At DearSusan, we can be diehard snobs. Sometimes, only überlenses get more than a passing mention, so well corrected that the word aberration is no longer known to our spellcheckers, and only cameras with a gazillion pixels are deemed worthy. Right?
WRONG! Here is a lens that, for sure, is not an überlens. In many ways it is the opposite: this is what I am talking about:
Yes, that is actually a 35mm full-frame lens that will be shipped, if the KickStarter is successful, with a number of bayonets, meaning you can get them for a number of different cameras. It is light, it is inexpensive. It is un-DearSusan. Or is it? Or have I taken leave of my senses? That is what Pascal snorted back when I said I might consider one for my own use.
What I find very interesting is what they are saying: this is a response to the smartphone. The smartphone is a one-button-one-click-only camera. A PhD camera, for Press here, Dummy! Simple, fast, always all-sharp, no knowledge of photography needed, no settings, nada!
Citograph say that their super-light-and-compact lens, needs no settings. At f:8.0 only, all will always be sharp away from the MFD. See, frame, shoot in one effortless, fast, fluid gesture. And, due to the sensor acreage of the cameras on which it will fit, much larger than on a smartphone, IQ will be much better in a number of ways.
Well, I buy their sales pitch. I find it refreshing that, finally, someone is doing something to meet the competition. Because, frankly, it isn’t rocket science to see that Canon’s competition is not Nikon or Sony. It is Apple and Samsung.
Now you can argue, as Pascal does, worried at the thought of the masses using the same gear as he, that he already does just that with his present 35mm lens, the magnificent Zeiss ZM 35 f:1.4. Pre-set at f:8.0, focus at hyperfocal, and it is ready whenever you want. He is right of course (Damn, admitting that does hurt!).
So, ultimately, you don’t need a CitoGraph if you already have a 35mm lens. You can adopt the same approach with a 50mm, or a 28mm, or whatever. I did the same with my 21mm Zeiss ZE Distagon. Set focus at infinity, stop down to f:5.6, dial back focus just a smidgeon, and everything would be sharp from pretty much 1.5m to infinity.
But the concept that unless manufacturers and we, the paying cognoscenti, begin to roll back complexity in favor of ease-of-use that will let us on-board a new generation of users, we are all toast, that concept is now not only timely, but downright urgent. And I salute Citograph for thinking outside-the-box and daring to try a fresh approach.
So, what say you?
PS: DearSusan will soon release a KickStarter of its own. Because the great weakness of the CitoGraph is that all is always sharp, it cannot appeal to bokeh sluts. For us (I am one of them!), we want blur, nay, we need blur! So DearSusan has found a secret recipe (50% animal fat from the underbelly of a Tibetan yak, 50% scented bath oils, 50% used engine oil – yes, I know, it adds up to 150%, that’s what makes it super good!- and smear the mixture on the Citograph lens. I guarantee you will have enough blur for even the sluttiest of bokeh sluts! Ooops, I may have given away the secret recipe…
PPS: the Kickstarter has already met almost twice its goal, so the CitoGraph is now a happening thing!
Pascal adds …
Oh dear, here’s one kickstarter I won’t be backing. Last year, a novel notebook idea got to my wallet and the whole thing went sour with many months of delivery setbacks (kickstarterat emptor). But that’s not what worries me here.
More recently, I backed the Arsenal project, which is said to bring many features to the Sony A7 camera, including GPS, time lapse, long exposures, and many more that should have been better implemented in the first place (for hints, look at Olympus, for instance). Apparently, those features will even incomporate their own tiny AI brain to provide the “best” settings, whatever best means in this contexte. We mentioned the Arsenal in a previous monday post and (unrelated to our mentioning it) it secured more than 40 times its initial goal of $50k. In all honesty, the Arsenal is my upgrade path and a new A7rII + Arsenal is my plan ahead for the years to come, unless the A7rIII proves me very very wrong (and you have no idea how much I would love to be wrong here 😉 )
I fell for the Arsenal in spite of the AI promise (a great promise in science and business but not one I wish to mix to my recreational pursuits) and because of the promise of simplicity. Much like the Citograph, which cures the ill of AF, the Arsenal promises to cure the unfathomable ergonomics that surround Sony apps.
Simplicity is king. We all crave simplicity.
But the Citograph doesn’t spell simplicity to me in the same way as an RX-1 or X100 does. It feels more pinhole than zone focusing or well implemented AF (apparently that’s a thing).
Then there’s the question of image quality. Which will probably be quite good. Goerz used to be a household name, that eventually fed into the Zeiss family. But the probably here troubles me.
In a world where lab tests are all the rage, it is refreshing and unusual to see a lens the main promise of which is lack of focusing complexity.
But that promise is already available in more conventional lenses such as the best-in-class 35/1.4 ZM mentioned above and, for the same sort of money that will get you a Citograph, you could grab a very lovely Color-Skopar 35, a lens which I used and loved for many years on the NEX 5n and which also boasts the same form factor. So I really wish the Citograph well and, hopefully, Philippe will soon have one to review, but I’ll sit this one out 😉
#1022. Monday Post (back from hols, news, reminders and the future)
#981. Friday Post (20 March 2020) – The Write of Spring
#958. Monday Post (27 Jan 2020) – Galleries, projets, pics of the month, challenges and a few thoughts following comments
#947. Monday Post (30 Dec 2019) – Last post! (for the year)
#936. Monday Post (02 Dec 2019) – Of Workshops, Resources and Online Galleries on DearSusan
#921. Monday Post (28 Oct 2019 – Workshop update: the Layer Cake effect
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