Mar 032015
 

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HANDS ON: The Zeiss Distagon T* FE 35mm F1.4 ZA Lens. Samples, and my 1st thoughts!

THIS IS NOT MY FULL REVIEW, JUST A HANDS ON 1st LOOK WITH SAMPLES! – PRE-ORDER at B&H Photo HERE – Amazon HERE

WOW! I have been shooting with the brand spanking new Sony FE 35 1.4 ZEISS lens and let me tell you right now..this lens may just be the best 35mm lens I have ever shot when it comes to IQ, pop, color, detail and overall rendering. It is gorgeous. Really.

Sony sent me the lens for a long term review but I have not had enough time with it just yet for a full review but can and will give you my very 1st thoughts, some image samples and a video telling you just what I think SO FAR about this lens, which you can watch below:

I have been shooting with it for a few days but the 1st thing that popped to mind when it arrived was “DAMN! THIS IS HUGE!”. This lens is NOT small in any way, shape or form but it is indeed BEAUTIFULLY built, made… and man oh man, can it give some sweet Zeiss 3D pop! It is about the same size as the 16-35 F/4 Zeiss.

Click on the image below which was shot with the Sony A7s and this 35 1.4 at 1.4. I have not seen this kind of detail and pop since I shot with the Leica 35 Summiulux FLE on my old M9. You must click the image to see it larger and correctly!

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For me, it actually is meeting or beating the Leica 35 Summilux FLE for overall IQ and color performance (A $5500 Lens). Of course, the Leica is TINY in comparison, as is the new Zeiss Loxia 35 f/2 (that I also have on hand), but this lens offers Auto focus, click or clickless aperture and a way of producing images that will make you say “WOW”. For me, this is TRULY the 1st native “WOW” lens for the Sony full frame FE system. It easily surpasses the 55 1.8 for me as well as the 35 2.8 that I have been using since the launch of the A7 system, and those are both beautiful lenses when it comes to image quality. The 35 1.4 has such a beautiful character and rich rendering.

The 1st image is an OOC JPEG, but look at the nice color and rendering. This one was shot with the A7II…

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…and how about the same image with a VSCO film filter applied?

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Again, the A7II and Sony Zeiss 35 1.4 Lens. Click it for better version and to see the 100% crop below it to see the DETAIL even at the bottom of the frame!

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The A7s and this lens are like a match made in heaven. It seems to bring out extra detail in the A7s shots. This is a full size shot, right click and open in a new tab or window to see it. The 12MP of the A7s is fantastic here. The double image part of the text in front of his hands was like this, it is not from the lens ;) 

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This lens is going to be HUGE for Sony A7 shooters and I found that it works just as well on the A7s as the A7II. BOTH cameras will give you incredible detail when using this guy, even at f/1.4 wide open. I was put off by the large size (it is about the same size as the 16-40 f/4) when I first attached it to my A7s but after a few snaps and seeing what it could do, I quickly forgot about the size. The lens is not very heavy, it is just large. Even so, it is large for a reason as they packed some magic pixie dust inside of this lens.

Three of Debby, two B&W and one out of camera Color. All from the A7s again, with B&W conversion from VSCO

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I look forward to spending some quality time with this lens and so far, it has been one of those lenses that make me want to get out and shoot. The color performance and the sharpness make the images just POP much like Leica lenses do on the M9 or M 240. In some cases, even better. This lens is a masterpiece for IQ and rendering with the only weakness..size.

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As for Auto Focus speed it seems semi-quick and VERY accurate. I have shot maybe 50 shots with it so far and none have been mis-focused. In low light it is a bit slower but still very good. By todays 2015 standards it is fantastic, and better than one would expect for a 35 1.4 lens.  I will have much more detail about AF speed and EVERYTHING in my full review in 2-3 weeks. But look at this detail and pop and color that oozes from the lens…

A7s, 35 1.4 at 1.4 and closest focusing distance of .3 meters. No distortion and no issues. 

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It was VERY low light in this restaurant and I asked this guy if I could snap his portrait. He was amazed that no flash went off. I told him “with this lens it is not needed” and when he saw the image on the LCD he was double amazed at the clarity and how it lit up the scene without any real light being there! A7s

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Same restaurant..A7s..

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And some graffiti with the A7s and 35 1.4

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All images below are from the Sony  A7II and Zeiss 35 1.4 – check out the rich color of  the 1st image. A good lens will be sharp, have great bokeh, have minimal distortion, focus close and give you enhanced color performance. From what I see so far, this lens gives all of these things.

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Sony’s Official Word on the 35 1.4  (the cool parts are in bold)

ZEISS® Distagon T* FE 35mm F1.4 ZA (model SEL35F14Z) Full-frame Wide Angle Lens

This new ZEISS® Distagon T* FE 35mm F1.4 ZA full-frame wide angle prime showcases legendary ZEISS® optical performance in a compact design. With a minimum focusing distance of approximately 12 inches, the ZEISS® Distagon T* FE 35mm F1.4 is the first E-mount lens to feature an exceptionally fast aperture of F1.4. The lens has a 9-bladed circular aperture, which makes it a superior choice for creating smooth bokeh (defocus) during portrait shooting. It also performs extremely well in low-light shooting scenarios or for simple everyday photographs.

