- Beautifully crafted lens with a solid metal build and weather sealing
- Great feel to the manual focus ring
- Outstanding sharpness right from f/2.8 and from corner to corner stopped down
- Exceptional contrast and color response
- Pleasing bokeh
- Excellent flare resistance
- Good control of chromatic aberration
- Very nice sunstars
- Focus ring and aperture ring are too close together
- Focus throw is a bit short
- Sensor reflections show easily on the A7 II (though not entirely the fault of the lens)
The Loxia 21mm f/2.8 Distagon is a lens truly worthy of the Zeiss name. They managed to create a compact lens that performs brilliantly through almost all aspects of imaging. Images show outstanding sharpness and stunning color and contrast, producing that signature Zeiss ‘pop’ in spades. Even the bokeh is fairly nice. While the lens handles well and has outstanding manual focus damping, I did feel that the close proximity of the aperture and focus rings caused some issues in the field, but overall, there’s really nothing to complain about. Zeiss has crafted a simply outstanding ultra-wide here.
So should you buy it? If you like primes for ultra-wide and can swing that rather hefty $1,499 price tag, then yes, you should run to your nearest retailer and pick one up. However, as much as I loved the lens, it’s not a lens for everyone. Many people, including myself, tend to prefer using zooms in the ultra-wide range. In this range, small focal changes can make a big difference to the angle of view and the final composition. I often find it cumbersome to switch between, say, an 18mm, 21mm and 24mm lens. As such, a lot of shooters will prefer to go the route of the Sony Zeiss FE 16-35mm f/4. The 16-35mm is $150 cheaper, is both wider and longer, and still features some of the Zeiss magic color and contrast that the Loxia displays. It’s also very sharp. It’s not as good as the Loxia in any of those ways, but it’s fairly close. For my shooting, the 16-35mm makes more sense.
However, if you are fine shooting with primes for ultra-wide work (and especially if you love the 21mm focal length), then there’s no need to look any further. The Loxia 21mm is truly exceptional, and supplants the Fuji 14mm as the finest wide-angle lens I’ve had the pleasure to use.
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11 thoughts on “Review: Zeiss Loxia 21mm f/2.8 Distagon T*”
Excellent review as usual! This for sure is an extremely desirable lens but I concur with you on the practicality of using the Sony/Zeiss FE 16-35mm. The one-stop gain and marginally better performance with the Loxia, is not for me enough to overcome the convenience of carrying a single zoom.
On the other hand, I really look forward to hear from you on the forthcoming Voigtlander 10mm and 12mm in E-mount. Both are appreciably outside the 16-35mm range to make them potentially very interesting. And I love those extreme wide-angle perspectives!
Interesting observation about the sensor reflection. I was wondering if sensor reflection is also visible in the image “Sunlight – Sony A7 II with Sony FE 28mm f/2 @ f/16” on the third page of your review of the Sony FE 28mm, or is that just regular flare?
That’s illumination of the dirt on the window I was shooting through.
Good review! Did you had a chance to use the Loxia with a filter system? I’m interested whether it works with the Lee 75 system.
Is this lens designed specifically for the Sony? (I’m assuming so) that is some serious quality. When you reviewed this the 16mm Fuji wasn’t made yet. Is it the same type of lens? Is there anyway of adapting this bad boy to an XPro2 and retaining that quality. Which Sony is this made for? All E mount? Thanks for the review and these great images. Looks like 4×5 almost.
Thanks for the informative review, Jordan!.
What do you think: Could the field curvature of the lens be due to the distortion correction?
You’ say the “thick sensor cover glass” in the Sony cameras make adequate lens constructions like a Loxia necessary. I remember Cicala from LensRentals demonstrating, that third party lenses deliver optical performance according to the thickness of the sensor cover glass in the particular camera. That’s why I’m wondering whether the sensor cover glass in the A 6000 / A 6300 is as thick as that in the A 7 series? And do you know what third party lens makers offer lenses that in the said sense are suited to the Sony cameras?
Thank you again!
Hello Jordan, although English is not my native language, I am always carefully checking your comments and conclusions. Really great insights!
One thing that hit me when checking the ultra wide angle / wide angle reviews you and others specialists are running is that I do not see any good test of the Sony FE 20 mm f:1,8 G (or anything as good as what you are doing). Any plan to review this lens?