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Conclusion - Pros

  • Excellent image quality even wide open
  • Extremely well-built (solid metal barrel)
  • Fast, silent, accurate autofocus

Conclusion - Cons

  • Poor handling of flare when sun is in, or just outside the frame
  • No dust- or water-sealing

Overall conclusion

The Sony Distagon T* 24mm F2 SSM is undoubtedly an excellent lens, as we'd expect given its Carl Zeiss badge. In terms of out-and-out image quality it leaves very little to be desired; sharpness is excellent even wide open, lateral chromatic aberration is exceptionally low, and distortion minimal. On top of this the all-metal build, smooth focusing ring and large easy-to-operate controls make for a satisfyingly tactile package.

The addition of Sony's 'Super Sonic wave Motor' for autofocus is also highly welcome. Focusing is fast, positive, and practically silent; we also found it to be reliably accurate on the bodies used for testing. This improves the user experience substantially over the two short telephoto Carl Zeiss primes, which can be relatively noisy and slow to focus. This all adds up to making it a solid, reliable performer that produces excellent results shot after shot.

It's not quite perfect, of course. Optically, the lens's biggest flaw is a certain susceptibility to flare - it's not terribly happy when pointed towards bright light sources, and this is most problematic on full frame cameras. In particular, when the sun is towards the edge or just outside the frame, it has a bad habit of producing a large red flare spot diametrically opposite. This isn't always immediately obvious in the viewfinder, so when you're shooting into the light it pays to check your image review.

In terms of build quality, the only slight concern is that the lens is not advertised as resistant to dust or water (there's certainly no seal around the mount). This is a somewhat surprising omission given that Sony's high-end camera bodies such as the Alpha 900 are sealed (as are both Canon and Nikon's fast 24mm primes). Whether or not this will turn out to be a genuine problem in actual use is difficult to tell, and obviously depends on each user's individual needs, but I for one am certainly happier using a lens in the rain or snow if the manufacturer tells me it's designed to handle those conditions.

Overall though the 24mm F2 is a fine lens, and one which will be attractive to both full frame and APS-C users alike. It may be a stop slower than its Canon and Nikon rivals, but this does mean it's rather smaller and distinctly less expensive, and make no mistake it's fully capable of matching them optically. (Also let's not forget that in terms of low-light capability, that loss in light-gathering power is more than made up for by the in-body image stabilisation built into all Alpha DSLRs, assuming subject motion blur at slower shutter speeds isn't problematic). All this adds up to arguably the most compelling blend of price, performance and features in its class, making the Distagon a lens that's sure to be on many an Alpha enthusiast's wish list.

Sony 24mm F2 SSM Carl Zeiss Distagon T*
Category: Wideangle Lens
Optical Quality
Build Quality
Autofocus
Ergonomics and Handling
Value
PoorExcellent
Good for
Sony Alpha users looking for a wideangle lens with the best available image quality and low-light capability
Not so good for
Use in inclement weather or especially difficult lighting
Overall score
88%
Sony's Distagon T* 24mm F2 prime lives up to its Carl Zeiss branding with excellent image quality coupled with superb build and focusing.

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Samples Gallery

There are 35 images in the samples gallery. Please do not reproduce any of these images on a website or any newsletter / magazine without prior permission (see our copyright page). We make the originals available for private users to download to their own machines for personal examination or printing (in conjunction with this review), we do so in good faith, please don't abuse it.

Unless otherwise noted images taken with no particular settings at full resolution. To provide the fairest impression of the lens itself, images are shot in RAW and converted using Adobe Camera Raw at default settings (to bypass the test cameras' automatic JPEG chromatic aberration correction). A reduced size image (within 1024 x 1024 bounds) is provided to be more easily viewed in your browser. As always the original untouched image is available by clicking on this reduced image.

Sony Distagon T* 24mm F2 review samples

36 images • Posted 20th October 2010 • View album
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Preview Samples Gallery

There are 20 images in the samples gallery. Please do not reproduce any of these images on a website or any newsletter / magazine without prior permission (see our copyright page). We make the originals available for private users to download to their own machines for personal examination or printing (in conjunction with this review), we do so in good faith, please don't abuse it.

Unless otherwise noted images taken with no particular settings at full resolution. A reduced size image (within 1024 x 1024 bounds) is provided to be more easily viewed in your browser. As always the original untouched image is available by clicking on this reduced image.

NOTE: The lens sample used for this gallery was pre-production, and may not be fully indicative of the final image quality.

Sony Distagon T* 24mm F2 SSM Preview Samples

20 images • Posted 27th July 2010 • View album
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Comments

Vamp898

It may be worth of notice that the flares can be kept lower if the sun is blocked by the hand.

Also which should be mentioned that other lenses which show less flares, also show much less contrast and colors.

Zeiss obviously decided to allow some flares to keep contrast and colors at an higher level.

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