Sony 35mm f1.4 ZA quality issues...

Started Jan 27, 2018 | Discussions
aSevenArr
aSevenArr Senior Member • Posts: 2,141
Sony 35mm f1.4 ZA quality issues...
3

Are there actually quality control issues with this Sony lens or is it just an issue among those who shoot brick walls and like to test the limits of their gear?

Please note that I don’t shoot brick walls myself and I’m certainly not about to start.

But I’m possibly interested in acquiring a fast 35mm (wish Sony had a 35mm with GM build quality).

It also appears like a lot of those discussions were back in 2015.

I’d be especially interested in hearing from you if you bought this lens and had zero issues yourself rather than just hearing from the folks who had problems.

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Kris Hary
Kris Hary Regular Member • Posts: 108
Re: Sony 35mm f1.4 ZA quality issues...

Good question and I also wonder whether this is a past issue or not. One more thing that comes into consideration... Sigma will be releasing their primes starting with a 35mm 1.4 and it will be smaller probably for 65% of the price...

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Regards,
Kris

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MrT-Man Senior Member • Posts: 1,486
Re: Sony 35mm f1.4 ZA quality issues...
3

No one here can scientifically give you an accurate answer. I’m sure there are people who got a good one on the first try, and there are people like me who had to go through four bad ones to get a good one. Was I just really unlucky? Or were the people who got a good one on the first try exceptionally lucky? Who knows.

What we do know for sure is that 1) there seem to be far more complaints about quality issues with this lens on the forums than with any other Sony FE lens; and 2) Lens Rentals tested like ten copies and found an unusually high level of variability, which would seem to confirm that there are indeed quality control issues.

Having tested four bad ones and a really good one, I believe that my good one shows noticeably better center sharpness at f/1.4 even without pixel peeping.

I did shoot with a suboptimal copy for a year, and it gave me some really nice photos nonetheless. But my good copy is better. The eyes/eyelashes look sharper in an environmental portrait, for example.

You’ll find some reviews that say “this lens has great rendering, but it’s not that sharp wide open”. I’d say that this lens *is* quite sharp wide open through the center and part of the midfield, if you have a good copy.

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Winder Senior Member • Posts: 1,545
Re: Sony 35mm f1.4 ZA quality issues...
4

aSevenArr wrote:

Are there actually quality control issues with this Sony lens or is it just an issue among those who shoot brick walls and like to test the limits of their gear?

Please note that I don’t shoot brick walls myself and I’m certainly not about to start.

But I’m possibly interested in acquiring a fast 35mm (wish Sony had a 35mm with GM build quality).

It also appears like a lot of those discussions were back in 2015.

I’d be especially interested in hearing from you if you bought this lens and had zero issues yourself rather than just hearing from the folks who had problems.

I only bought one copy and it is excellent.

Sony A9        35mm F/1.4 ZA

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aSevenArr
OP aSevenArr Senior Member • Posts: 2,141
Re: Sony 35mm f1.4 ZA quality issues...

Winder wrote:

aSevenArr wrote:

Are there actually quality control issues with this Sony lens or is it just an issue among those who shoot brick walls and like to test the limits of their gear?

Please note that I don’t shoot brick walls myself and I’m certainly not about to start.

But I’m possibly interested in acquiring a fast 35mm (wish Sony had a 35mm with GM build quality).

It also appears like a lot of those discussions were back in 2015.

I’d be especially interested in hearing from you if you bought this lens and had zero issues yourself rather than just hearing from the folks who had problems.

I only bought one copy and it is excellent.

Sony A9 35mm F/1.4 ZA

Nice!

Yes, that’s exactly what I’m looking for. But it’s not cheap glass and I hate having to return stuff even though I know that they won’t give me any grief if I do. It’s just the hassle and inevitable disappointment.

My hope is that with so many people (apparently) returning these Sony may have quietly addressed whatever were the issue(s).

 aSevenArr's gear list:aSevenArr's gear list
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aSevenArr
OP aSevenArr Senior Member • Posts: 2,141
Re: Sony 35mm f1.4 ZA quality issues...

