I was recently contacted by Zeiss Lenses, and asked if I would like to test their Touit range of lenses. Now I own some Zeiss lenses but had never heard of the Touit range, and a bit of research led me to the Zeiss product page, and I realised that I didn’t have a suitable camera. Luckily Zeiss did and a shiny aluminium case complete with two bodies and six lenses duly arrived! Why six lenses when there are only three in the Touit range? Well, Zeiss had sent me the Sony NEX-7 and the Fuji X Pro-1, which are different mounts so there were three E mount and three X mount lenses.
Both of these cameras are mirror less compact cameras with APS-C sensors. The Sony has a quite impressive 24MP chip, whilst the Fuji has a very capable 16MP chip using Fuji’s unique X-Trans sensor technology.Both of these cameras are small and lightweight and very easy to carry around, so when Zeiss said I could photograph anything apart from people portraits and night shots, I decided to just take the cameras with me everywhere and photograph things because I could!
Now I have to come clean here – I found the Sony NEX-7 to be possibly one of the most pointless cameras I have ever used. The camera doesn’t have a cable release facility, has no easy way of syncing flash to it (because of it’s unique flash hotshoe, which prevents the use of Pocket Wizards, and none of my hotshot PC adapters would fit it either) and the autofocus speed is rubbish. If you leave the camera in AF mode it continually hunts to try and be somewhere near in focus when you want to take a picture, which is very disconcerting, and putting it in manual mode allows you to use a button on the back to autofocus but it is painfully slow. If you use manual focus the image in the viewfinder enlarges so you can easily see what you are focussed on, which is its saving grace. The complete lack of cable release I just don’t understand. There’s a 24MP sensor so at some point you are going to want to put it on a tripod and take some more considered shots.
The Fuji X Pro-1, on the other hand, I found to be an absolute joy to use. It uses an old fashioned manual screw in cable release (I had to dust mine off), has a sensible hotshot that takes Pocket Wizards and normal PC cable adapters, and it’s AF performance is very good. I should add that this was using the latest firmware for both the camera (3.20) and the Touit lenses. Apparently early versions of the firmware were not so good but the upgrade is free and easy to do. The lenses have an aperture ring, and the shutter speed and exposure compensation are accessed via dials on the top. Very retro but very lovely!
Now I keep mentioning autofocus, and in what is a first for Zeiss, the Touit lenses are all autofocus, and I have to say they performed admirably. The following two shots were taken pretty quickly and the Af grabbed focus in both cases with no problem at all.
The Touit lenses were quite different to my other Zeiss lenses, and were of a plastic construction, but yet they still felt quite solid and the aperture ring and focus ring movements had that lovely Zeiss feel to them. Zeiss are obviously keen to emphasise the quality of construction as can be seen in this Apple style video.
Overall I found them to perform admirably and I have put some images here on Flickr. I will be adding more images over time.
You can read the Zeiss blog post about my time with the Touits. It’s been translated back and forth between English and German so may not be quite as fluid as it might have been…