Yoshizen's Blog

Carl Zeiss 85mm F1.4 lens — and Maneki-Neko

On the face, photo here is a Japanese Kitsch, so-called Maneki-Neko / 招き猫

(of its rather small mascots) I found in a Japanese restaurant’s window.

For some people, me to branding Maneki-Neko as a Kitsch might be unfair as they are so popular

= almost like the nation’s most beloved icon.

So far I couldn’t find its origin —– probably once there was a cat sat on front of a shop moving

a hand as if he (she ?) is inviting the people = and he attracted a lots of customer,

hence the shop’s business flourished. —– And this story spread and has become a legend. 

(This might be an equivalent of Garden Gnome in this country, especially its Kitsch appearance :-D)

This is a photo just next of Maneki-Neko above = despite it looks very rustic, they are still same

Maneki-Neko, some may say more artistic though.

( Incidentally, a dog-like figure behind is probably a figure of Tosa Champion Dog = a thick rope

on the neck symbolizing that he was the Yoko-zuna / 横綱 (of Sumo wrestling rank = Sumo was

once a part of Shinto festival, hence the thick rope is common with a rope hanged on a Shinto Shrine

Gate / 鳥居) of a Dog fight competition. = may be the owner of the restaurant had him before and

the figure was it’s commemoration to became Yoko-zuna )


Though, what those figures were about, was not a point of those photos.

The matter was a test of a depth of the focus of 85mm F1.4 lens made by Carl Zeiss

= once a must have lens for a professional portrait photographer, because of its high quality to

capture beautiful skin-tone and smooth softness of the out of focus Bokeh. —– the top photo was

in its F1.4 hence showed very shallow depth of focus, and the second one was set to F2.8.

( This lens convinced me to change my camera system from Nikon to Contax in the 80s. 🙂 )


Just for a curiosity, I tested this lens at the life-size close-up with 85mm extension ring.

( In general, if we extend the lens same as its focal length, it would produce life-size image —–

though, some exception)

This Carl Zeiss 85mm lens has shortest shooting distance 1m, not 0.85m therefore, it imply,

the lens was not designed (= aberration was not well corrected) for shorter than 1m.

The photo here which was taken at F1.4 showed its life-size close-up image.

( This is yet another experiment to see “How shallow the focus can be”).

—– In the photo, the focused image is pretty sharp though, the out of focus image showed

quite visible Chromatic Aberration. = right photo, the saturation was exaggerated to show

separate red and green images. (To see it, please click and enlarge the photo)

= it was utterly out of what this lens was designed.

To design large F- aperture of 1.4 was hard enough and never considered a situation

under such extreme close-up. 🙂

(In comparison to Primary lens, Zoom lens can adjust the position of each lens element, hence it is

easier to compensate the aberrations, many Zoom lens has very extreme yet sharp Macro setting

though, as the lenses were suspended by tiny 3 pins in the curved channel, one drop would destroy)

Everybody knows that a prism can make rainbow color

= when the light pass through an angled grass, the light

would be bent according to its color (wave-length of the

light) hence each color is separated = resulting a rainbow.

A lens is a kind of prism of which the angle of

the grass surface is gradually changing. = naturally, never all the color light comes

to the same focal-point = this is called Chromatic Aberration.

So that, lens designer compensate this effect by using different kind of lens element

within one photographic lens though, aberration also changes depend on the

distance of the object, it is impossible to be perfect. (Even for the Carl Zeiss  🙂 )

—– still, it was an interesting test for me = I never encounter the out-of-focus Bokeh image

in such clear red and green. (Again, please enlarge the photo to see it )


10 Responses

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  1. sinithwar said, on June 30, 2012 at 03:19

    Photography is more a science than an art, you can’t just capture beauty with a camera, you have to know how to catch it with your specific camera.

  2. drawandshoot said, on June 30, 2012 at 16:19

    Interesting observations, and experiments, Yoshizen.

    I have always wondered about that waving cat also, where it originated and the story behind it…

    • yoshizen said, on June 30, 2012 at 16:59

      In fact there are tens of the Buddhist’s Temples, Shinto Shrines telling the stories that the cat
      originated from there though, non of them are credible, or historical backing —– still, the doll has
      been made and appreciated at least few hundred years in Japan.
      And these days it has been spread all over the world though, in America the cat showing back of the pow
      not the palm because of the difference of the meaning of the gesture (so, I heard 🙂 )

  3. trillionlightyears said, on July 7, 2012 at 17:18

    Hi Yoshizen. Nice to meet you at James’ last week, will be keeping up with your blog. :o) Do feel free to follow. Take care.

    • yoshizen said, on July 7, 2012 at 17:58

      Oh, was that you ! —– I’ve seen your Graviter somewhere else and saw a photo of
      Lichen though, I couldn’t know who the author is.
      Well come to my blog ( —- you need to put more to your blog,
      and you got many in Youtube don’t you ? )

  4. Lemony (Gr)Egghead said, on July 11, 2012 at 02:15

    I enjoy following your tests of this nature and learning about your discoveries. You’ve carried out an interesting experiment with the shallowness of focus. BTW, The second photo of the Maneki-Neko is very nice. I love the softness of the light and objects.

  5. yoshizen said, on July 11, 2012 at 03:27

    Thank you Lemony. Lens itself is in my locker over 30 years though I haven’t been used.
    Then, my friend found me Contax= Canon EOS adapter from Hong Kong.

    Unlike the molded ceramic cat, the second photo’s was made individually by wet paper, of
    which we call Hariko (張子) —– I don’t know how many craftsman left, keep making them.

  6. […] £1 Zeiss Talon lens and the genuine Carl Zeiss Planar 85mm F1.4  […]

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