A7r: FE 24-70mm F4 Tests

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Paul Richman
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A7r: FE 24-70mm F4 Tests
5 months ago

I got this lens from Japan yesterday. EMS took a week to the USA. I'm mainly a prime shooter who really enjoys extreme IQ, so this zoom is a disappointment to me in many ways. I have 2x and 3x zooms that equal primes (Nikon 14-24mm F2.8, 70-200mm F2.8 & the F4, Leica WATE), so "zoom" is not the issue. I think Zeiss could have done much better.

That said, the lens does have some good qualities:

+ I find it light and compact, for a stabilized 3x AF zoom. I have no issues whatsoever with its size/weight. In fact, I'm quite happy with this.

+ Very nice design and build.

+ Central areas a very sharp at all settings.

+ Across the frame sharpness is very good to excellent from about 28 - 60mm, by f8.

+ Excellent control of CA. Almost none to really none is visible in any shots.

+ Fast enough AF for most uses.

+ Excellent closeup capabilities at 70mm, almost 0.25x!  Lovely to have for low light shooting.

+ Very good OSS, maybe even excellent (?), good to have.

+ And it fits in my bag (TT Sub-Urban Disguise 20) with all my other A7r gear, so it can always be with me.

However, it has some major weaknesses:

- Corner sharpness is poor at 24mm & 70mm in many shots (it does not matter at all in many shots too).

- There is strong distortion (curvature) at most settings. (28mm has low distortion.)  Much of this is of the mustache type that is hard to get rid of.

- There is allot of field curvature in the focal "plane" ("surface") at all settings, so be sure to spot focus on your subject.

Will I keep it? Grudgingly.... yes. It can have some good uses. Am I happy with it? Not really!

While, to me, it's not a very good 24-70mm zoom, it is actually a pretty good 28-60mm zoom.

Here are some examples from my first day of shooting with it.

Pretty good result here, even at 24mm. Minimal corrections in LR. Distortion was not corrected. Corner sharpness is really not an issue.

Pretty good result here. Minimal corrections in LR. Distortion was not corrected. Corner sharpness is not an issue.

I did attempt to correct distortion here, but not very convincingly. ACR does not yet have a profile for this lens. Corner sharpness is marginal here, but probably ok for this image. The bottle in the LL is not sharp.

Central sharpness is just fine, but the corners lag behind too much.

Shooting into a bright sun reflection with spot metering. Not bad. Good flare control.

Distortion correction was attempted, but hard to do fully. Result is pretty good overall.

Closest focus at 70mm, F8, on tripod. The actual height of the subject is ~4", so this is ~0.25x. Impressive! And very nice to have available. But you won't get sharp corners, even if your focus is there.

Now for the obligatory brick wall shots. They do tell allot about curvature and focal "plane", or should we say "3D focal surface".

Lots of curvature. Corner sharpness is not horrible at F8 and F11, if you focus there.

It's very good at 28mm, and good 28mm lenses are hard to come by. Note the low curvature. Sharpness in the corners is very good if you focus there.

Curvature creeping back in at 35mm

I was disappointed to see this much curvature at 50mm

And even more curvature.

Not a good performer at 70mm

So, what do you think?

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Paul Richman
Pixels By Paul
http://PixelsByPaul.500px.COM
"There's a good picture nearby. Find it. Take it. Share it."

 Paul Richman's gear list:Paul Richman's gear list
Nikon D800E Nikon AF Fisheye-Nikkor 16mm f/2.8D Nikon AF-S Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED VR Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-14E II Sigma 150mm F2.8 EX DG OS Macro HSM +9 more
Sony Alpha 7R
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