Quick Comparison: Zeiss 35 1.4 ZM vs Voigtlander 35 1.7 VM

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Quick Comparison: Zeiss 35 1.4 ZM vs Voigtlander 35 1.7 VM

I have been shooting with the beautiful chrome Voigtlander 35 f/1.7 lens on my Sony A7RII and WOW, it is one hell of a lens if you are into manual focus small primes on your A7RII. In fact, I have been so impressed by this small wonder that I rented the Zeiss 35 1.4 Zm to compare. I will have a full comparison in my review of the Voigtlander (coming soon) but for now, just a quick snap in my backyard. Click images for larger and full 100% crops.

As for sharpness, the Voigtlander is just as sharp as the Zeiss at f/1.7 where the Voigtlander is wide open. When the Zeiss is at f/1.4 it is not as sharp as what comes from the Voigtlander when it is at f/1.7. So in regards to details, they appear to be pretty equal. Bokeh… there are some slight differences here and I mean slight. My money would go to the Voigtlander any day as it is smaller, looks nicer, and is less than half the price. Look for more samples with both in my upcoming lens review of the 35 1.7 VM.

Click images for larger and to see 100% crop

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34 Comments

  1. Anyone who thinks that these two lenses are equal at f1.7 needs to put on his glasses and look again. The Ultron is clearly softer and less detailed. My guess is that the corners are even worse, but we cannot tell from this particular example. Given its much lower price, this is to be expected, and the Voigtlander is certainly a good value.

  2. These are ooc jpegs i guess ?! The Voigtländer shot turned out to be more contrasty. Too much under this lighting condition. gets a harsher look compared to the Zeiss shot. I think this could be tweaked in post (maybe Raw’s even show different characteristic).

    The Zeiss at 1.4 is slightly overexposed. Maybe the camera came to a limit shutter speed wise. That is why colors look less intense.

    I tested the Zeiss a while ago and now have the Voigtländer for a couple of days. Both impressive lenses. I shot both on a Leica M. Even without a lens profile great results with both. Sharpness is great even in the corners with the M. No visible field curvature, no visible focus shift with my copy.

    Build is not as good as the Zeiss lens (which is remarkably good). I have the chrome version. Exteriors are good but focus is not as smooth as with the Zeiss (or a Leica lens). A bit rough actually on my copy. Focus is spot on though, so little to complain. If you find a good copy this lens should be as good as the Zeiss (with minor differences in color and bokeh) and even close to the Summilux pre FLE. I am curious if Steve agrees 🙂

  3. Am I mistaken about this but to me it appears that you might have swopped the two Zeiss photos around?
    The bokeh for the 1.7 aperture shot looks more blurred than for the f/1.4 shot. Just compare those two to the picture taken with the voigtlander.

    • Most of the time it doesn’t matter, but in cases like these, I wish Steve would identify the camera / lens farther down in the text so one can have a chance to make a non-biased judgment. I swear the Zeiss version just looks a little better also but if he told me that he mis-labled them, I would I probably change my mind.

  4. There are other aspects which this comparison does not show, like the super flare resistance of the ZM or the performance at close range and reduced CA (floating element) or zero focus shift with a rangefinder camera.
    Also, from what I’ve seen the new Ultron seem to have a slight problem with color shift in the corners with various bodies (even Leica ones) while the Distagon only has the vignetting.

    Not saying the Distagon ZM is worth the extra money, just saying that there are definite differences between the two lenses (not night and day, but they are there).

  5. Almost any lens looks good with the subject dead center, and the rest of the scene far back and naturally out of focus. That will hide any field curvature.
    This Voigtlander has pretty severe field curvature wide open, as can be seen in your own examples (dog on carpet) and those that others have posted online. A complete test should include shooting it wide open with a flat plane of focus extending across the scene, at various distances.
    I’m sure the Voigt is very nice (I have several) after all it is made by the same Cosina that makes the Zeiss lenses, but it would be good to show these characteristics so people know what they are getting into.

  6. I’m super interested in this comparision as I plan to buy the Zeiss 35mm 1.4ZM…but I wish you were using an M240 for the comparisons and not the Sony.

