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Zeiss Loxia 50mm F2 Planar Review

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The unique concept behind mirrorless cameras was they might be smaller, lighter options to DSLRs because of the variations in know-how whereas offering comparable ranges of optical efficiency.  As I’ve famous in lots of subsequent critiques this concept is usually misplaced, as ceaselessly lenses designed for mirrorless (just like the Sony 24-70mm f/2.Eight G Grasp) are, if something, greater and heavier than their DSLR counterparts.  However Zeiss has managed to design a particularly compact, extraordinarily excessive efficiency vary for Sony FE (full body mirrorless) – the Loxia collection of lenses.  The Zeiss Loxia 50mm F2 Planar lens is the third within the collection that I’m reviewing (I’ll comply with up with the 85mm F2.four and 25mm F2.four lenses), and the Loxia 50 serves as each the most cost effective (although that’s relative) of the Loxia collection and one in every of my favorites optically because of the actually super colour rendering and wonderful bokeh from the lens.

The Zeiss Loxia 50mm F2 Planar shortly exhibits a part of what makes the Loxia collection particular once you pull it out of the field and marvel at how compact it’s.  It’s virtually an equivalent twin to the Loxia 35mm F2 I lately reviewed, a lot in order that should you personal each you’ll even have to take a look at the lens designation on the entrance or on the hood to know which is which.  There isn’t a direct comparability for the Loxia 50 in a typical DSLR Basic or Milvus lens.  The closest equal can be the Makro-Planar 50mm F2 (although the Loxia undoubtedly lacks the close-focus talents of that lens).  There’s no query it’s rather more compact than the MP 50, nevertheless, because the Milvus model of that lens weighs 730g whereas the Loxia 50 weighs solely 320g (11.29 oz).  The Loxia 50 can also be a lot smaller at (WxL) 2.44 x 2.32″ / 62 x 59 mm.  All of this whereas sustaining a really Zeiss-like degree of construct high quality and with a equally premium really feel.  This shortly begs the query as to WHY extra mirrorless lenses can’t be smaller – notably when the Loxia collection properly covers the 35mm/full body picture circle.  The reply, a minimum of partially, is that Zeiss has elected to not push the envelope with most aperture on these lenses.  Sigma, for instance, has actually labored to develop lenses with larger-than-typical most apertures, however the trade-off is that their lenses are sometimes the most important and heaviest of their respective courses.  The ART collection in FE mounts are virtually ridiculously massive.  I feel there’s a place for each approaches, however when you worth the “smaller and lighter” mantra, then the Loxia collection – and the Loxia 50mm F2 Planar – will probably be pure gold for you.

An actual power of the Loxia line is that they’ve been designed to work in live performance with one another. Every of the 5 lenses within the lineup (2.Eight/21mm, 2.four/25mm, 2/35mm, 2/50mm, and a couple of.four/85mm) all share a standard filter measurement (52mm) and a roughly equivalent diameter. This enables them to return in a package for filmmakers like this one, full with a incredible exhausting case:

They’re additionally every designed with the choice of shortly “declicking” the aperture (a standard choice for video work because it permits one to have clean management over the aperture iris) they usually can be shortly/simply “geared” with the Zeiss LensGear Mini because of a standard diameter. This accent permits you to shortly set them up for focus comply with techniques (gearing), which is the popular focus protocol for filmmaking because it provides one full management over focus. What I like concerning the LensGear in comparison with different methods that I’ve used is that it’s utterly software much less and may be very swiftly loosened or tightened by gripping the entrance ring and rotating it.

The power to “declick” the aperture makes the Loxia collection extra helpful for filmmakers, as many filmmakers want clean aperture iris management to have the ability to change aperture values on the fly to regulate what’s in focus and even do an “aperture rack” the place one’s “vision” is elevated by shifting to a smaller aperture worth the place extra is in focus. You might discover that a declicked aperture is your private choice even for stills work.

Even when the aperture is “clicked” there is a bonus for the Loxia collection over many guide focus lenses that I’ve used. Some have detents (and thus permit you solely to pick) the complete aperture stops (like f/2, f/2.Eight, f/four, f/5.6, and so forth…). Others may need a half cease in between some apertures. The Loxia collection lets you choose aperture in one-third stops (i.e. f/2.Eight, f/Three.2, f/Three.5), which provides you extra finite management over aperture. I personally discover that a guide aperture ring typically causes me to be extra intentional about aperture and to consider it slightly extra. Should you aren’t assured within the relationship between aperture and depth of area or mild gathering, nevertheless, a guide aperture ring does preclude the power for the digital camera to mechanically choose aperture, which is perhaps a critical difficulty for you.

On the plus aspect, a Sony physique and a guide focus lens like this can be a great spot to study, because the digital viewfinder exhibits you true depth of subject, so you possibly can simply see how the depth of area is impacted by the aperture that you’ve chosen.

