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Lens review

Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 35 mm f/1.4 ZE/ZF.2

28 June 2011
Szymon Starczewski

11. Summary

Pros:
  • Excellent build quality and very solid casing,
  • Sensational image quality in the frame centre,
  • Good or decent image quality on the edge of the frame,
  • Lateral chromatic aberration corrected in a skillful way,
  • The lowest distortion in the 35 mm class,
  • Unnoticeable coma on APS-C/DX,
  • Well- corrected astigmatism.

Cons:

  • High level of longitudinal chromatic aberration,
  • Noticeable coma in the full frame corners,
  • Work against bright light could have been better.

Before testing of the Zeiss 1.4/35 we used to be very curious about its result. Taking into account the reputation of the producer we expected the lens to set new standards in this class of equipment. Was it really the case? Not entirely so; in fact in every test category the Zeiss had a strong rival. The tested lens is outstandingly sharp in the frame centre and provides useful photos up from the maximum relative aperture but exactly the same was written about the Canon 1.4/35L. When we pass to the frame edge, the cheap Samyang provides better images than the Zeiss. The lateral chromatic aberration is corrected well, but the problem is that the longitudinal CA is a lot higher and it doesn’t present the Zeiss in a favourable light, especially when compared to its rivals. The distortion of the Zeiss is, to tell you the truth, the lowest but the differences between the tested lens and other competitors aren’t huge. Despite being the heaviest and the biggest instrument the Zeiss didn’t fare well in the category of vignetting, losing again to the cheap Samyang or the small Sony. The coma is corrected in a splendid way only on the APS-C/DX sensor, becoming already distinct in the corners of full frame. The work against bright light can’t be praised either as the majority of competitors fared better there.

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I wouldn’t like to make this summary sound overly pessimistic. Perhaps our expectations were simply too high – it was a bit over the top, wanting the Zeiss to defeat all its competitors which, in the majority of cases, are placed in the same price segment. To be absolutely honest the Distagon 1.4/35 had only one significant slip-up (the longitudinal chromatic aberration), in many categories reaching excellent results and featuring really sensational build quality, which will allow you to use this lens practically for decades. Such a characteristic is definitely something you should take into account.



