I am still organizing my trip work, but I will be showing many images from the new Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon. These take time to prepare, and the volume of images is so large that merely choosing from among them is no small task.
I had to send the ZM 35/1.4 Distagon back to Zeiss, but I was loathe to do so: I consider it the most enjoyable lens I’ve yet shot on Leica M; it pulls together so many attributes so well, both optically and operationally. It is unequivocally the star of the ZM lineup. In terms of operational excellence, I rank it above all my Leica M lenses. I greatly prefer its physical characteristics over the Leica M 35m Summilux and Summicron, which feel awkward to my hands by comparison. Stunning on the Leica M240, the pity is that when stopped down slightly, the M240 sensor is the weak link. I have no hesitation in selling my Leica 35mm Summilux, a task no doubt made harder by this post.
More thoughts on the main page of my review.
A few samples are shown below, chosen to show the distinct style at different distances and conditions, though I’ve yet to review many more images shot with it. I’ll be showing these and many more in due time at full HD and UltraHD size in my review in Guide to Leica.
The ZM 35/1.4 Distagon is a rangefinder lens (Guide to Leica), but what a pity that the thick sensor cover glass of Sony A7-family cameras degrades its ultra high grade performance via ray angle (as with all wide angle M lenses). The effects are shown with the complete MTF comparison in the review.
Gregory writes :
I downloaded these shots and checked the EXIF info. All were taken at smaller f-stops that f/1.4, contrary to the captions on your blog.
DIGLLOYD: they were also shot with a 0mm lens. BTW, EXIF info can be faked.
Images above are all the wide open f/1.4 frame of a full aperture series for each, which I often shoot, as is my wont. Moreover it should be obvious to skilled eyes that these are shot wide open, as there are a variety of visual cues in every image.
The Leica M cameras cannot know the aperture; it is purely mechanical with no coupling. The camera inserts a semi-random guess (e.g., ƒ/1.4 can record as ƒ/11 or ƒ/16 or some shots on recent trip, ƒ/27). Also, use of a polarizer tends to make the guess go off by 2/3/4 stops in many scenarios in which I shoot. This is a Leica firmware bug which debuted with the Leica M8 and has never been fixed: an uncoded lens records as 0mm, and similarly an unknown aperture ought to record as ƒ/0, rather than a wildly variable guess. Blind squirrels do find acorns, but not often.