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Gear Reviews

Zeiss Loxia 50mm F/2 | Initial Thoughts & Impressions

By Anthony Thurston on August 12th 2015

I have been waiting to give these lenses a try for months, and after waiting what seemed like an eternity, I have finally received my review unit of the Zeiss Loxia 50mm F/2 for the Sony FE mount. Today, I am going to go over my initial impressions of the lens, and how I see this fitting into an E-mount shooter’s kit.

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[RELATED: Zeiss Announces Loxia FE Mount Lenses]

Initial Thoughts On Zeiss Loxia 50mm F/2

Being one of a few 50mm focal length lenses with a native FE mount, the Zeiss Loxia 50mm F/2 is a lens that many Sony A7 series shooters, or those looking into the FE system, are curious about. Sony and Zeiss have the spectacular 55mm F/1.8 that is one of the sharpest lenses ever tested, and that lens has AF.

So where does that leave the Loxia, a manual focus only 50mm lens, which costs roughly the same as the 55mm? In an interesting place, that is for sure. Being someone who likes using old vintage film lenses for the great manual focus abilities on my A7 II, the Loxia is especially interesting to me as it is a lens that offers me all the latest advances in lens technology, along with that wonderful manual focus experience that I have come to love.

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Upon receiving the 50mm F/2 lens, I quickly realized that this was the 50mm lens of my dreams. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Sony/Zeiss 55mm F/1.8. It has an excellent image quality, and its AF makes shooting a much quicker experience. As someone who shoots boudoir, it is important for me to make my clients look great and using a manual focus lens like the Loxia forces me to slow down and really take in each shot before pressing the shutter. The precise focus control with the focus ring is wonderful and is something just not possible on the focus by wire 55mm F/1.8.

The Loxia looks and feels like a premium lens, with its all metal construction and smooth focus ring. Its aperture ring is also a nice thing to have, as most lenses these days no longer include them.

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Does this make the Loxia good for everyone? No, I wouldn’t use it in any situation where you need to be quick, like a wedding or action scenario. But if you enjoy a manual focus experience and have the time to slow down, this is a lens you will enjoy immensely.

I have not had a chance to use it yet during a boudoir shoot, but I did take a few test images here for you all to take a look at. I will continue to play with this guy for the next couple weeks, at which point you can expect my full review.

Loxia 50mm F/2 Sample Images

ISO 2500 1/80th F/2 - Sony A7 II w/ Loxia 50mm F/2

ISO 2500 1/80th F/2 – Sony A7 II w/ Loxia 50mm F/2

ISO 640 1/80th F/2 - Sony A7 II w/ Loxia 50mm F/2

ISO 640 1/80th F/2 – Sony A7 II w/ Loxia 50mm F/2

ISO 640 1/80th F/2.8 - Sony A7 II w/ Loxia 50mm F/2

ISO 640 1/80th F/2.8 – Sony A7 II w/ Loxia 50mm F/2

ISO 3200 1/80th F/4 - Sony A7 II w/ Loxia 50mm F/2

ISO 3200 1/80th F/4 – Sony A7 II w/ Loxia 50mm F/2

I am looking forward to playing with this some more, but I am curious what questions you all have about it. So speak up, what interests you about this lens? What concerns you about it? Let me know and I will address it in the comments below and possibly in my final review.

Anthony Thurston is a photographer based in the Salem, Oregon area specializing in Boudoir. He recently started a new project, Fiercely Boudoir to help support the growing boudoir community. Find him over on Instagram. You may also connect with him via Email.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Ben Perrin

    Hey Anthony,

    Is that your Commlite adapter? Have you flocked it or sprayed the inside with a matte paint yet? I heard they have issues with internal reflections.

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    • Anthony Thurston

      It is my adapter, I only just got it yesterday though, so I have not had a chance to test for the flare issues or make any adjustments yet. I have shot a few images with it, and have not noticed any flares or issues yet.

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    • Ben Perrin

      Cool. I hope everything works out for you. I have my commlite adapter but I’m still waiting for my a7rii to arrive so I can’t use it yet. Keep us updated if you have any issues.

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    • Anthony Thurston

      Will Do. I plan on doing a full write up on it once I have had more time to play with it.

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  2. Max C

    Unless you are shooting snails, it is always better to have options; get a lens that can shoot both auto & manual. That way you can switch whenever you want. Don’t buy a lens that is going to handicap you in certain shooting situations. Just my two cents.

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    • Anders Madsen

      It’s not that simple. Most AF-lenses have utterly horrible manual focus capabilities – the focus throw (the distance, you turn the focus ring from closest focus to infinity) is usually very short and you don’t really have a “feel” for when the turn of the focus ring will cause the focus to start shifting.

      You really need to try a “real” manual focus lens to understand the difference – reading it does not really convey the actual experience.

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    • Max C

      I totally understand that some people just love to shoot with manual lenses and to each his own. When I shoot video I only use manual focus because auto-focus is not accurate in video mode. For photography I only shoot in auto-focus because it is much much faster and I get great results. I see no reason to use manual focus for photography when the auto-focus works just fine. That is why I don’t understand why someone would buy a completely manual lens for photography in 2015.