MrT-Man wrote:

No one here can scientifically give you an accurate answer. I’m sure there are people who got a good one on the first try, and there are people like me who had to go through four bad ones to get a good one. Was I just really unlucky? Or were the people who got a good one on the first try exceptionally lucky? Who knows.

What we do know for sure is that 1) there seem to be far more complaints about quality issues with this lens on the forums than with any other Sony FE lens; and 2) Lens Rentals tested like ten copies and found an unusually high level of variability, which would seem to confirm that there are indeed quality control issues.

Having tested four bad ones and a really good one, I believe that my good one shows noticeably better center sharpness at f/1.4 even without pixel peeping.

I did shoot with a suboptimal copy for a year, and it gave me some really nice photos nonetheless. But my good copy is better. The eyes/eyelashes look sharper in an environmental portrait, for example.

You’ll find some reviews that say “this lens has great rendering, but it’s not that sharp wide open”. I’d say that this lens *is* quite sharp wide open through the center and part of the midfield, if you have a good copy.

Interesting and good to know.

‘I never have tested any of my lenses but I might do some basic checks on this one if I do decide to acquire it just based on all these varying stories.

It’s a fair bit of money after all.

 aSevenArr's gear list:aSevenArr's gear list
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MrT-Man Senior Member • Posts: 1,486
Re: Sony 35mm f1.4 ZA quality issues...
3

aSevenArr wrote

Interesting and good to know.

‘I never have tested any of my lenses but I might do some basic checks on this one if I do decide to acquire it just based on all these varying stories.

It’s a fair bit of money after all.

The tests are easy to do. If you just focus on an object at f/1.4 at the extreme left using MF at full magnification, take a shot, do the same with the object at the extreme right and compare, which you can even do in a store... that will probably weed out many of the bad ones right there.

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ISO 1 Million Contributing Member • Posts: 568
Re: Sony 35mm f1.4 ZA quality issues...
1

Kris Charatonik wrote:

Good question and I also wonder whether this is a past issue or not. One more thing that comes into consideration... Sigma will be releasing their primes starting with a 35mm 1.4 and it will be smaller probably for 65% of the price...

I don't think Sigma has even officially announced they're releasing a 35mm f1.4.  Last I heard, they only officially announced they were releasing FE primes this year.  That post on SAR about the size of that supposed 35 f1.4 should be taken with a mountain of salt.

The guy who runs SAR, all the SAR readers, and most of DPR were absolutely convinced that the Samyang 35mm f1.4 would be smaller and lighter than the Sony.  Turns out they're pretty much the exact same size and weight.

Perhaps we should wait for some official specs this time lest we repeat prior mistakes.

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ISO 1 Million Contributing Member • Posts: 568
Re: Sony 35mm f1.4 ZA quality issues...
2

I bought this lens knowing about the reported issues but never did any brick wall tests when I received it.  My lens probably is a bit softer on the right side wide open but I really don't think it has affected any of my shots greatly.

I believe this was shot wide open.  Good enough for me.

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aSevenArr
OP aSevenArr Senior Member • Posts: 2,141
Re: Sony 35mm f1.4 ZA quality issues...
2

ISO 1 Million wrote:

I bought this lens knowing about the reported issues but never did any brick wall tests when I received it. My lens probably is a bit softer on the right side wide open but I really don't think it has affected any of my shots greatly.

I believe this was shot wide open. Good enough for me.

Nice. That’s my sense of these things too. No lens is perfect and especially when it’s really a pile of glass discs stuck into a tube.

If it doesn’t show up in my work it’s simply not there! I’m not likely to be shooting walls and even if I did I’d probably have the subject elsewhere in the frame than in the corners.

And also if I’m shooting wide open the chances are very high that I want the corners blurred anyway (and probably a lot more). I even often deliberately introduce a little  vignette.

But if one whole side of every frame was soft that might push me a bit too far depending on how bad it is.

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Karafuru Regular Member • Posts: 342
Re: Sony 35mm f1.4 ZA quality issues...

