Review: Zeiss 85mm f2.4 Loxia (Sony E Mount, Full Frame)

There’s something incredibly nostalgic about a lens like the Zeiss 85mm f2.4 Loxia. From it’s small size almost mimicking the ZM lineup of glass, to the aperture ring, it just feels like a modern classic. Part of this has been the Zeiss experience, which is something that can’t really be expressed in words and instead only experienced. Previously only reserved for the rich, Zeiss lenses have become more popular with enthusiasts and it’s meant that people also have begun to truly appreciate how much better the image quality can be from a lens like the Loxia. Designed for Sony full frame E Mount cameras, the Zeiss Loxia 85mm f2.4 is capable of delivering truly stunning images and almost never really needs to be stopped down in most situations.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Fantastic image quality
  • That modern classic Zeiss look
  • Weather sealing
  • Smooth but not limiting focus

Cons

  • Price point
  • Only f2.4

Gear Used

We tested the Zeiss 85mm f2.4 Loxia lens with the Sony a7 camera.

Tech Specs

Specs taken from the website

Focal length 85 mm
Aperture range f/2.4 – f/22
Focusing range 0,8 m (31.49‘‘) – ∞
Number of elements/groups 7 / 7
Angular field, diag./horiz./vert. 28,63° / 24,05° / 16,23°
Coverage at close range 257,9 mm x 172,6 mm
(10.15‘‘ x 6.80‘‘)
Filter thread M52 x 0.75
Dimensions (with caps) 108 mm (4,25‘‘)
Weight 594 g (1.31 lbz)
Camera mounts E-Mount

Ergonomics

Taken from our first impressions post

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The Zeiss Loxia 85mm f2.4 lens is a lens portrait photographers will find useful for many reasons, and considering the f2.4 aperture, it will make getting a subject in focus even simpler while twisting the focusing ring.

In fact, the only two main controls on the Zeiss Loxia 85mm f2.4 lens are the aperture ring and the focusing ring.

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The lens overall is pretty long for a Loxia offering, and with the lens hood it seems a lot larger than it really is. Essentially, if your intention is to poke someone in the face with the lens, this would be the one to do it with. The metal lens hood is flat–so it will mean that the chance of a fatality is really slim.

Editor’s note: Don’t do that…

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The front of the Zeiss 85mm f2.4 has a 52mm filter thread and, you’ll be delighted to know, doesn’t extend out very far from the body itself when focusing back and forth.

Build Quality

See that blue ring around the bottom of the lens? That’s weather sealing. It’s a nice rubber ring and Zeiss claims this lens to be fully weather sealed. I haven’t taken it out into the rain; but these lenses have always been very well constructed.

Everything from the metal exterior, to the aperture clicks, to the way that the turn of the focusing ring feels solid.

Ease of Use

The Zeiss 85mm f2.4 Loxia lens isn’t a point and shoot lens. Instead, you’ll need to either be in Aperture Priority or Manual to make the most of it. Folks who hate manually focusing may also not really appreciate the precision this lens allows in addition to how much it makes you think carefully about the photo you want to take by concentrating on it that much harder.

Focusing

Focusing with the Zeiss 85mm f2.4 Loxia lens is done manually. If you want the best results using the viewfinder, I really suggest you use focus peaking. It’s pretty darn accurate with a lens like this.

Image Quality

Look at this! It’s much different from what you’d see and expect from almost everything else in the digital world that clean and clinical. While still being sharp and contrasty, the Zeiss 85mm f2.4 Loxia lens enjoys fantastic image quality with wonderful focus falloff, great bokeh, sharpness, etc. Plus it’s got great color. You can’t really beat it if you’re going for a different look with an 85mm equivalent lens.

Bokeh

For headshots and portraits like this, you’re bound to get a lot of bokeh with the Zeiss 85mm f2.4 Loxia lens.It’s nice: big, beautiful bokeh balls potentially appearing in your scene. The best results are delivered shooting wide open and focusing fairly close.

Chromatic Aberration

In my tests, I found no chromatic aberration to truly complain about. No fringing has ruined these images, and for the folks who love to do nothing but talk about this, be happy!

Color Rendition

Colors from this lens are interesting. They’re a tad muted, but not terribly so. You’re still going to get very saturated tones with certain colors but others, like skin tones, are a tad more mute.

Sharpness

When focused perfectly and precisely, this lens is very sharp. It’s very sharp wide open but when you stop down to f5.6 it becomes even sharper.

Extra Image Samples

Conclusions

Likes

  • That specific, beautiful Zeiss lens character
  • Weather sealing
  • Smooth and satisfying focusing

Dislikes

  • A bit expensive.
  • Only f2.4.

Besides the Zeiss 85mm f2.4 Loxia lens, there are now three 85mm lens options for the Sony FE platform. You’ve got the Sony 85mm f1.4 G Master, Sony 85mm f1.8 FE, and the Zeiss 85mm f1.8 Batis. They’re all weather sealed and provide fantastic performance. But this one really stands out from the rest. It’s a manual focus option, and it’s also a very precise tool designed for a photographer to work in a different way. I truthfully can’t fault with it. Is it as sharp as the rest? Probably not, but in return it gives off a look I’d be hard pressed to get from a Sony.

My other qualm, while it makes focusing wide open easier, I really wanted an f2 or an f1.8 lens.

The Zeiss 85mm f2.4 Loxia receives four out of five stars.

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