Zeiss Loxia 25mm f/2.4 Review, Sony a7R III thoughts, and Farewell Leica – for now.

Reviews

Over the past year, I’ve been primarily shooting with the Leica M262. It’s been a lot of fun, I’ve captured some great images, and I’ve really enjoyed using manual focus and compact lenses. During that time, I learned some interesting things about my shooting style and preferences:

  1. I like to be close to the subject – really close. That being said, the Leica M mount system forced me to be farther away than I like to be. This is due to the the way rangefinders work.
  2. I preferred the image rendering of my Zeiss 35mm f/1.4 than that of my Leica Summicron lenses.
  3. I missed shooting with wide angle lenses because anything wider than 28mm won’t show in the viewfinder. Therefore I didn’t shoot anything wider than 28mm on the Leica.
  4. I was wanting more resolution and dynamic range than the M262 provides.
  5. I prefer EVFs to optical and rangefinder viewfinders.
  6. I really like small and compact full frame systems.
  7. I don’t mind manual focusing and often favor it.
  8. I prefer lenses that pass metadata like aperture and lens make/model to the camera.

Ever since the Sony a7R III was announced, I immediately was interested in using the camera for its high dpi EVF,  and the superior image quality that it could ßproduce. I was originally thinking that I would get the Sony and use it with Leica lenses (my line of thinking is that it would be cheaper and better than an M10). However, after reading up quite a bit and asking questions online, I decided against that as an option. It’s my understanding that the Leica lenses just won’t resolve as well on a non Leica camera (they certainly don’t resolve as well on my Fuji).

In the past, I’ve owned an a7R II and some Loxia lenses. I remembered really enjoying them and decided to go back and look at my old RAW files to see if my memory was correct or purely nostalgic. Sure enough, I still really liked the results. So after a few months of debating, I decided to purchase the Sony a7R3 and get the Loxia lenses. In fact, the Loxia lenses by Zeiss are the only reason why I decided to pick up a Sony a7R3 and even sell my Leica gear. Here are the main reasons for the switch:

  1. Higher resolution and better dynamic range.
  2. Wonderful EVF – easier for manual focusing.
  3. Lenses are compact and very Leica like in terms of size and build quality.
  4. Zeiss sharpness and contrast are very much to my liking.
  5. Can get close to the subject.
  6. Tilting screen of the Sony and live view.

With regards to the the 25mm f/2.4, here’s my list of pros and cons:

Pros:

  1. Typical Zeiss Loxia size, feel, and build quality.
  2. Close focusing!
  3. f/2.4 is quite adequate and allows for some nice background blur.
  4. Low distortion.
  5. Versatile lens in terms of subjects – portraits are doable, great for landscapes, and macro like in terms of close focusing (I know I mentioned close focusing already).
  6. Like all Loxia lenses, turn the focus ring and the EVF shows a zoomed view immediately.
  7. Sharp and constrasty – the Zeiss look.

Cons:

  1. I still don’t think the Loxia lens hoods are that great. Comparing them to Leica lens hoods like the 28mm Summicron – no contest, Leica makes a better lens hood.
  2. Not f/2

This last week, I was heading down to Arizona for work and took the new Loxia 25mm f/2.4 with me. It’s the closest thing that exists in the Zeiss Loxia lineup to a 28mm Summicron, unfortunately there is no 28mm with the Loxia lenses though. I thought I would really miss having f/2 functionality, but it wasn’t an issue.

First stop was Wickenburg, AZ to visit my friend Gary. I started shooting in broad and bright afternoon daylight. The amount of shadow/highlight recovery with the a7R III is quite impressive. Even though there was extreme lighting differences, you can still make out the details.

2018-04-29 Gary and Glenna's home in Wickenberg, AZ 17-12-482018-04-29 Gary and Glenna's home in Wickenberg, AZ 17-15-51

As the sun started setting, I took more shots. These are all on Gary’s property.2018-04-29 Gary and Glenna's home in Wickenberg, AZ 18-57-212018-04-29 Gary and Glenna's home in Wickenberg, AZ 18-58-312018-04-29 Gary and Glenna's home in Wickenberg, AZ 19-02-422018-04-29 Gary and Glenna's home in Wickenberg, AZ 19-04-352018-04-29 Gary and Glenna's home in Wickenberg, AZ 19-14-45

Gary’s really into astro-photography and he takes some amazing photos of the heavens! Here’s Gary showing off his setup. He was lit with one lightbulb and the shot is at 2500 ISO!2018-04-29 Gary and Glenna's home in Wickenberg, AZ 19-37-35

The following evening, I had a chance to go to the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix. Quite a lovely place to go around the end of April and beginning of May due to the flowers being in bloom. A word of advice though, if you ever go there, pay attention to the map. I didn’t and got lost. It took me a good extra 45 minutes to get out of there. Quite embarrassing too, I had to crash a corporate after-hours event to ask for directions from the bartender to find the exit. They kinda helped, after a detour and getting lost again, I made my way to the exit.2018-04-30 Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, AZ 17-46-332018-04-30 Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, AZ 17-47-162018-04-30 Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, AZ 17-52-532018-04-30 Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, AZ 18-08-382018-04-30 Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, AZ 18-11-522018-04-30 Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, AZ 18-15-422018-04-30 Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, AZ 18-18-062018-04-30 Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, AZ 18-20-042018-04-30 Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, AZ 18-25-172018-04-30 Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, AZ 18-42-182018-04-30 Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, AZ 19-08-172018-04-30 Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, AZ 19-18-02

All in all, the Loxia 25mm is a great lens. I have no major complaints, and I can see this easily becoming one of my favorite Zeiss lenses to use. If you’re in the market for a compact, manual focus, sharp, and contrasty 25mm lens, this is the one!


Noah Bershatsky

Noah Bershatsky

I was a nerd before hipsters were cool.
https://bershatsky.com

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