Is this version substantially better, or is it just a re-packaging of the old optical design?
The base optical design is the same.
I also used to think that if a lens wasn't redesigned optically (meaning changing the number/shape/type of elements) it was necessarily a marketing trick and couldn't perform significantly better.
Real world experience, along with an extended conversation Steve Hendrix and I had with Ulrich E. from Schneider at the New York Expo has changed my mind about this.
By slight repositioning of the lens elements based on recalculating the lenses for digital sensors rather than film, improved lens coatings, and tightening manufacturing tolerances can make a significant difference in real-world performance especially in consistency (avoiding excessive sample variation) and Chromatic Abberation. Or not - it varies by the lens. The Phase One redo of the Hartblei 45mm TS, for instance, did not impress us.
So the question for me is no longer "was the lens redesigned" (shape/number/type elements) it is now exclusively "does it perform better in the real world"?
In that regard we've been pleased by the 35D. However the proof is always in the pudding and evaluating one yourself is almost always the best option. We have the 35mm D lens in rental and offer the full rental towards a purchase if you decide to buy one (100% within a week, 75% within 2 weeks etc). Best case you test the lens and find it worth the price and you've lost nothing in the rental. Worst case you find it's not a big enough difference for you then you've saved $1945 (the cost of the lens minus your one day rental).
You could also test it for free at a Phase One Dealer location or event. We have events in Denver and Phoenix
coming up and of course there are multiple west coast phase one dealers.
Hopefully some new 35mm D owners can kick in their real world experience. Beyond saying we're generally pleased with the new 35mm D I hesitate to comment more specifically as our testing has not been the scientific/head-to-head testing (e.g. no direct comparisons to the Mamiya 35mm non D) we might normally do since the office has been exceptionally busy since the announcement of the IQ. I have noticed better corner sharpness and reduced CA, but one tough component here is the sample variation amongst the original 35mm non D lenses - in other words has my experience with the 35mm non D been with better or worse copies (never having tested several at once I can't be sure).
Doug Peterson (e-mail Me)
Head of Technical Services, Capture Integration
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