The new 35mm prime lens produces stunning corner-to-corner sharpness – even at maximum aperture – thanks to its advanced optical design with 3 aspherical elements including one Sony advanced aspherical element and a 9-bladed circular aperture. It also features ZEISS® T* coating that suppresses flare and ghosting for natural color reproduction and excellent contrast. Additionally, the lens has a Direct Drive SSM (DDSSM) system that enables whisper-quiet precision focusing, even at the shallowest depth of field. A dedicated aperture ring can be set for smooth, continuous operation – ideal for movie-makers – or with click-stops to provide tactile feedback when shooting still images. The ZEISS® Distagon T* FE 35mm F1.4 is also dust and moisture resistant design for reliable operation when shooting outdoors.

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A quick detail shot – A7II, f/5, click the image to see it correctly with a 100% crop of the fine detail. Even at 1.4 it is just as sharp. 

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You can pre-order the Sony/Zeiss 35 1.4 FE lens at Amazon using the link below. The lens will ship in April. My full review will be in 2-3 weeks when I can get out and get some serious use out of it.

PRE-ORDER the ZEISS 35 1.4 FE Lens at B&H Photo HERE.

PRE-ORDER the ZEISS 35 1.4 FE Lens at Amazon HERE

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  175 Responses to “HANDS ON: The Zeiss Distagon T* FE 35mm F1.4 ZA Lens. Samples, and my 1st thoughts!”

  1. Steve,

    Have you used this lens in the a7r2? I was going to buy this lens first based in your reviews.

  2. Hello Steve, I bought this lens and the alpha 7II after your reviews and I have to say, your right in every word, what a tremendous nice combi, never saw such beautiful colors en sharpness . I sold my canon 5d mkII with a Zeiss 35/2. This combi and especially the lens in nicer in every way. Do you have a good suggestion for a prime lens?

    Greets Herbie

  3. Hi Steve,
    I took your advice and got this lens. I don’t know if i got a bad copy but the AF is terrible, non usable essentially.. I’m so disappointed. I think I’m gonna return it and stick with VL 35 f1.2 ii.

    • I tested it on an A7s and A7II, both of which have MUCH faster AF than the A7 and A7r. What camera were you using? On the S and II it was and is QUICK. Not lighting as no 35 1.4 is, but just as fast as ANY 35 1.4 AF lens made.

  4. Steve — Thx for this review.

    Can you compare IQ, sharpness, pop to the Zeiss 55 1.8 please?

    And, when is your analysis of how this 35 compares to the 35/2.8 coming out?

    Thx

    • The comparison to the 35 2. is in my full review posted today. This is a 1st look posted a while ago. The 55 is a 55, not a 35. Different uses and focal length. With that said, the 35 kills it in all areas as far as I am concerned. I was never a huge fan of the 55 myself. Which is why I never did a dedicated review.

  5. Steve
    I already own the Zeiss 12-35mm zoom for the Sony A7s & A7II. Is that make sense to buy the Zeiss 35mm f1.4 FE?

  6. The Zeiss FE 35mm f1.4 ZA is the best 35mm lens I have ever used (better than the Sigma art or the Canon L). But for the A7 system it is simply too big and to heavy. I would like to have that lens for Canon/Nikon. http://t.co/iTWTd7WoNt

  7. Steve: Not that your opinions EVER need peer validation, but it is noteworthy that Diglloyd is gushing over the new Zeiss Distagon FE like he has never done before, not even as much with the Otus when it came out.

  8. I just picked up one of these and after a few hours of play I agree with everything steve has said, it is large but the weight is not bad at all (feels lighter than its size suggests but still solid as a rock). This lens seems to be close to the same magic that I saw with the zeiss 135 1.8. Lots of character too, can’t wait to actully give it a full days run.

  9. Hi Steve, after reading your first hand review, I ordered it and got it last Thursday from Hong Kong Sony Store. I have tried it out last few days and this lens is really amazing. But it also has some down side: it’s the size and weight. I have posted some photos and my experience with it in my Facebook page. Although it is in Cantonese, but still would like to share with you all.

    https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.401607266666840.1073741831.383539481806952&type=1

    • Exactly what I said in my first hands on look. Downside is size and weight.

      • This is a lens with character. I tried it and compare with my FE35/2.8 and VM35.4. My small conclusion is these 2 Sony 35mm prime lens, do not replace each other. Both of them have their own advantages and purposes. I will keep owning both of them. For VM, sadly it is totally beaten except its size (and also price) advantage.

        • Kenny – I ck’d out your website – great shots w/ the 35/1.4
          just wondering, under what circumstances / for what purpose would you use the 35/2.8 over the 35/1.4 – thanks, eric

          • Hi Eric, thanks for watching. Glad you enojoyed it ^^ (I invite you to like my FB page)

            For the situation that I want to go light, like doing a whole day street photography or hiking. I prefer to bring my 35/2.8. First of all, it is much much lighter. The difference is very significant if you carry it for a long day. Secondly, with a7s, low light situation is not my big concern for 2.8 lens, instead, for landscape f2.8 is more than adequate. Also, f2.8 is more stealthy for street photography. The advantage and magic of the new 35/1.4 is at its range of 1.4 to 4.0 ^^

          • Kevin, i’m not “on” FB, so i can’t “like” anything, sorry.

            One of my Qs about the 1.4 is it’s abilities at medium, long and infinity focus – and at f/5.6 – f/11. The 2.8 does very well in those situations – any thoughts yet on the 1.4 there?

