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One year with Sony Alpha cameras and ZEISS E-mount lenses. Developing my own photographic eye in a in a scratch book manner. Hunting the stream of inspiration and sharing it through a popular blog platform.
This is what 'Days of Zeiss' is all about.




Climbing expectations

Toni Ahvenainen

Sony A7 & ZEISS Loxia 2/35 – f/2.8, 1/80sec, ISO100, raw Photograph by Toni Ahvenainen

Sony A7 & ZEISS Loxia 2/35 – f/2.8, 1/80sec, ISO100, raw
Photograph by Toni Ahvenainen

I took this picture of Aura when we were doing a small trip with a train some time ago. Aura definitely has a passion for climbing things and while she have climbed into trees and playground gadgets she doesn't give it a rest even in a train. For her age (turning four soon) she is pretty skillful and it usually doesn't go unnoticed when she does her stunts as there is almost always some new adult who admires her skills. Sometimes things even get uneasy when other adults get scared that some accident might happen (luckily we had very little of those). But I let her play and climb even in unconventional places (like in train) because I feel climbing has given her so much healthy confidence for her own skills and it belongs to untamed childhood, and as a father I'm of course very proud of her skills.

If you have noticed I haven't used (or shared pictures from) the Zeiss Loxia 2/35 as much as some other lenses in my kit. To be honest, this is because the Loxia 2/35 isn't the most straight forward lens to approach. If you have followed the development of camera lenses in recent years, you probably already know that today's customers are basically waiting for 'perfect lenses' which have no compromises or weak corners - and manufacturers are delivering them as good as they can. The Loxia 2/35 is different in this regard. Instead of being superb already from wide open (like most of the current lenses at the market), it introduces a certain veil on the image when shot at f/2. When I noticed this at first time I thought that Zeiss has produced a mediocre lens which has a very obvious weak corner in it. To be clear the fore mentioned veil at f/2 is not always there, but it becomes very visible with a high contrast subject and one could say that the famous Zeiss micro contrast just isn't there at wide open. So, in some ways this put me off at the start because I had developed a certain expectations which came from the standards of the current lens manufacturing. I was a bit baffled by this lens and the question that I had in my mind was 'why did people at Zeiss decided to release this particular lens for the Loxia family when it clearly doesn't satisfy the expectations'.

Now that I've used the Loxia 2/35 a bit more, I've found myself coming back to it again and again because there is something particular in the way it renders. Stopping it down to f/2.8 clears the veil and image becomes very sharp with great contrast, but this kind of technical stuff isn't my point (stop it to f/4 and suddenly becomes a modern performer). Beyond technical attributes this lens has a certain character that I find very pleasing. It's a kind of 'classic look' that has a great three dimensional separation in some circumstances. Bokeh, even if it's a bit nervous in some situations, has a kind of timeless quality from time to time when subject is at favourable distance. What is causing all this is beyond me, but all I know is that it's there and I like it. I could go even so far to say that this lens has a kind of character that makes me re-evaluate the other lenses. In some ways it has 'that something' that isn't there with the other lenses (except the Loxia 2/50 perhaps).

So to answer my own question 'why did Zeiss decided to release this particular lens even with distinct weak corner with its wide open behavior', I believe they knew that this particular lens had a character that produces beautiful images even if it doesn't follow the norm of how lens should perform today. They had to trust in this particular lens design which was borrowed from their own ZM-series, otherwise they could have just design it from the ground up to satisfy the expectations of the current audience. In short, the Loxia 2/35 is different, not only from the rendering's point of view, but also as product since it doesn't follow the norm of lens to today is expected to be. This is what makes it interesting to me and it kind of fits into philosophy of the Loxia family since offering manual focusing lenses for perhaps the most innovative camera system of today is certainly a bold move from Zeiss. So, it's unique and definitely a keeper.