London Street Photography By Michael Wayne Plant

Zeiss Loxia 35mm lens random thoughts

Zeiss Loxia 35mm f2 Random thoughts.

I do not really do traditional lens reviews as I do not have the patience and/or knowledge of how to do these. What I do however, is use a lens to see how it feels for my type of photography. If the lens does not give me the feel that I want when using it and when seeing the resulting images it does not stay in my camera bag.  So far the Loxia 35mm has impressed me. I like what I am getting with it.

I have had a Zeiss Loxia 35mm f2 lens now for a few days. It arrived on Thursday last week and I have been out using it. My first impression is that it was surprisingly heavy (making me feel that it is a quality lens) whereas the Sony Zeiss 35mm f2.8 lens is rather light in weight, which can be an advantage, because it is easy to slip into a camera bag or pocket and light enough that you do not notice the weight kind of light. In some reviews I have seen of the Loxia lens, the reviewer has criticised that the lens does not have a metal lens cap, this in my opinion is not a problem, as it only adds more weight. The build quality is good, it just feels right, the focus ring moves smoothly and the the aperture ring is esay to use. It has taken me a little while to get use the the manual focusing with this lens, as it automatically zooms in, this enables you to get very accurate focus on your subject, but it can also be a problem sometimes and does take a little to get used to. I have been a fan of manual focus lens for a long time now, as I use zone focusing a lot, when I am doing my documentary and street photography images.

Zone focusing, is where I set the distance by guessing the distance to my subject and letting the depth of field get me an acceptable amount of sharpness in my images. For it to work I need a lens that shows me how far away form the camera the lens is focused at, I then just need to be relatively accurate enough in guessing my distance to my subject. In street photography and even documentary work it is not always about critical focus on the subject, but what you are trying to convey with the image that is important. For the nature of the images that I attempt to make, when in auto focus it takes to long to get my focus points to the spot that I want as my point of interest, to really use auto focus effectively. I also find that I want to have control of where I am focusing not let the camera have control of what it thinks is the critical point of interest for me.

You can see in this image the lens markings and the hyperfocal scale on the lens.Michael-Wayne_Plant_Loxia 35mm lens markings

Because the lens is I am told based on the ZM lens it is not a focus by wire lens like the Sony lens (and the new Batis range). This is great for all those old school Leica photographers and manual focus aficionados as you can now use the a7 series of cameras like you did when you used a film or digital Leica. Or even those manual focus SLR cameras like the Pentax Me Super/LX or Nikon FM2 fans. This is why I am excited to be using this lens.

The lens works in third stop clicks which takes some getting used to as I have been using a Leica 40mm lens (the only cheap Leica lens, which admittedly is 40 years old) because of these problems outlined above. I love the direct manual responsiveness of the lens. It just works for me.

I have developed a way of working that uses the silent shutter of the a7 and manual focus lens,  this lens now adds a modern lens at a focal length that I love to my way of working. I would like to see Zeiss release a 28mm version of this lens. The new Batis lens range with focus by wire in wide angle lens does not appeal as much as this lens with its direct control of the focusing like this Loxia lens has, for my street and documentary photography.

I have been using the lens on both a Sony a7S and an a7R and for me it performs on both cameras equally well.


So I guess you want to see some images made on this lens. I have processed these images in Lightroom 5.7 with my normal processing so they are not straight out of the camera, as I want to see how this lens using my normal workflow.

The first image I thought I would test the lens a little to see how it worked in the corners. I think it passes nicely here.

Michael-Wayne-Plant_20150422_4030Sony a7S @  f9.5, 1/500, 400 ISO.

In the rest of the images, I have used the Loxia lens as I want to in the street for making images. I have been documenting life in the streets of The City of London for a while now ,as I am building a new portfolio and project. While I admit, I am still finding my way of how I want this new project to look and what I am trying to say about the City of London, it is a geographical area that is important to global financial capitalism. As this is an area of interest to me, I am still working on how the images will work in relation to my interests in capitalism.

Michael-Wayne-Plant_20150423_3876Sony a7S @  f3.5, 1/400, 800 ISO.

Michael-Wayne-Plant_20150423_3878Sony a7S @  f11, 1/800, 800 ISO.

Michael-Wayne-Plant_20150423_3919Sony a7S @  f8, 1/800, 800 ISO.

I am finding that I have lots of shadows and light reflected from building allowing me to backlight subjects and use the reflected light to fill in details. I so am finding that I can stake out pools of light and wait for people to complete my images this takes time and somedays locations do not give me anything as no one walks into the spaces that I am photographing.

Michael-Wayne-Plant_20150423_3927Sony a7S @  f8, 1/800, 800 ISO.

Michael-Wayne-Plant_20150423_3973Sony a7S @  f10, 1/320, 800 ISO.

Michael-Wayne-Plant_20150423_4008Sony a7S @  f11, 1/1000, 400 ISO.


Oxford street, LondonMichael-Wayne-Plant_20150425_4182Sony a7S @  f8, 1/800, 3200 ISO.

This is where the a7S comes in real handy with a silent shutter and the flipout viewfinder, because I can get a lower angle of view while still seeing how I am framing the image and no one hears the shutter being released.

Michael-Wayne-Plant_20150425_4230Sony a7S @  f8, 1/800, 3200 ISO

Men waiting outside clothes shops Oxford street is a reoccurring theme in my images. I am thinking of making it a mini project as I seem to make so many of these images and they always have interesting expressions on their faces.

Michael-Wayne-Plant_20150425_4213Sony a7S @  f8, 1/800, 3200 ISO


And one image on Euston road.

Michael-Wayne-Plant_20150425_4167Sony a7S @  f8, 1/320, 800 ISO

  1. I have been using all of the a7 Series cameras and I believe the sweet spot in the range is actually the a7II as it is enough megapixels with a good high ISO performance in a well balanced package. Whereas the a7R is a lot of megapixels and the a7S is the High ISO king. If you need silent shutter then the a7S is it. This recommendation could change once the mark 2 versions for the a7S and a7R become available. The focus is great in the a7II I prefer that to the a7R. However the a7S has a few focusing functions that are really helpful which I like a lot which are not in the a7R, but the a7II is still better for its focusing options.


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