Zeiss Loxia 21mm F2.8 Review

December 17, 2015 | Mark Goldstein | |

Introduction

The Zeiss Loxia 21mm F2.8 is a new manual-aperture, manual-focus ultra-wide-angle prime lens for Sony Alpha 21mm full-frame mirrorless cameras. It features an aperture range of f/2.8-f/22 and a ten-bladed circular diaphragm for smoother bokeh blur in out of focus areas. It features 11 elements in 9 groups, a precision-engineered full-metal casing, weighs in at 394 grams, and can be de-clicked using a supplied tool for movie making. The Zeiss Loxia 21mm F2.8 is also able to focus as close as 25cm and it takes 52mm filters. The Zeiss Loxia 21mm F2.8 retails for €1299 / $1499 / £1099.

Ease of Use

With a maximum diameter of 60mm and an 85mm length, the Zeiss Loxia 21mm F2.84 is a ultra-wide-angle fixed focal length optic that's well-suited to Sony's full-frame mirrorless camera bodies. Weighing in at 394g it's also not too heavy, making this lens well suited to hand-holding as well as life on a tripod.

Zeiss Loxia 21mm F2.8 The Zeiss Loxia 21mm F2.8 lens mounted on a Sony A7R II

Zeiss Loxia 21mm F2.8 The Zeiss Loxia 21mm F2.8 lens mounted on a Sony A7R II

Zeiss Loxia 21mm F2.8 The Zeiss Loxia 21mm F2.8 lens mounted on a Sony A7R II

Zeiss Loxia 21mm F2.8 The Zeiss Loxia 21mm F2.8 lens alongside a Sony A7R II

The Zeiss Loxia 21mm F2.8 also boasts superb build quality. The lens’ all-metal casing is dust and moisture resistant and it features a metal E-mount bayonet. With no need for a zoom ring, the manual focussing ring spans a significant width of the lens barrel and is exceptionally smooth to operate, complete with a useful depth of field scale. Behind this is the aperture ring, with 1/3EV stops ranging from f/2.8 to f/22. A small adjustable screw on the bottom of the bayonet lets you select whether the aperture ring clicks into place at each aperture stop or rotates smoothly for silent operation during movie recording.

Zeiss Loxia 21mm F2.8 The side of the Zeiss Loxia 21mm F2.8 lens

Zeiss Loxia 21mm F2.8 The front of the Zeiss Loxia 21mm F2.8 lens

Zeiss Loxia 21mm F2.8 The rear of the Zeiss Loxia 21mm F2.8 lens

Zeiss Loxia 21mm F2.8 The side of the Zeiss Loxia 21mm F2.8 lens

Zeiss Loxia 21mm F2.8 The side of the Zeiss Loxia 21mm F2.8 lens

The Zeiss Loxia 21mm F2.8 has 11 lens elements in 9 groups and an almost symmetric lens design that promises better distortion, color correction and image field flatness. A ten-bladed rounded diaphragm, combined with the fast maximum aperture, helps provide smooth bokeh blur.

Zeiss Loxia 21mm F2.8 The Zeiss Loxia 21mm F2.8 lens in-hand

Zeiss Loxia 21mm F2.8 The Zeiss Loxia 21mm F2.8 lens with the supplied lens hood fitted

There’s no optical image stabilisation, but the lens’ short focal length and fast maximum aperture alleviate the need for it. A special sealing ring on the bayonet also protects the interface between the camera and the lens. A metal petal-shaped lens hood is supplied, although annoyingly we found that this invariably came off whenever we unmounted the lens from the camera.

Focal Range

The 21mm focal length gives an angle of view of 91 degrees on a 35mm full frame sensor.

 Zeiss Loxia 21mm F2.8 Field of view at 21mm

Manual Focussing

The Zeiss Loxia 21mm F2.8's manual focussing ring spans a significant width of the lens barrel and is exceptionally smooth to operate, complete with a useful depth of field scale. It also has a large rotation angle of 90 degrees which enables precise focusing and moves smoothly without any play, thus also supporting the intuitive interaction with the focal plane. The precise engravings in meters and feet, together with the depth of focus scale, help make manual focusing a veritable pleasure, especially in conjunction with the excellent Peaking feature offered by the Sony A-series cameras.

Chromatic Aberrations

Chromatic aberration (purple fringing) is rarely an issue with the Zeiss Loxia 21mm F2.8, so much so that we couldn't find any instances of fringing in our test shots.

Light Fall-off and Distortion

Light fall-off is noticeable wide open at f/2.8, though this is to be expected for such a fast lens and can easily be corrected in Photoshop. Stop down to f/4 and the vignetting is already less prominent, but it is still visible when shooting pale scenes that fill the frame.

Zeiss Loxia 21mm F2.8 Light fall-off at 21mm

Macro

A 25cm minimum focus distance makes the lens useful for shooting reasonably close subjects. This image is uncropped and shows how close you can get to a Compact Flash card.

Zeiss Loxia 21mm F2.8 Close-up performance

Bokeh

A major appeal of fast, wide-aperture prime lenses is their ability to produce an eye-catching separation between a sharp subject and a very soft out-of-focus background. The Zeiss Loxia 21mm F2.8 generates exceptionally smooth out of focus areas through its use of a ten-bladed diaphragm, which provides smoother bokeh than nine, seven or five-blade designs. Bokeh is however a fairly subjective part of a lens’ image quality, so check out these 100% crops to see the Zeiss Loxia 21mm F2.8’s bokeh quality for yourself.

Zeiss Loxia 21mm F2.8 Zeiss Loxia 21mm F2.8
   
Zeiss Loxia 21mm F2.8 Zeiss Loxia 21mm F2.8

Sharpness

In order to show you how sharp this lens is, we are providing 100% crops on the following page.

Entry Tags

review, samples, test, sample images, lens, compact system camera, mirrorless, csc, jpg, jpgs, sample, full-frame, sony a7r, a7, sony a7, Sony, a7r, zeiss, a7s, 35mm full frame, 21mm, loxia, loxia 35mm, Zeiss Loxia 21mm F2.8