Gen Hayase travels frequently in Japan with his camera. And what’s surprising is that his universal lens is neither a zoom nor a 50mm lens. He looks at the world from the vantage point of the Distagon T* 2/25.

D600, Distagon T* 2/25, f/2.8, 1/60 sec, ISO 2000
Sweets and tea in a Japanese teahouse, Kyoto
Full resolution on Flickr

For Gen Hayase, photography is very emotional. Often, he takes pictures to capture special moments — in everyday life or during his travels — that he will remember later.  “I like to translate the mood of that moment into a picture. For me the Distagon T* 2/25 is the tool of choice.”

By consciously utilizing the closest focusing distance of only 0.25 m – like this still life taken in a teahouse – the main motif is impressively emphasized in the foreground, but is nevertheless placed in the context of the room.  “I really like that characteristic about the 25-millimeter focal length. Many photographers prefer using 21 or 35 millimeters for their wide angle. However, in my view the Distagon T* 2/25 is a really balanced travel lens.”

D600, Distagon T* 2/25, f/5, 1/100 sec, ISO100
The Eikando Temple in autumn, Kyoto
Full resolution on Flickr

During a visit to the Buddhist Eikando Temple in eastern Kyoto, he took this picture of the red autumn foliage, for which Eikando is known. Gen Hayase comes here every year. “The Distagon T* 2/25 with its soft bokeh and rich color rendering – I particularly like the blue and red tones — was ideal for this picture. You have a good total overview, but the leaves in the foreground are still prominently visible. The range of contrasts is fantastic, and the leaves’ lovely red color appears almost as radiant as if you were standing there yourself.”

D600, Distagon T* 2/25, f/4, 1/60 sec, ISO 400
“Mitarashi-dango””, a traditional Japanese dessert, Kyoto
Full resolution on Flickr

After the successful shooting session in the park, Gen Hayase wanted a break. He likes sweets, and not only for the taste. It is not for nothing that food photography fascinates him as a second important genre. “This mitarashi-dango, a traditional dessert, really whetted my appetite — to eat, but also to try a close-up with the Distagon T* 2/25. Even today, the results make my mouth water. I really like the shiny surface of the sauce and how the out-of-focus area flows out toward the back.”

D600, Distagon T* 2/25, f/2, 1/160 sec, ISO 1250
Boreal owl in an “owl café“, Osaka
Full resolution on Flickr

In Japanese cafés, you can take pictures of more than still lives: in some places an owl, or a boreal owl, will sit on the guests’ hand. In these so-called “owl cafés”, which have recently become more popular in Japan, you can observe the tame animals, or even touch them, while sipping your drink. It was a photographic opportunity that Gen Hayase didn’t want to miss. “I set the focus ring on the smallest distance and pointed the lens toward the eyes. When the owl looked directly into the lens, I pressed the shutter release.” The field of view of the Distagon T* 2/25, combined with a fully open aperture, emphasize the bird’s face, but you still notice that the scene was shot inside a room.

D600, Distagon T* 2/25, f/8, 1/250, ISO 100
Japanese seagull above Sea of Japan, Sakata
Full resolution on Flickr

The tame owls are, of course, a special case in animal photography. These birds seldom allow themselves to be photographed at such a close distance, and with a small depth of field. “Capturing moving objects, like birds, with a manual focus is challenging. Nevertheless, I was able to do that again and again with the precise focusing of the Distagon T* 2/25, as this picture of a seagull shows.” The bird is clearly the main motif, but the sky frames it, creating a feeling of space.  “The Distagon T* 2/25 gives many of my motifs something unexpected and interesting. Whenever I only take one lens with me, I usually take this one.”

About Gen Hayase

Gen Hayase lives and photographs in Kyoto, Japan. He got his PhD in science and carries out research in materials science at Kyoto University. When he isn‘t synthesizing and analyzing new materials, he devotes himself to his second passion after science: creating atmospheric photographs.

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1 Comment

  1. M. Abd al Muta'ali

    I am an avid Nikon DSLR/SLR user and in constant pursuit of better optics discovered Zeiss glass. A marriage made in heaven. I now own 6 Zeiss lenses to include this T8 2/25. Was considering selling it to purchase the preferred 35 1.4 for street use. Decided to use the 2/25 with the Nikon Df for a recent Sports Day event at my daughters school. Incredible results! I will never give up this lens and with the 55 Otus already in my kit, the 35 1.4 may now be the odd ball out. This article and images helped me shape my decision.

    Thank you, Zeiss


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