  7. Thanks for the comparison, as I too am considering both of these lenses. I’m looking at this from the perspective of a viewer rather than a pixel peeper, and from what I can see, the Voigt is just as good. Unless there’s a not-as-yet-articulated, compelling reason to dish out those additional $1,200 or so for the Zeiss, I think I’ll start looking at putting that extra cash towards an European photo excursion instead.

      • Hurry Up! lol..

        I’m still searching for a great 35mm to use with the Sony FE mount. I quite like my Voigt. 35. f/1.2 at 1.4 and smaller but it’s heavy. I have the Loxia 35mm as well and it’s small and great until you use wide open, then you have to deal with coma

        https://flic.kr/p/xEvvqL

        Autofocus would be great but given the other options, the heavy A-Mount Sigma 35mm ART and Sony FE 35mm f/1.4… this might be a good choice, losing autofocus for size but keeping quality.

        Channeling Slomo a little, would you say it holds it’s on with something like a Sigma 35mm ART at f/2 or so?

        … and of course, there’s the Sony 35mm F/2.8 but speed is mostly a requirement.

  8. Voigtlaender or Zeiss the thing is practically indifferent in details. The reason is the price. It is not logical to expect stellar performance on all aspects by lenses on those rice segments. It is not about design, it is about optical glass used, the mechanical integrity of the lens and the quality control standards. Unfortunately to have a true Leica lens performance at a price of a Voigtlaender or a Zeiss is a dream that will not come true. But in my opinion both brands offer top options for rangefinder users without banging the bank. With careful use and a little bit of editing you can make any lens to shine.

    • Dimitris, the Zeiss isn’t exactly cheap…it’s still a $2300 lens, though admittedly much cheaper than a Summilux. I’ve read many different reviews comparing the Distagon to the Summilux and the general consensus is the Zeiss performs as well or better then the Leica at half the price….but at the ‘cost’ of using a much bigger lens. Of course ‘bigger’ is a relative term as we are still only talking about a 49mm filter size compared to what would be at least a 67mm in DSLR world:)

  9. haha, Steve we know the centers will be good 🙂

    Where the trouble, at least for landscape shooters, comes is in the outer frame. How are the edges? Which has the better edges on the Sony at various apertures? Ultron or Distagon?

    all the best,
    Charlie

  10. Steve, how does the Voigtlander handle on the a7s–any problems with corners or magenta color shift? And can you speculate on original a7r? I just got one and haven’t tried anything wider than a 90mm Leica on it. Thanks!

  11. If you get a chance, could you do a rough focal plane curvature test? It has become the thing I have to fight against the most with the 35mm Zeiss 1.4 ZM on the A7s and A7ii. If you place something in the middle of the frame about 10ft away at 1.4, you will notice that as you move towards the edges of the frame, the plane of focus curves WAY back into the image, almost giving a sort of tilt-shift effect. I’m wondering if this same effect is noticeable on the Voigtlander.

    Thanks!

    • Definitely happens with the Voigtlander. I haven’t used the ZM (it’s weird to hear that this lens does that, given that Zeiss advertises it as having a flat field) but I linked to two shots in the comments of the other post about this lens that show the intense focal plane curvature up close, wide open.

      Very happy with this lens though.

    • Digilloyd states in his review that the Zeiss has LESS field curvature than the Leica Summilux on an M body. Of course the problem with the Sony bodies is the thicker filter glass causes problems including accentuated field curvature. Once again…a reason I would like to see this lens comparison on an M body.

  12. Amazing!Just considering a not-too-big fast 35mm. Curious about the focus ring on this new Voigtlander 35 1.7. Is it smoother than VM 50 1.5? Or just about the same?New VM50 is a bit tight to my taste.

  13. pretty equal, but I prefer the bokeh softness in the background of the Voigtländer, problem, I’d like to see that comparison on an M240 instead, and on an M246.

    • It seems that there is still a problem of bokeh cut by the electronic first shutter curtain (due to A7RII). So the faster the speed is the most apparent the problem will be.
      I’m a bit disappointed by thee zeiss crop at 1.4 (lots of purple fringes and lack of details) but the shadows shows less details and the mid tones seems a little burnt on voigtlander. In fact global contrast is higher on the voigt.

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