Sony Zeiss Distagon 35mm f1.4 Review

Specifications

Aperture
f/1.4 – f/16
Size
78.5 x 112.0 mm
Filter Thread
72 mm
Weight
630 g
Max Magnification
0.18
Min Focusing Distance
30 cm
Number of aperture blades
9, Rounded
Elements/Groups
12 / 8
Optical Stabilization
No
Weather Resistance
Yes

We tried out the Sony Zeiss Distagon T* 35mm F1.4 lens for the Sony mirrorless E-mount, which we used with the Sony a7RII and the a7II.

Build Quality

The lens features a sleek, black metal construction that is rated to be dust and water resistant. Weighing at 630g or 1.39lb, it has a bit of heft and feels solid in the hands.

It is also a bit bulky. Without its lens hood, it is similar to the size of the Zeiss Batis 85mm lens with the lens hood attached.

Image Quality

We took many photos at f1.4 to see what the lens is capable of at the widest aperture. The lens is a little soft at f1.4 if pixel peeping, but with a small bit of post-processing, individual eyelashes pop out and look quite sharp.

The lens has the Zeiss T* coating, which controls flare very well in backlit situations. However, there is some loss of contrast when shooting into the sun, as well as some possible color fringing.

Under extreme conditions, it will flare more strongly.

The minimum focusing distance is 30cm or 0.98ft, which means it can get up very close and personal. This can be a great perspectives with young kids.

Background blur is very smooth and pleasing, even with a lot of foliage in the scene.

There is noticeable vignetting until about f4, which is correctable. We often leave it uncorrected for portraits.

The depth-of-field is quite shallow at f1.4, which can be great for environmental portraits.

35mm is wide enough to get a lot of the background, and it is a common reportage focal length.

The focal length requires you to be up close when taking photos, which gives a wonderfully intimate perspective.

Summary

Pros

  • Silent, accurate and fast autofocus
  • Sharp in the mid region wide open at f1.4
  • Very sharp across the frame when stopped down a bit
  • Smooth background blur
  • Good colors and rendering

Cons

  • Very expensive at $1600
  • Somewhat heavy and large
  • Vignetting at wider apertures
  • Can have a noticeable amount of chromatic aberration

With the combination of good flare resistance, sharpness wide open, and slightly wider field of view, it’s a great lens for taking environmental portraiture, when we want to include the beauty of the background in the photo. However, unless you truly love the 35mm focal length and shoot a lot indoors under low light conditions to make use of the f1.4, it might be a bit large and heavy yet without the flexibility of smaller lenses for everyday use.

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4 responses to “Sony Zeiss Distagon 35mm f1.4 Review”

  1. Perry Kibler says:

    Thanks for writing this up. I tend to always keep my 1.8 55mm on my camera (most of the time); I’m considering the 35mm instead. I read your review for the 24-70, and while this does seem more versatile, the 2.8 aperture might be limited for some of the stuff I take (low light or indoors and fast action).

  2. Peter says:

    I’m using 2470gm and the 35.4.

    I think it can replace the 55 to some extent. But you should be prepared to get used to the new focal length.

    In my case 2470gm stays mounted most of the times. Indoors if I use 2470 iso goes up to around 2000 on my A7R2 which is pretty clean. Occasionally if I want cleaner pic indoors I use the 35.4 which gives me mostly below iso 1000, usually iso 400-640.

    I personally do like the 35.4 but as I am less using it than before I might switch to batis or 85gm. Or just additionally buy the 85..

  3. Kostin Dinovski says:

    Hi Rose, Charles,

    1st I’d like to say I went through your entire website (I believe) and I absolutely love it! Beautiful photos and amazing post processing done!
    I setup my A7II just as you posted in the settings section and its exactly what I was missing in my camera setup.
    Could I ask if you have a common setting you use when post processing in LL?
    I assume that you change various settings and adjust per shot but maybe you have a baseline you can share that is a very good starting point… Or maybe posting a PP section.. :)

    Anyhow, I’ll keep monitoring your site for additional posts, well done and keep up the good job!

    Kostin

  4. David Kil says:

    You mention it being very sharp at a wide open aperture. Where are you finding the sweet spot for this lens (aka tac sharp yet responsive to focus)?

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