SONY α7S, CARL ZEISS LOXIA 2/35, 1/320, F2, ISO 100, Photo by K

Carl Zeiss Loxia 2/35

[Zoom] Wide-zoom | Standard-zoom | Tele-zoom | High-zoom
[Fixed-focal] Wide angle | Standard | Telephoto | Macro

Following the Loxia 2/50, Carl Zeiss released another manual focus lens, the Loxia 2/35 for SONY full frame E mount. While the 50mm has Planar (double gauss) lens design, the 35mm employs the Biogon (nearly symmetrical) design. The symmetrical lens design gives less distortion and I felt it when using this lens, too. Did Carl Zeiss choose the symmetrical design because it was difficult to reduce the distortion otherwise? Or, they didn't even think about using other designs? I don't know. But, I believe distortion is a very serious issue. Take the Biogon for the original Contax cameras or the extremely famous Biogon of the Hasselbrad SWC for example. All past Biogon lenses generated very natural images just like standard lenses even though they are wide angle. While some people use a 35mm lens as their "standard lens" instead of 50mm, I use a 50mm as my standard lens because I care about distortion of the 35mm even though it gives less distortion than lenses wider than 28mm. Even so, the Loxia 2/35 was very easy to use. And, the depiction is a little more classical than the Loxia 2/50. This means it is a great lens to play with.

( Photography & Text : K )

SONY α7S, CARL ZEISS LOXIA 2/35, 1/200, F2, ISO 100, Photo by K

I shot wide open around the minimum focus distance. The bokeh is very soft and nice. I don't feel distortion around the focus point. It's extremely sharp, but not hard. It has no aspherical lens, so it doesn't generate the distracting pattern like a round-sliced onion. It has some vignetting, but it's practically gone if stopped down by two steps. And, the 30cm minimum focus distance is always helpful.

SONY α7S, CARL ZEISS LOXIA 2/35, 1/60, F2, ISO 800, Photo by K

Another shot near the minimum focus distance. Even though it's 35mm, the depth of field becomes very shallow wide open and around the minimum focus distance. I feel the bokeh of this symmetrical lens is more natural than the double gauss Loxia 2/50. Yet, the amount of bokeh increases gradually rather than drastically.

SONY α7S, CARL ZEISS LOXIA 2/35, 1/1000, F2, ISO 100, Photo by K

Another shot wide open. It has significantly less distortion and it's a pleasure to use. The front bokeh tends to roll a bit around the minimum focus distance, but it stops rolling at 50cm or further. They could lengthen the minimum focus distance, but even if the bokeh rolls, I appreciate shorter minimum focus distance. Anyway, the image quality is extremely good for wide open.

SONY α7S, CARL ZEISS LOXIA 2/35, 1/60, F2, ISO 100, Photo by K

The Biogon design is well known for the straightness of lines, but I also feel it has rich and smooth tonal gradation. The wet leaves look very fresh.

SONY α7S, CARL ZEISS LOXIA 2/35, 1/125, F2, ISO 100, Photo by K

Now, we have autumn leaves in Tokyo. When shooting cherry blossoms or autumn leaves, I prefer indirect lighting and I like it best when the oblique sunshine lights the leaves and the background is dark. I shot this image to test how much detail this lens captures wide open and the result is very sharp to the corners. And, despite the flat lighting, the color reproduction is great, too.

SONY α7S, CARL ZEISS LOXIA 2/35, 1/6400, F2, ISO 100, Photo by K

When the wave of autumn leaves comes down from the mountains to the cities, the weather becomes quite unstable. Each rain deepens the colors of leaves and finally drops them to the ground. As I was walking in Akasaka area, it suddenly stopped raining and I hurried to head for the sun. When the oblique evening sunshine pierced the misty scene, the area became amber. I shot this image to test how it captures the water drops. The darkened sky can't be helped, but I'm amazed by the Alpha 7S's tonal reproduction capability. And, if the lens had spherical aberration, the water drops would be defocused. The combination of the Alpha 7S and the Loxia 2/35 is very powerful.

SONY α7S, CARL ZEISS LOXIA 2/35, 1/160, F2, ISO 100, Photo by K

You can shoot like a 50mm if you shoot from as close as 30cm. And, I wonder if it's this flexibility that explains why many people uses 35mm as a standard lens. I shot many times after putting my umbrella on the sidewalk. This image has a great 3D quality, doesn't it?

SONY α7S, CARL ZEISS LOXIA 2/35, 1/320, F2, ISO 100, Photo by K

I'm more than satisfied with the depiction of the wet air after the rain as well as the metal texture. I also tried the Biogon 2/35 ZM via an adapter to see what happens, but I found that the corners had color shifting and edge blurring. As they explained at the interview, I felt this lens was realized by the close relationship with SONY.

SONY α7S, CARL ZEISS LOXIA 2/35, 1/400, F2, ISO 100, Photo by K

SONY α7S, CARL ZEISS LOXIA 2/35, 1/1600, F2, ISO 100, Photo by K

The Loxia 2/35 is an emotional 35mm.

Because I tested the Loxia 2/50, I expected that I would have similar impression of the Loxia 2/35. The sharpness and low level of aberration are modern quality. But, it has symmetrical lens design, which is rare these days, and compared to the Loxia 2/50, the image quality is more classical. Unlike lenses made 20 years ago, the latest lenses don't have miscellaneous tastes and this is what we call "improved performance." And, if the lens without the miscellaneous tastes generates images different from the ones seen with the naked eye, it's one appeal. Or, even if the lens has some distortion, as long as it has a good 3D quality, it becomes another appeal. But, even if someone wants an old lens to enjoy the miscellaneous taste, s/he may stop using it with digital cameras because they require extremely higher performance than film cameras did and only generate loose image quality. The Loxia 2/35 has the latest image quality, not to mention. But, it also lets you enjoy classical rendering uniquely realized by the symmetrical design. And, the focus ring has the comfortable feel and the metal barrel is high build quality. So, if you want to step up to something different, this lens is the one you're looking for. Of course, it reproduces scenes extremely faithfully. What it does in addition is that it renders with emotion. Let me finish with few more shots to demonstrate the character of this lens.

  • Bokeh is wet, natural, and dense.

  • If it were a double gauss, the back bokeh would become fluffy. But, this symmetrical lens generates natural and massive bokeh.

  • Depiction is very delicate, too. I don't know if this feeling of vitality comes from the name "Biogon," but corners are not flowing. They are simply defocused.

  • The front bokeh tends to roll at the minimum focus distance. But, this is interesting, too.

  • Sharpness increases by stopping down.

  • A good Carl Zeiss lens captures many white colors.


( 04.12.2014 )