src="http://www.mirrorlessons.com/wp-content/themes/mirrorlessons Hands-On with the Zeiss Loxia 21mm f/2.8 (Sony E-Mount)
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Lens Reviews

Date: 23/10/2015 | By: Mathieu

A day in Cambridge – Hands-On with the Zeiss Loxia 21mm f/2.8 (Sony E-Mount)

DMC-GX8, 1/50, f/ 71/10, ISO 200

A day in Cambridge – Hands-On with the Zeiss Loxia 21mm f/2.8 (Sony E-Mount)

Today we spent a very pleasant day at the Zeiss Headquarters in Cambridge where we had the chance to try the new Loxia 21mm f/2.8 lens for the Sony E-mount system. In truth, this wasn’t the first time we’d seen the lens, as a prototype was on display at the Milvus event in Oberkochen (see our report here). But since the lens was still under embargo, we were kindly asked to remain quiet about it until the official announcement that happened the following week.

 

Of the eight samples travelling around the world at the moment, only one made it to England, so we and the other bloggers and journalists present had to take turns using the lens as we walked around the very impressive Kings College and experienced “punting” on the River Cam for the first time. Given the limited time, I’ll stick to sharing my first impressions and leave my in-depth analysis of optical quality for our final review.

The construction is on par with the other two Loxia lenses (review here): it has an all-metal build and the blue rubber seals the mount against dust and water. I noticed that the focus ring has been given some added resistance compared to the smooth focus rings of the two other Loxias, which is very nice to see. The aperture ring however moves more freely even with the clicking mechanism activated. I altered my aperture inadvertently a few times because of this. It can also be de-clicked with a small screwdriver for video shooting.

The lens has the same diameter as the other two Loxias but is slightly longer. The filter thread is the same at 52mm. Overall the dimensions remind me of the FE 55mm f/1.8. The included petal shaped hood is made of metal. My only complaint is the same as with the two other lenses which is the lack of space between the mount and the two rings. It gives you less of a good grip on the lens when you mount or unmount it.

The day was overcast so there wasn’t any real chance to test flare resistance so I concentrated on architecture and distortion. Note that the latter isn’t corrected in camera so we’ll have to wait for Lightroom to update its lens profile database. So far I do find the performance good but there is some visible barrel distortion.

zeiss loxia 21mm review
A7r II, 1/8, f/5.6, ISO 100
zeiss loxia 21mm review
A7r II, 1/8, f/5.6, ISO 100
zeiss loxia 21mm review
A7r II, 1/80, f/8, ISO 100

Sharpness at the centre is already excellent at f/2.8. Given the wide angle of the lens, achieving bokeh is more difficult but the lens can focus fairly close (25cm) and the results are not bad. Sharpness in the corners at close apertures is really good so the overall optical quality looks very promising. Note that unlike the 2/35 and 2/50, the 21mm features a brand new design (Distagon type).

zeiss loxia 21mm review
A7r II, 1/80, f/2.8, ISO 400
zeiss loxia 21mm sample images
A7r II, 1/200, f/2.8, ISO 100
zeiss loxia 21mm sample images
A7r II, 1/250, f/2.8, ISO 100
zeiss loxia 21mm sample images
A7r II, 1/40, f/8, ISO 100
zeiss loxia 21mm sample images
A7r II, 1/40, f/5.6, ISO 100
zeiss loxia 21mm sample images
A7r II, 1/10, f/4, ISO 400

My first impressions are very positive and the form factor of the lens is just perfect for the A7 series. This is what I like about the Loxia range in general: the diameter fits the mount perfectly. I hope to receive a sample to review very soon. In the meantime, you can check out various sample images taken with the Sony A7r II. Click on any of them to open the full res version.

zeiss loxia 21mm sample images
A7r II, 1/6, f/5.6, ISO 400
zeiss loxia 21mm sample images
A7r II, 1/6, f/5.6, ISO 400
zeiss loxia 21mm sample images
A7r II, 1/200, f/4.5, ISO 100

You can see more sample images in our Smugmug gallery here!


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About the author: Mathieu Gasquet

Mathieu Gasquet is a professional photographer with French and Italian origins. Besides running his own video and photography studio 3Dit Lab, he is also the official photographer for the National Cinema Museum in Turin. You can follow him on Google+, Twitter or Facebook!

  • http://www.mirrorlessons.com Mathieu

    Yes, I believe so. I really hope that Voigltander has a serious project with its future E-mount series and that we will hear more news next year :)

  • Peter

    Thanks, as you mentioned in the review some of these may come in e-mount eventually. If the 21 was one of them that would make it a clear winner over the loxia…

  • http://www.mirrorlessons.com Mathieu

    Hard choice really. I need to test the Loxia 21 more in depth but so far I can say that I would choose the Ultron for astrophotography and its cheaper price mainly. Otherwise the Loxia seems to be slightly better concerning sharpness and distortion, not to mention that it has a native Emount.

  • http://www.mirrorlessons.com Mathieu

    Yes I like it as well, those sunstars are really nice.

  • samdman

    I like the typical zeiss’s sunstar in these… 😀
    Thank you for the review.

  • http://www.mirrorlessons.com Mathieu

    The Milvus are heavier and larger as well so it depends if you are looking for something small and portable. I really love the form factor of the Loxia lenses while I found the Miluvs a little bit too large and heavy for the A7r II (you can check full res samples here: http://www.mirrorlessons.com/2015/09/11/zeiss-milvus-sony-a7r-ii/

  • Greg Thurtle

    I keep debating between the loxias and the batis, how similar is the rendering, I like the idea of a similar rendering at all FL a la milvus.. so many lenses..

    How do you feel the native E mount loxias compare with the adapter options such as milvus (i’m discounting otus due mainly to the weight)?

  • http://www.mirrorlessons.com Mathieu

    Difficult choice! Personally I would go for the 21 Loxia because it is wider and will suit better my landscape or architecture pictures. It also creates a larger gap with a 35mm lens which is another focal length I really like.
    I would choose the Batis for reportage, events and wedding where the AF can be very useful as well as the f/2 aperture. Also 25mm is less wide and can suit better group shots.

  • Carlo

    I tried all Loxia lenses and the two Batis at Photoshow last weekend.
    This wide angle reminds me the classical 21 distagon, so it’s excellent and the size is very compact. However Batis 25 and 85 have a special character, more similar to latest japanese leica r lenses than typical zeiss lenses. In particular the Batis 25 is not clinical, has less micro contrast but top sharpness (maybe a bit less than the loxia 21), and very natural colors. Honestly, beside the different sizes and focal length (and autofocus: but it’s pretty meaningless to me on a wide prime), I don’t know today what I would choose between this excellent 21 and the charming 25. What do you think?

  • Chas

    Very Otus like…wow.

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