Zeiss Loxia 85mm f/2.4 – Loving to manual focus again

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About Alin Popescu

Lover of nature, travel and culture, Alin found the best way to express himself through photography. Winner of many national and international photography contests, he was invited in 2015 to became the first Sony Image Ambassador in Romania. He shoots plenty of genres but his professional activity is Event Photography. He owns a blog since 2009 where he tell his stories and reviews cameras and gear. He’s 37 and proud husband and father of 3 (one 8 y.o girl and a pair of 1 y.o twins, brother and sister).

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As soon as I got my hands on the Loxia 85mm I was impressed of the smoothness of the focus ring and by the entire construction of the lens. Until I’ve tried first to change the lens from the camera body 🙂

First thing first, when you get your hands on the lens, you’re not expecting to get so much weight in such a small body. It weights almost 600 grams, which means lots of metal and glass are inside. Which usually is good!
Usually I don’t start my stories about gear I test with the bads, but in this case I’ll do it because it bothered me so much. Read on!

Can you see that tiny metallic ring between the aperture ring and the proper mount? It is the only thing you can grab to rotate the lens when you need it removed from the lens. Else, you’ll first rotate the aperture from f2.4 to the end at f22 where it blocks. Also, you’ll rotate the focusing ring to closest focus and for sure, if you have the hood reversed on the lens (this is how I hold it most of the time for smaller size), you’ll unhook the hood.
All of this before you are able to rotate free the lens from the camera body!
The best part is you won’t want it too often removed from the camera 🙂

The amazing Loxia 85mm f/2.4
I’m not a fan of manual focus, but this little gem got me into the mood again, starting to love to manual focusing once again. It’s pure and instant love. And when you get to see the images, you’re in heaven.

ISO 12.800 | 1/320s | f/2.4

The focus is smooth and precise, getting the best out of my Sony A7RII. What got me a little annoyed was the zoom magnification, but this is nothing related to the lens itself but to the focal length. It was faster for me to disable focus magnification (which doesn’t work if you are on video mode, which is a bad behaviour of the camera itself) and use only the focus peaking to be able to get perfect pictures fast enough not to attract subject’s attention.
I’ve shot it mostly at 2.4 because it is that sharp even wide open. Bokeh is superb, but I wouldn’t expect something else from a Sonnar lens.

ISO 1250 | f/2.4 | 1/200s
100% crop from previous image
ISO 10.000 | f/2.4 | 1/100s

Yes, the focus should have been on the eye closer to the camera, but it was too dark outside so I could barely see what I was focusing on. In low light, the focus peaking is not perfect, due to low contrast. But still, it is a usable photo in my opinion.

There is not much need to close the aperture on this lens because as I said, side to side, it’s amazingly sharp. Maybe a little vignette can be seen when wide open, but for my personal taste is something I really appreciate. In terms of pure sharpness corner to corner, the Zeiss 85mm f/2.4 is razor sharp in every corner even at 5.6. Not to say what it can do at f/8.0

ISO 5.000 | f/8 | 1/200s
Upper right corner 100% crop from previous image

Ah, and it’s amazing to have a full manual but stabilised lens, due to the IBIS inside the camera.
Oh boy how I love my A7R II!

This article was originally published here.


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