The Zeiss Loxia 35 Biogon f/2 Lens Review

TITLE

The Zeiss Loxia 35 Biogon f/2 Lens Review on the Sony A7II

Here we are, another day, another week, another month and another year. Man, 2015 is here and it boggles my mind at how fast the time goes by. Seems like it was just yesterday that the camera world was a buzz about the Zeiss Touit lenses for Sony and Fuji. Those were some great lenses but today, for the Sony full frame system, we have something even better. The Zeiss Loxia line.

imagelens

The Loxia line of lenses consists of just TWO lenses for now, the 35mm Biogon f/2 and the 50mm f/2 Planar. Thanks to Zeiss,  I have been lucky enough to be shooting with BOTH of these lenses on my beautiful A7II camera (that has taken #1 top spot over the A7s for me) and let me tell you…once you shoot with this setup of an A7II and the Loxia lenses, you will not want to be without them. The only problem is that these are VERY hard to find IN STOCK as they have been much more popular than Zeiss imagined. I expect this review to make them even more desirable as both Loxia lenses are SUPERB.

Click images for larger and better view! All with A7II and the 35 Loxia

DSC07075

DSC07115

The Size and Build

First off, the size of the Loxia lenses is on the small side. I know when these lenses were first launched many were thinking they would be large or bulky, but that is not the case. The Loxia line is smaller than the Touit line for APS-C and not much larger than their Leica M counterparts. THIS is good news. Also, the lenses feel fantastic in the hand and when on the camera. The build is solid, with metal parts and mount. The focusing ring is silky smooth and the aperture dial is solid yet never stiff.

My video showing the Zeiss Loxia Line of lenses for Sony FE

The Loxia line is all manual focus and I LOVE THEM for this. Because these are manual focus, the size was kept down and compared to DSLR lenses of the same spec (high quality pro DSLR lenses) these are much smaller. Even with the included metal hoods, these lenses are still small, and fit the camera just right. No front heaviness, no bulky huge monster size, no looking like you are pointing a bazooka in someones face when taking an image of them.

cam

From the packaging to the product itself, the Loxia line is quality all the way.

I used to be a huge fan, and still am, of the Zeiss ZM line, which is the Leica M mount line from Zeiss. Many use these on their Sony A7 bodies and are happy though some have corner issues. Some will have magenta sides, soft edges, and slight issues. The wider the ZM or Leica M mount lens and the more problems there are on the Sony cameras. With the Loxia line, those issues are gone as these are specially made for the Sony full frame sensors. They work, and they work well.

Click any image in this review for a larger sized and much nicer looking image. All with the Loxia 35 f/2 on the Sony A7II. EXIF is embedded.

DSC07102

steps

DSC07081

The Beauty of Zeiss mixed with the beauty of the A7II

The A7II (my full review here) is one hell of a camera. I have praised it to everyone I meet as it truly is a mature A7 body. It is solid, it is very well designed, and the sensor is fantastic. With the 5 Axis IS that works for ANY lens attached to the camera to the nice EVF and ease of manual focusing, the A7II is truly a fantastic camera. With lenses like the Loxia’s made for these cameras as well as the new and special Sony lenses coming out for it (35 1.4, 28 f/2, 90 Macro, etc) this system is now fully fleshing out. In just a year and a half Sony has pumped out MANY amazing pieces of glass for the A7 system, and today no one can complain about lack of lenses.

With the Zeiss Loxia line though, what we have is a special set of lenses that will appeal strongly to many, and not at all to others. Not everyone can get along with manual focus, and many are not even interested in trying. I do feel though that once someone tries these lenses on their A7 body, they will fall for them hard. There is a certain beauty of using these lenses with the cameras they were designed to be used with. The solid feeling, the smooth focus and the final image is just so nice.

As always, the Zeiss look is here with nice pop, color and separation of background from subject. At f/2 the lens shows its true character and is just what I would expect from a Zeiss lens. Zeiss color, Zeiss sharpness, and the Zeiss signature is all here in the 35 f/2 Biogon.

DSC07122

DSC07121v

DSC07123

What about the Zeiss 35 f/2.8 or the Zeiss 35 1.4 for the FE system?

With the Loxia 35 f/2, we now have THREE native 35mm lenses to choose from for the A7 system. First, we have the original 35 f/2.8 which is an amazing lens. Small, light, auto focus, and also has that Zeiss color and pop. The only issue with the 35 f/2.8 is the aperture. At f/2.8 it is not a speed demon, and today so many love their “fast glass”. Many want f/1.4, which we also have in the new Zeiss 35 1.4 for the FE system. My 1st look is HERE and that is one hell of a lens. Probably the best 35 1.4 I have ever tested, ever. The only issue with that lens is the size. It is a MONSTER. It is HUGE.

See the size comparison of all three of these lenses below:

sizes

The Loxia stands in the middle ground for size, and on camera is the best feeling as well. I admit though, I do prefer the rendering and character of the Zeiss 35 1.4 over the Loxia but for many it will just be too large and cumbersome. Many will prefer the manual focus action and size of the Loxia and some will remain happy as a clam with their 35 f/2.8 Zeiss. You just can not go wrong with any of these. They are all beautiful in their own way.

