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Reader Question on Vignetting for Zeiss Loxia 50mm f/2 Planar

Get Zeiss Loxia at B&H Photo.

The Zeiss Loxia line is at the top of my list for Sony mirrorless. My favorites are the 25/2.4 (all time favorite lens for Sony mirrorless), 21/2.8 (fantastic), 85/2.4 (very nice but I use it less), and 35/2 (older design, but still very nice rendering and performance, stopped down), in that order.

Subscriber John M writes:

I just bought a Zeiss Loxia 50mm f/2 and did an aperture series with it from my balcony on an A7Rii. At f2 and f2.8 I noticed quite a bit of vignetting so I checked your posts. I notice the same thing in your series (in title). However, do you remember if you used a polarizer? I mention this because after f5.6 I notice vignetting creeping back in especially on the top right.

I just bought a Loxia 50mm and did an aperture series with it from my balcony on an A7R II. At f/2 and f/2.8 I noticed quite a bit of vignetting so I checked your posts. I notice the same thing in your series.

However, do you remember if you used a polarizer? I mention this because after f5.6 I notice vignetting creeping back in especially on the top right. I am trying to figure out whether mine is within spec.

[response, later]

No I am not showing vignetting in the top right of my series. It appeared to me that, as you stopped down in your series, your image appeared to vignetting a bit after 5.6 and I have seen that kind of lop-sided vignetting with polarizers. At any rate the vignetting in my lens is even in all four corners and disappears by f4. I have concluded that this must be normal behavior for this lens since, when I apply lens corrections for this lens in Lightroom, the image is evenly exposed for all apertures.

DIGLLOYD: That series of mine is a bit tricky since the earth shadow is rising, and the sky really is darker at top right, the area directly opposite the sun being brighter, the “opposition effect” being part of the reason. The aperture series John M refers to is this one:

Bristlecone, Earth Shadow Rises (Sony A7R)

No polarizer used that I can recall (I use one rarely). Since it is mostly away from the sun, polarization would be minimal and the sky is already darker at 90° to the sun (upper right corner).

Though I own the rest of the Loxia lineup, I don't own the 50/2 Loxia, so I cannot check it now on the A7R III.

There are some digital sensor ray angle issues involved, the 50/2 being a rangefinder design in origin. The 50mm focal length (at least a rangefinder design) is not really long enough to avoid all effects.

Also, natural vignetting remains for all lenses and that together with the ray angle issues do have an effect. The Loxia 50mm f/2 has a central ray angle of 20° which is reasonably good for digital, but consider that the Zeiss 15/2.8 Distagon for DSLRs has a ray angle of 11°—far better for digital, and most of its sibling lenses fall under 20°.

See also: Ray Angle, Color Shift, Sharpness and Table of Ray Angles for Zeiss ZM Lenses in Guide to Mirrorless.

Bristlecone, Earth Shadow Rises
f13 @ 1/6 sec, ISO 80; 2014-10-29 17:50:41
Sony A7R + Zeiss Loxia 50mm f/2 Planar

[low-res image for bot]

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