient.