As is the case with many photographers, my first lens after the kit lens was a 50mm prime. The 50mm prime lens, for me the Canon EF 50mm f1.8 II, helped me to fall in love with photography and expand my creative vision. Since that lens I have bought, shot with, and sold numerous lenses in the "standard" focal range including the Sigma 50mm f1.4 Art, Canon 40mm f2.8 STM, Fuji 35mm f1.4 (52.5mm ff equivalent), and the Voigtlander 40mm f1.4. Now my fifty, okay I still have a couple, but my favorite fifty is the Zeiss Loxia 50 f2 Planar T*.
Now let us just take a moment to admire the beauty that is a Zeiss lens. Now that we have gotten past the gear lust involved in anything carrying the Zeiss badge we can move on to the discussion portion. Why buy a fifty millimeter lens carrying a price tag of almost 1000 USD that does not autofocus and is "only" f2? This is a hard question to answer, and for me was helped by finding it on the used market for considerably less than the MSRP. The Loxia is a exquisitely manufactured piece of photographic gear and is the best that I have handled in terms of build quality. The manual focus ring is a pleasure to use, and the focus magnification that is engaged upon the rotation of the ring helps to compensate for the lack of autofocus. The metal lens hood is also a nice touch. The deciding design factor that pushed it over the top and into my camera bag over the Sony-Zeiss 55mm f1.8 was the weather sealing gasket. Anyone that has used a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera and shoots frequently above f11 knows the pain of removing sensor dust. While I tend to rotate between a few different primes, I wanted one lens that I could rely on in particularly challenging conditions such as windy days at the beach.
Notice above that the Loxia extends as you focus towards the minimum focus distance and is most compact when focused to infinity (below).
The Loxia balances quite well on my Sony A7II weighing in at 320 grams. It is not a feather weight like the Canon 50mm f1.8, Canon 40mm pancake, or the Voigtlander 40mm f1.4 but it is not cumbersome to carry around like the Sigma 50mm f1.4 Art. It was week long vacation with the Sigma 50mm f1.4 Art that triggered my decision to switch to mirrorless cameras. This lens, along with the Zeiss ZM 25mm f2.8 (a lens created for the Ikon series or Lecia M mount cameras) spend the vast majority of the time mounted to my camera as they are enjoyable to use and carry, and at the same time deliver fantastic image quality.
I will now provide you with a sampling of images that I have taken. All of the following photographs have been edited, some more than others, using Lightroom and in some cases Photoshop. When shooting at large apertures it is possible to experience some color fringing, all of which is very easy to remove in post. In other words you may notice it when editing your RAW files but you will no see it in my sample images.
Obviously this lens is right for me, hence the decision to add it to my bag. Most of the time I do not miss the luxury of autofocus, however not everyone can so easily part with it. While photographers used manual lenses for decades, I could not imagine many event photographers to consider this lens for their professional work. At the same time, I use this lens off the tripod to photograph moving subjects and am able to nail focus with the aid of focus peaking and focus magnification. As someone who likes to change up their photography gear, I can not imagine parting with this lens.