On that word, the Loxia collection is absolutely guide focus, although there isn’t a simpler a spot to shoot guide focus glass than a Sony mirrorless physique…notably these with Regular Shot Inside (In Physique Picture Stabilization). One nice asset is that as quickly as enter is detected on the guide focus ring, the digital camera will mechanically zoom within the portion of the picture the place the lively focus level is (the default is the middle of the body if no different space is chosen). This makes it very straightforward to visually affirm focus. I discover that I’ve a close to good “keeper rate” with MF lenses on Sony mirrorless our bodies. As a result of the lens does have digital contacts all EXIF knowledge shall be communicated to the digital camera. The lenses work exceptionally properly and are a few of the higher examples of guide focus lenses on the market, however sure, they’re guide focus solely.

So, for those who aren’t postpone by guide focus (and have pretty deep pockets), then learn on, because the Loxia lenses are a deal with reserved just for Sony E-mount shooters!

Choose to Watch your evaluations?  Take a look at my visually packed video assessment replete with some video footage captured with the Loxia 50 as nicely:

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There’s subsequent to nothing to complain about on the subject of the construct high quality of the Loxia collection.  These are completely beautiful lenses, with a basic sense of favor that appears good now and can look good in 50 years.  They’re constructed to final that lengthy, too.

Take a better take a look at the construct, design, and options on this hands-on video breakdown:

The supplies of the Loxia 50 are all metallic and glass, with that pretty satin anodized metallic end that Zeiss does so nicely.  Delicate blue accents (Zeiss badges and the blue of the climate sealing gasket) assist to provide the lens a uniquely Zeiss look.  The lens hood is made from metallic, and has a flocked inside.  One actual power for Loxia 50 is that the lens hood (like different Loxia lenses) reverses very tightly towards the barrel physique and provides virtually no additional girth for storage.  You’ll be able to actually squeeze the Loxia 50 into some very small slots in your digital camera bag, and, in truth, it’ll even slot in a jacket pocket or a aspect pocket in cargo pants.  I traveled to Kentucky utilizing solely a Peak Design On a regular basis Sling 5L bag and was capable of match a Sony a7R3 + the Loxia 21mm, 50mm, and 85mm lenses all within the bag together with some primary equipment like additional batteries and a Peak Design Leash strap.

I really like the entrance facade on Zeiss lenses.  I just like the lens designation info that’s there, and, on this case, it’s sensible, because it does assist to differentiate the lens from different lenses within the Loxia collection which have an analogous diameter and form.  That is notably true of the two/35 and a couple of/50 Loxia lenses, that are close to equivalent in measurement and form.  The Loxia 50 identifies the basic Planar optical design of the lens.  Like different lenses within the collection it sports activities a 52mm filter thread in metallic.

The primary portion of the barrel is occupied with the ribbed focus ring.  This ring additionally has a clean portion with all the distance markings.  The damping on the Loxia 50mm is superbly mild and clean – primarily perfection. The main target throw is about 185 levels, and there’s roughly 20-25 levels of throw between 2m and infinity.  The main target throw felt about proper with the lens, and I really feel like I’ve been capable of nail focus with none actual challenge.

The smaller portion of the lens barrel is crammed with the guide aperture ring.  The entire size of the lens could be very, very brief, and the byproduct of all the things with the ability to rotate like that is that there isn’t a fastened portion of the lens to understand for mounting and unmounting.  It’s a must to grasp the lens extra as an entire to have the ability to apply strain to twist it free.  That’s the tradeoff for having such a small lens!

On the rear of the lens you can see a metallic (in fact!) bayonet mount together with the gasket to assist seal the lens from mud and moisture.

All in all, these lenses are as properly constructed as something you’ll ever discover.  It seems like basic Zeiss development and high quality…solely miniaturized. Bigger lenses require you to guage whether or not or not you’ll truly use them on a shoot, however the Loxia 50mm is an easy lens to throw within the bag “just in case”.  The compact nature of the lens is certainly an enormous power, however the high quality of the construct reassures you that you simply haven’t given something up when it comes to construct within the course of.

Right here is the place Zeiss lenses sometimes justify their price ticket (at the least for some individuals).  Just about everybody agrees Zeiss glass is particular; the one disagreement is whether or not it’s particular sufficient to validate its price ticket.  The Loxia 50 is the least costly lens within the Loxia lineup (and the one one to return in beneath $1000 USD up to now).  That is logical in quite a lot of methods, as a most aperture of F2 on a 50mm lens isn’t notably dramatic.  Even most finances 50mm choices have a barely quicker most aperture of F1.Eight.  A lot of the Loxia collection have considerably unimpressive most aperture values as they’ve been engineered extra for compact measurement together with the uniformity of the 52mm entrance filter thread together with a shared diameter.   Don’t be discouraged by these feedback, nevertheless, because the Loxia 50 delivers some very lovely outcomes.