Over sharpened +50 ACR

I brick wall test all my lenses along with normal test shots and some field practice to get a feel for it. First copy, not decentered, a little soft wide open, strong field curvature, more CA than I prefer, autofocus misses at corners (I think its the A7II because corners are okay when I manual focus, granted it's still softer than center sharpness), I really like the rendering, no flaring issues, I think the vignetting adds to the look. Overall I really like it. I've seen better copies and worse based on subjective pixel peeping.

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Ordinary
Ordinary New Member • Posts: 18
Re: Sony 35mm f1.4 ZA quality issues...
1

It's definitely worth testing a new lens. I returned 2 copies of the rather pricey 24-70 GM zoom. One had a problem with the little hole for the locking pin and the other one was soft on one side at 35mm wide open.

Even the 3rd one, which I kept, is slightly soft on the left side at 35mm wide open. It appears that even with expensive glass you get sample variation.

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Scrollop Contributing Member • Posts: 707
Re: Sony 35mm f1.4 ZA quality issues...

There have been a lot of threads dedicated to 35mm lenses and the sony 1.4 in the last 6 months (as the samyang has come out and the sigma is imminent).

Search for 35mm (I've also replied to a lot of these threads so you can search my history if you can be bothered to do that).

Jonathan Brady
Jonathan Brady Veteran Member • Posts: 6,725
I was very concerned too, still am!
1

I was very concerned about the same thing, so much so that I started a poll here: http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/1507037/0

There's some interesting data and anecdotal evidence to sift through in that thread.

Once I decided to order one and give it a shot, here's a thread comparing the copy I ordered (and kept) to the vaunted EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM from Canon: http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/1509482/0

in my initial post, I reference the "first 4 images" on my Flickr account, they're no longer they first 4. Scroll down just a little and they are a stucco wall, bushes, pool cage/screen, and pool safety gate. In those, I was checking the centering - I did my best to shoot perpendicularly and see if one side was sharp while the other wasn't.

For me, I don't shoot flat objects, but I do shoot people, sometimes several of them side by side. In a 3, 5, 10 person lineup where everyone is side by side, I can't have one side being sharp while the other is soft and mushy. For me, THAT was the importance of having a well-centered copy. Thankfully, mine is!

(unknown member) Senior Member • Posts: 1,888
Careful lurking in the world of amateur lens testing methods
4

aSevenArr wrote:

MrT-Man wrote:

No one here can scientifically give you an accurate answer. I’m sure there are people who got a good one on the first try, and there are people like me who had to go through four bad ones to get a good one. Was I just really unlucky? Or were the people who got a good one on the first try exceptionally lucky? Who knows.

What we do know for sure is that 1) there seem to be far more complaints about quality issues with this lens on the forums than with any other Sony FE lens; and 2) Lens Rentals tested like ten copies and found an unusually high level of variability, which would seem to confirm that there are indeed quality control issues.

Having tested four bad ones and a really good one, I believe that my good one shows noticeably better center sharpness at f/1.4 even without pixel peeping.

I did shoot with a suboptimal copy for a year, and it gave me some really nice photos nonetheless. But my good copy is better. The eyes/eyelashes look sharper in an environmental portrait, for example.

You’ll find some reviews that say “this lens has great rendering, but it’s not that sharp wide open”. I’d say that this lens *is* quite sharp wide open through the center and part of the midfield, if you have a good copy.

Interesting and good to know.

‘I never have tested any of my lenses but I might do some basic checks on this one if I do decide to acquire it just based on all these varying stories.

It’s a fair bit of money after all.

Speaking from experience, been down that road too many times. Once you open that door particularly led by comments in the forum, you'll never look at another lens the same way again no matter how much you pay for it. Forums tend to magnifiy various lens imperfections with even more imperfect DIY lens testing methods when truth is, no lens is ever perfect.

Some of these highly dramatized, but very popular threads can lead you on a no win spiral of lens lottery searching for the elusive golden copy (that unicorn doesn't exist). Not that you shouldn't check out your newly purchased gear for obvious issues but careful with forum "recommended" testing procedures and anecdotes. Emotions run very high on this topic so I'll run for cover now

"It's kind of like dust in a lens. When someone tells me their lens is dust free, I tell them they just don't have a bright enough light. It's not yes-no. It's all gray and you pick a place that you find acceptable or not.

