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Zeiss 35mm f/1.4 Distagon for Nikon and Canon

The only disappointing note for the new Zeiss 35mm f/1.4 Distagon is the 2011 delivery date. I should have one slightly in advance of retail availability for testing and inclusion in my Guide to Zeiss ZF / Zeiss ZE Lenses; it will receive ample attention from me. MTF charts are not yet available.

Rich Schleuning of Carl Zeiss has posted some pictures with a prototype of the new 35/1.4. The bokeh looks very promising.

My observations:

  • The 35/1.4 Distagon is beefy at about 840 grams (29-30 ounces). By comparison, the 35/2 Distagon is about 530 grams, the 21/2.8 Distagon is about 600 grams, and Canon’s 35/1.4 is about 640 grams. So the 35/1.4 is not the lens for traveling light. My guess is that Zeiss oversized the 35/1.4 in part to achieve higher image quality. Its all-metal construction is also heavier than plastic.
  • At almost 5" (120mm) long, it’s not a compact lens dimensionally.
  • Close focusing to a magnification ratio of 1:5 means allows for creative versatility at close range. I really love that capability.
  • With 11 elements in 9 groups, element count is higher than the 9 elements in 7 groups, and the design appears to be quite different, and likely better corrected (higher performance).
  • Zeiss is calling out bokeh (blur effect) as “extraordinary”. The way a lens draws is a primary attraction for me, so I eagerly look forward to what this means in practice.
  • Compared to the excellent 35mm f/2 Distagon, the 35mm f/1.4 Distagon needs to prove itself. At f/2, the f/1.4 lens should show much less vignetting, and probably reduced axial color. I do hope that Zeiss has eliminated the traces of lateral chromatic aberration seen with the 35/2 Distagon.
  • The claim of “wide rotation angle” also known as focus throw is a welcome aspect for pinpoint focus. All the Zeiss lenses have far superior manual focus over AF lenses, but it’s unclear if the 35/1.4 is any better than, say, the 35/2 Distagon in this regard.
  • The 72mm filter size matches up with the 85/1.4 Planar, and it’s a common size for Canon and Nikon.

See also the product flyer.

OBERKOCHEN, September 1, 2010 – A woman is sitting at the bar of a dimly-lit cafe. Lost in thoughts, she doesn’t notice the glass of wine the bartender places before her. From a distance, a photographer tries to capture her mood. He brings her face, which is leaning toward her phone, into focus. Everything around her becomes a blur, and the lights in the background coalesce into a wild “dance” of diffuse shapes.

This shot will only work with a fast lens with short focal length and harmonious bokeh. Carl Zeiss introduces a new lens for just such images: the Distagon T* 1,4/35.

By introducing the Distagon T* 1,4/35, Carl Zeiss is complementing the Planar T*1,.4/50 and T*1,4/85 lenses with a wide-angle lens that shares the same high speed. Crisp, sharp images work every time, whether at dusk or in the weak lighting conditions of a café, and without the need for a tripod. With its 35-mm, the Distagon T* 1,4/35 matches the classic and versatile standard focal lengths when used on cameras with APS-C sensor formats.

Due to the special bokeh effects in both the foreground and background areas, the Distagon T*1,4/35 opens up new creative possibilities, giving photographers more options to ‘play’ with focus. Thanks to its large focus ring, photographers can also create highly accurate, sharp pictures, even at maximum aperture opening. This also makes the lens an ideal addition to the filmmaker using DSLR’s for HD video capture. In addition, the optical construction of the lens guarantees high image quality across the entire image range. Furthermore, with one step less than the full aperture opening, the light fall-off toward the edges is just one f-stop.

With the ZEISS T*  anti-reflective coating, its sophisticated stray light reduction and the excellent flare control, the new Distagon also takes pictures of bright light sources without artifacts. The Distagon T*1,4/35’s extremely long-lasting and robust all-metal precision mechanics, for which Carl Zeiss is known, make this lens perfect for use on-the-go and for photo reports.

The Distagon T* 1,4/35 will be available in first quarter of 2011 at a recommended retail price of $1,843 USD.

Technical specifications 
Focal length                35 mm
Aperture range              f/1.4 - f/16 
Number of elements/groups 	11/9
Focusing area			    0.3 m - infinity
Angular field** (diag./horiz./vert.) 63/54/37 °
Coverage at close range 	18 x 12 cm (close-up)
Image ratio at close range	1:5 (close-up)
Filter thread			    M 72 x 0.75
Weight				        830 – 850 g
Length with caps		    120 – 122 mm
Diameter			        78 mm
Mounts 				        ZF.2 (F bayonet), ZE (EF bayonet)
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