The Zeiss 35 1.4 Distagon ZM Leica Mount Lens, my 1st look. Wow.

The Zeiss 35 1.4 Distagon ZM Leica Mount Lens, my 1st look. Wow.

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Just tried out the new Zeiss 35 1.4 ZM lens and wow, the reviews and user reports are true, this is up there with the Leica 35 FLE though different in the way it renders and image. Some will like it better, some will not, but either way it is FANTASTIC. I’d say we can get most of the FLE out of this Zeiss, but with a whole different character and feel. It may not be as sharp as the Leica 35 FLE at 1.4, but it is close, and it offers a more “organic” rendering that I simply love. Smooth Zeiss pop on my Leica Monochrom 246 or amazing bold color and snap on the A7s or A7II. It’s a lovely lens, and I enjoyed the lens I rented so much I really want to own this lens for my new MM. From the few shots I have snapped so far I feel it makes a perfect match, and as a bonus it will work well on the Leica M 240 and the Sony A7 series as well. Yes, I rented the lens but will own it as soon as I can.

I will have a full review eventually here, maybe in a few weeks  – using it on the new MM and the Sony A7 bodies. But for now, Amazon has 2 in stock, via prime, in black. $2190 which is $100 less than normal. For less than half the cost of the Leica 35 FLE you can have a lens that is in reality just as good, but with a different character (which I prefer). The build is solid, the aperture click is AMAZING, best I have felt on any lens and the glass is beautiful. IT IS NOT large, but it is larger than the Leica 35 Lux by a bit. Reminds me size wise of a 50 Summlux ASPH.

The rendering is just what I like, and all Zeiss. I will own this lens as soon as I can afford it!

You can order this lens at Amazon (via PRIME) HERE. You can also buy it at PopFlash.com, or B&H Photo. 

A couple of samples on the Leica Mono 246:

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And a few with the lens on the Sony A7II:

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42 Comments

  1. I owned the Leica 35mm f1.4 FLE for a year + and can tell you it is awful wide open on the a7r.the most bizarre artefacts and unusable. By f2 all was well with the world but at f1.4 – just dreadful.

    On a 5966 mile cycle ride around GB I took the a7r mated to the most up to date f1.4 Leica 35mm and 50mm lenses and shot some 22,000 or so images.

    Excellent on my M240, as you would expect since they are both Leica, and my Zeiss ZM f2 (this lens’ slower and smaller brother) is the lens of choice on the Sony body nowadays having sold the Leica lens in September.

    It is not perfect though with considerable vignetting – as seen in your images above too – and some odd colour shifts at all apertures. My LR import setting for the a7r / f2 combo’ has the vignetting setting dialled into about +20% and is adjusted as required from there. I use the Novoflex adaptor.

  2. Steve, this week I am using as my 28″ desktop image the large size version of the photo on this page of the lovely young lady in the graduation cap standing with the good looking young man with the fancy shirt pocket. Do you remember or have any idea what F stop you used to take the photo? I don’t ask casually but a reason covered below.

    I am due to collect the Zeiss lens from my dealer in Melbourne (Australia) on Tuesday (17 Nov) and a day later plan to use the lens and my Leica Monochrom 246 for a corporate photo shoot of singles and group. I took all the photos required last week with my Canon 5D MkIII and 70-200mm f2.8L IS II lens and they look great. But my corporate friends decided the the photos look too formal and too studio like (which they asked me to do). They prefer a photo I took of one them last July soon after I got my Monochrom and was very inexperienced at focussing with the rangefinder. If I can take photos anywhere near as superb as the ones you took of the ladies in the graduation robes, I’ll be happy.

    I am new to Leica. The M246 I got in July is my first, although my father bought a Nicca after the war in the late 1940’s or very early 1950’s. The Nicca was a Japanese copy of the Leica.

    I have been retired for 13 years now (aged 78) and love my photography. You blog site is a great pleasure and enjoyment to read, and source of information. Thanks.

  3. Hello Steve,
    Do you know how this marvel compares to the Leica Summilux 35 FLE 1.4? Thanks.

  4. Typical CZ rendering. Not a big fan at all. Plus, once you buy this lens you can only sell it for half of the price. Considering price v2 ASPH summilux is much better candidate.

  5. Some nice images you got there Steve. However, 35mm I always found to be a weird focal length between wide and normal. Basically, if you have any 50mm lens and something wider (~20mm) the 35 becomes quickly redundant.

  6. I honestly hope Zeiss will make a Loxia version of this lens. Forking over $2’000 to mount this lens on a less-than-compatible A7-series camera is a bridge too far for me. For that amount of money I would want the optimizations and the electronic contacts of a Loxia lens. Until then I think I will happily hold on to my Loxia 35/2.

  7. The 2’nt photo from bottom displays the lack of texture in highlight areas because of lossy compressed RAW (Sony cRAW). The Leica MM is soooo much better in texture.

  8. Hi Steve,
    As always, very much appreciate your insights.

    Do you have any thoughts on performance with the Zeiss 35mm f/2.8 or the f/2 Biogons with the A7ii?

    Cheers

    • My A7II review is full of shots from the 35 2.8 Zeiss. The Zeiss 35 f/2 Biogon ZM is OK, nothing close to this 35 1.4, which is fabulous on the A7II and A7s.

