Zeiss Loxia Biogon 35/2 Review
It was a 4 weeks journey with Loxia 35/2 and it was a nice journey. I didn’t want to come with conclusion before spending a bit more time with the lens and learning better to see its strengths and weaknesses. For what it worth, here is what I think…
Zeiss Loxia 35/2 is very good 35mm lens for Sony full frame E mount cameras. Very good means, that it does render optically clean, very well corrected images in most situations. Build quality is exceptional and manual focus is joy to use.
It is quite fast lens at f/2 and more importantly, it is very usable at that aperture already in the middle of the image.
When it comes to the edge and corner performance, we can see huge improvement in sharpness and color shifting in comparison to Zeiss Biogon 35/2 ZM, but it’s not perfect. Edge and corners wide open are more or less equal to Sony FE 35/2.8 ZA with much less pronounced vignetting, but there is noticeable spherical aberration and coma, which results in halo effect around bright and highlighted areas.
Stopped down to f/5.6 and smaller, Zeiss Loxia 35/2 Biogon gives sharp image across the frame with no significant weakness.
Chromatic aberrations are also well corrected and there is no significant appearance of fringing or LoCA, which is often problem with faster lenses.
Distortion is negligible at normal distances and is less pronounced than with Sony FE 35/2.8 e.g.
Probably the most advanced characteristic of Zeiss Loxia 35/2 is great contrast even in the complicated backlit situations. Famous T* coating does its job perfectly, also reducing inner flaring that can often result in ghosting. Against bright sources we can notice flare (usually green blobs) but that doesn’t affect overall contrast by much.
What I am missing however with both Loxias is a lack of … well, some kind of signature. Classic Zeiss lenses, such as Loxias certainly are, are made to satisfy advanced photographers, who are looking for predictable and high quality images in all situations. Because they are capable of controlling all other aspects of their photography, they don’t need some special effects such as increased spherical aberration, extreme field curvature, swirly bokeh or highlight outlines. They even don’t need out of chart sharpness for the sake of pixel peeping.
Zeiss Loxia 35/2 Biogon is lens made for advanced and professional photographers with a rendering that has a big journalistic flavor or if you like documentary potential. It would be great for journalists, street photographers, travel photographers and beside its focal length limitation, also – landscape photographers.
While I am not shooting video for the review purposes, I did some video tests for myself (with professional rig) and I can tell you that Loxia 35/2 is very good video lens too (if you are enthusiast or advanced videographer used to manual focus) because of the de-clicking aperture feature and super smooth focusing ring. It is perfectly balanced and it should fit nicely in most cages without need for additional support.
Very well controlled ghosting, neutral colors and satisfying micro-contrast will deliver crispy and clean video. But also here, Loxia 35/2 tends to be rather documentaristic, without adding any special flavor to the mix.
What to say at the end?
When I was on the film school many years ago, I remember our professor of photography who always used to tell as that best DOP is the one, who manage to hide his camera behind spectators mind. In other words, good photography is considered to be the one where we don’t notice camera or lighting when looking at the movie, but we enjoy images for what they are as a part of the story.
This would be also best possible description of the Loxia 35/2 Biogon rendering that I can give. While there isn’t anything specific to rave about, such as tremendous sharpness, super speed, incredible flatness of the field, no CA at all, eye blowing micro-contrast etc., Loxia 35/2 does everything very well, with recognizable Zeiss colors, pop-up and technical and optical excellence.
If you are looking for the lens with more pronounced signature, you’ll probably find few more interesting alternatives, but if you are photographer who like to capture the world as it is, instead of arranging it to look as you wish, I can only highly recommend Loxia 35/2 Biogon.
And few more comparison images with Sony FE 35/2.8 ZA
First if Loxia at f/2 vs Sony FE at f/2.8.
Bellow is Loxia at f/2.8 vs FE at f/2.8
With following comparisons, I am trying to show differences in subject isolation and overall image look with three different lenses – Loxia 35/2, Sony FE 35/2.8 and CV 35/1.2 II (shot at f/1.4). Many people tend to say, that 1 stop or even 2 stops doesn’t mean much in terms of subject isolation.
At the end, it is always matter of taste, but I certainly like more shallow DOF.
Zeiss Loxia 35/2 at f/2 vs Sony FE 35/2.8 at f/2.8
Now let’s take a look at Loxia 35/2 at f/2 vs CV 35/1.2 II at f/1.4
And finally Sony FE 35/2.8 at f/2.8 vs CV 35/1.2 II at f/1.4
As I wrote above, I didn’t shoot video for the review purpose, but video is certainly important aspect for many users, and for Loxia lenses themselves. I decided therefore to make a compromise on my resolution and I shot few timelapse clips to give you an idea what you can expect from Loxia 35/2 with moving images. All clips were taken with a lens wide open.
I hope you liked our Loxia 35/2 Biogon review.
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