Carl Zeiss 35 ZM Biogon

Leica 35 Summicron ASPH

Leica 35 Summilux ASPH II

Equipment used

  • Leica M9
  • Paul C. Buff Einstein 640 with  CyberCommander + PocketWizards
  • Gitzo 3-series carbon-fiber tripod + Arca-Swiss Z1 ballhead
  • Sekonic L-358 Light Meter

Setup + Processing

  • Exposure was manually set using a Sekonic light meter
  • The subjects were lighted using a Paul C. Buff Einsten 640 with a large octabox on a white seamless paper background
  • White Balance is set to 5000K during the shoot and then manually set in RAW conversion using the white balance dropper tool in Lightroom
  • The full resolution images were converted from RAW to JPG (Image Quality Set to 75 in sRGB color space) using Lightrom 4 with no post-processing other than the white balance correction.
  • The focus was set on the yellow penguin’s eyes which is around 0.9 meters from the camera sensor with the camera on the tripod
  • The images were shot at the following apertures: 2.0, 2.8, 4.0, 5.6, 8.0, 11.0, 16.0

Other Notes

The pink Puffle was deliberately placed further back to evaluate the out-of-focus properties of the image produced by the lenses.  DVD cases were placed at the edges to help evaluate edge sharpness.

The Lenses

Carl Zeiss ZM 35mm Biogon

This is the CZ 35mm designed for the Zeiss Ikon by Carl Zeiss and manufactured by Cosina.  The lens sample used in this test is coded as a Summicron version IV (pre-ASPH).

View the images
Download the high-resolution JPGs
Download the DNGs

100% Crops

Center at f2.o

35mm lenses at f2.0

This 100% crop is probably going to make a lot of Leica lens owners cringe.  The Biogon is clearly sharper than the Summicron ASPH (the Biogon is producing more aliasing in the penguin’s brown coat).  Furthermore, it’s really hard to tell which one is sharper between the Biogon and the Summilux even at 100% pixel peeping mode.  Ouch.  

Once again, these photos are unretouched and without any sharpening whatsoever.

About the Images

You can download the full RAW images and full-resolution images.  As noted on our about page: please do not copy, publish or distribute the images without our prior consent.


  1. Dez July 3, 2013 at 9:41 pm - Reply

    I’ve always felt the Zeiss Biogon 2/35 was superior to the 35mm Summicron, but I had never seen a direct comparison to the 35mm Summilux, from your test, it looks like they are very comparable. What the the Lux has over the Biogon though, in that it “Goes to 11″, meaning, it’s a full stop faster, so it does something the Zeiss cannot. On the other hand, the Zeiss Biogon has a much flatter field of focus than either lens and also has less distortion. That’s why the Zeiss is my lens of choice for landscape and architecture work.

    … but I still want the 35 lux! :)

    • Dexter Legaspi July 3, 2013 at 10:00 pm - Reply

      I agree that the Biogon comes really close to the ‘lux in performance, plus it has virtually no curvature and distortion and actually performs better stopped down…however, as you said it cannot do f1.4 and the Leica is really good at f1.4…mine is probably at f1.4 90% of the time.

      …and the Leicas in general (except for the Summarit 75 which I briefly owned) are so much nicer to use…although the ZMs aren’t that bad to begin with.

      • Daniel Kennedy July 23, 2013 at 11:47 pm - Reply

        Hi Dexter,

        Just for your information, distortion and curvature of field characteristics of a lens can not be influenced by stopping down. The appearance of field curvature will lessen as the depth of field increases however.


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