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35mm Summilux Vs Zeiss 35mm f/1.4 Distagon

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Hi all, apologies if this topic has already been covered (I couldn't find any direct comparisons).

I'm new to the rangefinder universe, I finally took the plunge this week and invested in an M10 with a 50 ASPH lux. I'm looking for a (preferably fast) wider companion and interested in hearing from people with experience of both the Zeiss 35mm 1.4 and the Summilux 35mm 1.4 - what have your experiences been, are there any advantages/disadvantages of one over the other (I know the Zeiss is bigger), which do you prefer? I don't mind sacrificing reduced weight and size for superior image quality, I'm already loving the feel of the 50 lux's files and want to keep that micro-contrasty Leica vibe. I know these things are subjective, opinions welcome!

Thanks in advance!

Chris


 

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This has been discussed regularly before. Consensus appears to be that the Zeiss is bigger, but as good or better and there is a price difference. However, both lenses have their fans.

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I cannot compare them directly because I have never used the Summilux 35mm f/1.4. However, when I was shopping for a fast 35, I came to the conclusion that the high image quality of the bigger and less expensive Zeiss was just what I needed.

 

Zeiss 35mm f/1.4 by Narsuitus, on Flickr

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See https://phillipreeve.net/blog/35mm-comparison-voigtlander-zeiss-leica/ for a direct comp on a different system (A7 w/filter stack issues).

That is a rather useless comparison. Using Leica M and Zeiss ZM lenses on a Sony will certainly skew the results. Just look at the vignetting.

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That is a rather useless comparison. Using Leica M and Zeiss ZM lenses on a Sony will certainly skew the results. Just look at the vignetting.

And the smearing.

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Chris, both lenses are superb optically. 

I used to own both lenses and sold the Zeiss after awhile. 

 

The Zeiss lens is slightly superior in the outer half of the frame and has less field curvature.

 

The Leica lens is lighter, has less viewfinder blockage and less CA.

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Without side by side comparison I believe that one is very happy with one or the other. When I think of myself I bought the Leica gear because of size and weight. So I would not buy a big heavy lens to go with it. The Leica lenses are so wonderully built and small. As a consequence competitors with more glass might be slightly better, whatever better means

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I have the current version of summilux 35mm 1.4..I love this lens that I purchased a mint (it appeared to be unused) used for about $3000...it is amazing. 

Edited by richardlipow

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I bit the bullet and went with the Zeiss this afternoon - I think I'll be OK with the extra bulk.

I promised myself 1 focal length for a few months while I became acquainted with the essence of rangefinder. It looks like the beginning of a long and beautiful addiction...

 

My name's Chris and I'm a Leicaholic. 

Thanks for the input guys x
 

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I have struggled with this question myself because I am trying to decide between the two. I have read every review I can find. My understanding is: 

 

- Zeiss is superior optically. Sharper, less distortion, less CA. 

- Zeiss has better bokeh. There are complaints that the Summilux 35 has "busy" bokeh. 

- Zeiss is much cheaper. 

- Leica is marginally lighter 327g vs. 381g but substantially more compact (56 x 46mm for Leica, 63 x 65mm for Zeiss). 

- Leica has a focusing tab which I much prefer, Zeiss has a focusing nub. 

 

Go with Zeiss and you get an optically superior lens for less money. Go with Leica and you get a better handling lens. 

 

Normally my head would tell me to go with the Zeiss but somehow I still want the Leica. 

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Viewfinder blockage is a genuine consideration, as the use of a large, clear optical finder which presents you with an unsurpassed amount of information (i.e. more of the scene than you're actually capturing, on all sides) is one of the main reasons to use a rangefinder camera during an era of photography when there are much more practical solutions.

 

I don't mind what the Zeiss does to viewfinder visibility, but I would not at all find it silly for someone to argue that it is absolutely unacceptable.

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Oh, 850g for such a lens. Why not go directly for Sony A7? Better sensor, top lenses. mirrorless . . . The Leica Summilux is half that weight. But I am aware, Chris, that you knew all that before. You must be in love with Leica M10 :-)

Edited by Alex U.

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Oh, 850g for such a lens. Why not go directly for Sony A7? Better sensor, top lenses. mirrorless . . . The Leica Summilux is half that weight. But I am aware, Chris, that you knew all that before. You must be in love with Leica M10 :-)

?? The Distagon  ZM weighs 381 grams...

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?? The Distagon  ZM weighs 381 grams...

 

Oh, sorry. Then I was on the fully wrong web page. Then its about the same weight as the Leica 50mm. Sorry again for confusing.

 

May I ask: Is it then a Distagon? The Zeiss site is quite confusing . . . I see there a 50mm f/1.5 called 

ZEISS C Sonnar T* 1,5/50 ZM

 

Is that then something else

Edited by Alex U.

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Alex I think you might be thinking of the Zeiss 35/1.4 ZA for Sony? That one is a monster. I used to own one and lug the bloody thing around everywhere. It was a fantastic lens, but wayyyy to heavy. It played an important part in me deciding to switch from Sony. 

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There isn't really such a thing as a 35 1.4 with autofocus that isn't pretty big. Leica M lenses have the advantage of being manual focus only, which makes engineering a compact lens easier.

 

Take, for instance, the Nikkor 35mm 1.4 that was popular among journalists for many years. Great lens, very reasonable size even on the Nikons of the day (which were much smaller than the DSLRs).

 

That's part of the Leica premium, though. They have always been able to do the good things just a bit smaller and lighter.

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I recently purchased the Zeiss 35 f1.4 distagon zm and have been using it about three weeks on an M9. I'm a newspaper photographer and yes, the lens is big and kinda ugly, but it's way, way sharp. There's no focus shift, it has great colors and you can even do astrophotography with it — it's acceptably  sharp in the corners at f1.4 in my tests, with no coma. My biggest complaint is the focus ring is heavily damped. It's not as smooth as my Leica lenses, though it seems to be loosening up the more I use it.

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That is a rather useless comparison. Using Leica M and Zeiss ZM lenses on a Sony will certainly skew the results. Just look at the vignetting.

 

Yeah, I disagree. They're on A7 bodies with natural filter stack incompatibiilties, but the review contrasts each lens with and without a corrective 5m PCX filter (see the corner crops for dramatic improvement). This review still says a heck of a lot about the lenses, aligns with many M-specific general perceptions around them, applies heavy corrections, and is more or less "equally unfair" for imperfections which still provides a relative contrast.

 

https://diglloyd.com/prem/prot/LEICA/LeicaM9/lens-ZeissZM-35f1_4-compare-WymanCabin.html (subscriber-only) runs six lenses against each other, including the Lux and Distagon, and reaches the same general conclusion that the Distagon is head-and-shoulders superior as an optical instrument, although it still has physical downsides (size, weight, finder blockage).

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