More images from the Loxia 35 f/2 on the A7II – click them for larger!

DSC07137

DSC07134

A QUICK COMPARISON:  35 Loxia, 35 1.4, 35 2.8

Below is a quick OOC comparison from all three 35mm FE Native lenses. First, since this is the Loxia review I will start with the Loxia. Then I will show the same shot from the 35 1.4 and again from the 35 2.8. THIS IS JUST to show RENDERING differences and what to expect from 1.4 to 2.8. Which rendering do you prefer? Here, I like the POP of the Loxia but the creaminess of the 35 1.4!

All three images are OOC RAW from the Sony A7II and each lens WIDE OPEN to show differences of Aperture, which is what the differences are here. CLICK THEM for larger!

1st, the Loxia and the A7II, at f/2 – click it!

LOXIA

Now the awesome Sony/Zeiss 35 1.4 at 1.4

ZEISS3514

Now the Zeiss 35 2.8

ZEISS3528

crops35

Before anyone says “these should have all been done at the same aperture..well, no, they should not have. The main reason to get one of these over the other is APERTURE speed! So the shot above shows what each lens will do at its fastest aperture speed. f/1.4, f/2 and f/2.8. Three different lenses, three different sizes, three different price points.

Crops and Full size images

While this is a short review as most lens reviews for me are, I will still show you two images that will show you more about what this lens will do when stopped down. Below are two shots. The 1st one is a simple shot at f/9 with a crop. Straight from RAW with no sharpening added. The second shot is a full size image from RAW at f/8. You can right click these to open the image in a new window or tab to see the full size out of camera file.

1st shot, click it to see a larger version with 100% crop embedded. This one was at f/9, no sharpening added. From RAW. A7II.

f9crop

This next image is a Sedona AZ scene shot with the Loxia 35 at f/8. Right click and open in a new window to see the full size file from RAW. A storm was brewing for sure 😉 

full2

sedon3

For me, I always find the rendering of Zeiss glass to be pretty fantastic. Zeiss is up there with Leica, without question but the lenses from Zeiss offer a different character, a different color signature and a different kind of feel. Both are at the top of the heap but which you prefer is up to you. I love Leica M glass and I also adore Zeiss glass. The Loxia line for me strikes that perfect balance between M glass and FE glass. They have the build of the Leica lenses with the feel and smoothness of premium Zeiss glass. The size is nothing like a larger bulky DSLR lens, but instead in between M size and APS-C sized glass. The fit is perfect for the A7 series.

DSC07099

DSC07114

DSC07100

Conclusion:

I won’t beat around the bush here. The Zeiss Loxia line has lived up to the Zeiss reputation and they have delivered two beautiful lenses in the 35 Biogon and 50 Planar. My 50 review will be coming in the next few days and for me, THAT one is the best of the lot. Even so, this 35mm is fantastic and I feel it beats the Zeiss 35 Biogon ZM when being used on a Sony A7 body, as the Loxia is MADE for the FE system. No adapter is needed and the build beats the ZM line from Zeiss as well.

The Zeiss pop, color and rendering are all here. The Bokeh of the 35 f/2 is not the best ever, but it is typical of the 35 Zeiss Biogon ZM, not much difference there at all. I have never seen a perfect Bokeh lens, ever. The best I have seen is from the Leica 50 Noctilux, the Leica 50 APO and the Panasonic Nocticron for Micro 4/3. The 35 f/2 Loxia is nice but Bokeh is a personal thing. What one person loves, another may say is “busy” or not good. I love everything about the Loxia from the detail to the tad bit of glow when shot wide open at f/2. For me, all Zeiss needs is a 21 or 28 and an 85 f/2 Loxia. THAT would be amazing to have a full set of Loxia lenses covering wide to portrait. I can only imagine how good an 85 f/2 would be as the old 85 f/2 ZM was magical.

I highly recommend the Loxia 35 f/2. If you can handle manual focus you will be in heaven. Speaking of manual focus, if you have never done it on the A7 series, using the Loxia may just convert you. It is a wonderful experience and I have had NO out of focus shots in all of the ones I shot with the Loxia line. It is very easy to do, especially as the A7II auto magnifies the scene when you turn the focus ring. Quick, easy, and a fun experience. When you hit that shot you feel rewarded for your work.

As for the Loxia 35 and A7II vs the RX1r? That is a no brainer for me. In fact, the Sony RX1r is $2798 today. The A7II with Loxia 35 is $2998. A difference of $200. With the A7II you gain a nicer body, faster AF, built in EVF (RX1 has no built in EVF), the opportunity to use so many other lenses, the 5 Axis IS, etc. The A7II and Loxia would be the much better buy today. No brainer.

As for the 35 Zeiss ZM vs the Loxia, well, they are very similar in output but with the Loxia you will not have any colored edges. The Biogon Zm and Loxia have nearly the same color signature, bokeh and detail but the Loxia is better made and feels much better in use, and it is made for Sony FE. There ya go.

Most of my shots with the 35 were taken on a stormy overcast day in Sedona AZ during a test run of trails with my new Jeep (that I will use for 3-4 one on one day photo tours this year in Sedona, info and video soon). It was a fun day, and the Loxia and A7II never disappointed. 😉

DSC07093

DSC07091

DSC07058

DSC06891

Where To Buy?

