Zeiss stirred up quite the love affair with us when we tested the 35mm f2 Loxia. While I’m much more of a 35mm lens lover, the 50mm f2 Loxia certainly has more of my attention. Where the 35mm f2 has great image quality, the 50mm f2 has the Zeiss-like colors and micro-contrast that we’ve come to expect.
With a metal exterior, sweet ergonomics, great colors, sharp image quality, and a small overall package to work with the A7 series of cameras, why would you dislike it?
Pros and Cons
– The colors of a Zeiss DSLR lens and a bit of the micro-contrast we’ve known
– Great ergonomics
– Nice feeling
– Good enough to make a 35mm lens lover think twice
– Only f2
– Can be tough to focus due to Sony’s focusing algorithms with focus peaking.
We tested the Zeiss 50mm f2 Loxia on the Sony A7.
Specs taken from the B&H Photo listing of the product.
|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||11.29 oz (320 g)|
In many ways, the Zeiss 50mm f2 Loxia lens is just like its 35mm f2 sibling. They’re both designed for the Sony E mount system, and the lenses share lots of common traits. We start our ergonomics tour with the front of the lens–which has a 52mm filter thread. As you can see, the bokeh will also be pretty well rounded due to the aperture blades.
The lens has no switches on it, instead you’ll operate it by using the two rings: focus and aperture control. The lens aperture clicks in 1/3rd stops and the focusing works well with the depth of field scale itself. Everything is clearly marked to make its use simple.
Of course, the lens also has a hood–which adds a bit of extra length to it but not enough to cry about. We strongly recommend using it to protect the lens.
The Zeiss 50mm f2 Loxia lens is an offering that is unique amongst those lenses for the full frame E-mount. For starters, it’s all metal and lacks autofocus capabilities. So you’ll need to work with the buttery smooth manual focus ring. Then take into consideration that the lens isn’t weather sealed fully but only at the base. For the price, you should come to expect some sort of sealing but it doesn’t have it.
If you don’t care too much about weather sealing overall, you’ll be allured by the smooth exterior, pleasing aperture clicks, and a focusing ring that is as smooth as the summer’s first lick of ice cream.
The Zeiss 50mm f2 Loxia won’t autofocus, so in order to actually make it work you’ll need to manually focus the lens. A great option to help you is to use the zone focusing system on the lens’s depth of field scale–though Sony also has the ability to use focus peaking. On the APS-C bodies, focus peaking works much better. But with this lens and the 35mm f2, it can be a bit tougher to focus. Oddly enough, this lens was easier to focus than the 35mm f2 was. This shouldn’t be the case, but it indeed was.
Ease of Use
This isn’t a lens for the faint of heart or the easily frustrated photographer. You’ll need to constantly look to your scenes thinking in terms of the 50mm focal length and consistently manipulating your aperture to ensure that you’ve got the right settings to capture the decisive moment and move on.
Photographers who aren’t used to using an aperture ring or carefully and slowly getting a subject in focus should look elsewhere or go for more affordable options first.
For the most part, you’ll really have nothing to complain about with the Zeiss 50mm f2 Loxia. Take everything that you know about the DSLR lens offerings, make it smaller, put an E mount on it, and you’ve got the 50mm f2 Loxia. When it comes to the image quality, you’re going to sing praises and become smitten with just how good it is.
In our tests, it seems like this lens is sharper than the 35mm f2 Loxia when shooting wide open and it also has a bit of micro contrast to it. This micro-contrast makes the in-focus areas pop a lot more. Granted, it isn’t as much as with the DSLR lenses but it surely is there.
Stopped the lens down surely does make it sharper, but there is almost no reason to unless you’re dealing with a very harsh lighting situation.
Now here’s where we’re not as pleased with this lens. Yes, it has great sharpness and wonderful colors, but we’re not major fan of the bokeh. It’s a bit too hazy for our liking and we wish that it were creamier. The 35mm f2 has creamier bokeh and Sony’s own 55mm f1.8 seems to have more pleasing bokeh.
To be fair though, the bokeh also looks like that of an older, vintage lens. And if you’re into that look, then this Zeiss offering may please you.
If you’re a fan of the DSLR lens color rendition, then we’ve got great news for you. The Zeiss 50mm f2 Loxia has more vivid, punchier, and saturated colors than its 35mm f2 counterpart. It’s everything that you’ve come to know with modern Zeiss optics.
But what I’m personally really in love with is how it works with skin tones that gives me an almost Kodak Portra type of look. It’s a thing of true beauty and I haven’t seen anything like it since the Olympus OMD EM5 and the Voigtlander lenses.
In our tests, we couldn’t find any color fringing issues that stood out to us enough to want to warrant our crying over our MacBooks.
Extra Image Samples
– Great build quality
– Nice colors
– Very nice sharpness
– Excellent on skin tones
This lens is incredible. It’s more affordable than the 35mm f2 Loxia, has the Zeiss characteristics that we’ve come to know and love (for the most part) has a nice size in relation to the camera bodies, and just overall is tugging at our hearts.
For the very first time, I feel like a 50mm lens has outdone a 35mm one, and it’s one that I’d consider instead of the 35mm.
We award the Zeiss 50mm f2 Loxia lens five out of five stars. Want one? Check out B&H Photo’s listing.
– Sony A7r: The only camera that we would really recommend with lenses like this is the A7r due to its high resolving capabilities and the fact that the autofocus on the camera makes us scream. You’re best off manually focusing.