Zeiss Loxia 85mm f/2.4 Review

December 5, 2016 | Mark Goldstein | |

Introduction

The Zeiss Loxia 85mm f/2.4 is a new manual-aperture, manual-focus prime lens for Sony Alpha 85mm full-frame mirrorless cameras. It features an aperture range of f/2.4-f/22 and a ten-bladed circular diaphragm for smoother bokeh blur in out of focus areas. It features 7 elements in 7 groups, a precision-engineered full-metal casing, weighs in at nearly 600 grams, and can be de-clicked using a supplied tool for movie making. The Zeiss Loxia 85mm f/2.4 is also able to focus as close as 80cm and it takes 52mm filters. The Zeiss Loxia 85mm f/2.4 retails for €1399 / $1399 / £1199.

Ease of Use

With a maximum diameter of 52mm and a length of 108mm, the Zeiss Loxia 85mm f/2.4 is a short telephoto fixed focal length optic that's well-suited to Sony's full-frame mirrorless camera bodies. Weighing in at 594g, it's easily the heaviest Loxia lens in the range, and the biggest too. Note that the length of the lens changes slightly depending upon the focusing distance that is set - at 0.8m, the lens is extends by an additional 1.5cm compared to when it's set to infinity.

Zeiss Loxia 85mm f/2.4The Zeiss Loxia 85mm f/2.4 lens mounted on a Sony A7R II

Zeiss Loxia 85mm f/2.4The Zeiss Loxia 85mm f/2.4 lens mounted on a Sony A7R II

Zeiss Loxia 85mm f/2.4The Zeiss Loxia 85mm f/2.4 lens mounted on a Sony A7R II

Zeiss Loxia 85mm f/2.4The Zeiss Loxia 85mm f/2.4 lens alongside a Sony A7R II

The Zeiss Loxia 85mm f/2.4 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 focusing 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/2.4 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 85mm f/2.4The side of the Zeiss Loxia 85mm f/2.4 lens

Zeiss Loxia 85mm f/2.4The front of the Zeiss Loxia 85mm f/2.4 lens

Zeiss Loxia 85mm f/2.4The rear of the Zeiss Loxia 85mm f/2.4 lens

Zeiss Loxia 85mm f/2.4The side of the Zeiss Loxia 85mm f/2.4 lens

Zeiss Loxia 85mm f/2.4The side of the Zeiss Loxia 85mm f/2.4 lens

The Zeiss Loxia 85mm f/2.4 has 7 lens elements in 7 groups. A ten-bladed rounded diaphragm, combined with the fast maximum aperture, helps provide smooth bokeh blur. There’s no optical image stabilisation, but the Zeiss Loxia 85mm f/2.4's short telelphoto focal length and fast maximum aperture largely alleviate the need for it.

Zeiss Loxia 85mm f/2.4The Zeiss Loxia 85mm f/2.4 lens in-hand

Zeiss Loxia 85mm f/2.4The Zeiss Loxia 85mm f/2.4 lens with the supplied lens hood fitted

A special blue sealing ring on the bayonet protects the interface between the camera and the lens. A large round metal lens hood is supplied in the box.

Focal Range

The 85mm focal length gives an angle of view of 28.63 degrees on a 35mm full frame sensor.

 Zeiss Loxia 85mm f/2.4Field of view at 85mm

Manual Focussing

The Zeiss Loxia 85mm f/2.4'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 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 85mm f/2.4, 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/2.4, though this 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 85mm f/2.4Light fall-off at 85mm

Macro

An 80cm minimum focus distance doesn't make the lens very useful for shooting close subjects. This image is uncropped and shows how close you can get.

Zeiss Loxia 85mm f/2.4Close-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 85mm f/2.4 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 85mm f/2.4’s bokeh quality for yourself.

Zeiss Loxia 85mm f/2.4 Zeiss Loxia 85mm f/2.4
   
Zeiss Loxia 85mm f/2.4 Zeiss Loxia 85mm f/2.4

Sharpness

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

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