As a follow-up to the Zeiss 18mm F4.0 vs. Fujinon 18mm F2.0 lens review, I figured I’d do the same test for the Zeiss 35mm F2.0 vs. the Fujinon 35mm F1.4 lens. I’m sure there are many of you out there are curious to see how these lenses will stack up against each other on the Fuji X-Pro1 and an APS-C 1.5x crop body. The Buzz around the internet as well as here on Photohead Online, has been the Fujinon 35mm F1.4 is a very good lens with amazing performance. In a previous article on portraits, I used the Fuji X-Pro1 with the Fujinon 35mm F1.4 and was very impressed by the sharpness of the lens and how well it performed with a wide open aperture. The Zeiss has a reputation for being a great environmental portrait lens and a low light street photography lens for the 35mm format, it is also praised for its performance with a wide open aperture. So let’s see how each of these lenses did.
For this set up, I used ISO 100 in open shade, I shot the Fujinon 35mm at: F1.4, F2.0, F2.8, F4.0, F5.6, F8.0, F11, F16, and then the Zeiss 35mm at: F2.0, F2.8, F4, F5.6, F8.0, F11, F16, F22. For each shot I took a 100% crop from the top edge, the center, and the bottom edge, then I used Adobe Photoshop to place these three crops on a row next to each other. I did this for every F-Stop and placed them in one column. I did it this way so you can judge the edge to edge sharpness of each F-Stop and as you go down the column you can see how the sharpness changes as you increase the F-Stop. I know, It’s hard to follow, even for me!
With the reputation for having great edge to edge sharpness at a wide open apertures, both lenses performed up to the hype. The Fujinon has a modern lens formula, and is specifically made for the Fuji X-Pro1. Yet the Zeiss 35mm in all its legacy glory can still play ball in the big leagues. It maintains its performance on the APS-C sensor and does it quite well. The Fujinon however, is made so well that it is the winner of this test. It gets a High Value to Cost Ratio for its performance at a wide open aperture, as well as price, weight, compactness, and versatility. The Fujinon 35mm edges out the Zeiss 35mm lens in each of those categories, but by just a little.
Lets break it down. In Aperture range, the Fujinon Wins with a max Aperture of F1.4 compared to F2.0. The Price of the Fujinon is $600.00 USD compared to $1100.00 USD new for the Zeiss. The Fujinon 35mm is extremely light and compact compared to the Zeiss, which is completely made of metal and extends over 2 inches when mounted with an adapter to the camera body. I give the versatility edge to the Fujinon because it has autofocus and although, the autofocus is nothing to jump up and down about, it is the best out of the Fujinon lenses currently. You can also use the macro mode to focus closer than the Zeiss 35mm F2.0. Considering all this, I recommend the Fujinon 35mm F1.4 lens over the Zeiss 35mm F2.0 lens. If maximum pixel resolution is your thing, the lenses are close, but the Zeiss has an overall pixel-level resolution over the Fujinon. It is really only noticeable in the sweet spot around F8.0. In all practicality, carrying the Fujinon around would be much more convenient in my opinion. The purpose of having this system to me is to have a light weight, portable camera system, that will give as close to DSLR quality as possible. So carrying around a bunch of heavy lenses is somewhat contradictory, but such is the case with many things that photographers do for the sake of performance. If the Zeiss 35mm F2.0, was the only lens you were to carry, and you are embracing the “one lens” philosophy, the Zeiss is a great way to go because it gives you a 52.5mm angle of view (35mm full frame equivalent). Then you can easily use cool techniques such as zone focusing, or hyper-focal focusing. You will now not have an excuse for missing a shot because the autofocus wasn’t fast enough. Go out and capture that “Decisive Moment”. Happy Image Making!!
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