          • I didn’t do such particular test at F1.4 focusing infinity. Because it is not my habit :)

  10. Any comments about to use this beauty on A6000?

  11. The rendering reminds me of photos I get from my small sony RX100 especially the blue/cyan tint around bokeh circles. I love what comes out of that small sony and I’m already loving what comes out of that zeiss 1.4. Would you say the zeiss renders slightly cooler/bluish colour tones than Leica?

    Best,

    -Lino

  12. RX1 vs a7S/a7R + 35mm 1.4? Your choice?

  13. Sony A7 series is great, FF in a small body! But what a heck for this huge 35mm f/1.4?? What is point for a small camera body with a heavy huge lens? This is always the problem with Sony…… If I want FF, I will stick with my Leica…
    Sony and Zeiss should seriously downside their lenses…

    • Not possible to do so for AF lenses. The Loxia lenses are just about Leica sized and well made as well. They are for Sony FE but manual focus. This is how Leica keeps the sizes small. Have you seen Leica’s S series lenses? :)

  14. STEVE,

    I think I will keep the Zeiss 16-35mm Zoom as a street shooter for landscapes and some portraits, since it is AF and OSS.

    I own a Voigtländer 40mm F1,4 to get the approximate look of the 35mm 1.4 Zeiss although not the Zeiss quality of course.

    I am looking for a release of an e-mount FE portrait Zeiss Prime with OSS in the 85mm or 90mm focal length. Are there any on the immediate horizon for 2015?

    What is your opinion of the non-Zeiss Sony FE 90mm F2.8 Macro G OSS?

    Thanks

  15. Steve, I just purchase the Sony Zeiss 16-35 FE Lens from B&H.

    I know prime lenses are technically better than zooms, however, the 35mm FE 1.4 lens you review looks about the same size and but it doesn’t seem to have OSS, which the Zeiss zoom does have.

    Do you think I would be better off returning the zoom and buying this lens? Do you have an idea of the possible price?

    Thanks

    • Two different lenses all together. The 16-35 is the ultra wide/wide zoom. The 35 1.4 is a fast aperture prime that will give a 100% different look at 35mm than the 16-35 will.

  16. Steve, you have me really tempted to sell my 55/1.8 and 100/2 to get this lens. Looks awesome.

  17. Looks like very tempting bokeh and creative selective focus lens, BUT I think I’ll go with the Loxia and save my A7(x) large aperture experiences for an 85mm for portraits. Hope something along this line in f/1.4 will show up sometime in the future.

  18. Steve, I think this Lens should be compared with the Zeiss Distagon 35 f/1.4 ZM, as they are very similar in terms of IQ but totally different in terms of size & weight. about a month ago you said on the Zeiss: “This one will beat the sony for size, build, feel, and character” and on the Sony you’ve said: “Will be much larger, fatter, longer and not quite as nice in the rendering… mark my words”
    now that you got the Sony, how do you think they compare?

    • I was wrong..partly. The Sony IS larger, bulkier and bigger, without question. But for the A7 series Id go with the Sony Zeiss as it has NO ISSUES with IQ. No flare, no CA, no distortion, no vignetting, and a beautiful rendering. The ZM has some issues on A7 bodies, especially the A7R. So seeing that the one with the better IQ and AF is cheaper (Sony Zeiss) that is what I would go with. If I owned an M and an A7II, Id go the ZM.

  19. Other testers revealed noticeable vignetting and soft corners with this lens.
    http://www.amateurphotographer.co.uk/reviews/compacts/sony-zeiss-distagon-t-35mm-f1-4-za-review/3

  20. It’s like he said, when you see the results you think… hmmm, maybe it’s not so large after all… haha

  21. what program do you use to apply different film filter? does it only work with RAW or Jpag as well?

  22. Very impressive this lens. I don’t want to grab out old things but what is about the “lossy” raw of Sony?

    • I’ve shot with the A7 series for over a year now, and having come from Canon, I can tell you that I don’t notice any lack of information in the files. I suppose it depends on your uses, but I think it’s much ago about nothing.

      You can look through my website, which is all shot on Sony, and tell me if you see anything that would indicate less information in the files.

      Seancookweddings.com

  23. Steve, make that shot of you in the car mirror your banner pic! Coolest selfie ever.

  24. Steve, how does this lens on the a7 II compare to the RX1R for image quality?

    I did the math. The a7 II with this lens is just $47 more than the RX1R when the optional Sony EVF is factored in.

    • The A7II and this lens is phenomenal. Again, best 35 I have ever used. It is very much like the RX1r but with an f/1.4 aperture. Same vibe and feel plus the opportunity to use other lenses which you do not get with the RX1. Faster AF, 5 Axis IS, better video, built in EVF, etc.

  25. Steve: Would you be so kind to take a couple shots of the a7II with this lens attached so we can actually see how big it is? thank you

  26. This looks like Otus territory.

  27. What I really want to know is how the Zeiss FE 35mm f1.4 compares to the Voigtlander 35mm f1.2 and even the Zeiss ZM (Leica Mount) 35mm f1.4

  28. Hi Steve
    I always enjoy reading your articles.
    There is no doubt in my mind that Sony created a revolution with the A7. To my mind the camera body is the digital equivalent to the original Leica i that Oskar Barnack created. A small light camera capable of high quality images.

    The Sony lenses though are another matter. I have no doubt that the Zeiss Sony lens is outstanding. Zeiss rarely puts its name to a dud lens. From what I can see, the differential in price between it and the Leica 35 f1.4 is the size of the lens. The Leica 35 f1.4 M lens is tiny in front of this lens. If you compare it to the Zeiss M mount 35 f1.4, the Leica is still significantly smaller than the Zeiss lens. Try the Zeiss 28mm f2.8 against the Leica 28mm f2.8, the Leica lens is significantly smaller than the Zeiss lens. The extra cost must be in the design of a smaller lens by Leica with equal or better quality of a larger lens design.

