A7r: FE 24-70mm F4 Tests

Started Feb 4, 2014 | Discussions
Paul Richman
Paul Richman Veteran Member • Posts: 4,549
A7r: FE 24-70mm F4 Tests
27

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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seventn Regular Member • Posts: 408
Re: A7r: FE 24-70mm F4 Tests
1

Send it to me. I'll buy it.

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RichardLarssen
RichardLarssen Senior Member • Posts: 1,175
Re: A7r: FE 24-70mm F4 Tests

seventn wrote:

Send it to me. I'll buy it.

No no, send it to meee!

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osv Veteran Member • Posts: 9,970
Re: A7r: FE 24-70mm F4 Tests
9

Paul Richman wrote:

- 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.

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

the weak corner performance was evident in those early review shots of hi-rise buildings in japan or somewhere... those shots generated lots of posts on many forums, but i never saw any comments about the corners... it's like everyone had blinders on.

i suspect that this lens review won't be too popular, because it's not what people want to hear, but it needed to be said, and i for one really appreciate the effort that you put in here.

thanks!

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dan

Paul Richman
OP Paul Richman Veteran Member • Posts: 4,549
Re: A7r: FE 24-70mm F4 Tests
3

osv wrote:

the weak corner performance was evident in those early review shots of hi-rise buildings in japan or somewhere... those shots generated lots of posts on many forums, but i never saw any comments about the corners... it's like everyone had blinders on.

i suspect that this lens review won't be too popular, because it's not what people want to hear, but it needed to be said, and i for one really appreciate the effort that you put in here.

dan

Thanks, Dan.  It wasn't what I wanted to write either, but it is what it is.  I'm glad you find it useful.

The other reviews I've read seemed really sales oriented, perhaps because the reviewers wanted to be popular.  I too would like to be popular, but.....

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Spunky8 Senior Member • Posts: 1,015
Re: A7r: FE 24-70mm F4 Tests

osv wrote:

Paul Richman wrote:

- 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.

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

the weak corner performance was evident in those early review shots of hi-rise buildings in japan or somewhere... those shots generated lots of posts on many forums, but i never saw any comments about the corners... it's like everyone had blinders on.

i suspect that this lens review won't be too popular, because it's not what people want to hear, but it needed to be said, and i for one really appreciate the effort that you put in here.

thanks!

+1

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Arn
Arn Veteran Member • Posts: 3,605
Re: A7r: FE 24-70mm F4 Tests

First of all, thanks for the report, good info, well presented. And...

Paul Richman wrote:

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

Wow. And it only costs 1200€ :/ Sony should cut the price (at least) in half for the price to be competitive to (DSLR) competition.

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Keit ll Veteran Member • Posts: 4,671
Re: A7r: FE 24-70mm F4 Tests

The photos posted don't look as bad as your comments to me ? You really shouldn't criticise distortion on uncorrected frames , these lenses are made with these corrections in mind.

I presume PS has not yet got the distortion pre-sets available yet ?

Henry Louey Regular Member • Posts: 126
Re: A7r: FE 24-70mm F4 Tests

These are my (very un-scientific) results at 70mm and 24mm

Personally I found the cnr sharpness to be very good to excellent especially given such a low DOF and that I wasn't front on to either subject

http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/53043978

Brian Caslis
Brian Caslis Senior Member • Posts: 2,932
Re: A7r: FE 24-70mm F4 Tests
4

I'm not sure what everyone is expecting from this lens. If you look at the Nikon 24-70 f2.8, it has basically the same issues. I'm not saying this lens is perfect, but if people are expecting prime performance then the expectations are simply not realistic.

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osv Veteran Member • Posts: 9,970
Re: A7r: FE 24-70mm F4 Tests
2

i was hoping for better performance at the wide end, because sony hasn't given us anything there yet... imho, it's the biggest hole in the lens lineup.

perhaps the xlnt quality of the two primes, and the rx1 lens, created unrealistic expectations.