If your lens is perfectly centered, you just don't have a sensitive enough test

I've got half a million dollars worth of optical testing equipment I use all day, but of the 20 personal lenses I've bought over the last 3 years, only one went on the bench and it did indeed have issues just like I'd seen taking pictures. If the other 19 did it never bothered me enough to test them.

When I get a new lens I spend about 10 minutes checking it out -- works good, does AF need microadjustment on my camera, and yep, a couple of quick brick (or whatever) wall shots and infinity shots to make sure the sides are even and the resolution looks decent, then I go take pictures."

RCicala

https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/59768269

Winder Senior Member • Posts: 1,545
Re: Sony 35mm f1.4 ZA quality issues...
2

aSevenArr wrote:

Winder wrote:

aSevenArr wrote:

Are there actually quality control issues with this Sony lens or is it just an issue among those who shoot brick walls and like to test the limits of their gear?

Please note that I don’t shoot brick walls myself and I’m certainly not about to start.

But I’m possibly interested in acquiring a fast 35mm (wish Sony had a 35mm with GM build quality).

It also appears like a lot of those discussions were back in 2015.

I’d be especially interested in hearing from you if you bought this lens and had zero issues yourself rather than just hearing from the folks who had problems.

I only bought one copy and it is excellent.

Sony A9 35mm F/1.4 ZA

Nice!

Yes, that’s exactly what I’m looking for. But it’s not cheap glass and I hate having to return stuff even though I know that they won’t give me any grief if I do. It’s just the hassle and inevitable disappointment.

My hope is that with so many people (apparently) returning these Sony may have quietly addressed whatever were the issue(s).

I don't think that many people are actually returning them.  I bought new because I couldn't find a used copy that was not almost as expensive as a new one.  It seems that 90% of the bad ones are sold to people on DPR.  I know 2 other people who have this lens and neither of them have had any issues.  One of them was bought off of e-bay used.

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SilvanBromide Senior Member • Posts: 4,139
Re: Sony 35mm f1.4 ZA quality issues...
2

aSevenArr wrote:

Are there actually quality control issues with this Sony lens or is it just an issue among those who shoot brick walls and like to test the limits of their gear?

Please note that I don’t shoot brick walls myself and I’m certainly not about to start.

But I’m possibly interested in acquiring a fast 35mm (wish Sony had a 35mm with GM build quality).

It also appears like a lot of those discussions were back in 2015.

I’d be especially interested in hearing from you if you bought this lens and had zero issues yourself rather than just hearing from the folks who had problems.

I bought this lens.

I have had exactly zero issues with it, First copy I received is wonderful, and it is one of my favourite lenses (lots of shots with it in my gallery here and at 500px, FWIW).

I have read the complaints about quality control. Many of them seem to come from the same few individuals posting over and over in every thread where it is mentioned. I sincerely doubt that the number of problematic copies is anywhere near as large as it's 'magnified' to be on this and other forums.

I do a range of basic tests of all my lenses, for focus and sharpness across the frame. But I won't deny that I find pictures of brick walls pretty uninspiring... ; )

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Former Canon, Nikon and Pentax user.
Online Gallery: https://500px.com/raycologon

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101Colors
101Colors Regular Member • Posts: 232
Re: Careful lurking in the world of amateur lens testing methods
2

LBJ2 wrote:

If your lens is perfectly centered, you just don't have a sensitive enough test

This quote should be  framed and forever displayed in the dark abyss known as the ' Lens Hall of Shame'

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aSevenArr
OP aSevenArr Senior Member • Posts: 2,141
Re: Careful lurking in the world of amateur lens testing methods

LBJ2 wrote:

aSevenArr wrote:

MrT-Man wrote:

No one here can scientifically give you an accurate answer. I’m sure there are people who got a good one on the first try, and there are people like me who had to go through four bad ones to get a good one. Was I just really unlucky? Or were the people who got a good one on the first try exceptionally lucky? Who knows.

What we do know for sure is that 1) there seem to be far more complaints about quality issues with this lens on the forums than with any other Sony FE lens; and 2) Lens Rentals tested like ten copies and found an unusually high level of variability, which would seem to confirm that there are indeed quality control issues.

