Many, many people consider the 35mm focal length the perfect one to do almost everything. Specially street photography. For me is NOT like that! I don’t know why but I haven’t ever felt myself ok with 35mm lenses. I have been trying several different 35mm but I have always had the same feeling.
I always felt it is (35mm) either too short or too long. If I have a 24mm or a 28mm or a 50mm on my camera I can manage to do almost everything I usual do when I go down on the street with my camera. With a 35mm lens I have not that feeling. I don’t know why but I feel that something is missing. I know perfectly that this is my problem, my limit, and there is nothing wrong in 35mm focal length. Anyway it is as it is.
Anyhow, few years ago, I fell in love with photos and reviews I saw on internet about the Zeiss ZM Distagon T* 35mm f1.4 (leica M mount) and I decided to give it a try.
Oh man! What a lens!!!! The best 35mm for Leica System ever made. Even better than the Summilux. Period!
Lets start from the first thing you will feel as soon as you have the luck to put your hands on it. The build quality!!! Nothing shorter than any Leica lens but even better. I know at this point you’re saying “come on, it can’t be better than the Summilux!”. It is. We are still talking about the build quality, do you remember? Then, it is all metal and glass. The focus ring is a joy to use and the small nob it’s so useful to operate!
Someone says “it’s a bit too big and heavy to be a 35mm for Leica M mount. Yes, it is bigger and heavier than the Summilux but there is a reason. A good one. The Distagon is an internal focus lens. Actually the only one for Leica M system as far as I remember. It means the lens does NOT extend during the focusing. That’s why it is longer than the Summilux.
The Distagon produces an amazing 3D effect and the “mood” you get from each photo is something unique. It is already extremely sharp at f1.4 and you will want to stop it down only for some more DoF. Colors are great, like for all Zeiss lenses. A bit cold but intense. The contrast is fantastic.
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One more thing which I love about this lens it the huge amount of details are kept in the shadows. If you open up the shadows you’ll see there is everything you think you had lost!
The Zeiss Distagon vignettes a lot at f1.4 (actually still does it at f2.8) but this is a common problem to all fast lenses specially if they are made for Leica M system.
According to my point of view and to my way to take photos this Zeiss is the closest thing to perfection I have ever seen in photography gears. Period!!! At this point I should write about something I do not like about it but I really can’t! Probably the only thing I don’t like is its focal length……..(I’m an idiot, I know it!!)
I really recommend the Zeiss ZM Distagon T* 35mm f1.4 to all those people who like manual focus and they are looking for an amazing and unique piece of glass. Buying it you get the best 35mm ever at 1/3 the price of the Summilux and it will last the whole life! I have been using it on 12/24/42mpx sensors and it shines on each of them!
It is not so easy to find either new and used too but man, search for it and get it!
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All photos have been taken with Zeiss ZM Distagon T* 35mm f1.4