    Somebody at Leica clearly forgot about Oskar’s philosophy when they designed the M240. The M 240 is a brick. OK a high quality image taking brick but still a brick. The M9 – ME is a little smaller but the A7 body is all things that Leica isn’t. Small.

    Sony are not silly either. They recognise that no one is likely to pay leica prices for a sony zeiss lens. Hence, they design a lens around a budget. The result, a big lens.

    Right now, the choice is a small Sony A7 Body with a large Sony lens with Autofocus or a larger Leica M240 body with a small Leica manual focus lens. Alternatively try the best of both worlds with a smaller A7 body, an adapter and a small Leica M lens.

    Steve, I would love to know why Leica paint the Leica ME is a blander, unattractive shade of Battleship Grey when every other camera out there from anyone is either black of chrome. If Leica painted the ME black, I would have bought one.

    Thanks Again
    Noel

    • Leica M is smaller in some dimensions than the A7II. Definitely not a brick except in terms of a solid metal construction and a bit heavy.

    • The SEL35F14Z is designed for the Sony A7 sensor which requires a telecentric lens design and as such a larger lens. Througing more money on design and manufacturing would not change that. The Leica has a sensor with an angled array of microlenses/-prisms and still in addition applies electronic postprocessing to deal with pixel vignetting or colour shift.

  29. Might be comparing apple and oranges but any idea on how the new Zeiss compares to the Sigma 35mm Art in terms of image quality and bokeh? The Sigma is mind blowingly sharp at all apertures, so it’ll be very impressive if the Zeiss manages to beat it even if it comes at a heftier price tag.

    • There is no ART for FE mount. There is for A mount but you need the big adapter which will (I think) also slow down the AF of the ART. I usedteh ART on a 6D during my review, loved it. Great lens. I feel this Zeiss beats it for glow/pop and detail when wide open.

      • The AF of the Sigma is much slower and much, much less accurate using the adapter on the A7. The iq is absolutely fantastic when it hits, but I sent both back as it was a very frustrating combo and not worth keeping for the price.

  30. The chromatic abrasion that I experience, plus manual focus, while using the Voigtlander 35 1.2 drives me insane enough to jump ship and go full force on this lens. The Voigtlander produces great results after post, but there pros of this new Sony lens outweighs the cons of the Voigtlander. Can’t wait to trade up.

  31. Wish it was smaller but you can’t be upset when you get images like that. Beard looks sweet Steve!

  32. The huge size does not come as a surprise. Look at the SEL24F18Z for APS-C, escalate size 1.5x for each dimension, add more for the half stop extra and you are there.

    I am not sure whether I should praise Sony for bravery or blame for ignorance in view of (eventually unrealistic) consumer wishes (incl. myself), demanding (fast) “pancake” lenses that make use of the compact mirrorless body.

  33. thanks for the quick first look, can’t wait to see the full review.

  34. Another fascinating and interesting review from the “Huff” repertoire – Always makes good reading and reference. I love the 35mm format hence my acquisition of the Fuji XT1 and its 23mm F1.4 lens. I
    do however like F/Frame and now have a dilemma – The A7 and 35 mm Zeiss or RX1R – I have no desire to use any other focal length – I wonder what Steve would choose in this scenario – Hmmmmmm – Be good to know.

    Adam

    • I would say it depends on your budget and the type of shot you are taking. The A7s and A7II will have some extraneous features that you wouldn’t need (interchangeable lenses) but also come with EVF (HUGE PLUS) and the the RX1R would be more compact; which is good if you are constantly holding it.

      On the other hand I am always a big proponent of get the best (and latest) you can afford and: it’s better to have/not need than to need/not have, so if you can afford it, I would go with the A7II.

      Of course if you can afford either camera, you could probably afford to rent them for a weekend and see what you like to shoot with?

  35. Wow…beautiful images from this lens. Love the rendering. Thanks for sharing, Steve. Don’t really understand the complaints that the size defeats the purpose of mirrorless cameras. Size is just one of the advantages of mirrorless. The whole point of a camera “system” is to offer a variety of options. If you need small this isn’t the lens for you.

  36. Very low price for what it is.

  37. Canon 35/1.4L 580 g, Sony Zeiss 35/1.4 FE 630 g. A sense of proportion is needed before all the breathless excitement takes over…

    • Add in the large adapter to use that Canon on the Sony and you are just about at the same weight BUT the Zeiss will outdo the Canon big time. The Canon is an old design and in desperate need of an update. It is not in the same league as the Zeiss or even Nikon 35 1.4.

      • “Desperate” I consider a great exaggeration. Time-tested and classic come to mind. Certainly I think it would be a poor choice for a Sony A, but on its native system…

  38. Probably stupid of me to ask, but how does it perform on the A6000?

  39. Thanks for the detailed heads-up Steve!

  40. I will be purchasing the 7II in the next month or 2, and already have a number of Leica M lenses including the 35 1.4 FLE. My opinion is, I don’t think the quality difference you state (no-af is not an issue for me) is worth the extra size and having a duplicate focal length/aperture in my arsenal. Your thoughts Steve?

  41. Steve, curious to see how it compares with the Sigma 35mm 1.4 Art. Both are big lenses and the sigma is an excellent performer (I have the sony version with the adapter).