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dan

Jeff2013
Jeff2013 Senior Member • Posts: 2,910
Re: A7r: FE 24-70mm F4 Tests

The results look terrific to me!!!  I have the lens pre-ordered for my A7R and was considering canceling it.  I think I will keep the order intact, now.  My considerably more expensive Nikon 24-70mm f2.8 on my D800E certainly can do no better; in fact, when variable focusing calibration vs. distance issues are considered, I expect that I will be a lot happier with the Zeiss on my A7R in terms of consistent image quality. I could care less about the distortion issues (which appear really minor).  My Samyang 14mm has horrible mustache distortion, but is completely corrected in ACR.  The resulting IQ is better than my Nikon 14-24mm lens.  As a note, I trusted the published IMF resolution graphs when I purchased the Sony-Zeiss FE 50mm f1.8 and it turned out to be one of the sharpest lenses sold, period.  The published IMF graphs for the 24-70mm f4 look pretty darned good as well.  I expect that, overall, this $1,200 Zeiss lens is a real winner.  Thank you for publishing the test photos!

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LAbrewin
LAbrewin Regular Member • Posts: 332
Re: A7r: FE 24-70mm F4 Tests

Thanks putting in the work testing the lens Paul.  You're a better man than I for going through with those brick wall shots.  The 70mm shot's corners did look particularly dreadful.  I hope it would look better closer to infinity focus.  I've been shooting a decent amount of landscapes at 90mm and I think I could make 70mm work if it was sharp.  If not I'll just stick to my MF primes.

bat222 New Member • Posts: 5
Re: A7r: FE 24-70mm F4 Tests
6

I like this lens!

Clayton1985 Veteran Member • Posts: 8,752
Re: A7r: FE 24-70mm F4 Tests

How does the FE 24-70 compare to the DSLR lenses you are referring to?

Richt2000 Senior Member • Posts: 2,900
Thanks!

Thanks for the most comprehensive and honest review so far.

The few sample pics we've seen previously from fanboys and sony employees give a very bias stance. I will probably keep this lens based on what I have seen today from you and Richard Larssen.  It's not a match for the Canon 24-70/2.8ii by the looks of things, but then nor is any other 24-70!

28-60 is still a very usable range, and at f11 - f14 for landscapes it looks as if corners are acceptable.

I hope the wide angle zoo. On the roadmap covers the 24-28mm range better...

Anyway, it will be nice to chuck a B+W Kaesmann Polariser on it and go walking on holiday, even if we save the primes for serious pixel sharpness.

thanks again..

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Paul Richman
OP Paul Richman Veteran Member • Posts: 4,549
Lovely shot!

Good shooting trumps IQ discussions any day.  And the IQ of this image looks good, at least in its reduced size.  How is the LL corner at 100%?

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Paul Richman
OP Paul Richman Veteran Member • Posts: 4,549
Re: A7r: FE 24-70mm F4 Tests

Jeff2013 wrote:

The results look terrific to me!!! I have the lens pre-ordered for my A7R and was considering canceling it. I think I will keep the order intact, now. My considerably more expensive Nikon 24-70mm f2.8 on my D800E certainly can do no better; in fact, when variable focusing calibration vs. distance issues are considered, I expect that I will be a lot happier with the Zeiss on my A7R in terms of consistent image quality. I could care less about the distortion issues (which appear really minor). My Samyang 14mm has horrible mustache distortion, but is completely corrected in ACR. The resulting IQ is better than my Nikon 14-24mm lens. As a note, I trusted the published IMF resolution graphs when I purchased the Sony-Zeiss FE 50mm f1.8 and it turned out to be one of the sharpest lenses sold, period. The published IMF graphs for the 24-70mm f4 look pretty darned good as well. I expect that, overall, this $1,200 Zeiss lens is a real winner. Thank you for publishing the test photos!

Interesting perspective, thanks!  I sold my Nikon 24-70 because of its issues, and just used Zeiss 35 and 50 primes instead, along with the 14-24.  The Canon 24-70 is what I lust after.

Could you put up the IMF graphs for this lens here?  I haven't seen them.

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stevo23 Forum Pro • Posts: 24,208
Re: A7r: FE 24-70mm F4 Tests

I'm actually impressed by the performance/cost ratio. It looks much better than the kit lens and while it has some distortion and corner issues, I don't see better results from the Nikon 24-70 whic costs considerably more.

Will I buy one? Hard to say. In looking at your non-brick shots, I actually like the images and find far less distortion in practice. Corner sharpness is also a concern, but consider Zeiss's classic "intelligent curve" concept for wide angle scenes - not sure it applies here - but possibly it's what they have in mind and I wonder if the Lightroom profile will correct it.

Thanks for your review!

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stevo23 Forum Pro • Posts: 24,208
Re: A7r: FE 24-70mm F4 Tests

bat222 wrote:

I like this lens!

And this is the same lens? Nice shot and perhaps an example of the curvature being applied properly in a wide angle scene?

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