Review: Zeiss Loxia 2/35mm on full frame

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The ZEISS Loxia 2.0/35mm is a bright wide angle for the full frame A7 and A9 system cameras from Sony. The lens is also nice and compact and particularly suitable for photographers who also want to film.

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SMALL AND MIGHTY: ZEISS Loxia 2.0/35

PROS

  • Reasonable image quality
  • Beautifully built
  • Weather resistant
  • Clickless aperture as an option
  • Smooth focus

CONS

  • Corners at full aperture not very sharp
  • No autofocus
  • Aperture not adjustable on the camera
  • No image stabilization

The ZEISS Loxia 2.0/35mm is designed for full-frame cameras from Sony, such as the A7 and the A9. It is still the only 35mm with f/2.0 brightness for the Sony cameras with EF-mount that fully communicates with the cameras. Sony makes even an even brighter 35mm f/1.4, and in collaboration with Zeiss, an even smaller 35mm f/2.8 pancake lens. Both have autofocus; the Loxia does not. But the 35mm f/1.4 is much bigger, heavier and more expensive than the Loxia, and the Sony-Zeiss 35mm f/2.8 is of course a full stop less bright. The Loxia is reasonably close in terms of dimensions to the pancake 35mm f/2.8, is brighter and is nicely between the two other 35mms in terms of price. The lack of autofocus really makes the Loxia a lens for the enthusiast. You do not buy a Loxia to shoot ‘from the hip’. Because you have to focus yourself, you photograph more deliberately. It forces you to think a bit more about what you want in the picture and how you want to have that in the picture. In addition, the Loxia is also ideal for photographers who also want to film seriously. You can also make the aperture of the Loxia clickless for the gradual adjustment of the lighting, and Loxia’s lenses are very easy to switch out if you use a “video rig,” a kind of cage construction in which you place the camera and where you all kinds of can attach accessories.

BUILD

The ZEISS Loxia 2.0/35mm is a compact lens. The lens has the same diameter as the other Loxias. The aperture ring and focus ring are also in the same place. This makes it easy to exchange them in a video unit. If you have more than one, you do have to take a look at which one you are taking out of your bag to make sure you put the right one on your camera. A lot of metal was used for the lens in addition to the necessary glass. And you feel that. The Loxias are heavier than you would expect from the dimensions. You feel clearly that you are holding quality. The lens comes with an equally compact lens hood that can also be mounted in reverse so that it takes up even less space during transport. The focus ring is fortunately nicely grooved and not smooth as on the Zeiss Batis lenses. It has hard stops for infinity and close and a nice focus arc of 90 degrees. Setting the aperture can only be done with the aperture ring and not via the camera. The aperture does transmit the set value to the camera. The aperture normally clicks in every third stop, but you can also make it click-free. Zeiss supplies a key for this with which you can turn a screw on the back. Like other Loxias, this 2/35mm is weatherproof. At the rear, it has a Zeiss blue seal, which means that no dust or moisture can penetrate along the mount.

OPTICAL PERFORMANCE

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The Zeiss Loxia 2/35 makes a somewhat mixed impression in the test lab. The image quality in the center is particularly high. On APS-C, therefore, this lens scored the best of all 35mm’s that we have tested at this size. In the corners, the Loxia does not reach these high values, and at full aperture, the corners can even be called a bit soft. Both Sony’s really score a lot better here. For documentary photography, you can use it by playing with the course from blurry to sharp. But if you want to get a shot where everything is sharp from left to right and from top to bottom, then you should definitely stop down to an f/5.6 or even an f/8 aperture. There is also vignetting clearly visible in shots taken with the Loxia, especially at full aperture. This is a kind of Zeiss characteristic. For documentary and portrait photography, it can be pretty nice, and if you want to get rid of it, it is easy to correct in post-editing. This of course increases the chance of some noise in the corners and reduces the dynamic range in the corners. Chromatic aberrations are very well suppressed and only visible at very high-contrast transitions. And then you have to look for it carefully. What certainly stands out in every shot, and then in a positive sense, is the beautiful contrast and the typical saturated Zeiss colors. You always get a bit of a three-dimensional effect with Zeiss lenses.

Bokeh

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The Loxia 2/35 does not have the high brightness of the much bigger and heavier Sony f/1.4 35mm but is also one stop brighter than the Zeiss 35mm f/2.8. The bokeh is therefore somewhat between those two lenses. If your subject is nice and close and there is some space between the subject and the background, like in a documentary portrait, then the blur in the background at full aperture is very nice. The high microcontrast helps by accentuating the sharpness in your subject. If you focus from slightly further away, the bokeh decreases and details in the background become more visible. If you have a background with lots of details with high contrast, the bokeh can become a bit busy. On the whole, the bokeh of the Loxia is not bad.

Ideal For film

The Loxia lenses are especially suitable for filming. They do not have autofocus but do have an aperture ring that can be made clickless. The manual focus has hard stops at infinity and up close, and the focus range is linear. This is essential for making a good focus pull and using the lens in a rig. Because all Loxias have the same diameter, you can easily switch them in a rig without having to move your follow focus. The clickless aperture ensures that you can adjust the exposure very smoothly during a shot. The Loxias can therefore be used very well as alternative cinema lenses.

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ConclusiON: REVIEW Zeiss Loxia 2.0/35mm

 

​Click on the product for specifications, prices and test results.

The Zeiss Loxia 2/35 is a unique wide angle for Sony’s mirrorless full-frame cameras. The combination of good brightness and compact dimensions will appeal to many photographers. The lens has that typical Zeiss ‘pop’, a combination of high microcontrast, saturated colors and beautiful bokeh that gives your subjects a three-dimensional quality. On the other hand, it does not have autofocus. But this is also a lens for lovers of slightly more contemplative photography or for photographers who also want to film.

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