Shootout Quick comparison of Summilux-M and Distagon FE 35mm lenses

Amin Sabet

Administrator
Joined
Aug 6, 2011
Messages
1,906
I love 35mm lenses and decided to do a very simple shootout between two of my favorites, my trusty old Leica Summilux-M 35mm ASPH (FLE) and new Sony Distagon T* FE 35mm f/1.4 ZA.

Test conditions: Self-timer, tripod, both lenses set to f/4, center focus, automatic brightness settings and default sharpening / NR in Capture One Pro 8.1. Leica lens was shot on an M (240), Sony on an A7 II with image stabilization disabled.

Here are the two cameras and lenses shown side by side:

Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)



And here are the full res shots (mouse hover to see 100% crops):

Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

AJS00001 by Amin Sabet, on Flickr

Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

AJS00002 by Amin Sabet, on Flickr


Ultimately this is a limited study in field curvature. The Leica wins in some regions of the frame, the Sony in others, all attributable to the respective field curvature patterns of these two lenses when focused on the front door / porch of the target shown. With its flatter focus field, I expect that the Sony Sonnar T* FE 35mm f/2.8 ZA would overall outshine both of these f/1.4 lenses in this test, but that is a test for another day.

PS - I'll tell you which shot was which in a little while. Or you can check the EXIF. Hopefully you'll have a chance to look at the images first ;).

PPS - RAW files for download:
https://s3.amazonaws.com/distagonsummilux/DSC00287.ARW
https://s3.amazonaws.com/distagonsummilux/L1007422.DNG
 
Last edited:

teddoman

TalkEmount Regular
Joined
Nov 18, 2014
Messages
49
Location
nyc
I'm sure the new 35 is an awesome lens, but your gear shot sure shows the sheer size of it.
 

WestOkid

TalkEmount All-Pro
Joined
Jan 25, 2014
Messages
1,941
Location
New Jersey, USA
Real Name
Gary
Looks like they are both great lenses.
I don't know which is which, but the 1st one is clearly sharper across the entire frame. This is particularly evident using the mouse over feature.
 

Amin Sabet

Administrator
Joined
Aug 6, 2011
Messages
1,906
Looks like they are both great lenses.
I don't know which is which, but the 1st one is clearly sharper across the entire frame. This is particularly evident using the mouse over feature.
There are some areas where the 2nd one is sharper. Like the bush adjacent to the porch on the right side of the house and the trees behind the powerlines on the upper left. But with this particular focus point, I agree that the 1st one (Leica) has the advantage throughout most of the frame.
 

WestOkid

TalkEmount All-Pro
Joined
Jan 25, 2014
Messages
1,941
Location
New Jersey, USA
Real Name
Gary
There are some areas where the 2nd one is sharper. Like the bush adjacent to the porch on the right side of the house and the trees behind the powerlines on the upper left. But with this particular focus point, I agree that the 1st one (Leica) has the advantage throughout most of the frame.
Wow. I am surprised the Leica was sharper.
BTW. I agree that particular bush looks sharper, but I ignored the bushes because in my experience leaves can flutter in the breeze and give the appearance of an unsharp shot. Either way, you got some nice gear to play with. :)
 

Amin Sabet

Administrator
Joined
Aug 6, 2011
Messages
1,906
I am sure that it wasn't wind. Fast shutter, very little wind, and consistent findings across a series of shots (not shown). Also, if you look at the bits of the porch closest to that bush, those are sharper in the Sony shot as well.

If I had frontfocused the Sony a bit or backfocused the Leica a bit, I think the results across the frame would have been more similar. It's impossible to get things "right" with a test like this!
 
Last edited:

jai

TalkEmount Top Veteran
Joined
Feb 4, 2013
Messages
588
They are both really sharp, to the point you need the mouseover to tell which is sharper.

But you don't need the mouseover to tell the zeiss has got more contrast, which is interesting. Overall I think the second image is better.

The interesting thing is though, if Leica can make a full frame 35mm F1.4 that small, why can't (or didn't) Sony?
 

