Reality Check. A tale of two 35’s

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Lets face it. We love our gear and we wish we could afford to buy every lens we want.  But, in reality, we typically end up with the one lens we think is the best, is a must have and you can’t do without.  All other lenses are just paper weights not worthy of recognition or consideration.  Case in point, I purchased the FE 35mm 1.4 Zeiss for my A7II thinking it was the end-all solution to owning a 35mm lens.

There is no question that the new 35mm 1.4 Zeiss is probably one of the best 35’s I have ever owned. Notice I said “One of”.  It is a marvel of optical engineering and a joy to use especially when shooting wide open. This is why I plan on keeping this lens for as long as FE mount cameras are around. The lens is just awesome! However, there is a caveat. For Good to exist, there must be Evil. You just can’t have one without the other and Evil showed its ugly head yesterday.

Yesterday I took the day off work and decided to go for a short hike in the Columbia River Gorge yesterday.  For this short hike which can have substantial elevation gains I decided to pack lightly. Or so I thought. Heck, what more could I want to carry besides a very small day pack, some food, water and some camera gear to get me up and down and take some pictures.  I took the Sony A7II, 55mm 1.8 and the 35mm 1.4. I figured this would be compact enough and fit nicely into the pack for a pleasant trip. Oh. How wrong I was and I knew it before I even set off. I just did not want to leave the new 35 behind.

The 35mm mounted on the A7II made for a cumbersome load that would not fit nicely in the small pack. I ended up with the camera around my neck with the 35 as I climbed and climbed.  Swinging left to right, back to front, it was an annoying mess I could have done without and to make matters worse, every time I took a photograph, it was typically shot at f4 or f5.6. Yes, you know it. why carry  a large 1.4  lens with me to end up shooting at f4 and below?  With every click of the shutter I acknowledged to myself that this was just the wrong setup for this little day trip.  Meanwhile, sitting at home was a 35mm 2.8 FE and a 35mm 2.0 Loxia.

Needless to say, for some, there are some lessons to be learned from this little day hike. There is no such thing as one lens for all occasions. Sometimes our budget only allows us the one lens but it may not be the best choice even though it may perform beautifully.  We just make do with what we have and should be grateful for it.  An even more important lesson is to remember the previous lessons learned and not repeat the same mistakes. If it was a problem the first time, its going to be a problem the second time. I guess the need for me to justify an expense such as the 35mm 1.4 outweighs common sense and reasoning.  Taking the 2.0 Loxia or 2.8 FE on a hike would be the practical and sensible thing to do. I am sure I will find a good use for the 1.4.

Today, the day after my story above, I did another hike this time in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. The hike did not involve any steep climbs or strenuous treks. It was rather pleasant and enjoyable.  I took the same daypack and the same A7II. However, common sense prevailed and I took my little Loxia with me which was perfect for the occasion.


A7II and Loxia 35mm f2


A7II and Loxia 35mm f2

9 Comments on Reality Check. A tale of two 35’s

    • I can’t do back packs for medical reasons but they do look impressive. For most of my life I traveled heavy but those times are gone. Roller bags or a spider holder is more my speed.

  1. Dang, after reading this I have a lump in my throat. I just purchased the 1,4 35 and it arrived yesterday. My initial impression was dang, it sure is big! This combined with your story has me seriously considering the 30 day return policy. Thanks for the food for thought.

    • Depending your use for the lens, it might be worth keeping. Personally, I would keep it, but I love taking pictures at night, including astro landscapes. One of my favorite lenses to use with my A6000 is the Samyang 16mm f/2, which I even carried for simple photo walks at night. Sure, during the day, I’m going to pick a smaller lens, but during the night? I’ll take a fast and sharp lens any day!

      Now, if you only take daytime photos and got into Sony’s mirrorless uniquely for the size, yeah, it wasn’t the best choice.

      • Nah, I’m far too greedy to send it back although it doesn’t appear that I’ll be gaining much on the travel worthy front. As it stand now, I’ll wait for the A7rII and likely add the vertical grip and live wit it.

  2. I immediately regretted buying the much cheaper 35mm F2.8 over the 1.4. It wasn’t untill I went walking around the other day and chose to just take the A7 and the small 35 mm lens. All my regrets of purchasing this lens flew out the window as its weight and size makes it fantastic for when you’re on the move!

  3. I got my Summilux ASPH about 20 years ago. As we all know there is a slight focus shift when you stop down, so I have been tempted to exchange it with the EFL model that came some 6- 8 years ago (?) but I have concluded that this problem for me is merely theoretical; I either shoot at 1,4, or – if the motive calls for a stop down, the peaking of my NEX, A7r or A7II combined with the EVF zoom, will provide me with pinpoint sharp shots at any stop. The resolution of this lens is, in my opinion, as good as you can get it, and OK, it is not a pancake, BUT . . the size has never bothered me. Why does the Zeiss 35/1,4 have to be that big & heavy? Is it really better than my lux? (Not to mention the two Otuses’ . . )

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