I break down optical efficiency into two main classes:  Decision (sharpness, distinction, and longitudinal chromatic aberrations) and Rendering (Colour, Bokeh, Flare Resistance, and so on…)

The Loxia 50 makes use of a basic Zeiss Planar optical design, with 6 parts in four teams.  That is an extremely easy optical formulation, and that’s music to the ears of many shooters who really feel that overly difficult optical formulation rob lenses of some basic priorities like microcontrast.  The Loxia 50 could also be good proof to help this concept, because it delivers a really strong optical efficiency regardless of its small measurement and easy optical association.

I might encourage you to observe this video episode to get the entire story on the optical efficiency of the Loxia 50 Planar:

Loxia 50mm F2 Planar Decision

First, let’s take a fast take a look at the distortion and vignette.  The vignette isn’t notably robust, and the usual Lightroom/ACR profile makes fast work of correcting for the vignette and distortion which are there.  In digital camera corrections may also cope with these elements for JPEGs.  The vignette will utterly disappear by F4 naturally, with most of it passed by F2.Eight.  The Loxia 50 reveals a little bit of barrel distortion, which isn’t uncommon however is a slight disappointment in a lens of this caliber.  Due to profile corrections this can be extra of a problem for videographers than photographers.  Right here’s a take a look at the earlier than/after with the usual profile utilized.

Extensive open at F2, the Loxia 50 reveals wonderful middle sharpness and distinction, although with a slight little bit of veiling on some textures as a consequence of some delicate longitudinal chromatic aberration.  Edge sharpness lags behind the middle a bit, with excessive edges and excessive corners displaying decreased distinction.  There’s nonetheless some good decision within the edges, however you possibly can see extra of that veiling as a consequence of diminished distinction.

It may be onerous to translate what you see in this type of check into real-world efficiency, so right here’s a take a look at a large open (F2) photograph with a crop of the aircraft of focus within the middle.

You possibly can see the slight little bit of haze/veiling that I seek advice from at a pixel degree, but in addition that the picture is sort of sharp and with lovely bokeh rendering.  I noticed good proof of centering within the Loxia 50, with each side delivering a reasonably equal efficiency.

The Loxia 50 additionally exhibits a really good three-dimensional high quality typically related to basic Zeiss lenses.  This informal portrait, for instance, exhibits a crisp delineation of the topic from the background.

Stopping the lens down one cease to F2.Eight supplies a notable improve in each decision and distinction throughout the body.  The sides, particularly, present a marked enchancment.

One other take a look at a real-world picture exhibits that the lens has loads of punch stopped down only a bit to the F2.Eight-Three.2 vary:

The Loxia 50 is quite a bit like many basic Zeiss lenses in that it turns into fantastically sharp at smaller apertures, with superior distinction and shade rendition to many lenses.  It achieves ranges of decision throughout the body past what many lenses are able to.  This begins round F4 and peaks round F5.6, the place even the acute corners are razor sharp even on the 42MP Sony A7RIII check physique that I used:

I beloved the Loxia 50 as a panorama lens; it produced unimaginable element, and (as I’ll give attention to extra in a second), the entire Loxia line reveals actually particular shade rendering.  Right here’s a few photographs that exhibit that lovely readability and colour:

The Loxia 50 isn’t as completely corrected as, say, the Otus 55mm F1.four, nevertheless it has a great deal of basic optical character that may definitely depart few (if any) dissatisfied.

Zeiss Loxia 50 Planar Rendering

There’s extra to a lens than simply its decision, as some lenses have numerous sharpness however little character.  The Loxia 50 has nice character, with nice bokeh, microcontrast, and incredible colour.  One legitimate purpose to think about the Loxia lenses as a set is that if getting constant shade throughout lenses (persistently wonderful shade, at that), is necessary to your work (this can be notably necessary for these of you who do video).  The colour is gorgeous out of the Loxia 50, each wealthy and correct.  In case your “thing” is do as little post-processing as potential, then Loxia lenses (and this 50mm) are an amazing place to start out.  I discover that the Loxia lenses produce wealthy however nonetheless pure colour proper out of digital camera.

The Planar 50 additionally has pretty bokeh.  It’s not geometrically good alongside the sides, however it reveals wonderful softness and creaminess in quite a lot of conditions.