Sample shots

Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 35 mm f/1.4 ZE/ZF.2 - Summary
Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 35 mm f/1.4 ZE/ZF.2 - Summary
Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 35 mm f/1.4 ZE/ZF.2 - Summary
Camera: Nikon D3x
Parameters: 35 mm, f/1.4, exp. 1/2000 s, ISO 200
File: JPEG, 6048×4032 pix, 11.65 MB
Camera: Nikon D3x
Parameters: 35 mm, f/2.0, exp. 1/5000 s, ISO 100
File: JPEG, 6048×4032 pix, 8.71 MB
Camera: Nikon D3x
Parameters: 35 mm, f/4.0, exp. 1/1000 s, ISO 100
File: JPEG, 6048×4032 pix, 9.08 MB
Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 35 mm f/1.4 ZE/ZF.2 - Summary
Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 35 mm f/1.4 ZE/ZF.2 - Summary
Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 35 mm f/1.4 ZE/ZF.2 - Summary
Camera: Nikon D3x
Parameters: 35 mm, f/1.4, exp. 1/1600 s, ISO 200
File: JPEG, 6048×4032 pix, 7.83 MB
Camera: Nikon D3x
Parameters: 35 mm, f/1.4, exp. 1/1000 s, ISO 200
File: JPEG, 6048×4032 pix, 8.34 MB
Camera: Nikon D3x
Parameters: 35 mm, f/8.0, exp. 1/60 s, ISO 200
File: JPEG, 6048×4032 pix, 11.15 MB
Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 35 mm f/1.4 ZE/ZF.2 - Summary
Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 35 mm f/1.4 ZE/ZF.2 - Summary
Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 35 mm f/1.4 ZE/ZF.2 - Summary
Camera: Nikon D3x
Parameters: 35 mm, f/5.6, exp. 1/100 s, ISO 200
File: JPEG, 6048×4032 pix, 7.41 MB
Camera: Nikon D3x
Parameters: 35 mm, f/2.0, exp. 1/400 s, ISO 100
File: JPEG, 6048×4032 pix, 6.5 MB
Camera: Nikon D3x
Parameters: 35 mm, f/8.0, exp. 1/250 s, ISO 100
File: JPEG, 6048×4032 pix, 6.44 MB
Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 35 mm f/1.4 ZE/ZF.2 - Summary
Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 35 mm f/1.4 ZE/ZF.2 - Summary
Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 35 mm f/1.4 ZE/ZF.2 - Summary
Camera: Nikon D3x
Parameters: 35 mm, f/5.6, exp. 1/320 s, ISO 100
File: JPEG, 6048×4032 pix, 8.8 MB
Camera: Nikon D3x
Parameters: 35 mm, f/1.4, exp. 1/5000 s, ISO 100
File: JPEG, 6048×4032 pix, 7.84 MB
Camera: Nikon D3x
Parameters: 35 mm, f/1.4, exp. 1/6400 s, ISO 100
File: JPEG, 6048×4032 pix, 8.96 MB
Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 35 mm f/1.4 ZE/ZF.2 - Summary
Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 35 mm f/1.4 ZE/ZF.2 - Summary
Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 35 mm f/1.4 ZE/ZF.2 - Summary
Camera: Nikon D3x
Parameters: 35 mm, f/2.8, exp. 1/2500 s, ISO 100
File: JPEG, 6048×4032 pix, 7.5 MB
Camera: Nikon D3x
Parameters: 35 mm, f/5.6, exp. 1/400 s, ISO 100
File: JPEG, 6048×4032 pix, 10.58 MB
Camera: Nikon D3x
Parameters: 35 mm, f/2.8, exp. 1/200 s, ISO 100
File: JPEG, 6048×4032 pix, 7.37 MB
Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 35 mm f/1.4 ZE/ZF.2 - Summary
Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 35 mm f/1.4 ZE/ZF.2 - Summary
Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 35 mm f/1.4 ZE/ZF.2 - Summary
Camera: Nikon D3x
Parameters: 35 mm, f/2.8, exp. 1/500 s, ISO 100
File: JPEG, 6048×4032 pix, 7.47 MB
Camera: Nikon D3x
Parameters: 35 mm, f/1.4, exp. 1/400 s, ISO 100
File: JPEG, 6048×4032 pix, 9.96 MB
Camera: Nikon D3x
Parameters: 35 mm, f/5.6, exp. 1/400 s, ISO 100
File: JPEG, 6048×4032 pix, 12.4 MB
Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 35 mm f/1.4 ZE/ZF.2 - Summary
Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 35 mm f/1.4 ZE/ZF.2 - Summary
Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 35 mm f/1.4 ZE/ZF.2 - Summary
Camera: Nikon D3x
Parameters: 35 mm, f/4.0, exp. 1/60 s, ISO 100
File: JPEG, 6048×4032 pix, 10.59 MB
Camera: Nikon D3x
Parameters: 35 mm, f/2.0, exp. 1/250 s, ISO 100
File: JPEG, 6048×4032 pix, 9.33 MB
Camera: Nikon D3x
Parameters: 35 mm, f/2.0, exp. 1/80 s, ISO 100
File: JPEG, 6048×4032 pix, 6.7 MB
Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 35 mm f/1.4 ZE/ZF.2 - Summary
Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 35 mm f/1.4 ZE/ZF.2 - Summary
Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 35 mm f/1.4 ZE/ZF.2 - Summary
Camera: Nikon D3x
Parameters: 35 mm, f/4.0, exp. 1/60 s, ISO 100
File: JPEG, 6048×4032 pix, 11.63 MB
Camera: Nikon D3x
Parameters: 35 mm, f/1.4, exp. 1/500 s, ISO 100
File: JPEG, 6048×4032 pix, 7.25 MB
Camera: Nikon D3x
Parameters: 35 mm, f/4.0, exp. 1/60 s, ISO 100
File: JPEG, 6048×4032 pix, 7.96 MB
Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 35 mm f/1.4 ZE/ZF.2 - Summary
Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 35 mm f/1.4 ZE/ZF.2 - Summary
Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 35 mm f/1.4 ZE/ZF.2 - Summary
Camera: Nikon D3x
Parameters: 35 mm, f/1.4, exp. 1/2000 s, ISO 100
File: JPEG, 6048×4032 pix, 8.19 MB
Camera: Nikon D3x
Parameters: 35 mm, f/4.0, exp. 1/1600 s, ISO 100
File: JPEG, 6048×4032 pix, 8.04 MB
Camera: Nikon D3x
Parameters: 35 mm, f/2.0, exp. 1/1000 s, ISO 200
File: JPEG, 6048×4032 pix, 8.82 MB



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