#913. Lens line-up. Episode 2: The revenge of the second (and other) lens(es)?

By philberphoto | How-To

Oct 09

So there I am, in photo nirvana, with a one-prime-lens sytem, right ? Errrr…. ahem….well….. not!

Where it all started. The shot which I was brave or foolish enough to shoot with both Julia (here) and Audrey. And ended up surprised at how I loved two quite different shots from the same spot.

What can be wrong? Minimalism, deep intimacy with the gear, low weight, low cost (relatively speaking), etc…. all pointing in the right direction….


Well, it is not that anything is wrong. It is this nagging question: how can I make matters righter than right? Because, to be clear, in this sorry world of mine, there is right, and there is mooooore right, and there is purrrfect. And I am chasing moooooore and purrrfect like Captain Ahab was after Moby Dick. It is not for nothing that my camera is called Pequomodo.

Audrey, or Julia?

And, yes, the one-lens system has all these wonderful advantages, and the one-lens-that-does-it-all is very, very good. But is it puurrrfect? Remember, the amazing Zeiss Loxia 25mm f:2.4 did not receive the überlens label…. Besides, there can always be mooooore, right?

Julia, or Audrey?

And, yes, one fixed prime lens doesn’t quite do it all. So the idea of adding a second lens to widen the shooting envelope of my system hardly sounds foolish. And once there is a second lens, why not a third…?

But that doesn’t really change the dynamics of a single-lens system, if they “only” complement each other. Say, adding the Loxia 85mm to the 25mm. I cannot envision many shots which would lend themselves to being shot with both lenses. Which leads to a tantalising possibility: having two lenses mounted on two separate bodies. Which brings ust right back to the sweetness of a one-lens system. So sweet I want two of them…


There is, however a more devious question. Lenses deliver a certain “look”, they have a “rendering”. So, while I have a great one-lens-does-it-all 25mm Loxia, aren’t there cases where I’d like the same same shot rendered by a different lens, say, a Sony 24mm f:1.4 GM?


Let’s look at it this way. If the second lens simply complements the first, owning two lenses amounts to bigamy. If on the other hand, in some instances it replaces the first, then owning two lenses amounts to infidelity. Which should it be?

For historic/romantic reasons, I now own 2 lenses. The Zeiss 25mm f:2.4, a.k.a. Julia, and the Zeiss ZM 35mm f:1.4, a.k.a. Audrey. The latter one definitely an überlens, even if not perfect on a Sony A7. Julia is a lot easier to use, native on Sony, with more DOF, better haptics. Audrey needs more work, but, when I get it right, yields a higher level of délicatesse.

Julia… of course

Let’s cut to the chase. My experience is that owning multiple lenses that can take the same shot (or pretty much, if they are not exactly the same focal length) leads to what, for me, matters.

And Audrey…

Different lenses lead to different images. And I am not talking about anything related to the focal length, speed, or performance envelope. No, just the look, the rendering or whatever you wish to call it. The eye-opener was when I shot a construction site, or a fraction of it actually, and took the time to shoot it fairly comprehensively with both Julia and Audrey. Well, after editing, I ended up with two shots that didn’t look or feel the same at all. one was B&W, and the other colour. One included parts of the image that I’d edited out of the other (see at the top of the post). Plain and simple different images. Different storytelling, different feel, different Gestalt


This is the exact opposite of an all-Hassy sytem [(c) PJ] or an all-Milvus system [(c) DT], which are, in essence, multiple-lens-single-look systems, or, multiple-prime-as-opposed-to-a-zoom systems. Pascal and Dallas have chosen single-look-multiple-FL systems, which are in essence extended single-lens systems (except when it comes to carrying them around). And I am still in my groove of a single-lens system. Only, I have more than one…:-)


And so, the single-lens system rules, in whichever form and guise!..:-). Whether it is a multi-lens single-lens system, or a multiple single-lens system…:-)


What is there were/is no purrrfect, but, instead, multiple versions of an image, each of them, in the mind-blowing words of Emmanuel Levinas, indispensable to the whole of the truth?


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  • ferdhart says:

    I”m partial to Audrey

    • pascaljappy says:

      +1 😉

      One of the best lenses available at any price, on any mount. If I could have only one, on the Sony mount, that would be it.

    • philberphoto says:

      So am I, partial to Audrey. I am like Don Giovanni, who loved all women. I am partial to each of my lenses, now numbering 4, each for different reasons…

  • Pascal Ravach says:

    200% agreeing with you, Philippe…
    I am now like PJ and DT, using seven Zuiko OM lenses… but each time I see the “draw” of some lenses like Audrey, some Leitz, some Laowa, Voigtländer, the Otus… I am fascinated by the way they “interpret” the scene! And let’s not even touch 3D 🙂
    The day budget and back recovery allow, I know I will fall for some of these babies…
    What you expose so clearly here is to me the number one reason to chose a lens… congrats 🙂

  • Mark Raugas says:

    Audrey does not disappoint. I for some time used the CV 40/1.2 for ease of use (e.g., no required adapter, EXIF data, no need for a front PCX in some circumstances, etc) and enjoyed it, but kept looking back at a few photos I took with the ZM 35/1.4 that had a richness and texture, and dare I say, magic to them. The only danger it presents is that I keep wanting to rent a Leica camera body to experiment with how it might work there, versus on my Sony. A small price to pay. . .

  • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    Sigh – too many questions. And I have too few answers! Because I’m stupid. And because I love all your photos anyway.
    By the way – where’s the bicycle? 🙂

  • brian says:

    You might be tempted to expand your pseudo single-lens system soon. Voigtlander announced something that might tempt you: a Sony E mount 50mm f/2 APO-Lanthar.


    The most interesting rumor (in the thread linked above) goes like this: “Kobayashi-san had mentioned a couple of years ago (to a close mutual friend who has passed away) that he wanted to make a 50mm APO lens that performed as well as the Leica 50 APO but at a much more approachable price. This is likely that lens.”

    Like you, I enjoy the Loxia 25/2.4 and the ZM 35/1.4. Nonetheless, I’ll be very interested in learning more about the new Voigtlander–unless the new Loxia that should be announced within weeks turns out to be a ZM 35/1.4 design that is specifically adapted for the Sony mount. . . .

    • philberphoto says:

      How prescient of you, Brian! As it happens, my lens hareem numbers 4 as things are now, including a CV 50… but I already covet the 50 APO as well, which holds promise in my eyes. However, I know nothing about a forthcoming Loxia, and anything you know would feed my base instincts, and thus be very welcome.

      • brian says:

        It’s interesting that your one-lens system will include four lenses until you purchase one more. Will you review the new lenses or at least share their identities?

        I happen to enjoy the Zeiss Tele-Tessar 4/85, which (while not quite a Loxia 85) is at least excellent within its shooting envelope–especially when used as part of a lightweight kit for hill walks. I think that the fourth lens of my own one-lens system will be the new Voigtlander–but now you will soon have five.

        Regarding the soon-to-be-announced Loxia, internet rumors suggest that it will be either a fixed focal length lens somewhere between 16mm and 135mm or a zoom.

        • philberphoto says:

          Brian, I have already reviewed lens N°3, a.k.a. Jonathan, is the Laowa 100 f:2.8 Super-macro. Lens N°4, in a World Exclusive info, is a Voigtländer 50 f:1.2, a.k.a. Beep-beep….

      • Trish Deitch says:

        Hi Philippe, Wondering if you ever got around to playing with the 50 APO, and how it compares to the your 50 1.2. I’m going to purchase one of these—or Audrey!—and I’d love to know how things have gone between October and now. Thanks!

        • philberphoto says:

          No, Trish, I haven’t yet, though I have seen many pics taken with it, and played with a CV 65 APO macro, the images fromm which aren’t a whole different according to trustworthy shooters who have both. Basically they are quite different lenses. The APO is a very well corrected lens, aiming for maximum optical performance. The f:1.2 is a speed demon, aiming at maximum speed within a given size and cost package. So the latter is definitely a “character lens”, whereas the APO is the opposite. By character lens, I mean a lens that has flaws, but which doesn’t prevent it from delivering fine images if you know what flaw is compatible with -or helps even- your photographic style. I am considering getting the APO alongside my f:1.2. Others choose the 40 f:1.2 to pair with the APO, to get a bit of a focal length spead. Both lenses are really, really good, just not for the same type of images…
          Hope that helps

  • Philippe, you show us all how it’s done with your splendid images from Audrey & Julia and of course you’re abundant talent.

  • Mel says:

    A reference to Emmanuel Levinas in a lens discussion — Wonderful! And so appropriate! Wikipedia says Levinas’s work was based on “the ethics of the other.” Hence Philippe’s ontological quandary: the revenge of the “other” lens. Stylish writing. Thoughtful photos. DS is a great place to be.

  • John W says:

    I’m with Don Giovanni. I like them all. Each has it’s own character and use (lenses! lenses! I’m talking). The last prime I owned was a 75mm/3.5 Sonnar on a Rolleiflex which was my only camera for 17 years and got stolen in 1986. Haven’t owned a prime since … though I keep meaning to get one.

  • PaulB says:


    You are so evil! I have been trying to convince myself I should reduce my camera and lens inventory. And now you are telling me of the bliss of a compatible multi-camera and lens relationship. A dedicated camera for each lens is I idea I have had significant lust considering.

    I see more therapy in my future.

    Though I will say you should consider your lens/camera relationship to be a family and not just a marriage. No one minds if you have several children. You can do things with one or several and no one minds; except those left behind.


    • philberphoto says:

      Hi Paul; You do me great honor in calling me evil, because evil power is second only to divine power. I did not know that I made such an impact…:-()
      Your metaphor of the family is spot on. Call me jealous.
      As for therapy, it will cost you more than a few new lenses, will give you grief rather than fun, and for questionable results. Good lenses can give you fun rather than grief, with lasting results. A no-brainer methinks…:-)

      • PaulB says:


        Yes, though I may be testing the theory about having too much of good thing.

        Mae West said having too much of a good thing was . . . .Wonderful!

        But having too much gets difficult to carry if you try. Even if it is M4/3 and M based.

        And then there is high pixel count full frame and the new sirens song of Medium Format. Which means lusting for more.

        So far, the best therapy for me is to grab a body and a few lenses, and concentrate on making images.

        Which is why I have had some twinges of envy of your one camera and lens approach.

        As less, can be more. 😉


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