I discovered that it dealt with every thing fairly properly, together with the transition zone (the world the place you transition from focus to defocus, which may get busy with some lenses).  This forest scene (at F2), exhibits what I’m speaking about:

The lens will get a great if not good rating when dealing with flare, too.  Broad open it exhibits just a little little bit of veiling with shiny solar proper within the body, however to me it has a really good “creative” look and software:

Stopped down, the veiling disappears and a few minor ghosting patterns seem:

Even at F11 (because the photograph above is), the ghosting sample isn’t too damaging.  What you may as well see, nevertheless, is that the sunburst isn’t fairly as pretty because the one from the 35mm Biogon lens.

There’s a particularly delicate quantity of longitudinal chromatic aberrations that principally exhibit as a little bit of inexperienced fringing past the aircraft of focus (like within the bokeh circles right here):

As you’ll be able to see, nevertheless, it’s not likely something to fret about even at F2.

As you may anticipate, the Loxia 50 is a wonderful portrait lens as properly.  The correct shade helps portraits to look very clear and good, and the outside photographs I did confirmed good microcontrast and Three-D rendering together with beautiful shade.  

The Loxia 50 is an attractive little optical instrument that I feel lots of people will love…if they appear past the guide focus nature of the lens.  I might advocate that you simply go to the Picture Gallery web page for the Loxia 50mm, as among the best methods to find out if a lens is for you is to take a look at photographs from it and to find out when you love the rendering from it.  I can solely embrace so many pictures in these evaluations, however there are much more value seeing there!

I like to recommend that you simply take a look at the video assessment right here to see some precise visible proof of the Loxia 50’s video efficiency, as it’s considerably exhausting to painting in a textual content article.  As I famous earlier, nevertheless, the Loxia 50mm (as are all of the Loxia lenses) is designed with video in thoughts.  The usual diameter (prepared for geared techniques and focus comply with), the power to declick the aperture, and even the purposeful design of the shared filter threads all level to the intentional inclusion of video within the design.  I discovered the compact nature and comparatively mild weight made it a simple lens to stability on a motorized gimbal, and the focal size is nice each in full body or Tremendous 35 modes to offer a genuinely helpful perspective.  That is the sort of lens I might assume most cinematographers would take pleasure in having of their bag.

I additionally used a reasonable device referred to as the FocusShifter (you’ll be able to catch my video evaluate right here) to assist me in nailing clean focus pulls.  That, mixed with the graceful focus ring and nice guide focus aids within the digital camera physique, made doing video work an actual deal with with the entire Loxia collection.

The good shade, sharpness, and distinction of the lens (when stopped down) and the distinctive character of the lens (together with the close to full lack of distortion) make it a pure match for these Sony mirrorless cameras that double as such succesful automobiles for getting nice video footage.  I discovered the footage in 4K seems to be simply nice!

Should you envisioned mirrorless cameras as being a platform the place you might journey small and lightweight whereas nonetheless retaining wonderful picture high quality, then the Zeiss Loxia collection might be simply what you’re in search of.  The Zeiss Loxia 50mm F2 Planar lens is one other wonderful lens within the collection, with a superbly compact construct, pro-grade end, and a stunning optical efficiency.  The one actual fly within the ointment right here is that Sony/Zeiss has a particularly in style 55mm F1.Eight Sonnar lens (that I reviewed right here) that has autofocus, a barely bigger most aperture, and an analogous price ticket.  I’ve already had questions on which lens is the higher selection.  The reply is nuanced.  For many individuals (those that primarily shoot stills or favor video with AF), the Sonnar 55mm is the straightforward selection.  It’s a well-regarded lens for a cause.  It’s construct isn’t fairly as strong, it’s colour rendering isn’t fairly as particular, and it’s bokeh isn’t as good, however it’s not far behind in any of those metrics and is extra sensible.  In the event you do lots of video (or like guide focus for stills), nevertheless, the Loxia 50 has a a lot better focus ring, the aperture could be declicked, and it has extra particular rendering (colour, bokeh, and so forth…).  Each lenses supply wonderful sharpness.  It’s not a simple selection, however I’m personally very glad that lenses just like the Loxia lineup exist.  There are people who worth the basic Zeiss strengths, and the Loxia collection may be the fashionable collection that greatest captures the spirit of that.  The Loxia 50 is the most cost effective of the Loxia lenses thus far, however it’s certainly one of my favorites.

Execs:

  • Lovely made and superbly compact
  • Has some climate sealing
  • Virtually no distortion
  • Sharp at large apertures; exquisitely sharp at smaller apertures
  • Lovely colour rendition
  • Superbly gentle bokeh rendering
  • Wonderful microcontrast
  • Focus ring is close to good
  • Clickless aperture choice and gearing design makes it a fantastic video lens

Cons:

  • Comparatively costly
  • A minor quantity of chromatic aberrations
  • A little bit of barrel distortion
  • Guide every thing isn’t for everybody
  • Takes some apply to simply mount/unmount

Because of Zeiss Canada (Gentec) for the loaner!

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