    • That’s for A mount right? Add the big adapter and you will get slower AF and larger size. I’m not a fan of converting A lenses so I do not do so. So, I can not say. I do know the 35 ART was amazing on the Canon 6D ;)

      • Omg Steve

        When you mount the LA-EA4 you are getting the same PDAF processor as found in Sony’s A99 DSLT camera. It is way faster. I own one.

        • That LA-EA4 is huge though isn’t it?

          • It’s not that big actually. It’s maybe 1.5″ thick or so. I thought it was big too before I got it. It really shines with tele primes I wouldn’t use it for focal lengths below 85. It gives a huge boost of versatility to the A7 (and NEX) systems if you need it though. Plus you can use all kinds of legacy Minolta glass

          • With the LA-EA4, my a7 is still smaller than any ff dslr, and nearly every aps-c dslr. Lots of amazing a-mount glass, particularly telephotos. Love my100/2. Not much for a wide shooter-50mm, though.

          • Which 100/2 do you mean ?

  42. The funniest timing. That seems like a solid 1-2 punch to eliminate anyone from buying the Zeiss Distagon ZM and buying this lens instead. That being said, can you tell me if the focus ring is focus-by-wire/how it feels while manually focusing?

    Thanks!

    • Nah, there will always be people who prefer MF. That was a great post of your Sean. I’m here in Austin and could feel it in the photos.

      If I could live without AF for my work I would take the smaller size of the ZM but AF is pretty important for me so I’m in for the FE.

    • I would like to know that as well. Having a manual and clickless aperture would only be worth it to me if they got rid of focus-by-wire. Otherwise it’s falling on deaf ears.

  43. Looks incredible. I’m definitely gonna start with this lens I just can’t determine if I want an A7s or an A7II :|

    • I’d go A7II. It’s my fave of the two.

      • I thought you said the A7S was your new go-to camera??? Not that it matters, you’re entitled to change your mind…Lord knows I do.

        • I own and use the A7s (as you can see here), A7II and an Olympus E-M1. I use the A7s and A7Ii but if buying NEW today, Id save the $800 and go A7II for its more fully featured and better feeling body. 5 Axis, etc.

          • I’m always torn as to which body to grab when I only need one for a shoot. The A7s is so good in the way it matches with just about any lens but the A7II is a tech tour de force and a joy to shoot.

  44. 35 mm FF focal length is the lens I use 90 % of the time. Everything from scenics to pirtraits, weddings etc. On MFT the Oly 17 mm 1.8 was just about welded to my Camera. Yes this lens is huge but for me personally not that bad since I pretty much only pack that one lens around. I love your photos they really show how beautiful this lens camera combo is. I can’t wait to test one at the store before wedding season really begins in June.

  45. Nice review. Unfortunately it is looking like the only way to get a small kit with FF lenses is to go the route of Leica. M mount lens performance on the Sonys have not had the consistency needed and it doesn’t look like there ever will be. I use both, and each system is definitely better with their native lenses.

    • Not so, Loxia lenses are just as good as the Leica counterparts, yet a fraction bigger. Built just as well, yet smoother to focus. The A7II, this lens and the Loxias are stunning.

      • Forgot about those but:
        1) You are limited to f/2 at the current moment.
        2) we don’t know about long term build quality as they were just released. I’ve used M-mount lenses that are 50+ years old and they keep going.

        but yes, those would be the best bet for a small system I prefer MF on my Sony A7s anyway.

      • Sorry Steve, but this Sony lens on an A7II compared to the Leica FLE on an M240 and the Leica wins. Yes, much more expensive, but keep it real my friend. You sold your M so you’d have to rent one to do the test.

        • I AM and ALWAYS keep it real, which is why I said what I said without worrying about being “politically correct” – this lens is every bit as good, or better than the 35 FLE. I should know, I have taken thousands of photos with the 35 FLE and the M. It’s not something I am just “saying”, it is real. In fact, I would bet this lens will show better results on the A7II than the FLE shows on an M. For color, bokeh, and detail, at 1.4. Renting an M is not cheap…but if you want me to prove my point I will. But when what I say is backed up, do not complain :)

          • I won’t complain. I just think the results will be different from what you expect. I am not in the business of spending your money, so do what’s right for you.

        • The Leica is more compact – but then so is the ZM 35/1.4. And all are more compact than their SLR equivalents. It’s not as if the M mount lenses suddenly have no purpose. :-)

          In any case, I think that Steve can speak from experience. Nothing wrong with that – and there’s nothing wrong with disagreements, either.

  46. and thanks to sony, the price is fair for that lense. people start complaining about the price but we have a zeiss distagon with a AF in this case. just compare the distagon MF for Nicon and canon and you see that the price is pretty good

  47. What a great first look. I really enjoyed the balanced nature of your review. In essence, the ZE Distagon 35 is an incredible imaging machine and wins for IQ and AF, while the smaller Loxia wins for size. Size is such a personal matter. I will have to go to my local dealer to evaluate the size of the lens, but I am sorely tempted by the IQ of this lens…Pairing it the the 55 f/1.8 FE make a potent AF combo, but is the set up front heavy? That will be my question. The Loxias seem to make a reasonable argument as a compact street shooter option for A7 system users…wow, we live in exciting times! Thanks for this review, Steve.

  48. Besides my not so liked friends the Locas a stunning performance.

    Hands down I’d spend some resolution for a loca free lens. Probably I never should have shot with this damned Otus 85. :) which shows what is possible in terms of color correction.

