A solidly made manual focus lens with a great image
Zeiss’s new F2.4/25 Loxia is a purist’s lens. Aimed at still photographers but with a serious nod to movie makers, it has a de-clickable aperture ring. It has manual focus, and is designed to be a perfect match for Sony’s E-Mount full-frame cameras.
We’ve briefly tried the new Loxia and it’s certainly impressive. If it’s possible for images to be crystal-clear and warm at the same time, this lens achieves it.
Sony’s Mirrorless camera range spans a curious arc between extremely high pixel counts with the A7R III’s 42 megapixels, to the A7S II’s 12 megapixels. Both of these extreme cameras sport a full frame sensor and the new Loxia seems to provide an ample image circle to ensure there’s no vignetting in the corners.
Compact and solid
The lens itself is compact - lacking the mechanical and electrical complexity of autofocus devices. It somehow manages to give the impression of solidity while remaining relatively light. In combination with an A7S II, it felt nicely balanced and somewhat unobtrusive. The focus ring is very smooth and progressive. Somehow the lens manages to largely avoid the type of geometrical distortion that seems endemic to non-specialist wide angle lenses when they're used to shoot buildings and other large objects with straight lines.
Images are clear, sharp but feel organic and fresh. I've only had the lens for a few days but my feeling is that the Loxia lenses are malleable: if you want a crisp, analytical look, that's easy to get. But warmth is possible too. There's an engaging character to these lenses: they're not merely scientific instruments.
Having to use manual focus all the time can be a bit of a shock to the system; but it's a good shock. It makes you consider depth of field far more than you would with autofocus. You make a few mistakes but to counter this you get some genuinely good surprises too.
I found I was using the Viewfinder all the time on the Sony A7S, and had peaking turned on. It proved to be extremely useful.
While bigger lenses might look more impressive to clients, photographers and video makers will appreciate being able to take top-end pictures with such a small rig.
Sony’s mirrorless cameras are widely used by video makers and the Loxia range seems to be a good choice for photographers needing to include video in their portfolio, as well as video makers needing high quality lenses without the expense or bulk of dedicated movie lenses.
There are cheaper lenses available but few have the solid (metal) feel of the Loxias, nor the image quality, and for the price, this versatile and accomplished wide angle lens is an obvious choice.
Price is UKP 1,998 (including tax)