The Loxia line is available at the recommended dealers below. ALL of whom I vouch for 100%! The Zeiss Loxia 35 f/2 is $1299 and worth every cent!

PopFlash.comThey have the 35 in stock NOW!

B&H PhotoTheir Loxia Page

—————————–

PLEASE! I NEED YOUR HELP TO KEEP THIS WEBSITE RUNNING, IT IS SO EASY AND FREEE for you to HELP OUT!

Hello to all! For the past 7 years I have been running this website and it has grown to beyond my wildest dreams. Some days this very website has over 200,000 visitors and because of this I need and use superfast dedicated web servers to host the site. Running this site costs quite a bit of cash every single month and on top of that, I work full-time 60+ hours a week on it each and every single day of the week (I received 200-300 emails a DAY). Because of this, I need YOUR help to cover my costs for this free information that is provided on a daily basis.

To help out it is simple, and no, I am not asking you for a penny!

If you ever decide to make a purchase from B&H Photo or Amazon, for ANYTHING, even diapers..you can help me without spending a penny to do so. If you use my links to make your purchase (when you click a link here and it takes you to B&H or Amazon, that is using my links as once there you can buy anything and I will get a teeny small credit) you will in turn be helping this site to keep on going and keep on growing.

Not only do I spend money on fast hosting but I also spend it on cameras to buy to review, lenses to review, bags to review, gas and travel, and a slew of other things. You would be amazed at what it costs me just to maintain this website, in money and time. Many times I give away these items in contests to help give back you all of YOU.

So all I ask is that if you find the free info on this website useful AND you ever need to make a purchase at B&H Photo or Amazon, just use the links below. You can even bookmark the Amazon link and use it anytime you buy something. It costs you nothing extra but will provide me and this site with a dollar or two to keep on trucking along.

AMAZON LINK (you can bookmark this one)

B&H PHOTO LINK – (not bookmark able) Can also use my search bar on the right side or links within reviews, anytime.

Outside of the USA? Use my worldwide Amazon links HERE!

You can also follow me on Facebook, TwitterGoogle + or YouTube. 😉

One other way to help is by donation. If you want to donate to this site, any amount you choose, even $5, you can do so using the paypal link HERE and enter in your donation amount. All donations help to keep this site going and growing! I do not charge any member fees so your donations go a long way to keeping this site loaded with useful content. Thank you!

Related Post

103 Comments

  1. I thought, maybe I am wrong, and I miss the autofocus, so this summer I left my 35 mm Loxia at home.

    Instead brought with me my Sony/Zeiss 2,8, that was to prefer on daytime due to a bit better sharpness and contrast and the Sony/Zeiss 1,4 that was to prefer on very dark places where the ISO was more than about 1000 at 2,8. The Sony A7II handles high ISOs very well, so I find that high speed lenses are not needed in a traveling kit, if you got low speed lenses with the same or better image quality. I am very happy about the images. They are sooo sharp and clear, and made quicker with the autofocus. I felt happy about returning to autofocus plus the Sony/Zeiss 2,8 is so small and lightweight.

    I made a few more shots of the same subject with both the Sony/Zeiss 2,8 and Loxia 35 mm.

    When I now have looked through the newer and older photos I got back to my former standpoint. Where the Sony/Zeiss 2,8 looks supersharp, in most cases the Loxia 35 mm is actually even more sharp when comparing them directly. I think the Loxia 35 mm photos look smoother, got more micro contrast, deeper blacks and more 3-d pop, organic and “real”.

  2. Thank you! Me too love the Loxia 35 smoothness, sharpness, and bokeh. It is also very resistance against haze and displays stars around the sun or lamps (As also the Loxia 50 does). Do you think this is the very sharpest lens at centre? I am in love! In my opinion, only when taking photos of a city skyline by night or similar photos, the Sony/Zeiss 1,4 or Sony/Zeiss 2,8 image is to prefer, because of coma aberrations of the Loxia shows up.
    Kind regards

  3. isn’t the aperture manual on these lens also? which means you had to focus wide open and then close down to the taking aperture; yes?

    • Not one photo in this review was done in this way. If I wanted to shoot at f/4 I focused at f/4. Same with all apertures. But to be honest, I would mostly shoot this lens wide open, at least 90% of the time.

  4. Hey Steve, I found this lens perfect for my a7rii but do you think due to lack of auto feature, shooting moving objects will be trouble with this lens.

  5. I am trying to decide between the Loxia or the Distagon for my Sony A7S. I was leaning at Loxia- but now wavering towards the Distagon! Sigh… Is it’s size really awkward for street and everyday use? Which lens to take to a desert island? 🙂

    • Well this lens is much smaller than the Distagon. Truth be told, the 35 1.4 is a GORGEOUS lens but due to the size I would take the Loxia 75% of the time.

  6. Great review of the Loxia 35mm!
    I just wonder whether I am going to like its MF?

    I came from Leica M9 with its MF but because of my eye sight getting worse (I’am 81) I decided in 2013 to switch to the RX1 with AF. I am now considering purchasing the Sony A R7II.