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    • Kyle Stauffer

      Max,

      I feel the same way you do (Most of the time). However, with many trades, I would like to get good at something without relying on something else to do it. There have been times at receptions when it was so dark that my Nikon d800 and d700 could not lock focus under 3-4 seconds making it difficult to capture “moment” shots. Manually focusing with those cameras in those conditions was near impossible for me. From what I’ve heard, manually focusing these new Sony cameras is much easier with EVF and features like focus peaking. Having never used one, I can’t say for sure, but I’d sure like to think so.

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    • Dustin Baugh

      It might have to do with photography style that you do. Since I’m mostly doing landscapes I usually do manual focus and now that I have a lens that can do Focus by wire or manual I find myself using the manual focus much more often.

      Having that direct control really gets you into taking the shot in a way that autofocus doesn’t. I still do use autofocus when generally wandering but it fells much more “Spray and pray” when doing it. When I’m CREATING a photograph I’m almost always using manual focus.

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    • Max C

      @Kyle Firstly, every pro photographer should know their camera thoroughly, which includes how to manually focus, just like a Pro DJ need to know how to manually match 2 songs without the auto-sync button. You might have problems focusing in the dark because of the type of camera you use. My camera has a focus assist lamp, which means I can get focus in total darkness. I am not just saying words; I went into my bathroom, turned off the light and was able to take an in-focus photo of my mouthwash. The scene in my bathroom is much darker than I would ever face at an event.

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    • Kyle Stauffer

      Max,

      The lamp was on and was much different than being in your bathroom where the light is reflecting from every surface and only a few feet away from subjects. My solution in that situation was to switch to a fast 85. A focus lamp doesn’t help when on the long end of a 70-200 and too far away as was the problem.

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    • Kyle Stauffer

      Maybe I’m making more of a point for Sony than I am for manual focus. What I was originally trying to say is that there are times that you’ll either need to manual focus (Which can be very difficult with Nikon/canon dslr’s in low light), or do something different.

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  3. Austin Swenson

    Would you say that this lens is worth what you have to spend, or would you go for one of the older Minolta MD mount lenses and use an adapter that are manual focus and get an f1.4 aperture? Because ultimately you get the same kind of buttery smooth focus ring, at a lower price, but then again, image quality? I’m just torn, I don’t know what I would do.

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    • Anthony Thurston

      The image quality from this lens will blow away just about any old film manual focus lens you adapt to the FE mount, and the ones that it wouldn’t beat or could match it, would likely cost you around the same amount of money.

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    • Anthony Thurston

      It all depends on your shooting style. If you like to manual focus, then experience on a true manual focus lens would always be superior to an AF lens but especially to an FE AF lens because to date they are all focus by wire. If you never MF, or use AF the majority of the time, then obviously this is not really a lens for you.

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    • Max C

      @Anthony Image quality is very subjective when it comes to comparing lens. It’s usually pixel peepers that can see the differences between two similar lens. They usually have to zoom to 400% to see it. The average photographer and client don’t zoom 400% to look for minute differences that can hardly be seen with the naked eye. Like I said, I totally understand that some photographers just prefer to use Manually lens. I find them to be a waste of money. I prefer to get a auto-focus lens that can also be used manually. With focus peaking & focus assist zoom, I have no problems manually focusing with a auto-focus lens.

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    • Orion Hunter

      @Max C:

      People talk about “Pixel Peeping” as if it’s a hobby done for its own sake. For me, it’s always been my attempt to answer the question “What is that?” whenever confronted with some distracting aberration in a digital photo.

      What’s that weird haziness in a brunette model’s hair? Zoom in to discover that it’s chroma-noise in the shadow areas. Why does this shot look so flat? Zoom in to see poorly resolved detail. That fact that some other people won’t notice it isn’t going to make me un-see the effects of what’s happening at the pixel-level. And I’m not about to make “what most people won’t notice” serve as my standard of quality.

      If other people only need their photography to meet the standards of the untrained and unobservant, that’s perfectly fine. But it’s certainly nothing to brag about the way people are constantly doing.

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    • Max C

      @ Oriion, You made me laugh. You are obviously one of those photographers who spend too much time analyzing your photos at 400% for minute imperfections. I can just imagine your camera bag full of perfect lens and a perfect camera with a perfect speed-light so that all your photos come out perfectly. Happy shooting…lol

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    • Orion Hunter

      @Max C

      No, you made yourself laugh. You constructed an imaginary strawman for you to ridicule. None of what you wrote has anything to do with me: for one thing, I don’t even own a speedlight, nor would I use one.

      Again, when engaged in some sort of visual art, not noticing things probably shouldn’t be a point of pride. You didn’t bother to address that point, because it’s hard to argue with that.

      But if it makes you feel good to think that people with better observational skills, perhaps better visual acuity, and higher standards than you are somehow your inferiors, then you just keep on laughing.

      There’s a reason why lens makers engineer lenses that can deliver excellent image quality. People like you want to convince yourselves that no one ever needs anything better that whatever it is you own. And the reasons for that a pretty transparent.

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