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Several months ago, I decided to make the switch from being partnered with Sony Electronics to joining ZEISS Camera Lenses. Upon doing so I was opened to their catalog of lenses that I could choose to use. I decided that I would obtain a few of the ZEISS Loxia lenses. I photographed with the Loxia 50mm in 2018 and enjoyed that lens quite a bit. I didn’t buy it at the time, but with joining ZEISS I decided to add three lenses, the 35mm, 50mm and the 21mm.
The Loxia 35mm had been the second lens I was wanting to use and since I had the opportunity to I decided to select this lens to add to my arsenal. This focal length is one I didn’t have in my collection anymore, as I sold my Distagon 1.4/35mm ZA lens at the time the Batis 2/40mm CF lens was launched. The Loxia wasn’t a huge lens like that one was and it was a few stops faster than the compact Sonnar 2.8/35mm ZA lens I owned as my first 35mm lens.
In a very short time, I’ve photographed a wide array of genres with this lens and have used it more than my Batis 40mm CF lens. I’ve been utilizing this lens a lot lately on my Sony Alpha 6000 series cameras, as I recently brought back into service my Alpha 6000 and followed up with purchasing the newer Alpha 6400. It’s also be utilized with my Sony Alpha 7R II and Alpha 9 cameras.
This lens is may be a bit on the high side for some, at $1,299, especially being a manual focusing lens. If the work you do doesn’t require auto focus then it’s a lens that won’t disappoint what-so-ever.
Shot with Sony Alpha 9
ZEISS Loxia 35mm Specs & Images
Sony E-Mount (FE - Full Frame lens)
BIOGON Optical Lens Design
Aperture Range: f/2-f/22
ZEISS T* Anti-Reflective Coating
52mm Diameter Filter Thread
Metal Construction with rear Weather Seal gasket
63 degrees - Angle of View
30cm Minimum Focus Distance
0.75 lbs. (340g) - Weight
Something to note is that this lens is a Full Frame (FE) lens for Sony’s Mirrorless E-Mount cameras, but it can be used on the cropped APS-C cameras, which will give you a 35mm equivalent focal range of 52.5mm.
Shot with Sony Alpha 6400
What I think about the Loxia 35mm
It’s a compact and super lightweight lens. Manually focusing this lens is very smooth, as all of the Loxia lenses are. In having that traditional lens build, with the depth of field scale and meter and feet engravings make manual focusing easier than with the auto-focusing lenses, which utilize the fly-by-wire system and doesn’t have accurate manual focusing capability.
I’ve been able to photograph a variety of genres with this lens, giving those considering it quite a few examples of showing how strong of a lens this is. Whenever I don’t need auto-focus, close focusing or simply want to take my time in my captures I’m opting to utilize this lens frequently over the Batis 40mm, especially for it’s smaller footprint and lighter weight. The Batis 40mm isn’t a hefty lens at all, but it’s a 67mm filter thread where this is only 52mm, giving me even more space in my bag.
Manual Focus – The focusing of this lens is very smooth without any play. I’ve paired this lens with the Sony Alpha 6000, 6400 and Alpha 9 and it’s been easy to focus on all three of those cameras. Being a native lens that means that with your manual focus adjustments the camera with automatically magnify the preview image (if you have your settings enabled to do this) to the point you want, to make sure you’re obtaining a perfectly in focus image. For those new to manual focusing you’ll probably struggle initially, but it will become second nature after a few weeks of usage.
De-Click – This feature of the lens is great for cinematographers who wish to use this lens for filming. You’re able to De-Click the lens for constant fluid aperture movement from this lens.
Build/Focus Ring - You're obtaining an all metal design lens. The lens hood is also a metal construction and includes a very tight gasket seal on the rear of the lens when your lens is attached to the camera, making for a gap-less connection with the lens and the flange of the camera. It does have a more rugged feel than the ZEISS Batis lenses (although the Batis lenses are dust and weather sealed lenses, vs that of the Loxia lenses) and feels like what you’re use to utilizing from the other ZEISS lines, such as the Milvus or Classic. These lenses also have a focus ring that’s common to photographers of the ZEISS Classic lenses, with a ridged ring compared to the smooth rings on Otus, Milvus, Batis and even Touit lenses. The lens includes electronic contacts, which allows for EXIF data to be read by the camera.