    The Distagon T 35 mm F1.4, with AF could be a better choice but I dislike its heavy weight and dimensions.
    What is your advise regarding going for the Loxia with MF?
    Will this pose a problem for me or is its MF easier to use than on the Leica M9?
    Thanks for your advise!
    Harry

    • It is easier it MF with the A7II and A7RII than the Leica. Very easy to see as you set the EVF for your eyesight so it is clear when you focus. I love the Loxias, my fave two lenses on the A7RII and A7s, I keep coming back to them for their size, color, contrast and Zeiss look.

  7. Great review, I’m sorely tempted to go back to manual focus … and move to the States!

    One left field question. Can you recommend a telephoto lens,100mm+ for the Sony A7s or A7ii? I own an RX1 which I love, but need the extra length for an upcoming trip to the Lofoten islands in Norway.

    Thanks

    Richard

  8. Thanks for your (as always) awesome reviews. You are providing a unique perspective in the camera / lens review arena that is invaluable.

    I have a Sony RX1R that I picked up a couple years ago and absolutely love that camera. I’ve got the EVF attached, which admittedly makes the whole thing a bit awkward and knobby, but it is a great EVF. I used that camera for many travel experiences as my only camera and came back with great shots. More recently, having been thrilled with Sony’s new cameras, I purchased an a7ii and the Zeiss Loxia 35 f/2.0. Wow that is a fantastic combination! And I think your review really acknowledges that. The manual focusing is easy with focus peaking if you are not shooting action and it is actually quite an enjoyable (retro) experience. I’m truly thrilled with this combo.

    So I read your review and saw your comment about the a7ii w/Loxia 35 vs RX1R as a no brainer and, while I completely understand your perspective, I thought I had to comment. If I were starting from scratch today and making an initial purchase, I agree that the a7ii and Loxia 35 would be a much better choice given the quality of interchangeable lenses coming to market. But there may be some out there who still wonder about the RX1R. So for them, here’s what you get with the RX1R that you don’t get with the other combo: it’s smaller and lighter (good for some but not so good with others with big hands), there is autofocus (although it admittedly could be improved), there is a built in flash, there is a great macro mode, and you get a silent shutter. I love the silent shutter! As I said, the a7ii in most situations is probably the smarter choice given the tech upgrades, in body stabilization, and interchangeable lenses, but the RX1R has a classic charm as a street camera that I can’t not defend in the comparison. If Sony builds in an EVF and boosts all of the other specs with the next upgrade to the RX1R, they are going to have another real winner. And for those in the used RX1/RX1R market now, these are outstanding cameras as long as you are comfortable with fixed 35mm and mediocre autofocus.

    So I should be selling my RX1R since I upgraded to the a7ii with interchangeable capability, but I haven’t been able to part with it yet. Having moved to an a7ii, the next RX1R upgrade will undoubtedly leave me a little unsettled.

  9. In the pics comparing the bokeh of the three lenses, the 35mm 2.8 looks nicer than the 35mm f2, which has sharp outlines. Look at the outlines on the left, the blinds, and further back. Based on that image, I’d buy the 2.8 over the 2.

  10. Steve, thanks for another great review!
    Just a little question: you wrote that you’ve never seen a lens with a perfect bokeh… of course perfection doesn’t exist, but have you ever tried the Sony 135 STF? Just because it is one of the very few lenses in the market made exclusively to have an amazing bokeh!
    Thanks

  11. Hi Steve,
    first of all thanks for your great reviews.
    And now here is my situation and question: I`ve got the A7ii and most the time i shot the 28-70 Kit Lens or my Nikon 50mm 1.8 G with a Novoflex adapter. This setup works fine but now I want to go for a “Zeiss” prime Lens. In point of..sharpness, build quality and “versatility”(portrait, landscape, daily shots) which Lens would you prefer for the A7ii: The Sony 35/f2.8, Zeiss Loxia 35/f2 or the Zeiss 16-35/f4?

    Cheers

    Jakob

  12. Steve,

    This lens looks like an attempt to remake the Zeiss 35mm Biogon F2 leica mount lens for the Sony full frame series. How does the Loxia compare to the Biogon on the same Sony camera?

  13. I’m not much of a car bloke, but I just love that orange Jeep. Haven’t been to Sedona for 30 years, whole place is just magic.

      • My suggestion would be to move to the cathedral side vs the airport side or in the main town. I’m not into all that vortex stuff as I don’t react to it as strongly as my wife does, but after a few days I can definitely feel the airport side of town feels much more hectic (best word I can find). I can’t really relax there. Moving from the city to area you may not recognize it at first because you are use to that type of energy, but if you are moving there to have a more relaxing environment, then consider getting as far away from the Airport vortex as you can 🙂 But if you do like that side, move out closer to Enchantment.

  14. Looks like both Sony Zeiss are misfocused in that comparison. The beard is sharper than the eyes. Also, for the 35 1.4, the eyes show obvious green fringing on the reflections in the eye, another indicator for a misfocused image.

    When properly focused, the difference should be smaller even at f1.4 vs f2.

  15. Steve, no mention about the electronic communication with the camera? As far as I know, full EXIF data and manual focus magnification is transferred. But what about focal length to enable the 5-axis IBIS? I thought with manual focus lenses the focal length needs to be manual entered for the A7II. Is this not the case for the Loxias?

