Photo Comparison: Carl-Zeiss vs. Leica

As a former Sony APS-C (A6000) and full-frame (A7 II ) shooter, I’ve had my fair share of experiences using excellent Zeiss lenses like the legendary Sonnar 55mm f/1.8, Distagon 35mm f/1.4, and the Sonnar 35mm f/2.8. I loved the contrasty colors and the sharpness of the lens and I once you’re accustom to such excellent optics, you can’t go back to the lesser (I say with confidence) lenses by Sony’s own in-house optics (not to take anything away from Sony, but the Zeiss lenses were superior).

Since I’ve moved away from Sony to Micro 4/3 (Olympus) and a full-frame Leica (Leica Q), I’ve been searching for the Carl-Zeiss equivalent of optics technology and I’ve found it with the Panasonic-Leica lenses for Micro 4/3. Excellent color rendering and very sharp lenses that anyone with M43 should have in their camera bag.

The Leica Q and its SUMMILUX lens cranked my lens satisfaction to another level.

Instead of typing out the word to explain to you how Leica has won me over with their lenses, let me show you some examples from a DPReview forum.

The comparison was between the Carl-Zeiss (Sony) FE PLANAR 50mm f/1.4 (top) and the Leica SUMMILUX 50mm f/1.4 (bottom)

The two photos were shot with the same exposure settings.

Carl-Zeiss PLANAR 50mm f/1.4 (Sony FE)
Leica SUMMILUX 50mm f/1.4

The differences should be immediately apparent (at least to me) and show that the Leica has more dynamic range and micro-contrast compared to the Zeiss optic. I’ve also noticed that the Leica (my particular Leica Q) was sharper across the frame, wide-open at f/1.7 compared to my excellent Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 (the Zeiss 35mm f/1.4 was soft on all corners and never really got sharp…at all, but it had amazing bokeh).

I’ve always thought that my photos with the Leica Q were more “3D” compared to my old Zeiss lenses and I can finally show tangible proof comparing the two lenses.

So when people talk about the “Leica look” in the digital world, you now know what to look for.

Read more about the “Leica look” in more technical and scientific terms here.


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