Medium Format Forum

Register a free account now!

If you are registered, you get access to the members only section, can participate in the buy & sell second hand forum and last but not least you can reserve your preferred username before someone else takes it.

150 vs 180


New Member
How do the 150 and 180 compare for use in landscape work with regard to sharpness and contrast? How would they compare for sharpness and contrast to a 250 Sonnar when used with a 2X extender?
Richard, I have both the 180mm (CF) and 250mm (CF lenses - both are absolutely sensational. I use both for landscape and portrait work.

The 180mm is renowned as one of Zeiss' sharpest lenses ever. Some say it is too sharp for portraits as it will pick up so much detail (I use Softar 1 so ladies can compare "before and after"). The 250mm is generally agreed to be just as good and I concurr. Remember that the 180 is one of Zeiss' few new lens designs - not introduced all that long ago.

Having 80mm and 50mm (FLE), I selected the 180mm for portraits and for compressed landscapes over the 150mm - more impact and tighter frame than 150 for me and its reputation for being sharper than sharp convinced me. It is a thing of beauty, I can't say enough about how good it is. It delivers impact, detail, beautiful colour, sharpness - every characteristic is superb. It is a truly great lens.

One day I might fill the gap between 80 and 180mm (maybe the 120mm) but it is a gap I am very happy to live with.

If you like the qualities of your 250mm, you will love this. More experienced users than me comment on how similar the attributes are.

No, I do not have or use an extender. But, if you are worried about softening images on the 180 + 2x, and have no issue with the 250 + 2x, you will have no issue with the 180mm (I even shot with it and a 32mm tube in lowish light hand held at 1/30 sec and produced a beautiful B&W flower with a touch of softness that made the shot).

By the way, some people comment that they took the 150mm over the 180mm due to weight and size difference (marginal and I mostly use a tripod anyway). I say who cares!!! Boy are they missing out.

Go for 180mm and fire away.
> Hello simon If you go for a lens (one day) between 50 and 180 (both i have = as =20 well) so go for the 100mm. This lens is as good as the 180 mm might even be better . this = lens =20 was developed for the NASA Program . I find this PLANAR absolutely great . regards Jurgen
Thanks Jurgen. Yes, I understand that it is sensational. However, I have an 80mm, so my gap might be better served by the 120mm, which may add the benefit of macro capability. Have you a view on the 120mm?
While the 100 mm Planar may be better, the 80 mm Planar is very good too. I think considerations about focal lenght should way more than the tiny difference in performance.

The 120 mm lens is very good. Excellent at close range, emminently suited for portraiture, products shots, nature, etc.
And though perhaps not "the best" it is very good at long range as well.

Remember that (contrary to what popular belief seems to be) it being a macro lens does not mean that it focusses very close. You still need extension tubes, or even bellows.
"way more"?
"weigh more", of course.

"Focal-length-wise", The 120 mm lens sits perfectly between the 80 and 180 mm lenses.
Whether you like the 120 mm focal length, or would rather have a 150 mm, is a matter of taste more than anything else.
Thanks Qnu. I suppose my question was about the 120mm's optimisation for close focusing and how that affects its general mid and longer range image quality and sharpness.

I have an EOS 1v and use a 100mm macro USM lens which is superb in all uses despite its optimisation for close focusing.
Sonnar 180/4 is a milestone in Zeiss/Hasselblad optics, I agree. Extra sharpness can be controlled by a way or another. It's not a problem I think.
Regarding the planars, the 100 mm lens is the best. But the 80/2.8 is still at least excellent.
I'm using planar 80/2.8 & Sonnar 180/4, but if I plan to fill the gap, the 120 mm Macro should be the 1st periority.
Regarding the tele-extenders, I believe the best corrected one should be used. Otherwise, the quality of the original lens will be affected negatively.

They are both great.
Any decision between the two on should be based on things like focal length and how that fits your style of working.
I think that for portraits the 180 is better such as focal lenght but I see that all the people prefers the 150. What you think?
I prefer the shorter 150 mm, or even 120 mm for many portraits, the longer 250 mm for others.
The 180 mm sounds like a nice compromise, but maybe it's just either too short or too long?

But in the end it really does come down to personal preferences.

And financially:
The 150 mm and 250 mm lenses are quite common, and can be found used, in good condition, for reasonable amounts.
Together perhaps still more than what a single, less common 180 mm lens would cost, but, i think, not a lot more.
Like Qnu says the 180mm used is priced a bit higher than the 150mm, which is consistent with the new price. But because the 250mm is a bit less commonly used than the 150 and 180 lenses it seems to be priced between 180 and 150 prices.

If you like using a lens of about 85mm in 35mm format for portraits and compressed landscapes you may prefer the 150mm. But if like me you prefer about 100mm or a bit more for portraits in 35mm format you will much prefer the 180mm.

I took the attached compressed landscape with my recently purchased (used) 250mm and love it. I'm about to do very tight portaits with it soon. See what you think.
My vote would be for the extra performance of the 180/4. While sharpness can easily be toned down, the opposite is not true.

However, I do agree that the difference in performance of all these lenses is marginal in the over-all scheme of things ... making focal length preferences possibly the more important aspect of decision making.

Using that criteria, I still opted for the 180/4 because it is longer than the 150/4 while retaining the same maximum aperture. The result is more separation between in focus subject and out of focus background at the same shooting distance ... which adds to the visual impression of sharpness of main subject ... and actually is further enhanced by the incredible performance of the 180 when used wide open. You also see a slightly tighter compression between subject and background with the 180.

However, I do have to admit that more frequent needs primarily dictated the choice of the 180 over the 150. I use the lens wide open for shots from the balcony of a church during the many weddings I cover. This one featured a fairly formidable distance to even get a full alter shot as shown here. Sharpness of detail is there even on a 20" X20" print. Hasselblad 503CW, available light on a tripod, Portra 400NC.

I think personnal preference is the order of the day. However if one is ever thinking of a digital back for v series, the altered focal length will be a further consideration.
Richard Marks
Good point Richard. We've recently added the new Imacon 96C digital back for V cameras that introduces a cropping factor to all lenses.... in effect decreasing the focal length's field of view.

It is of more concern at the wide angle lens end of the line-up if you need really wide perspectives. Thank my lucky stars that I have a 40/4 just to get to a normal wide field of view.
But it increases the apparent length of the longer lenses also. Good news if you have a 100/3.5, and really makes a 150 or 180 apparently much longer.