Amin Sabet

Administrator
Joined
Aug 6, 2011
Messages
1,906
The interesting thing is though, if Leica can make a full frame 35mm F1.4 that small, why can't (or didn't) Sony?
Isn't the Leica a manual focus lens?
It is. Also, it has a much longer minimum focus distance with correspondingly lower magnification ratio. Also, the Leica sensor is designed to work with light striking at an angle. Lastly, the Leica lens costs a fair bit more. Probably all of these contribute to the size disparity.
 

Dane

New to TalkEmount
Joined
Jul 7, 2015
Messages
8
They could make it smaller, but with compromises, otherwise known as the 35mm f2.8. ;)
 

Amin Sabet

Administrator
Joined
Aug 6, 2011
Messages
1,906
Yep, there's always compromises. The Leica has a long minimum focus distances, longitudinal CA, field curvature, and can render harsh bokeh wide open.

That said, it's one of my favorite lenses ever, and I can already say the same for the Sony. I thought the size was going to be a deal breaker for me, but one shoot was all it took to dispel that notion. Having a lens that produces the images this one does, on a camera that focuses it quickly, accurately, and with effective face recognition... it's a no brainer for my purposes.
 

Dane

New to TalkEmount
Joined
Jul 7, 2015
Messages
8
I'm just not willing to go that big/heavy. It's obviously a superior lens to the 35/2.8, but I have little, weak wrists.
 

jai

TalkEmount Top Veteran
Joined
Feb 4, 2013
Messages
588
Isn't the Leica a manual focus lens?
Yes but autofocus motors aren't that big.

Even if you look at the 35mm Loxia, it is manual focus too, a full stop slower, but still much larger than the Leica.

It's just interesting to me, Leica lenses work great on Sony cameras why don't Sony make a similar lens design? Or something even smaller for my A6000!
 

addieleman

Passionate amateur
Joined
Nov 13, 2012
Messages
3,771
Location
Netherlands
Real Name
Ad Dieleman
Thanks for sharing the raws, I immediately openend them in Lightroom avoiding the guessing game :). The Leica looks just a tad sharper in the extreme corners, the center looks crisper and more contrasty too but that's a matter of appropriate post-processing to eliminate differences in the end result. I guess the FE 35/1.4 has some curvature of field here, I've seen some samples on the web where that was quite obvious wide-open. Stopping down to f/8 would probably eliminate these small imperfections, but hey even the FE 16-35/4 does fine at f/8 and 35mm and that one often gets criticized for its "weak" performance at 35mm. You could use the FE 35/1.4 for classical shots at a distance like yours but of course it's the stunning performance wide-open that sets this lens apart IMHO.

It's just interesting to me, Leica lenses work great on Sony cameras why don't Sony make a similar lens design? Or something even smaller for my A6000!
A lot of tests suggest otherwise, Leica wide-angle rangefinder lenses generally show smearing in corner details when used on an A7 series camera, they're not optimized for the sensor stack of the A7 series. See for instance Ron Scheffler's tests.
 

slothead

TalkEmount Top Veteran
Joined
Mar 1, 2015
Messages
568
Location
Maryland
Real Name
Thomas Manson
I think the first shot is very slightly crisper in the center (I specifically concentrated my center exam on the white particle in the lower right-hand shutter.) And also in the upper left-hand corner (attention to the upper-most cable visible in both images and its retaining wire-wrap). I agree with Amin's description of the sharpness of the greenery behind the powerlines.
 
Last edited:

Amin Sabet

Administrator
Joined
Aug 6, 2011
Messages
1,906

MAubrey

TalkEmount All-Pro
Joined
Dec 9, 2013
Messages
1,029
Location
Bellingham, WA (displaced Canadian)
Real Name
Mike

slothead

TalkEmount Top Veteran
Joined
Mar 1, 2015
Messages
568
Location
Maryland
Real Name
Thomas Manson

Amin Sabet

Administrator
Joined
Aug 6, 2011
Messages
1,906
For anyone who is put off by the Sony FE 35/1.4 size, I highly recommend trying it out, eg renting.
 

Latest posts

Links on this page may be to our affiliates. Sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
TalkEmount is a fan site and not associated with Sony Corporation.
Forum post reactions by Twemoji: https://github.com/twitter/twemoji
Copyright © 2011-2019 Amin Forums, LLC
Top Bottom