    • I actually have the same question.

      My guess is that the focal length would be communicated so the basic 3-axis IBIS would be automatically activated if it is on (in any case, it would be just a matter of inputting this info manually on the body). What I really wonder is whether the Loxia provides the body with the actual focal distance information needed to activate the full 5-axis IBIS, which is something we can’t set in a menu…

  16. Really like the look of the Biogon lenses. Very sharp and modern, with an almost ‘glassy’ smooth rendering.
    Hard to believe how big that 35 1.4 is. I guess Zeiss more or less lifted the design straight from the A Mount version. The Loxia lenses are more in line with the size I want to deal with, hopefully they’ll come out with some more focal lengths, maybe a 100mm macro similar to the ZF.2/ZE version?

  17. Nice post,thanks!! I have to mention something.In the crop’s of the face I see that the 35 f2.8 is focused at the nose and the 35 f1.4 at the moustache while the 35 f2 at the eye.So it’s not a fair comparsion…..am I right?

  18. Personally, I don’t enjoy the characteristic of the out of focus rendering in some shots. If one enlarges the picture of the little statue, then the background is so restless that it takes the attention away from the actual topic. (Gives me the impression that I drank something else than coffee this morning). The comparison shot exhibits this to a (much) lesser extent (background next to his left ear and where the leaves cross the light from the window), although I find the skin tone of the Loxia most pleasing of the three lenses. Of course this is all personal and its character is definitely unique and different from the masses

  19. I guess we have a misunderstanding here, probably due to me not being native English speaking.
    When looking up “rendering” in my dictionary, I get a general meaning, something like “the giving”. So the question is here: the rendering of what?
    In this comment, I wanted to agree with Steve, that obviously the 1.4FE gives (renders) more blur, more bokeh. Not necessarily a more beautiful bokeh, just giving more of it, rendering more bokeh. That’s how I understood this.
    I specifically thought of bokeh here, because I know how important that is for Steve. So when he talked about the rendering, I reckoned he referred to the bokeh. Maybe that was my mistake. But if I wàs mistaken, and if Steve reads this, I’d like to know where he was referring to, if it was not bokeh.
    For me, bokeh is somewhat less important though. And now that I see that Steve also added the 100% crops of the comparison pictures, I definitely prefer the Loxia. It has more clarity, more detail and to my eye a greater and much more subtle dynamic range – a significant difference with both the Sony/Zeiss FEs. I find it to be no surprise to me that a “thrue” Zeiss lens outperformed the Sony/Zeiss lenses. So if it would be my article, I would say that the Loxia renders more, referring to all other parameters, next to bokeh, that I value more. But of course, this is a personal appreciation. I know many readers of this site are bokeh lovers…
    Thinking of what Steve writes here and taking into account that he tried so many more 35mm lenses than I have, I conclude (from my pov) that the Loxia must be the best 35mm that A7x shooters can buy today. Just what I have been thinking all the time, since the first shot I took with mine, that blew me away. IMHO, the 1.4FE can only be preferred by one who puts blur (the amount of bokeh) on top of his wish list. The fact that the Loxia pops more at f/2 than the Sony1.4FE does at f/1.4 is very meaningful in this respect. I believe thàt to be one of the more intrinsic parameters of lens quality. Bokeh quality is as well, but then we must compare at the same apertures – otherwise we speak about bokeh quantity, which to me is different from quality.

    • This was a respons to Alexei, who commented under #3. I don’t know why my comment is placed here…

  20. Steve,

    Which one is for you? the loxia or the sony/zeiss?

    I already preordered the sony/zeiss but i can still cancel it 🙂

      • …or the ZM Distagon provides a good balance of size and central image quality, while giving up a bit in the corners, which is not such a minus for many. Of course, it is a good bit more expensive.

  21. Hi Steve, First time adding a comment but have followed many of your reviews. Fantastic work and I really enjoy them!! Steve, we have a small photo business and have used Olympus for a few years exclusively and they make fine products. (We use 2 EM-1s and 1 EM-5 with their top glass). Very recently I sold one of he EM-1s and purchased the Sony A7II and the Loxia 50mm. What a combination! The manual focus is just so brillant how a slight turn of the focus ring magnifies the scene and can be then focused pin sharp. The images this combination can produce are astounding. The combination of the 7II and Loxia also feels like a brick and resonates quality. Maybe it is just me but in my eyes there is something “different” in rendering between a MFT image and Full frame image. Thanks Bill

  22. How would you compare the IQ of shots with the Loxia 35 and IQ of shots taken with the RX-1 with its dedicated 35mm lens? I have the latter and also recently purchased the A7II. The only prime I’ve purchased is the 55 1.8 (which I love). I didn’t buy the 35, telling myself that I could cover that length with my RX-1. The bottom line: Is the IQ of the Loxia worth it if I already own an RX-1?

