Zeiss 35mm f/2.8 C Biogon T* ZM Review

Whether it’s for work or leisure, the 35 mm focal length feels perfect (to me). It’s tight enough for portraits and photojournalism, while also being wide enough to show the environment around a subject, or to capture an impromptu landscape.

The Zeiss 35 f/2.8 C Biogon T* ZM is a compact, lightweight, and highly reliable 35 mm lens for the Leica platform. Despite originally releasing in March, 2008, images captured with this lens appear to be much more modern in colour rendition and contrast. I prefer the visuals of this lens over my old Canon 35 f/1.4L, which I worked with for two years.

The Zeiss 35’s manual focus is fast and efficient, with just the right amount of glide, and a small tab on the focus ring makes it easy to quickly focus in on a position or subject. When equipped on a camera body this lens has a small form factor, and can conveniently be stowed in a jacket pocket, satchel bag, etc.

As someone with specific needs from the gear I choose to work with, the thing I love the most about this lens is minimal weight and small size. At under 200 grams, and 5.0 cm in length, this lens is a non-intrusive option for street photography and photojournalism. I’ve used this lens in rain, snow, and sun; it is truly durable.

At times I found the f/2.8 aperture of this lens to be somewhat restrictive, especially in low-light situations. As a result, I learned to trust the lens, and in time came to realise that it is easy to shoot this Zeiss wide-open, without any fear of extremely soft corners. In my experience you will get sharp, clear results no matter the aperture used.

Given that other 35 mm focal length lenses for Leica can cost many more times the price of the Zeiss, and not offer an equivalent leap in image quality, it’s easy to recommend this great lens for anyone trying to find a 35 mm lens for their film or digital Leica, notable for its high-quality images, and accurate colours and contrast.

Below are a series of images shot in Ukraine, with the Zeiss 35 f/2.8 on a Leica M9. Images have been lightly colour-corrected and cropped in Lightroom.

Bryce Wilson is a photographer, filmmaker, and freelance photojournalist from Melbourne, Australia.