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Zeiss Loxia 85mm f/2.4 Arriving for Testing

Zeiss Loxia 85mm f/2.4 Sonnar

See my Sony mirrorless wish list and other wish lists at B&H Photo.

Get the new Zeiss Loxia 85mm f/2.4 Sonnar at B&H Photo.

See my post discussing the announcement of the Zeiss Loxia 85mm f/2.4 Sonnar.

A Loxia 85/2.4 review sample arrives tomorrow (Nov 10), courtesy of Zeiss USA. The Zeiss Loxia 85mm f/2.4 fills out the Loxia lens lineup, which now covers 21mm, 35mm, 50mm and 85mm.

I might take off for some late season mountain shooting for a few days. I am particularly interested in whether the Loxia 85/2.4 makes a good focus stacking lens, given how shallow depth of field at 85mm can be.

While not small, the 595g weight of the Loxia 85/2.4 is a lot more approachable than the ~1200 grams of its Zeiss Milvus 85mm f/1.4 or Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar DSLR cousins, thus for field use it has considerable appeal. But of course the proper comparison is to the Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8, since it is most comparable in lens speed and its weight is even lower (475g). Or the Sony 85/1.4 GM, but it is very large by comparison.

The Loxia 85/2.4 is a an exciting lens for Sony shooters because it is close to Otus-grade performance, yet native-mount for Sony in a relatively compact package. With a 2 or 3 frame focus stack, I’d bet that many outdoor images can be made that will be jaw dropping in detail—I’m sure looking forward to a 70 megapixel Sony of some sort.

While Zeiss calls out the Loxia 85/2.4 as being particularly well-suited for portraiture, I beg to disagree in part: this will certainly be true in an optical sense, but it’s extremely difficult to focus on the iris of the eye with manual focus. Even with perfect technique, no photographer or subject avoids the unavoidable movement of a millimeter or two between focusing and exposing—enough to blur the iris of the eye slightly. Users are better off shooting portraits with an autofocus lens like the excellent Sony 85mm f/1.4 GM or the Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8.

The manual focus argument is problematic for two reasons on the Sony A7R II: first, because the all-manual aperture must be opened to focus then closed to shoot (at least if shooting stopped down past f/4), let alone the need to focus at high magnification for consistently accurate focus. This is just a contorted process for fast shooting.

Horses for courses and it’s not a hammer just because the nail is the number 85. But of course I’ll be shooting some portraits with it, that is if I can get any of my teenage daughters to pose (and it now seems to take money to make it happen, LOL).

Zeiss Loxia 85mm f/2.4 Sonnar

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