    • Hello Sascha,
      Although I preferred the ZM Planar over the Sonnar, I guess when Zeiss would rework the ZM Sonnar for Loxia, this would make for an even better lens. I think I would buy it, since sometimes the faster 1.5 aperture can make a difference. I preferred the Planar, because I thought the Sonnar to be too “capricious”. But I expect a Loxia Sonnar to be more “reliable”, if you know what I mean. Many love the Sonnar’s capriciousness for its character, and I value that as well, and, like I said, put in the Loxia concept, I guess it really would appeal to me. So we’re both looking forward.
      I expect it to be not for the upcoming few years, since Zeiss will surely give priority to other focal lenghts.
      @Alain: the ZM Sonnar works fine, but the Loxia’s work quite better on the Sony, since they were specially engineered for their sensor and ZM was engineered for film.

      • The EVF of the Sony A7 would enable to compensate the focus-shift of the Sonnar (one of my farorite lens on the Leica), so a Sony version would be indeed very desirable, though, as I understand from my different readings, there are less issues on Leica lenses from 50mm onward on the Sony A7. But an optimisation for the Sony sensot would be just perfect.

        • Hey Alain!

          Yes you are right, the Sonnar works quiet well on the A7´s. The Corners are actually not that good also when beeing stoped down but it performs acceptably well when not beeing too Pixel beeperish :). Wide open it performs like a dream. Focus shift is also not a Problem at all as you did mention above

          But I got the 35mm Loxia and in terms of handeling they are as far from each other as two Manual Focus lenses could be (talking about all ZM vs Loxia lenses in General). The focusing is just so convient from the automaticle magnification to the big travel distance of the Focus ring. I might even be confident enough to take the loxia when traveling soon

      • Hello Dirk! Nice to hear from you again! What did you think about the Review that i sent to you? I guess it didnt impress you too much as I believe that you barely shoot wide open. Unfortunately I got to agree with you here… Zeiss will be targeting a high market share first. To accomplish this i suppose wide- and Portrait lenses will have a higher priority as the dreamy Sonnar. Actually I just replaced my Sonnar with the FE 35/55 as I am going to travel pretty much in this year. But the convienient focusing of the Loxia doesnt put me far behind autfocus… I might even take the loxia to my trip to Vietnam I am planning right now. But for sure I will have a new Sonnar back in my Hands quiet soon again. So far it has always been finding ist way back to me :).

        Well… maybe we can both look Forward an 21mm loxia.. I suppose this one should be a litte higher on Zeiss priority list as well and would compliment the loxia quiet well.

        Wishing you a great day
        Sascha

  23. Hi Steve,

    A welcome thank you for this nice review.
    We all are still waiting for the final, blast, review of the Sony/Zeiss 1,4.

    It looks like there is only a tiny difference in terms of I.Q between Loxia and Zeiss 2,8.
    As a family guy, I prefer the 2,8 over Loxia because:

    – AF available if needed
    – 2,8 looks almost like 2,0 from the Loxia
    – the better bang for the buck

    But I still thinking about to get the 1,4 so when will your review be available ?

  24. Well it Wasn’t really taken abuzz, was it Steve? They didn’t really sell intact. Which is the reason they have been so heavily discounted.

    • What wasn’t taken abuzz? No idea what you are talking about. Can’t be these lenses as they are sold out everywhere and hard to get. Can’t be the A7II as it is selling way above expectations for Sony. Not sure what is discounted? The old A7? That was to make way for the new II. Happens with all cameras from all manufacturers every time a new model is released. But let me know what you are talking about because I really have no clue. 😉

  25. Hi Steve! Thanks for the great review!

    What difference do you see between this lens and the 16-35 f4 FE zoom lens when used at 35?

    Thanks!

    • HUGE. The 16-35 is an f/4 AF lens from Sony, and it is huge. 35 at f/4 will look much different than 35 at f/2, f/2.8 or f/1.4. Way more DOF (less background blur)

  26. Manual focusing is Ok, but what I don’t get is no preset aperture ! This means that you are focusing with the actual aperture which is perfect at f2 but not so when you close to f5.6 or more since the dof misleads you and you have every chance to be slightly out of focus (try focusing at 8 and then open at f2, you’ll see that the focus point can often be off your target). This means you do not really control the extent of your dof, ie how you want your subject to be located into the in focus zone, which for me is a pity : it would have been better to increment an electronic control of the aperture by the camera since it is a dedicated lens.

    • Why would you want to focus at one aperture and then stop down or up to shoot? Just focus at whatever aperture you intent to shoot at and no issues. If I want to shoot at f/4, I stop down to f/4, focus and shoot. Same with f/2 or f/8. I would not focus at f/8 and then stop down to f/2 to shoot.

      • When focusing manually, to achieve critical focus it is best to use a fully open aperture, regardless of the aperture you intend to shoot at. If you focus at f8 using the focus peaking your subject will be inside the sharp zone but the focus wont be on your subject, it will be somewhere ahead or behind your subject… It is OK if you are happy with zone focusing, but for closeup shoots far less. You have to focus at full aperture and then stop down to nail the focus right (which, once again, is an issue when you are close to the subject), since the more DOF you have the more imprecise focus peaking gets (you can test this easily on a mirrorless camera with, for instance, a manual Macro lens).

    • Dear Alan, did you ever try a Loxia 35? Maybe you should look at some pics published on this site in my article about this lens. The ability to render perfect detail over a large dof is remarkable. And you can look at quite some pics at full size, taken with 36MP. Furhter, when you wanna control the extend of your dof, this camera is fantastic: just look(!) in the viewfinder. Did you even ever try an EVF? If yes, you should know. And when you wanna place your subject very precisely and determine a hyper delicate dof, you can magnify in the EVF. It’s all there! This is modern manual focusing at its best, with more control than any OVF of AF lens. That’s what’s Steve saying: once you really tried this lens, you’ll probably easily get adicted to MF.

