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Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon: I rate it the best M Lens Available

Get Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon lens at B&H Photo.

Over the past five years I’ve shot nearly all the Leica M lenses, and I own all of the best ones, including the 50/2 APO and the Noctilux and the best M wides.

With further review of the images from my 2 weeks of intensive field use, it is now my view that the Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon is the best lens available today for the Leica M platform, because it offers a magical combination of sharpness and contrast, f/1.4 speed, gorgeous bokeh, superb control of aberrations, minimal field curvature and no focus shift. In my hands, its ergonomics are also far preferable: I hugely dislike the Leica “tab” focusing, and the Zeiss 1/3 click stops stay firm and distinct with use versus sloppy and loose all too often with Leica M. My comments ignore cost but that the ZM 35/1.4 costs 1/2 or 1/3 or 1/4 as much as the best Leica M designs is hardly a point to ignore.

Certainly “best” incorporates one’s own preferences and so there is room for some reasoned disagreement here. But if I could shoot only one lens on Leica M, my choice is the ZM 35/1.4 Distagon.

Zeiss offers the 35/1.4 in black or silver. I think it looks terrific in silver, based on firsthand usage, and that’s the finish I’ll likely be buying when it ships in December.

The best lens for Leica M?
Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon, available in black or silver finish

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