Sony / Zeiss FE Distagon T* 35mm f/1.4 ZA ( SEL35F14Z ) - Review / Test Report - Sample Images & Verdict
Lens Reviews - Sony Alpha (Full Format)

Sample Images & Verdict

Make SONY
Model ILCE-7RM2
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 35.0mm
Aperture: f/9.0
Exposure 1/500s
Make SONY
Model ILCE-7RM2
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 35.0mm
Aperture: f/4.0
Exposure 1/640s
Make SONY
Model ILCE-7RM2
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 35.0mm
Aperture: f/9.0
Exposure 1/250s
Make SONY
Model ILCE-7RM2
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 35.0mm
Aperture: f/9.0
Exposure 1/320s
Make SONY
Model ILCE-7RM2
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 35.0mm
Aperture: f/9.0
Exposure 1/400s
Make SONY
Model ILCE-7RM2
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 35.0mm
Aperture: f/2.8
Exposure 1/8000s
Make SONY
Model ILCE-7RM2
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 35.0mm
Aperture: f/9.0
Exposure 1/1250s
Make SONY
Model ILCE-7RM2
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 35.0mm
Aperture: f/9.0
Exposure 1/500s
Make SONY
Model ILCE-7RM2
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 35.0mm
Aperture: f/9.0
Exposure 1/640s
Make SONY
Model ILCE-7RM2
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 35.0mm
Aperture: f/2.0
Exposure 1/6400s
Make SONY
Model ILCE-7RM2
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 35.0mm
Aperture: f/1.4
Exposure 1/800s
Make SONY
Model ILCE-7RM2
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 35.0mm
Aperture: f/11.0
Exposure 1/200s
Make SONY
Model ILCE-7RM2
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 35.0mm
Aperture: f/1.7
Exposure 1/5000s
Make SONY
Model ILCE-7RM2
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 35.0mm
Aperture: f/2.2
Exposure 1/8000s
Make SONY
Model ILCE-7RM2
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 35.0mm
Aperture: f/2.5
Exposure 1/8000s
Make SONY
Model ILCE-7RM2
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 35.0mm
Aperture: f/9.0
Exposure 1/800s

The Competition

Sony users have a number of options when it comes to 35mm prime lenses. The Samyang FE 35mm f/1.4 (center below) is directly competing with the Zeiss Distagon T* FE 35mm f/1.4 ZA (left). At just over half the price of the Zeiss lens it is a compelling alternative. If you can live with less speed, you have at least three more options. The Zeiss Sonnar T* FE 35mm f/2.8 (to the right) is obviously tiny in comparison and about as good at comparable aperture settings. Samyang has another 35mm lens in their lineup - an AF 35mm f/2.8 pancake - for just 350USD. Other than the exotics, there's also the Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2 which sits in between in terms of speed but you have to live without AF in this case.

Visual comparison courtesy of camerasize.com.

Verdict

It isn't easy to come to a conclusion about the Zeiss Distagon T* FE 35mm f/1.4 ZA. Technically it has some weaknesses but then we have seen these weaknesses in other representatives of this class (high-speed wide-angle primes). The resolution characteristic is great in the image center straight from f/1.4. However, the image corners are not that hot till about f/2.8. Now does that matter from a real-world perspective? Usually, it doesn't. If you use the lens at large apertures, the corners are rarely of relevance and, most likely, not on the same focus plane as your main subject anyway. Stopped down to f/4 the Zeiss lens is plenty sharp across the image field. Image distortions are pretty much absent and lateral CAs aren't overly relevant either. If you use the lens without image correction you will notice very high vignetting at fully open aperture but that's rather normal. A bit of an unfortunate shortcoming is the quality of the bokeh. You can, of course, produce lots of "blur" if the focus spread between your main subject and the surroundings is sufficient enough but the technical bokeh is fairly rough in the focus transition zones and out-of-focus highlights aren't a strength either. There also quite a bit of bokeh fringing. Then again - we have seen all this in many other 35mm f/1.4 lenses in the past.

Mechanically the lens is near-perfect. It feels as if it was carved out of rock and all controls are super smooth. The weather sealing is the cream on the cappuccino here. However, don't expect wonders in terms of AF speed - it's nothing to write home about really. A 35mm f/1.4 isn't meant for action photography so for most that shouldn't be an issue though.

So if you require such a fast 35mm prime lens, the Zeiss is certainly worth a look. However, if you are willing to look beyond the mainstream, you may also check out the new Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FE although keep in mind that Samyang doesn't really have the best record when it comes to centering quality.

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