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Carl Zeiss 35mm f/1.4 Distagon bokeh

Just published in my Guide to Zeiss ZF / Zeiss ZE Lenses are a variety of examples at f/1.4 with the prototype Zeiss ZE 35mm f/1.4 Distagon (I include the usual higher resolution versions as well). The bokeh is extraordinary. In fact, I judge it right up there with the 100mm f/2 Makro-Planar, and it’s even more striking to see this rendition in a 35mm focal length. Perhaps the lens is as large as it is in order to achieve Zeiss imaging goals.

My examples include a (human) portrait, which will not be shown in this public blog, but which I believe will make those looking for an ideal environmental portraiture lens impatient for the on-sale production version in 2011.

A resolution chart test of this lens would completely miss the point. This is no harsh-gradient design for garnering accolades on a resolution chart (though it’s very sharp). Zeiss clearly had something special in mind for this lens. Shoot it wide open, and savor—when it’s available; I’ll be very disappointed to have to return the prototype next week.

I’ve worked with so many top-grade lenses, including some of the world’s best, so I’ve learned to respect my instincts. My gut feeling is that the 35/1.4 Distagon is something highly unusual, and if its style appeals to you, sell whatever you have to so that you can afford the 35/1.4 when it’s available in early 2011. Go ahead and shoot landscapes at f/8 with it too if you like, but that’s missing the point.

Shown below are a few of my garden shots from a 30 minute shoot yesterday evening.

Late-day honeybee
Canon 5D Mark II + Zeiss 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ f/1.4
Three frogs
Canon 5D Mark II + Zeiss 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ f/1.4
Winter Soup
Canon 5D Mark II + Zeiss 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ f/1.4
Remains of a Feast
Canon 5D Mark II + Zeiss 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ f/1.4
Blighted tomatoes
Canon 5D Mark II + Zeiss 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ f/1.4

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