  9. Hi Steve,

    Looks Good 🙂

    But:
    I thought After your 35 FE Sony/Zeiss Review…. You own it?

    Greets

  10. Wow is right, what a gorgeous lens. I sure hope it plays nice with the soon to be announced A7R Mark II. The M lenses tend to get a little finicky as the pixel count increases.

  11. Steve: would you mind terribly posting some photos of the ZM mounted on the A7II. Please. Thank you!

  12. Gosh, those images from the Leica Mono 246 are incredibly detailed/sharp with that lens. It reminds me of 4×5 film. Holy moley! Thanks so much, Steve!

  13. Hi Steve, another exciting review to look forward to!
    would you prefer voigtlander 35 1.2 or this zeiss ZM 35 1.4 for use on A7s, IQ, rendering considered? I guess they both share similar weight /size?
    cheers!

  14. This is one more beautifully made lens that will, in time, become completely redundant along with all the others (unless suitable adapters can be made) because… I predict Sony’s future curved sensor technology will change everything! Nevertheless, lets live one day at a time and enjoy our photography with these wonderful optics. But just don’t over-spend, because I think present-day lenses will become as obsolete as cathode ray television sets have done within one decade. I might be wrong, but something tells me I am right!

    • Well curved sensor technology won’t have much impact on my Leica M-P loaded with neopan, so I’m really going to get that lens

  15. I would expect that the Sony/Zeiss 35 1.4ZE will perform better on the A7 then this Zeiss 35 1.4 ZM due to the fact the ZM is designed for a rangefinder. However, on an M240/M9/MM I think this new Distagon is golden….and definitely on my to buy list.

  16. Nice images Steve and a nice lens. Do you see any issues with this lens with the a7 sensor? Been reading that the lenses made for Leica’s are not well suited for the a7’s and wanted to see if you came across any IQ issues.
    Thanks and keep up the good work!
    Steve

    • On the A7II and S it performs BEAUTIFULLY. I just did a test between this, the Loxia and the Sony 35 1.4. The Sony 35 1.4 is VERY similar to this M version, but the M version is MUCH MUCH smaller. I love the Loxia, but prefer the IQ from these two 1.4’s. For me, it would be the Zeiss ZM for my A7II or S as I love the size, the rendering and the character.

      • Wow, nice! Do you still recommend the Novoflex adapters or is the Voigtlander a better option since it has the close focus feature? Will they pass basic exif data to the body? Thanks for taking the time to write back.

      • The last time I used Zeiss M glass (Biogon 2/35 ZM specifically) on my Sony A7 (not a7ii) for long exposures, I found the corners had exaggerated vignetting. Regular shooting is ok. Is there really a difference in performance for long exposures between the A7 bodies? The 7s I know is ok.

        • BTW – the Monochrome files are CRAZY! I really like the tone and lens combo, makes for some really crisp images. I want to get this lens on my M240, then I might not be looking to sell it.

          • It’s a DROOL worthy lens. Best Zeiss ZM I have used. It’s a huge step up from the 35 f/2, 50 1.5, 50 f/2 and Voigtlander 35 1.2 II.

  17. Dirk, my thoughts exactly. My next lens for my a7ii will be a 35mm prime. Loxia or Sony/Zeiss FE 1.4/35?????

    • I have on hand…right now..the Zeiss 35 1.4 ZM, the Sony 35 1.4 FE, and the Loxia 35. The best of the lot on my A7s and A7II is the Zeiss ZM – for many reasons. Size and weight is MUCH better than the fantastic FE Sony. IQ is just as good as the FE Sony with possibly even better color, and it beats the Loxia with Bokeh and sharpness, and it is 1.4. I have to send all three of these lenses back next week, the one I will buy is the ZM, without hesitation.

      • Hi Steve,
        I’m really looking forward to your real world review of this lens. The shots from your Leica look fantastic. I trust your opinions and your real world shooting style.
        I’m also really interested in this lens from the context of the Sony A7 series especially side by side with the Distagon FE 1.4.
        Another photographer who I greatly respect is Viktor Pavlovic. Like you, he shoots Leica and Sony. Also like you he shoots many real world shots but throws in charts as well (which I know you hate 🙂 ).
        Before the ZA 35 1.4 he had suggested that the ZM is probably the best 35mm available for adaption on the Sony body but that it shines even better on the Leica body for which it was designed. Probably on account of Sony’s sensor glass stack. http://www.verybiglobo.com/zeiss-distagon-35mm-f1-4-zm-review/2/
        During his review he also mentions that he expects the new FE distagon 35 1.4 to perform even better on the A7x bodies (particularly in the corners) because this particular variant of the distagon is optimized for the sensor glass stack on the Sony implement. In other comments he has mentioned that it is both sharper across the frame and gives the Sony similar performance to the Distagon ZM on the Leica (obviously with a slightly different color rendering).
        From a pure IQ on the Sony perspective I’d love to see side by sides from these two epic pieces of glass. Taking size and weight out of it – is it a case that the ZM has better colour but that the ZA has better sharpness across the frame if you are using Sony?
        What have you found?
        Finally congratulations on your step daughters graduation. You must be very proud 🙂

  18. The heck with the lens. Where did the dog come from? It looks like something out f a Dr Seuss book 🙂 Regardless, the lens looks promising.

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