The highly compact ZEISS Loxia MF lenses are specially developed for mirrorless full-frame system cameras from Sony. You enjoy the combined benefits of leading-edge mirrorless, full-frame cameras and the creative possibilities of “traditional” manual focus photography. The ZEISS Loxia lenses have everything you need to create topquality videos.
By Jonathan Edwards
Already owning both the ZEISS Loxia 2/50 and ZEISS Loxia 2/35, I was delighted to be asked by ZEISS UK to review the latest addition to the Loxia range, the ZEISS Loxia 2.8/21. I was excited to test out the new wide-angle full-frame lens across several different application areas. From commercial architectural photography to landscape location scouts, time-lapse work and an interesting thought with slow-motion and the Sony A7SII, which I will come on to later.
Vignetting and distortion kept to a minimum
The build quality of the ZEISS Loxia range is second to none. The all black inconspicuous design of the lenses is highly desirable and they are light and yet robust. Weather sealed and sharper than any other lenses I have tested within the price bracket. Saying this, I did wonder how sharp the 21mm would be, being a wide-angle lens and also had concerns with vignetting and distortion. But enough of listing possible concerns as after field testing the lens across both stills and 4K film, it was obvious that this matched the quality and sharpness of the others within the range and vignetting and distortion are seriously kept to a minimum even at f/2.8. Glare, artifacts and flare are removed via the unique T* anti-reflective coating and bokeh is great if shooting shallow depth of field, although not a great concern with such a wide lens.
So rather than simply set a day aside or spend an evening shooting on the 21mm I thought it would be much more interesting to throw it right in the mix with some live commercial projects. I added the lens to my kit bag and it has been on hand to shoot a wide range of locations and subjects. From online social media films for a new men’s swimwear brand, to a low and available light fashion shoot in Chinatown Manchester, to rural landscape location scouts. The lens has been taken out of the kit bag for a wide range of uses and been superb every time.
Great results for both – stills and 4K film
Aside from the obvious uses of such a wide lens, I had also wanted to test the 21mm for a slightly less conventional purpose. The Sony A7SII shoots high-speed rates of 120fps (100fps in PAL) which can be highly useful to track a moving object and also seeming to reduce handheld movements when film speed is reduced in post. The only downfall with the A7SII is that when the record button is pressed the high-speed option is created via cropping the sensor to a full HD image which is 2.Gr2x crop. So when framing shots in high-speed this must be considered and I have found that the focus zoom assistant with the ZEISS Loxia lenses is highly useful, as not only can you check that your subject is sharp to track but this also gives you a rough idea of the 2.2x crop for recording. But further still the ZEISS Loxia 2.8/21 is the perfect wide-angle lens to track a subject. Obviously you still receive the 2.2x crop but it gives you plenty of space within the frame and makes a huge difference against say a 50mm, depending upon what you want from the shot of course.
Overall, I would seriously recommend the ZEISS Loxia 2.8/21, alongside the other Loxia lenses.
About the Author
Naive Studio is cinematographer, photographer and director Jonathan Edwards. The 32 year old first established his career after winning the commercial sector of the Sony Pro Production awards in 2013, now specialising in high-end creative, high-speed, time-lapse and cinematic commercial film.
While continuing an active schedule in both commercial photography and cinematography, Jonathan is currently director and producer for the fashion series Ascensions for the men’s lifestyle magazine Highsnobiety. Supplies film stock to Sony Ci, Sony USA and Sony Pro Europe and is also an ambassador for 3DR drones.
You can see examples of his work at: www.naivestudio.co.uk
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