Having tested four bad ones and a really good one, I believe that my good one shows noticeably better center sharpness at f/1.4 even without pixel peeping.

I did shoot with a suboptimal copy for a year, and it gave me some really nice photos nonetheless. But my good copy is better. The eyes/eyelashes look sharper in an environmental portrait, for example.

You’ll find some reviews that say “this lens has great rendering, but it’s not that sharp wide open”. I’d say that this lens *is* quite sharp wide open through the center and part of the midfield, if you have a good copy.

Interesting and good to know.

‘I never have tested any of my lenses but I might do some basic checks on this one if I do decide to acquire it just based on all these varying stories.

It’s a fair bit of money after all.

Speaking from experience, been down that road too many times. Once you open that door particularly led by comments in the forum, you'll never look at another lens the same way again no matter how much you pay for it. Forums tend to magnifiy various lens imperfections with even more imperfect DIY lens testing methods when truth is, no lens is ever perfect.

Some of these highly dramatized, but very popular threads can lead you on a no win spiral of lens lottery searching for the elusive golden copy (that unicorn doesn't exist). Not that you shouldn't check out your newly purchased gear for obvious issues but careful with forum "recommended" testing procedures and anecdotes. Emotions run very high on this topic so I'll run for cover now

"It's kind of like dust in a lens. When someone tells me their lens is dust free, I tell them they just don't have a bright enough light. It's not yes-no. It's all gray and you pick a place that you find acceptable or not.

If your lens is perfectly centered, you just don't have a sensitive enough test

I've got half a million dollars worth of optical testing equipment I use all day, but of the 20 personal lenses I've bought over the last 3 years, only one went on the bench and it did indeed have issues just like I'd seen taking pictures. If the other 19 did it never bothered me enough to test them.

When I get a new lens I spend about 10 minutes checking it out -- works good, does AF need microadjustment on my camera, and yep, a couple of quick brick (or whatever) wall shots and infinity shots to make sure the sides are even and the resolution looks decent, then I go take pictures."

RCicala

https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/59768269

Completely agree. Yes I come from a science background myself and I think that “you tend to find what you’re looking for” (as the saying goes in science).

You are clearly correct about test sensitivity. And let’s face it, I’m not NASA trying to image the surface of Mars with the nearest camera store a mere 55 million kilometers away

It also occurred to me that no pile of ground and polished glass discs stuck in a metal tube is ever going to be perfectly centered. Manufacturers must have certain “tolerances” that they probably keep pretty secret if they even bother to test them.

Hopefully we’re not going to cause folks to dig out their “perfectly centered copy” and start looking closer.

I’ve also got a bit of OCD myself (doesn’t everyone?) so if I start down that path I’ll probably end up with an empty camera bag (when I started serious shooting it took a while for me to convince myself that removing every single spec of dust doesn’t matter).

As I said earlier... if I don’t notice it without really trying then it’s not really there. I’m totally with you on that.

No lens is perfect. Even NASA must have certain acceptable levels of defects.

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aSevenArr
OP aSevenArr Senior Member • Posts: 2,141
Re: Sony 35mm f1.4 ZA quality issues...

Karafuru wrote:

Over sharpened +50 ACR

I brick wall test all my lenses along with normal test shots and some field practice to get a feel for it. First copy, not decentered, a little soft wide open, strong field curvature, more CA than I prefer, autofocus misses at corners (I think its the A7II because corners are okay when I manual focus, granted it's still softer than center sharpness), I really like the rendering, no flaring issues, I think the vignetting adds to the look. Overall I really like it. I've seen better copies and worse based on subjective pixel peeping.

Nice shot, yes I really like the “3D pop” that I’m seeing from the results that others have posted.

I think some spherochromatism is expected with this lens based on the reviews which might need to be corrected in post if it’s distracting.

I also like a bit of vignette in many of my shots. But I never pixel peep myself, that’s not how folks normally view my work. I’m not about to start making a mountain out of a pixel either... my OCD would come out of remission

 aSevenArr's gear list:aSevenArr's gear list
Sony RX100 IV Sony a9 Sony a7R Sony FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 Sony FE 85mm F1.4 GM +13 more
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