Author Topic: Sony Zeiss 35/1.4 FE vs the other options for the Sony a7 series  (Read 14261 times)

Jan Anne

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My preferred main lens is a fast 35, combined with an ultra wide angle like 14 or 15mm I'm pretty much covered for 80% of my shots when travelling.

The Nikkor 50/1.2 used to be an inseparable companion but that changed when I fell head over heels in love with the Nikkor 35/1.4G when borrowing Bjørn's copy during a "one lens day" challenge in Lofoten, 4 years ago. When I jumped ship to Sony the Nikkor was replaced by the Voigtlander 35/1.2 Nokton II, a monster in Leica M terms but half the size of the Nikkor though the all metal Voigtlander was almost as heavy.

The VM35 won me over with its unique dreamy character, amazing boke, sharpness, metal built, aperture ring, etc but it wasn't the main lens I was looking for as it's look is not the kind of look I wanted all the time plus I wanted auto focus for my main lens. So when Sony announced the Sony Zeiss 35mm f/1.4 FE - the only current 35mm f/1.4 lens with autofocus, metal built and aperture ring - I was getting excited only to be in absolute shock about its size when seeing the lens for the first time at the Photokina, this thing is a true monster and quickly got the label of being the first autofocus Otus lens by some early reviewers as Zeiss apparently used the same "bigger is better for maximum IQ" design philosophy.

In the meantime several lenses in the 35-45mm range somehow made it's way to the camera bag, but they will soon go up for sale to make room for the newest kid on the block. Before I do so a size comparison shot was in order, from left to right the Sony Zeiss 35/2.8 FE, Voigtlander 35/1.2, Sony Zeiss 35/1.4 FE, Leica Summicron-C 2/40 and the Carl Zeiss 2/45 Planar in Contax G mount. All lenses are fitted with the appropriate adapters and Sony E rear lens caps to make it a fair comparison.

A7s with Voigtlander 125/2.5 APO EF

When using the 35/1.4 FE in Slovenia I discovered quickly that it was the main lens I was looking for, the IQ is superb, razor sharp wide-open, the Zeiss colours and pop are all there and the boke is super smooth. The all metal built is very solid and the focus ring is butter smooth. The aperture ring is on a level I never experienced before in any lens, its smooth and has solid 1/3rd clicks with an extra resistance and longer click for the auto aperture setting. The aperture clicks can be disengaged with a switch on the lens barrel for click less aperture changes during filming, very clever and simple to use feature.

In short why the other lenses can go:
Zeiss 35/2.8 FE
+ Razor sharp wide open, bold Zeiss colours and punch, small
- Aperture is too slow for my type of use, simply not enough DOF control

Leica Summicron-C 2/40
+ Really small, all metal build, smooth focus, sharp, its a Leica
- Too much coma when used in low light

Carl Zeiss 2/45 Planar Contax G:
+ Razor sharp wide open, bold Zeiss colours and punch, small
- No focus ring and focus with adapter isn't as smooth as MF lens, adapter doesn't fit the a7S

Here's the VM35/1.2 compared to the Nikkor 35/1.4G btw:

Shot with the iPhone 5 and Hipstamatic app
Cheers,
Jan Anne

Frank Fremerey

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Thank you, very interesting. I understand that the "35/1.4 AF Otus" is rather front heavy with the little Sony bodies?

Did your change your holding technique and how?

Are there comparable 50mm and 85mm options?
You are out there. You and your camera. You can shoot or not shoot as you please. Discover the world, Your world. Show it to us. Or we might never see it.

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Jan Anne

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I have a custom Arca plate mounted at all times, gives enough support for heavy lenses like the 35/1.4 FE and Voigtlander 125/2.5 APO Lanthar.

In the last 18 months Sony and Zeiss came up with a rather nice and diverse native FE lens line up, they come in four flavours:
- Sony: Designed and manufactured by Sony
- Sony Zeiss: Designed by Zeiss and manufactured by Sony with Zeiss specs and coatings
- Zeiss Loxia: Modern manual focus lenses, designed by Zeiss and manufactured in Japan (mfg unknown)
- Zeiss Batis: Autofocus lenses designed by Zeiss, manufactured in Japan by Cosina

Prime Lenses:
- Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2
- Sony FE 28mm f/2
- Sony Zeiss Distagon T* FE 35mm f/1.4 ZA
- Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2 Biogon T*
- Sony Zeiss Sonnar T* FE 35mm f/2.8 ZA
- Zeiss Loxia 50mm f/2 Planar T*
- Sony Zeiss Sonnar T* FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA
- Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8
- Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS

Zoom Lenses:
- Sony Zeiss Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS
- Sony Zeiss Vario-Tessar T* FE 24-70mm f/4 ZA OSS
- Sony FE 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS
- Sony FE PZ 28-135mm f/4 G OSS (cinematic lens)
- Sony FE 24-240mm f/3.5-6.3 OSS
- Sony FE 70-200mm f/4.0 G OSS

Other native lenses designed for the a7 series:
- Voigtlander VM 40mm f/2.8 Heliar (in combination with their LEM focussing helicoid adapter)
- Mitakon Zhongyi 50mm f/0.95
- Mitakon Zhongyi Speedmaster 85mm f/1.2

And then there's all the adapted Samyang / Rokinon DSLR lenses like the 14/2.8, 24/1.4, 35/1.4, 135/2, etc but those can be had in virtually all mounts out there so not unique to the Sony a7 series cameras.

Zeiss just released the two Batis lenses and Sony is rumoured to introduce 7 more Sony or Sony Zeiss lenses in the coming 8 months, they've admitted long lenses were missing in the line up so expect something long like a 70-300 or 70-400. Personally I'm hoping for a Sony Zeiss 14 or 15mm and something long and fast.
Cheers,
Jan Anne

Jan Anne

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Here's a short 8 minute video comparing 12 lenses for the a7 series, gives you a good idea of the alternatives, size, etc:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=js5nvz4Q8xk#t=38
Cheers,
Jan Anne

Frank Fremerey

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The Voigtlander 15mm seems to be great. At 15mm I will work hyperfocal anyway. With stabilization I do not need to worry about time either. Very small too. Want to see results. Preferrably with the A7R2 I intend to aquire after finishing my current project.
You are out there. You and your camera. You can shoot or not shoot as you please. Discover the world, Your world. Show it to us. Or we might never see it.

Me: https://youpic.com/photographer/frankfremerey/

Jan Anne

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Re: Sony Zeiss 35/1.4 FE vs the other options for the Sony a7 series
« Reply #5 on: September 12, 2015, 22:00:07 »
In Japan the Zeiss Batis lenses are sold with a Cosina warranty so that clears up another mystery:
http://www.sonyalpharumors.com/zeiss-batis-sells-with-cosina-warranty-in-japan-so-now-you-know-who-builds-them/

That pretty much confirms that Cosina is making all the non video lenses for Zeiss.
Cheers,
Jan Anne

John Geerts

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Re: Sony Zeiss 35/1.4 FE vs the other options for the Sony a7 series
« Reply #6 on: September 12, 2015, 22:09:55 »
In Japan the Zeiss Batis lenses are sold with a Cosina warranty so that clears up another mystery:
http://www.sonyalpharumors.com/zeiss-batis-sells-with-cosina-warranty-in-japan-so-now-you-know-who-builds-them/

That pretty much confirms that Cosina is making all the non video lenses for Zeiss.
  That was already obvious by speaking of a well established  life-long partner in Japan ;)  It's only a pity that, because of the partnership with Zeiss I presume,  we see no developments with the longer Voigtlander lenses. An update of the Lanthar series will be warmly  welcomed.

tommiejeep

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Re: Sony Zeiss 35/1.4 FE vs the other options for the Sony a7 series
« Reply #7 on: September 13, 2015, 10:39:28 »
Jan Anne, thanks for the info and particularly about the lenses you will not be keeping.  I'm still considering an a7xx.  The Distributor of Zeiss and Sony is offering me some decent prices.  I'm trying to get a feel for the Batis 25 (looking pretty good) and the 85 1.8 (still questions on that one).   I've been shooting the Sigma 24 1.4 and 35 1.4 Art series on the Df and D750.  Happy with both but enjoying 25mm more than 35mm.  I have plenty of Nikon 60mm-135mm lenses but I would like a lighter AF wide.  Funny, I rarely use my 16-35 f4G vr so have not really considered the Zeiss/Sony.

Other than trusting your own results, is there any one of the many  reviewing Sony bodies/FE mount lenses , who you trust more?.   Sony still looks a 'work in progress' to me but interested for stills.

