The R-D1x + Zeiss 21mm combo

It’s still early days for an assessment, but so far so good. I’m enjoying this lens and not regretting the hole in my wallet.

When coupled to my R-D1x, the photos coming out of the Zeiss Biogon 21mm f/2.8 ZM seem to look really pleasant. Weather is kinda shitty with rain every day, so I’ve yet to shoot with good sunlight.

Still, the few photos I managed to take outdoors are showing warm and pleasant colours. The ones below are straight out of camera RAWs.

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There is visible light fall-off when shooting wide open at f/2.8. Stopping it down to f/4 cures this shortcoming and the frame becomes evenly lit.

Not that I have a problem with this. I actually enjoy a bit of light fall-off. I know technically speaking it is a defect, but it actually looks cool and gives character to the photo, it highlights the center of the frame. The same actually happens to my Leica 50mm Summilux when shooting at f/1.4.

I’m curious to see what happens when shooting with a full-frame sensor. Remember, my R-D1x has an APS size CCD, so I’m dealing with a 1.5 crop factor here. Meaning that when shooting with my Leica M-E, I’ll get the full 21mm view from this Zeiss lens and presumably a stronger light fall-off.

This thing is wide…

…and I’m struggling with the built-in frame lines of the R-D1x’s optical finder. At its widest setting, which is 28mm, it shows an equivalent 42mm angle of view. While using my 21mm Zeiss lens, I’m having an effective 31.5mm field of view, so the lens is a lot wider than the widest available framelines of the camera.

So framing is a bit of a challenge now, it’s a guessing game. The fact I wear glasses doesn’t really help, I struggle to see the entire optical viewfinder as my eye is not close enough.

The only possible solution is to get an external viewfinder, one with 35mm or even 28mm framelines – whatever helps me get an understanding of the 31.5mm FOV from this lens.

There is the Fujifilm VF-X21 that offers 21mm and 28mm framelines. This seems to be my preference as I can use it with my Leica M-E as well and use the 21mm framelines. Then there is the Olympus VF-1, with 34mm framelines. Not sure which one is better. But these dilemmas are kinda fun.

Maybe I’ll end up buying both… Who told you photography is a cheap hobby?..

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