Good. Great.

Started Apr 2, 2017 | User reviews thread
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Scrollop Contributing Member • Posts: 772
Good. Great.
5

(When writing this a note appeared that this lens review should be moved to the Sony Alpha APS-C forum, though it's a FF lens. I'll leave it here anyway as it can, of course, be used on APS-C cameras).

I am writing this review in the hope that it can give help anyone who is contemplating purchasing it, and who has had the same conflicting thoughts that I did.

Long story in purchasing then keeping this lens, including multiple threads on this forum asking for advice. Like others, I had tried multiple copies, and returned them all, dissapointed and angry at Sony for producing an expensive (£1250) lens with good character, but not as sharp as the sigma on MTFs and in reviews, and with poor quality control with many copies seemingly soft on the right side.

Well, I've come around form being disappointment to being impressed, and now smitten.

SHARPNESS

http://www.imaging-resource.com/lenses/sony/fe-35mm-f1.4-za-zeiss-distagon-t-sel35f14z/blur/sony-nex-7/

This is on the A7R.

I agree with the following graph showing one side is less sharp than the other, though disagree in that I think (my copy) is sharper in the centre than their testing implies. I haven't tried the sigma (though will try a friends soon) or the canon, so maybe I'm, wrong.

Here are MTF charts with variance for lenses at the same class:

from https://www.lensrentals.com/blog/2016/06/the-sony-fe-lenses-mtf-and-variance-summary/

Unfortunately, the scale on the vertical access is not the same so I guess we can't compare directly (unless for some reason the 1st chart doubles the seconds Y axis scale, for some reason).

The odd thing is that if you check DXOMark (who knows how much we can trust them), the Sony holds it's own against it's competitors. Testing the Sony against the sigma on an a7r vs d800E shows that the sigma is much sharper.

From my experience using the Sony, centre sharpness is excellent - I don't need more at F1.4 (especially for portraits). Above F2 it's really quite good, and has a sharp full field over F4-5.6. It's very sharp at F8 and perfect in my regard for landscapes (though I'm not a pro landscape photographer so could be wrong).

If you need an object to be very sharp near the right edge, you'd want to use F1.6 and above. Portraits aren't that much of a problem and 1.4 is still fine over most of the frame except quite near the edges (esp on the right).

RENDERING

Sony/Zeiss have crafted a particular combination of micro contrast, contrast and whatever else that I can't describe to allow this lens to produce photos that draw the eye in and cause it to pause. Eye candy seems a crass description for a review, but this term came to mind.

The photographs that this lens produces seem to have a sheen, punch, an extra-reality. With other lenses I've used, when viewing the live view or review in camera, the image appears flatter compared to real life (waiting for post -processing back at home). With this lens, you glance down at live view from the scene you're photographing and even at that point you're drawn into it, more so on the screen at home. This may seem like hyperbole, but it's difficult to describe.

The sigma does not have similar rendering. It is more conventional, flatter (not flatter DOF). The canon II, apparently, has very nice rendering.

AF

Af is silent and fast. It's a fine video lens (esp with the option to declick the manual aperture ring).

I was very close to purchasing the sigma with adaptor, though had heard varying stories of AF accuracy, espeically in low light.

AF in low light for the Sony is suprisingly good. Minimal hunting.

ERGONOMICS

This is discussed often in the real reviews by professionals that you can find. Yes, it's larger than what many people feel is comfortable for a camera that boasts being smaller than a dslr, and yes, it's a full frame 1.4 so it's bound to be larger. It balances well with the A7RII. It's not as big as the adapted sigma or canon (which are, apparently, front heavy).

It's fine.

CONCLUSION

35mm is my preferred FL. After being quite dissapointed in the lens initially, to resorting to wait for a possible future native Sigma 35mm 1.4 or 1.8 or batis 35mm 1.8 or 2, the Sony has won me over. It's the go-to lens in most situations vs the batis 85mm, 55mm f1.8 and sony 28mm f2 (and a few vintage lenses) in my bag, though it's the largest of all these lenses.

The main caveat is the right side in many copies is less sharp at F1.4 than the left, and the very sharp centre.

I've never written a review for a lens or camera before, let alone one this long. This lens has inspired me to.

Thanks for reading this unprofessional "review".

f1.4 OOC Jpg A7RII

Didn't quite nail focus. Used C1 to increase exposure a tad.

Sony Distagon T* FE 35mm F1.4 ZA
Wideangle prime lens • Sony FE • SEL35F14Z
Announced: Mar 4, 2015
Scrollop's score
4.5
Average community score
4.5
Nikon D800E Sony a7R Sony a7R II Sony FE 35mm F1.4
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