  49. with a lens this size I can also buy a DSLR, autofocus is faster by a mile and much more reliable, Sony’s autofocus on the A7 II is slows. Moving objects like my three year old are way too fast for the A7 II, even in good light

    • Actually not so. When I tested the D800 and tried out a Nikon 35 1.4 AF was slower, and sharpness was not up there with this combo. It was also 3X the size.

      • Steve I think you would be the first and only person to have a better AF experience on the Sony vs. a DSLR that I have ever seen. Interesting! This is coming from someone who owned a D800E for years and has given up on DSLR in favor of mirrorless and currently own a Sony.

        • I know of many others who do as well. But to be clear, I was talking about a D810 and their 35 1.4 vs the A7II or A7S and this 35 1.4. When I shot with the D800 and 35 1.4 it was not fast with AF, especially CAF. This Sony A7II and A7s (which are BOTH much faster than the old A7 and A7r) are very good with AF, and this lens is not slow to AF. It’s still not as fast as an E-M1 with 17 1.8, but there are no DSLRs that are either. ;)

          • Steve, the D810 now has the same focusing system as the D4s and twice the buffer Depth of the D800 and 30% faster processor…. From an AF perspective it’s not the same as the D800 twins.

  50. Fantastic quick review, Steve! This looks like an exciting lens. Zeiss is killing it of late. I’ll look forward to your in-depth review!

  51. with this lens and the a7II – I cannot find an excuse not to buy into the a7 system!
    I don’t know why The Post Cannot be found on the home page

  52. My favorite lens is the 55/1.8 though I also have the 35/2.8.

    Can you say any more info about how this lens compares to the 55 in terms of its IQ: details, richness of color, etc.?

    And, how does it compare to the 35/2.8?

    I’m wondering which of the 35s would be closer to the perfection that is for me, the 55.

    Thank you

  53. Looks like a very nice lens. I shoot with the Contax Zeiss 35mm F1.4, which is amazing, and I know that the ZE/ZF Zeiss 35mm F1.4 is really nice as well, so I am sure that this lens is going to be a hit. It certainly legitimizes the Sony full frame cameras now that they have a first rate lens in the lineup.
    Was wondering Steve if you have ever shot with a Sigma 35mm f1.4 ART, and how it compares to this lens?

  54. Impressive, lovely rendering of this lens. A real Zeiss. But 630 grs, 112mm long? That’s even bigger and heavier than the Nikkor 35/1.4G that’s on my D800E most of the time. Sort of defeats the purpose of a compact full frame body. Doesn’t it make the combo nose heavy?

    • Does it matter?

      Even with the A7s or A7II and a smallish lens like the Contax G 45mm, I still place my left hand under the lens for good bracing. The longer the lens, the more weight that hand holds. No different than in SLR world.

      Unless you really care about your camera tipping forward when you set it on your desk…not an issue.

      • Whether it matters is a matter of personal appreciation; balance and feel are important to me.

        Here’s an overview I picked up from another site:
        ZA 35/1.4: 79x112mm / 630g / €1600
        ZM 35/1.4: 63x65mm / 381g / €2000
        ZF 35/1.4: 78x120mm / 900g / €1650
        Sigma 35/1.4: 77x94mm / 665g / €700
        Nikon 35/1.4: 83×89.5mm / 600g / €1500

        The difference in body weights can be found anywhere on the net. Just forget the hyperbole (THREE TIMES AS HEAVY!) for a sec, just look at the figures.

  55. Crazy awesome IQ im sure but what is the point of this lens on a small mirrorless camera? Why not shoot a full frame canon or nikon dslr and get a sigma 35mm 1.4 art for half the cost of this lens? Would balance better on the larger body. This defeats the whole purpose of owning a small mirrorless camera.

    • Because a FF canon or Nikon BODY is 2X the size, bulky, much fatter and much heavier and does not have the tech of the A7II that many enjoy.

    • The purpose of owning a mirrorless camera is not solely size. Yes, they are more compact and can be setup to be lightweight and discreet, but for me, the purpose is flexibility.

  56. Steve, I have a short question. Mounted on A7 series, the 35/1.4 looks and feels the same with Samyang/Rokinon 35/1.4 (only in size and weight, not in build) ?

    • Ive never touched the Rokinon so can’t say.

    • I own the Zeiss 35 2.8, Zeiss 55 1.8, and the Rokinon 24, 35, 50, and 85 cine lenses for my A7s / Shogun (which I prefer for video, BTW). The Rokinon 35mm is seriously long and about the same weight as this lens. I am going to sell both my Zeiss primes for the new Zeiss 35 1.4. I do not care about the size and weight of lenses. In the end, it’s all about image quality. The Zeiss 55 1.8 is ridiculously sharp, but sterile in its rendering. I’m always reaching for the 35mm prime, as this is my favourite focal length. 55mm is just too restrictive in my opinion. The new Zeiss 35 has the “character” I’m looking for.

  57. It’s about time one fast lens anyways and it looks pretty darn good except for the size it would be nice to see a side by side comparison with the voigtlander 35 1.2 and maybe the leica FLE .The original
    Leica 35 1.4 rocks on my Sony a7r and its tiny it will be hard to beat that said it would be nice to have an auto focus alternative Thanks Steve you a lucky man to get all this gear to test out

  58. Steve, how about a review of the 28mm f2 for the regular working folks? this lens reminds me of an expensive watch that you would have to check the weather before you take out, it’s all good though.