        • What is it with this automatic spelling correction?! Last try: it needs to be “OVF or AF” – or with “r”.

      • Dear Dirk, I did not try the Loxia since I do not own a Sony A7 (I’ve tried it and did not like it, just a matter of personal taste but the file coming out of this camera were really “too digital” for me), but I’ve tried many manual lenses (Leica R & M, Contax, etc.) on mirroless cameras with an EVF (Olympus OMD, Leica 240 with EVF, etc.), thanks, and I maintain that when focusing close to the subject to achieve critical focus it is best to use a fully open aperture, regardless of the aperture you intend to shoot at. This is especially true with Macro lenses. I’m not saying the Loxia is not a perfectly sharp lens, it surely is, but the lack of electonic aperture control on a dedicated lens is still a mistery to me.

    • Some lenses shift the focal point as the aperture is changed. Secondly, it’s good to see the effect of DOF without a separate operation.

      The A7ii viewfinder compensates for the aperture, keeping the brightness constant regardless of the setting. Focusing is still easy at f/8 or smaller using the magnification feature. Like in the old days before AF, you turn past the point of sharpest focus then back up half-way. The long throw of the Loxia makes this easy to do without fussing.

  27. Thank you for the review…I clicked the B+H link.

    Steve did you decide that for your style of photography the A7ii IBIS is good enough and you don’t need the A7s anymore for the extra light? When the A7sii comes out, do you think you will end up using it or the A7ii for the extra MP?

    …I use an A7s and my Loxia 50 arrives tomorrow. I’ve been using the 55 1.8 and never used a manual focus lens before. I’m interested to see the results. I will take a few pictures with my A7 before I sell it. I think I’m going to buy the 35 2.8 for landscapes & casual images inside homes and restaurants, but perhaps I should buy the 18-35. I’m tending away from the 18-35 as I think its a bit big…I bought into the system to be small and light. Do you have an opinion between the two?

    I will upgrade to an IBIS A7s/A7 ii after I can make a choice and the A7sii is out..but in the interim I suppose the IS on the 18-35 might be useful to get sharper images…and perhaps not worry about carrying around a tripod when taking landscapes…

    • The 16-35 is large but if you need ultra wide at 16, it is a great option. It is a superb lens. The A7II is my fave Sony body for the design, new build quality, control layout and the files are so nice. The 5 Axis is sweet as well. I prefer it to my A7s today, but still use the A7s for REALLY low light.

  28. I feel this Zeiss 1.4 lens is great and everything but it feels mostly like specialty lens. I see lots of folks get caught up bokeh and shoot tons of inanimate objects and forget the story/environment. That said I do have a few in own make no mistake. I give the nod the Loxia F2 feels like the perfect balance just reading about it but in use it might a whole different story.

    One of my favorite photographers is Mary Ellen Park http://www.maryellenmark.com she actually would question why they would make anything faster than 2.8 (he favorites are 28mm and 35mm). Different strokes for different folks tho.

      • I tend to agree and shoot most FF portraits at f2.8-4, though there are situations that call for more speed or shallower DOF. However, an f2 lens stopped down to f2.8 should outperform an f2.8 lens shot wide open. At least that’s one way to rationalize having the faster lens.

    • I guess it is easier as a professional to get closer with a 28 or a 35, but as a hobbyist, I find it easier to get more candid shots at a distance.

      Let’s say I am at a wedding. You have the main photographer guy and it is fine if he stands up and gets in everyone’s face – though as someone who is in the audience I hate when the actually feel like they are getting in the way – but that is their job and what they get paid for. For everyone else, getting that close can feel inappropriate.

      On the street, as an extrovert, I have no problem asking people for portraits, my problem is that with a 28 or a 35, they are always reacting to the lens because it is right there in their face. If I was taking the picture of a professional model, no problem, they know how to either react or ignore a lens, but less so with everyone else. For me, my best photos are of people who haven’t yet reacted to the lens.

      As you say, to each their own – that is why they don’t make one lens for everyone 🙂

  29. Hi Steve, great review. I have one question: if I focus at infinity it is always never really at the infinity on the scale but before that. In other words: if you want to focus on an object far away, you can’t just simply turn towards the mechanical end, because the subject is only sharp somewhere before on the scale no matter how far away it is.
    This is explained in the operation manual as a measure to compensate for different temperatures. However, with Zeiss ZM that is not the case. There infinity is infinity.
    Have you seen the same thing with yours and how logical is that for you?

  30. Thank you Steve for the awesome review of this great lens. If you can, pls. show how you post-process your photos. I really like the colors.