Manual Aperture Ring – This isn’t something unique to the Loxia lenses and many others for the Sony E-Mount, including many Sony/ZEISS and Sony G/GM lenses have these manual aperture rings. For most it may take getting use to manually adjusting the aperture more than it will manually adjusting the focus. The one thing I love about it is that I can’t accidentally change my aperture on this lens and is something that happens often with in camera aperture adjusted lenses.
Size – It’s quite a compact lens. The diameter of the filter thread of this lens is 52mm, which is the same for the entire lineup of Loxia lenses. This is a very essential thing for Cinematographers utilizing gears and not having to be concerned about lenses of different sizes.
T Coating* - ZEISS lenses are popular for this coating, which reduces lens flare drastically and enhances overall performance of the lens. Whether it’s a filter or lens with this coating you’ll notice the difference from having it vs a lens or filter that doesn’t. It’s always very effective and really brings more contrast to your images. There are times when I do want to have a little bit of lens flare, but the coating of these lenses is so good that it’s sometimes hard to do. The irony!
Image Quality/Color – Just as with any ZEISS the color and sharpness are great quality. Wide open this lens is very sharp as well.
Shot with Sony Alpha 7R II
What is there to dislike about the Loxia 35mm?
There’s very little of this lens that doesn’t move (focusing and aperture rings) and that makes this lens a bit of a challenge to mount and unmount from the camera body. You’re bound to adjust these rings and even the lens hood when it’s attached to the lens. This is something to simply be mindful of, but for the size and weight of this lens it’s not something I worry about too much.
What about using the Loxia 35mm for video?
I consider this lens to be one of the best lenses any amateur or professional cinematographer could ever get their hands on. I’ve filmed many of my latest videos on YouTube with this lens, such as the one above.
With the ability to de-click the Loxia lenses with the included de-click tool, to allow for smooth operation of the aperture and the buttery smooth focus adjustments it’s easy to utilize this lens. Most cinematographers prefer manual lenses for productions and for video this would be my first lens to consider for anyone.
Shot with Sony Alpha 6400
Is Loxia needed if I have Batis?
I can’t answer that for everyone, but my thoughts are that it’s a nice compliment to the Batis lenses. Is it needed for most people? No. You’re either going to be someone who’s entirely auto-focusing or entirely manual. The only way I can see anyone having both is if they’re really wanting both lines of full frame lenses for Sony E-Mount from ZEISS.
I wanted the Loxia lenses for several years, but I originally couldn’t justify the price of owning them and having focal lengths that are close to what I already had from my Batis lenses (which at one time I owned all 5 of them, now have 4). When I switched companies, from Sony to ZEISS the opportunity opened itself to obtain the 3 lenses I was interested in in the Loxia’s and not have to spend over $3,000 for them. Presently they’re used more than my Batis lenses. I knew I’d use them, but again I couldn’t justify spending more money than I needed to on lenses.
If your work doesn’t require auto-focusing and you don’t own any ZEISS lenses now, then I’d recommend the Loxia’s first. They’re more compact than the Batis, making for a smaller kit to travel with. Remember that the Loxia isn’t weather sealed like the Batis, so if being in the elements are important then you’re 100% going to have to look at Batis for that.
Shot with Sony Alpha 7R II
Conclusion: Who is/isn’t this for?
If you want to have that manual focusing experience and have the budget to afford such a lens, then it’s a fantastic investment to make. At $1,299 it’s a hefty price to fork over, but the Loxia 35mm is a beautiful lens.
If what you photograph on a regular basis requires auto-focusing then buying this wouldn’t serve much purpose for you. Even as a lens to have as a toy, that you might want to play or try out on the weekends and again if you have the money to spend then go for it. For auto-focusing needs you’d for sure want to look at the Batis lenses instead. The lenses in the Loxia family are either directly or closely shared in focal length among the Batis family as well, so you wouldn’t have a problem with lenses in the ranges you may be looking for.
All images featured in this review were photographed with various cameras in the Sony Alpha 6000, Sony Alpha a6400, Sony Alpha 7R II and/or Sony Alpha 9.