    • This lens is weather sealed, the 28 is not. :) Ill also review the 28 after I do this and my LOXIA reviews. Thanks.

      • Hi Steve, looking on the Sony website the 28mm f2 also has a dust and moisture resistant design, as Sony put it.

        I always enjoy reading your reviews and am looking forward to your full review of the 35 and 28.

        Will you also review the 90? I know it’s a bit longer than your preferred focal length, but it looks like a very interesting lens.

        All the best, Kevin

  59. Steve how does it compare to the 55 FE in terms of rendering/contrast/sharpness? Given the fact that it’s TWICE the size of the 55 :(

  60. Looks like a winner! As you point out, close focus is important (at least for me) with a 35mm. Looks like this one has a nice close focus distance to compliment all its other great aspects. Nice job Zeiss!

  61. I’m curious about a comparison between this lens and the loxia 35…

  62. Steve, please make a crazy comparison with other 35mm (or aequivalent angle of view) lenses. Maybe there are some people besides me who are especially interestet how the output of this Zeiss on an A7 looks compared to a Nokton 17.5 0.95 on an OM-D, a 35mm Leica on an M9, a 23mm Fujinon on a X-T1…
    I would very appreciate this.
    Best regards
    Lolek

  63. Hey Steve, what’s your take on this versus the Zeiss ZM Distagon 35mm 1.4? I know this is AF and the ZM is manual, but at half the size and weight how would you consider IQ?

  64. e24 mounted to a7s is my cheap combo for night shot while fe2470 for day. Now this monster lens fe35f1.4 is talking me into replacing them– except for weight and bulkiness.

  65. Steve,

    please do your ‘crazy comparison’ on A7 with:

    Loxia 35 f/2
    FE 35 f/2.8
    ZM distagon 35 f/1.4
    Voigtlander VM 35 f/1.2

  66. Steve, have you had a chance to compare this with the Loxia as far as rendering, thanks

  67. Hi Steve great preview, I waited to sell my EF mount Zeiss 35mm f1.4 but now I think I’ll try to get this one! The pics you did that we see here, well…did you shot in raw or jpg? Is it possible to know which profile you set in the camera?
    Thanks!

  68. Oh my god, I had no interest in this lens when I first saw its size, but after seeing Steve Huff’s first look review, I’m starting to feel the pain that can only be cured by upgrading my Voigtlander 35mm f1.2 to this. Pray for me……

  69. Hi Steve!
    How is it compared to the sigma 35 art? I know you tested it on a 6D.

  70. Some of these images demonstrates why FF is quite a different thing than M43; sharpness is just a small part of the game…

  71. Haha Steve, told you so when you were talking about the M version ! :P
    Yes, it’s smaller, lighter than the Sony version, but they didn’t compromise on IQ or character.
    Now I need to save some money…

  72. I wonder how it compares with the Sigma 35/1.4 A

    • If the Sigma 50/1.4 Art is anything to go by, the Zeiss will be noticeably better corrected. There’s a reason the Sigma Art is cheaper than the Zeiss Otus. Getting good optical quality AND a wide aperture is not easy. Not at all. Me, I don’t care for wide apertures in any case.

  73. Leave it to Steve !
    As always showing great real world photos(instead of in some lab) and noting the important facts that potential buyers want to read. Can’t wait for full review – Thanks Steve !

  74. I wonder whether I would want to take this lens with me on an evening out with my friends, as I did with my old Leica M6 with (pre-aspherical) 35/1.4. I would not want to carry that monster around my neck and my friends would not want to get a bazooka-shaped thing stuck into their faces from a short distance.

    Of course the comparison is not fair, since today I would get better results with the “slow” 35/2.8 and the ISO cranked-up on any A7 version than with my Leica 10 years ago loaded with ASA 1600 color negativ film. And there still is the RX1.

    • Exactly my thoughts about the size of this lens as an impediment to actual use in photographing people and for daily carry. I loved my Canon 35 f1.4 but hardly ever used it due to size and weight. I will lust for the Sony 35 f1.4 but will buy the forthcoming 28 f2 because there are many indoor situations where the 35 f2.8 is a bit too long.

      • The Canon 35 1.4 with adapter is much larger than the Sony/Zeiss. Also, a Canon 35 1.4 on a Canon DSLR is 3X the size. D810 with a Nikon 35 1.4 is MUCH larger and heavier as well. Not even close. The Sony and 35 1.4 is not that bad in use at all. I used it all day and had no issues. Can not say the same when I used the Canon 6D and a Sigma 35 1.4. Killed my back after a day.

        • Thanks for putting the size in perspective. I will pre-order the 35 f1.4 as 35 and then 28 are my most used focal lengths.

        • Mirrorless lenses are surprisingly small, even the big ones. Compare the Leica Noctilux to the Canon EF 50/1.0, for example. I bet this Zeiss out-performs the SLR lenses, too.

        • Canon 35L is 580g, the 6d with battery is 770g = 1350g. The Sigma is 665g (1435g with 6d). The FE is 630g, the A7s is 507g and the A7II is 599g = 1137/1229g. Not saying there isn’t a size/weight advantage with the FE, but we’re talking 4.3 ounces between the 35L/6d and the A7II/FE combos – of the weight of your phone.

          The Sony is also wider (78.5 vs 77mm diameter) and longer (112 vs 94mm) than the Sigma. The only real difference is the size/weight of the body. I like the FE, but $1600 is ridiculous when the Sigma Art is just $899 new and much cheaper used.