  31. Thank you very much for the great review and particularly the lens comparisons wide open. I love the 35mm focal length and I can only afford to buy one. The price of the 2.8 is very attractive but I love the loxia build and f2. The problem is that other than the size I think the 1.4 is my dream lens. I love shallow depth of field and pop (hence loving the A7 and zeiss). Do you think I could be satisfied by the loxia or is it worth waiting, saving and selling the farm to get the 1.4? I know you can’t really answer the question but I need therapy or something as my head can’t take it. Is the 1.4 a nice to have more than the loxia or is it that next step that really inspires your picture taking? Love the review and indeed the loxia looks fabulous. As always I love your articles and advice, I sold my M6 to get an A7 and the 55 1.8 but it is no 35mm.

  32. When you test the Loxia 50/2, it would be interesting to compare it with a Summicron 50/2 of any vintage. For me, the Loxia 35/2 is a perfect solution to the corner problems I observe using a Biogon 35/2.8 ZM. However I see no side effects using a Summicron 50, except for the superior ergonomics of the Loxia. What will compel me to pop for the Loxia 50?

    Come on Zeiss! Let’s have a Loxia 24 or 25, and maybe an 85/1.4 or 100/2 Micro like the superb ZF.2.

  33. Hi Steve ,
    How does the IQ of this set-up compare to the RX-1 ?
    I mainly shoot 35mm FL , any reason to go for the A7 Mk 2 Loxia 35 over the RX-1 ?

    • It is about equal or slightly better to the RX1 because you will have a much nicer body, better Manual Focus and a better feeling setup with the same or slightly better IQ. Then you can add other lenses as well.

    • I am facing the same decision, check out Steve’s brilliant RX1R comparison with the Leica 240 and Zeiss 35 mm. As per Steve in this article, background blur is a personal thing and hopefully I am allowed to make the bold statement (at least for me) that there seems to be a rather huge difference in regard to background blur. Just wish Steve would have kept his RX1R to make a quick comparison.

  34. A very interesting article, particulary about that nice, red Jeep. 🙂
    I ask different …
    Where to buy that long 100 LED bar-lamp?
    Who produces it, is it an original Jeep accessory, and for the Wrangler only?

    • It’s Sunset Orange 🙂 The light var you see on the Jeep is about $900 – I’ll have to check the brand but I think its made for Wranglers – a perfect fit.

    • First of all, it is blurred due to the DOF. The server was in focus, and what is before and after him is out of focus due to DOF. The “glow” is most likely part of the character of the lens. Many lenses have this, even modern day lenses. Depends on light, part of the frame, focus, etc.

  35. Hi Steve, l really like your Jeep (orange is my favourite) and great lens review as usual. When looking at image 9, what do you think about bokeh. Looking back at your RX1R review, rendering looks rather similar to the Biogon f2. I personally prefer your RX1R images. What is your opinion, is the RX1R Zeiss the better 35? I want to get rid of my D800 but do need the speed for our toddler. I am thinking of getting a small full frame for nice bokeh and the OM-D with the 40-150 for speed.

    • It is very similar to the RX1 lens, no question. Not worse, not really better. Very similar, which is a GOOD thing. For me it beats the Leica 35 Cron in sharpness, color, pop, etc. Beautiful lens and the 50 is even better.

  36. Beautiful lens, thanks for the review Steve. Could you comment on how the Loxia compares to the Zeiss 35mm f/2 Sonnar on the RX1?

  37. I ordered one here the moment it was announced and was lucky to get it before xmas (from B&H). It’s fantastic to use. Just one thing mine has a distinct internal movement/wobble when on the camera, doesnt have any effect on using it but was curious if yours does the same?

    • I got a wobbly loxia too. Though it did not affect wide open near focus shots, it did change the infinity focus. The hard infinity stop was no more accurate depending on which wobble position the lens barrel was in. I got it replaced with a good copy.

  38. That the rendering of the f/1.4 beets the f/2 Loxia is obvious. But I’m really surprised to see that the Loxia pops more at /2 than the FE does at /1.4!
    I also think to notice that for everyday use you will be putting the Loxia in you bag… 🙂 Yes, for me too, it’s Loxia!

  39. Dear Steve, thank you very much for this interesting Review! When comparing the MTF graph on the Zeiss data sheet @f2.0 I expected soft images. Your review shows excellent sharpness at least in the center wide open. Is this sharpness difficult to achieve wide open? Is this lens working as a general purpose lens from wide open or is this lens in fact a f2.8 lens for general use? I would like to buy a lens with good sharpness off center wide open. Thanks!

    • I never ever pay attention to MTF graphs. REAL world shows the real facts. This lens is as sharp as a Leica 35 Summicron wide open but with the Zeiss characteristics. Gorgeous lens. Whoever said its usable from 2.8 on does not know how to use the lens. It is a joy to use, simple and as I said, not one OOF image while I used it.

    • Long Story but yes, this orange one is mine. I will be offering a full day Sedona off road and photo experience – only 4 per year. One on One, full day, going to places not accessible any other way for great photos, fun, and shooting experience. Will announce this soon, but it’s a blast. So far did it three times and gets better each time.

      • Super sweet ride and the images from the Loxia are nothing short of amazing, I only wish my Touit glass would pop like that. I camped out in Oak Creek Canyon about 10 years ago, I’d love to go back and take pictures. I wonder if my Ford Ranger could keep up? Haha!

    • Funny, looks like i wasnt the only one who spotted that awesome truck! I was thinking, who ever this truck belongs to, he has a good taste! Lol.. the trucks rocks!

Comments are closed.