New Zeiss Distagon 35/1.4 ZM lens preview

I happened to be in the NYC area during the PhotoPlus Expo. There were a few things I wanted to see, but the number one priority was to have a look at the new Zeiss Distagon 35/1.4 ZM. Zeiss had a couple on display for actual hands-on use and I spent a few minutes running it through a few tests on my M240. Unfortunately I didn’t have access to a Sony a7/R/S body to also try it on…

Initial impression is that it is somewhat large, but it’s not gigantic, IMO (but it is a big lens on a Leica, compared to many Leica lenses). Well, maybe it is gigantic. But it’s lighter than its size implies, just as the spec sheet indicates that it’s lighter than the Voigtlander 35/1.2.

Focus feel was excellent – extremely smooth. And the throw seems decent. Viewfinder blockage is there… it’s creeping into the bottom right quarter of the frame, but should be manageable.

I knocked my M240’s rangefinder out of alignment a few days prior, so had to rely on the EVF for critical focus. But the Distagon seems to deliver very nicely. It’s very sharp near or far wide open, with a hint of SA that cleans up a stop down. It also seems to be very sharp across the frame with a flat field of focus already from near wide open. Couldn’t see any wavy field curvature typical of Leica glass. I could sometimes make out faint onion rings in the out of focus specular highlights… we’ll see how bad this is in real life, but I suspect it probably won’t be a major concern.

Difficult to judge rendering character with the limited time and location, but it seemed quite neutral. Double edged blur can appear in some situations and the blur balls towards the very edge of the frame sometimes take on odd shapes.

But so far, I’m very enthusiastic about the lens and plan to get one. The Zeiss rep I spoke to indicated it should be available already in December and B&H lists it at $2290 US.

Below are a few web-rez snaps from the ZM. I’ll see about posting a link to some full-rez versions in the near future… I believe these were all wide open. Note that the template for this page keeps images at 600 pixels wide. Right-click to download the 1200 pixel wide version.

EDIT – Click here to access full-rez Jpegs of most of the images below from a Google Drive gallery

And a smartphone snap of the ZM on my M240 with the 21 Lux for a size comparison. That’s the 28 Cron behind the camera (with non-standard $5 vented hood):

Also, the above ZM sample images were all shot uncoded and couldn’t make out any obvious color shift/tinge along the edges. Looks promising in this respect, too.

Preorder the lens via B&H and help support this site:

Black version

Silver version

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