Some background information about me: I am one half of a YouTube channel called Ismahawk that focuses on VFX-based action short films. We are just a group of a few individuals who are constantly trying to raise the bar on what kind of filmmaking is possible on a very fast moving social platform. We need to constantly pump out content on a regular basis while still trying to maintain high production value in every one of our videos.
Switching back and forth between video and stills
For a short film that I was shooting on FS7, I had the Loxia 2/35 with ZEISS’s lens gear attached. We didn’t have a follow focus system available but I noticed the lens gear helped immensely with pulling focus by hand due to the increase in focus throw. The all-metal construction is definitely durable but the additional grip that the lens gear provides was great. The manual focus mechanisim on the Loxia is fairly smooth which allowes very precise focus pulls. I had the Loxia 2/50 on set as well so my set photographer grabbed some stills with it on his A7s. It was great to be able to switch back and forth instantly between cinema and stills and not have to worry about coverage because the lenses cover full frame sensors.
Color and sharpness of the lenses convinced me. One of the first things I noticed about these lenses was how well they controlled flares. The flares didn’t bloom but were tight and had clear pointed star shapes. In the stills below, I noticed how the car headlights and the overhead lights from the gas station don’t overpower the entire image. There’s also no signs of chromatic aberration near any of the sharp highlights, even when wide open at f/2.
Jumping from Super 35 to full frame made easy
The very next day, I had a shoot for another YouTube channel, Talia Martinez, but I didn’t have access to the FS7. I was able to bring along the Loxia set to use on my A7 SII for a quick lightweight setup. Jumping over to a full frame sensor had a completely different feel than the APS-C sensor on the FS7.
When shooting wide open, the images are still sharp but skintones and highlights have a slight softness to it, as if you’re shooting through diffusion filtration. I usually have some issues pulling focus on other lenses that do this but with the Loxia, the center of the image circle is still sharp so I wasn’t second guessing my focus. The subject just popped into focus.
The sun was very strong this day in Las Vegas. I had used some ND filters and stopped down to f/2.8. Closed down just one stop, I immediately noticed how much sharper and clearer the image is. The shallow depth of field on the 35mm was amazing and the focus fall off is great. There wasn’t any noticeable vignetting at all on both the 35mm and 50mm.
Bokeh like a paintbrush
The bokeh has a very distinctive “round” look to it that I also noticed on ZEISS’s other series of lenses like the Milvus family. I imagine they will match very well if you ever need to shoot between those series. The shoot continued into the night and I opened up the lenses to f/2. The focus fall off is very gradual. I noticed the bokeh on the 35mm has that very distinctive soft “paintbrush” feel to it. It’s a little different than the bokeh on the 50mm, which has very sharp and round shapes. The bokeh stays round in the center of the frame but turns into cat eye shapes towards the corners.
I absolutely love how easy it was to switch the Loxia between bigger rigs like an FS7 and a small compact setup with the A7 SII. If I’m investing in a set of high quality lenses, it’s important to have that flexibility. I shoot for multiple YouTube channels, including my own, and each one requires different levels of production quality. If I’m shooting a big narrative project one day then traveling to a convention the next day, I want to be able just switch over and throw on a compact 35mm for vlogging and the Loxia gives me that.
Watch the final video now:
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