Film Friday: Riots and Zeiss Biogon T* 2.8/25 on Leica M6 by fiftyasa

Film Friday: Riots and Zeiss Biogon T* 2.8/25 on Leica M6

by fiftyasa

Steve already wrote a good review of the Zeiss Biogon T* 2.8/25 back in 2009 (http://www.stevehuffphoto.com/2009/11/18/the-zeiss-zm-25-2-8-biogon-lens-review/), but the lens does not seem very common among Leica M shooters, especially if compared to other Zeiss lenses like the Planar 50 or Biogon 35.

I recently picked up one copy and tried to shoot some street action in the city of Hamburg where every year peaceful demonstrations and riots take place as a tradition on May 1st. Mounted on a Leica M6 loaded with TriX 400 and TMAX 400, I made my way through the “urban guerrilla”…

Shooting from the hip while walking and pre-setting the focus distance seem to work OK with a bit of luck (although the agents seem to smile at me, I don’t think they realized that I took a photo of them shooting from the hip):

R01F27_LeicaM6_Biogon25_TriX400

But the lens is wide! It seems you are never close enough… In the following 2 pictures I pre-set the focus distance, walked as close as I could and used the viewfinder to (guess-)frame.

R01F26_LeicaM6_Biogon25_TriX400-2

In the picture “you are never close enough” it is interesting to see that the 2 subjects did not notice me despite I was at less than 1 meter from them, while the young guy and the woman behind were probably asking themselves what I was doing so close…

R01F32_LeicaM6_Biogon25_TriX400

Unfortunately most of the copies of this lens bring up the 35 mm frame lines on the M6, M9 and Zeiss Ikon ZM. This is a bit distracting for me. The 28 mm frame lines would be a better choice (but not perfect, this lens is substantially wider!) if the external viewfinder is not available, but, at the time the lens came to the market, it targeted the M8 where the correct frame lines (35 mm equivalent) is triggered.

It is known that the lens can focus down to 0.5 m but the rangefinder disengages at 0.7 m. So if you want to use it from 0.7 and 0.5 m, you’ll have to guess the distance. I would also like to mention that, despite some websites state that the Zeiss Ikon ZM can use the rangefinder to focus down to 0.5m, this is not true. I have a Zeiss Ikon ZM and the rangefinder disengages at 0.7 m like the Leica M6 and M9.

Being the angle of view so wide, the Biogon 25 is an ideal companion for landscapes and cityscapes

R01F30_LeicaM6_Biogon25_TriX400

Or to give a “wide angle effect” to your shots:

R02F02_LeicaM6_Biogon25_TriX400

Or to capture a lot of things in one frame:

R02F10_LeicaM6_Biogon25_TriX400

Yes, the lens is sharp. In the picture above you can actually read the street sign next to the last flag on the right:

Screen Shot 2015-05-06 at 11.42.24 PM

Three more attempts to get closer to the subject:

R02F13_LeicaM6_Biogon25_TriX400

R02F15_LeicaM6_Biogon25_TriX400

R02F16_LeicaM6_Biogon25_TriX400

These pictures are digitalized by photographing the Kodak negatives with a Sony A7 mounted on a copy stand and equipped with bellow and macro lens Apo Rodagon-D 1x 75 mm. Negatives are inverted with negfix8 and post-processed (mainly tone curve adjustment only).

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11 thoughts on “Film Friday: Riots and Zeiss Biogon T* 2.8/25 on Leica M6 by fiftyasa

  1. Looks like a walk in the park for the Police in Hamburg, I would have loved to see some photos of the riots in Frankfurt at the opening of the new ECB ;-)

  2. Very nice fiftyasa
    I use this with the Voigtlander 21/25mm finder. All metal, silver, really nice retro style with excellent bright frame lines. Not expensive either.

    Best regards
    Huss

  3. Fiftyasa

    These very good images, which means you are getting close enough; to paraphrase Robert Frank.

    To use your 25mm lens without a finder try using the entire RF window. The field of view is fairly close to a 26-27 mm equivalent compared to my Voightlander 25mm finder; which is good enough and reasonably priced. Compose to the edge of the window and you should still have some room around your subjects for cropping; which is desirable when using print film.

  4. The Zeiss 25/2.8 is an excellent lens for film, but not likely to perform well with a digital camera, due to the short back focus distance, finder accuracy notwithstanding. The M with an EVF attachment would solve one problem, if not the other. Perhaps that is why Zeiss is opening their Batis line by filing holes in the Sony lineup with a 25/2 and 85/1.8.

    IMO, a 24-25 mm lens makes a good contribution to a working kit. A 28 is only useful if you are parsing pixels for large group shots. For some reason, the 28mm focal length is the red-headed stepchild of both Zeiss and Nikon – tolerated but not fully accepted.

  5. I love the ZM 25/2.8. I used it on both my M8 and M2, and now I shoot it (occasionally) on my Sony A7II. I also own the Leica 24mm Elmarit-R. IMO, the focal length produces an interesting PoV but is not too extreme. Nice shots, and yeah, you must have gotten in close :-)

  6. Very nice photos and write-up! One rarely gets to see film photos with such a wide angle lens. I sometimes use a 21mm lens but that’s always with digital. Thanks for sharing.

    1. I use the 21mm G Biogon extensively with my Contax G2 and have many examples here on this site . Not rare at all

  7. Interesting write up and subject! Must’ve been fun and the photos give a sense of the occasion.
    My only criticism is that the tones are flat and lack tonal range (a bit too ‘grey’) – a bit of work in the digital darkroom will make them punchy and with more impact as they deserve.

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