          I really don’t see where Sony is going with this and the macro – it really negates the small/light advantages of mirrorless. More lenses like the FE55 are what the E-mount needs, not DSLR sized lenses costing almost twice as much.

          Just my opinion.

          • I wouldn’t use the ART on the A7 for one simple reason. The need for the big adapter. The more i use this lens, the more amazed I am by it. Never have used a 35 1.4 with this quality. I do not think they could have made it smaller, kept AF and this quality. Also, cameras like the 6D are fat in the hand, bulky and I prefer an EVF anyway to any DSLR VF. The EVF’s today are superb. But I will show a D810 with Nikon 35 1.4 next to the Sony A7II and 35 1.4 in my review. HUGE difference in size. The 6D is a nice sized DSLR though, not too large like some. When I shot the 6D and the 35 ART it was large in my hand, much larger than my A7II and 35 1.4 Zeiss.

          • They already have a small and light 35mm … The 35mm f1.4 fills a different nitch …. Why not have both? In fact, don’t the other brands? Nikon has an F1.4 lens that’s about same size and weight as this Sony…and they also have a couple of smaller lighter and slower 35mm for those that want them…. No issue with Sony doing the same for the FE line.

      • The 35/1.4 is about the same size and a bit less heavy than the 24-240. And people are supposed to carry that thing all day. We have to get used to that, rather than glorify the Leica days (which actually were not that glorious).

  75. Now THAT is a 35mm lens for the Sony….who cares about the size, with that kind of detail I would buy this lens in a heartbeat…if I shot a Sony:)

  76. it is a beautiful lens but i would like to see it on the A7II or A7s cameras for sizing.

  77. Great to see the first review of this amazing lens. very tempting.

    The OOC image of the Red Bronco show just how good is the A7s and this lens….very rich and gorgeous. VSCO totally ruins it.

  78. Shut up and take my money Mr Zeiss!

  79. Give me one of that :-) What a great landscape / portrait lens.

  80. WOW. I didn’t think I wanted this lens. I knew I didn’t need it but damn. Now I want it.

  81. Wow. Looks impressive. Will you compare to Leica 35 cron?

  82. Thanks for the great review Steve, I’m big fan of your website. I have a question for you: which glass do you prefer the most IS wise: this Sony-Zeiss 35 f1.4 or the Voigtlander 35 f1.2 (of course, manual). Thanks for your comments!

  83. Great shots. The size is a bit of a downer but no doubt there will be some very happy owners when this lens is released

  84. My M9 sensor is dead… as many others. RIP Leica. Change all my stuff for Sony’s. The a7II is amazing just come back from Thailand. ….. Maybe i m gonna keep my 35 & 50 summicron lenses … that’s not sure. How can Leica do that to their customers …..? 3 months to change a sensor with the same …. sensor; LOL ! Definitly i get my M9 back from Westlar.. no touch it and sell ASAP! Please Sony do not buy Leica…..

    • It takes so long because everybody is sending their cameras to Leica wether the sensor needs replacement or not. Just because it does not cost money. Even when no sensor change is nessecary, the camera will be checked and cleaned by Leica before they send it back. Lots of work for a small company. In fact only a few sensors are defective and most will live without any problems now and in the future. But people think every M9 needs a replacement which is wrong.
      You cant blame Leica for that. No other manufactorer has a better service than Leica. That is my experience.

      • I’ve had a very different experience from you. I just got back my M9 & MM, both of which required a sensor replacement due to corrosion related issues. And, I have test shots (less than 2 weeks after returning) showing more examples of dots. I’m not saying that the dots in these replaced photos definitively are again corrosion. But, I haven’t done anything to clean the sensor on my own, the cameras were returned very recently, I haven’t changed any lenses in open air conditions, and the dots appear in the same place on the images despite different lenses being used (28mm, 35mm, 50mm).

        The service I’ve received has been fair, not great, not poor. I gave Leica 6 weeks to get my cameras returned, or have a loaner sent prior to a planned shoot. Even though they assured me a loaner M240, circumstances occurred that I didn’t get my M9 or a loaner M240 in time for the shoot, so I was forced to use film. Not a problem for personal work (I enjoy film), but not what I was expecting from their service department for a planned shoot they knew about 6+ weeks early.

        I’m not trying to create any arguments; rather, just sharing my poor experiences of late.

        • My M-E was sent in last year before news of Leica’s temporary solution came out. So I was not one jumping on the bandwagon unnecessarily. It took 3 months before I got the camera back.
          Unacceptable.

          What is worse is the current ‘fix’ is just replacing the sensor with the exact same one that has the same problem.
          Leica should not be selling this camera knowing there is an issue with the sensor. It should be pulled from the shelves until they have a real resolution.

      • Can’t say anything about the Leica service. But Sony does it quite well. My A7r fell about 2 meters down on asphalt with the 16-35 mm attached. The lens was fine but the ring where you attach the lens was bent in. I called Sony and they gave me an address where I could ship the body or bring it in. I dropped it off there – two days later I had an offer for fixing it or trade it in against a new one (which surprised me). I decided to fix it and had it back after a week. Looks like new and works perfectly. So all over I would not call this bad service at all.

    • Last week I tried the M7. Wow what a liberation. Changing film(sensor) is not a big deal.
      Film is just cool. There was not a single image that I would not keep. I feel that photography is back to the hands of the photographer.

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