Late last year, Zeiss announced two lenses for the Sony full frame E-mount cameras, which created the Loxia lineup. These lenses were designed to cover a full frame sensor area for mirrorless cameras like the Sony A7 series. The lenses are manual focus only–which is one of Zeiss’s fortes and has been for years due to their reputation in the manufacturing world. They also have a manual aperture and fully working depth of field scale. And like their more popular lens options, these lenses don’t have a rubber focusing ring.
We’ve been spending some time with the Zeiss 35mm f2 Loxia so far, and like many manual focus lenses on a full frame camera, it isn’t simple to work with.
Specs taken from the B&H Photo listing
|Filter Thread||Front:52 mm x 0.75 mm Pitch|
|Dimensions (DxL)||Approx. 2.44 x 2.33″ (62.1 x 59.2 mm)|
|Weight||11.99 oz (340 g)|
The Zeiss Loxia 35mm f2 is a lens that is a modern manual focus optic and that can deliver incredible images in the hands of a skilled photographer. With that, we start our ergonomic tour with the front of the lens. It’s very plain with Zeiss branding but not much else.
Once the lens hood comes off, you’ll see that the lens overall becomes smaller but obviously less protected. To be fair though, the lens doesn’t become that much smaller and you may just want to keep the hood on anyway.
All controls for the lens are right where you see them in the image above. There is a giant focusing ring and an aperture ring towards the back of the lens. Between here you have a focusing distance scale and a depth of field scale that are supposed to work together to give you a subject that is in focus.
The Zeiss Loxia lenses are characterized by a big manual focusing ring, small but manageable aperture ring, metal body, and great feel overall. They feel absolutely nothing like old rangefinder lenses or even anything like old film SLR lenses. Instead, they feel incredibly more sleek, modern, and fresh.
Truthfully, we’re not sure how we feel about that. While they still feel great in the hand, a more retro feeling design would have served the purpose much better–or at least that’s what we’re saying at the moment.
These lenses don’t have weather sealing, so don’t expect to be able to take them out into the rain.
Focusing the 35mm f2 Loxia lens is like many old school film camera lenses. You simply move the focusing ring left or right and pay attention to the distance on the scale. Alternatively, you could look through the viewfinder or LCD screen and use focus peaking.
Still though, Sony’s focus peaking isn’t perfectly accurate on the full frame camera models. It’s much better with APS-C cameras.
Ease of Use
These lenses aren’t for the faint of heart, beginner, or the person that gets frustrated. We strongly recommend them for the street photographer or more experienced shooters that know how to zone focus. However, if you pay careful and meticulous attention to the focusing area using focus peaking, you can get a very sharp image when shooting wide open. Once you’re stopped down, you’re bound to not have a problem.
The image quality from these lenses is like no other. They don’t seem to have micro-contrast like many of their DSLR lenses but they have beautiful bokeh and very vivid colors.
Take a look at more sample images.
We’re going to spend more time tweaking the focusing with these lenses, but so far we’re seeing the absolute best performance from these lenses with them stopped down. Typically, we’ve been known to shoot Zeiss lenses wide open all day and all night, but we’re not too sure about these ones. We’re still working on our full review though, so stay tuned.