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Zeiss 35mm f/1.4 Distagon MTF, distortion, vignetting

Late-day honeybee
Zeiss 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ f/1.4

Good news— when Zeiss delivers the data sheet, it means that the lens shipments are usually not far behind, and so I have a reasonable hope to have a review copy of the Zeiss 35mm f/1.4 Distagon by month’s end. See my preview of the Zeiss 35mm f/1.4 Distagon in the Guide to Zeiss ZF / ZE Lenses.

MTF curves below are at 10, 20, 40 line pairs/mm. MTF at f/1.4 is very consistent from center to corner, and offers a high level of performance even wide open. Stopping down to f/4 shows that there is likely some curvature of field, and astigmatism suggests some residual color aberrations beyond the edges of the frame (e.g., the corner areas). But that’s an educated guess based on MTF alone, not field shots. See Making Sharp Images for more on field curvature and MTF charts.

Bottom line is that wide open at f/1.4, we can expect outstanding results across the frame (for f/1.4), and that stopping down a little should yield top-class images, with very high contrast on fine details, but not in a perfect plane of sharpness (no fast wide angle avoids field curvature). Overall contrast on at f/1.4 on coarse structures looks to be lower than the Nikon 35/1.4G, which is just one facet of behavior that will make the images from it have a different personality from the Nikon— connoisseurs will want to own both.

MTF for Zeiss 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ f/1.4

Distortion is higher than I’d prefer, but should be easy to correct, since it’s plain barrel distortion, without a reversal (wave type).

Distortion for Zeiss 35mm f/1.4 Distagon

Vignetting (and I like vignetting in fast lenses) goes away completely as a visible issue by f/4. More interesting will be off-center color rendition, e.g. whether the design has a ray angle from the exit pupil that causes a slight cyan color shift to the corners.

Vignetting for Zeiss 35mm f/1.4 Distagon
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                      900 g (not clear if this is ZF or ZE)
Length with caps            120 – 122 mm
Diameter                    78 mm
Mounts                      ZF.2 (F bayonet), ZE (EF bayonet)

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