We've Nikons extremely well covered here with the great knowledge base but I am at a loss for Sony gear and lenses used on the Sony bodies.  Even though I am using primes most of the time I still like a mid-range zoom for walkabout.  That seems to be a weak spot in the Sony collection.   That said, any idea how the FE 24-70 or kit FE 28-70 compare to the Nikon 24-85vrG?

I will be very interested in your thoughts if you do get to try the two Batis :) .
Cheers,
Tom
Tom Hardin, Goa, India

Jan Anne

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Re: Sony Zeiss 35/1.4 FE vs the other options for the Sony a7 series
« Reply #8 on: September 15, 2015, 08:23:01 »
Tom, you probably know about the regular lens reviews on www.photozone.de and www.slrgear.com so I'll stick to the lesser known links.

A good starting point into the Sony world is www.sonyalphaforum.com, a young forum which is part of www.sonyalpharumors.com where some very good photogs show their stuff, wouldn't mind having a few of them hanging over here as well :)

Also a newcomer is www.verybiglobo.com, very detailed and technical reviews on both Nikon and Sony gear.

Steve Huff will only review gear he likes, so most of his reviews are ADHD positive but he really likes the Batis lenses:
http://www.stevehuffphoto.com/2015/07/06/the-zeiss-batis-25-f2-and-85-f1-8-lens-review/

He lacks some technical knowledge and talks more about the character and rendering of the lens from an enduser perspective but this IMHO is a nice balance to the more MTF based technical reviews on some other review sites mentioned earlier.
Cheers,
Jan Anne

Jan Anne

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Re: Sony Zeiss 35/1.4 FE vs the other options for the Sony a7 series
« Reply #9 on: April 29, 2016, 13:20:21 »
Just received the Voigtlander 15mm f/4.5 in Sony E mount, here sided by the original LTM version and the Samyang 14mm f/2.8 AE all equalised in size to the Sony FE mount.

The lens has some interesting features:
- Hard infinity stop
- Full EXIF registration
- Manual focus triggers focus assist (can be turned off)
- Aperture ring can be set to click or clickless mode (push ring with aperture dot forwards and turn 180 degrees)
- 301,5 gram without the caps
- Bigger than the LTM but handles better, perfect balance on the a7R2 and a7S
- A lot smaller and lighter than the 14/2.8

Optical tests have to wait for Scotland, much nicer sceneries than here in the NL ;D


Sony a7R2 with Voigtlander 125/2.5 APO
Cheers,
Jan Anne

tommiejeep

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Re: Sony Zeiss 35/1.4 FE vs the other options for the Sony a7 series
« Reply #10 on: April 29, 2016, 13:37:57 »
JA, super cool  :) .  Just in time for your trip to Scotland and if you've already packed it will go into a pocket  ;) .  I am really enjoying the VM version III.

Looking forward to images since I am just really learning how to use 15mm.
All the best,
Tom
Tom Hardin, Goa, India

Jan Anne

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Re: Sony Zeiss 35/1.4 FE vs the other options for the Sony a7 series
« Reply #11 on: April 29, 2016, 13:57:08 »
The VMIII is the more sensible choice as it can be adapter to any future full frame (or crop) mirrorless mount of which we should see more in the near future.

My excuse is that my main lenses are a 14/15mm and a fast 35mm and for both I wanted full EXIF registration, for the 125/2.5 and Canon 100-400 this was already sorted with the Metabones EF to FE adapter.

For all the other MF lenses I simply have to wait for the Techart adapter, it won't be full EXIF but at least I know which image is shot with which lens  :)
Cheers,
Jan Anne

Jan Anne

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Re: Sony Zeiss 35/1.4 FE vs the other options for the Sony a7 series
« Reply #12 on: April 29, 2016, 14:00:57 »
Though not native this f/1.2 trio will be used on the A7R2 and A7s.

From left to right; Voigtlander 35/1.2 VM, Nikkor F 50/1.2 Ai-S and Canon FD 85/1.2 SSC Aspherical, all equalised to Leica M mount for size comparison.

Cheers,
Jan Anne

Erik Lund

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Re: Sony Zeiss 35/1.4 FE vs the other options for the Sony a7 series
« Reply #13 on: April 29, 2016, 14:03:12 »
Congratulations JA, just in time! ;)
Erik Lund

stenrasmussen

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Re: Sony Zeiss 35/1.4 FE vs the other options for the Sony a7 series
« Reply #14 on: April 29, 2016, 14:09:49 »
Luuuvlee set of glass there JA!