Quality of Zeiss lens - real user views

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Macman4789 Forum Member • Posts: 95
Quality of Zeiss lens - real user views

Hi,

We’ve seen Sony continue to grow it’s lens line up over the last few years and continues to do so. However I was interested in your views in respect to the Zeiss line up.

My understanding is it it places it’s lens in this particular order :standard FE lens, then G, then Zeiss and lastly GM.

I don’t own any Zeiss lenses but wondered at the quality compared to GM lenses or other equivalent brands I.e. Canon L series? Are they meant to be comparable? Looking at some reviews they produce some excellent photos and wondered on the opinions of those who actually own them.

Thanks

Jerry R Forum Pro • Posts: 10,775
Re: Quality of Zeiss lens - real user views
3

I and more importantly my wife like what many call "micro contrast" (color contrast resolution). Some complain about soft corners and price but I am very happy with the Sony-Zeiss lenses. Others prefer the Zeiss Batis or manual Zeiss lenses.

A few samples:from the R1, 16-70 (f/4) and 24-70 (f/4).

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Nikon V1 + 10-30 & 30-110 lenses.

Sumsare New Member • Posts: 15
Re: Quality of Zeiss lens - real user views
1

I have the Zeiss 35 1.4 and I love it.  It's on my a7r3 right now.  Great for indoors.  Great quality.  I also have the 85 gm, 24-70 gm, 90mm macro, and they're all equally great for what they are intended for.

Lens choice at this point is subjective.  Only you will be able to determine whether a lens is great or not.

An Existentialist dilemma.  Choices, choices, choices.

Good luck!

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Selene Senior Member • Posts: 1,262
Re: Quality of Zeiss lens - real user views

I have used the Zeiss batis 18mm on my a7riii for astrophotography.  I really like the lens for that purpose. I recently acquired the Laowa 21 mm lens but haven't had a chance to use it yet.

OP Macman4789 Forum Member • Posts: 95
Re: Quality of Zeiss lens - real user views

Sumsare wrote:

I have the Zeiss 35 1.4 and I love it. It's on my a7r3 right now. Great for indoors. Great quality. I also have the 85 gm, 24-70 gm, 90mm macro, and they're all equally great for what they are intended for.

Lens choice at this point is subjective. Only you will be able to determine whether a lens is great or not.

An Existentialist dilemma. Choices, choices, choices.

Good luck!

So you don’t see any significant difference between the GM lenses and the Zeiss?

PWPhotography Veteran Member • Posts: 8,479
Re: Quality of Zeiss lens - real user views

You mean image quality or quality control?

Exclude Zony lenses which are still Sony lenses that based on Zeiss designs (that I have owned FE 16-35/4.0 ZA, FE 35/2.8 ZA and FE 55/1.8 ZA), I now own four real Zeiss lenses - Loxia 21, Loxia 35, Loxia 85 and Batis 135.

They are all fantastic, much compact (Loxia lenses because of MF only) with characters that are better than most Sony lenses in my observation - sunstar, micro contrast and color rendering, also very sharp.

Such as this one from Loxia 21. None of my Sony lenses have such pleasing 10-point sunstar. Also it has special pleasing color rendering. I have another shot from FE 16-35 GM at the same spot, its sunstar is not even close (especially at 35mm side) and not as pleasing color rendering. GM lenses and Zeiss lenses all have their respective pros and cons in different areas. Even two lines in E-mount Zeiss are different, Loxia MF and Batis AF lenses.

Loxia 21

I believe I will shoot more and more with prime lenses and might only carry prime lenses in some trips where slower pace is allowed.

Besides Zeiss lenses, another brand Voigtländer (or Cosina Voigtlander, CV) also has special characters, also beautiful sunstar and micro contrast/color rendering. I own one now, CV 12mm/F5.6, very interested in the newly announced E-mount CV 50mm/F1.2 with beautiful sunstar, pleasing micro contrast and bokeh from what I have seen from M-mount version.

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Foto4x4 Senior Member • Posts: 2,736
Re: Quality of Zeiss lens - real user views
1

I think that question doesn’t come down to the Zeiss brand but down to particular models. I’ve owned 4 Sony/Zeiss, 24/f1.8 and 2 x 16-70/f4 in E mount and a 24-70/f4 FE mount. The 24mm was superb but I didn’t use it much so sold it when I changed compact format to M4/3. The 3 zooms were not worth the money. The 2 x 16x70s were both decentered and very soft on the edges under f5.6 and especially between 22-25mm. Even stopped down further it wasn’t good enough especially for the price. I returned them both. The 24-70 FE was okay, but on the A7 I had, I got frequent misfocused images and those in focus weren’t really any better than the kit 28-70. I was sorry I replaced my kit after a while. Of course there are owners very happy with their Zeiss lenses, but with these two zooms in particular there are simply too many reports of variable quality to ignore.

By all reports the more recent Sony designs are all pretty decent. I have a standard Sony 18-135 Emount for my A6300, and it’s a very sharp lens. No complaints whatsoever.

My recently acquired 70-200/f4 G which was an early design, is also superb. A few have reported variable quality but mine is a sweet lens. I also owned a 18-105/f4 G for a time and it was a good lens but not as good as the 18-135 so I moved it on after purchasing the latter.

I’ve never used a GM and expect them to be superb. They should be for the money they ask. But I simply neither need nor will pay that much for a lens.

Some use the phrase “you get what you pay for” with Sony lenses, but my experience is varied. I’ve also owned a 20/f2.8, 35/f1.8, 50/f1.8, 16-50/f3.5-5.6, 18-55/f3.5-5.6 and 55-210/f4.5-6.3. The primes were quite good to good. But nothing exceptional. I guess all this validates my view that it’s not all price-branding-positioning that are an indication of quality.

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Jerry R Forum Pro • Posts: 10,775
Re: Quality of Zeiss lens - real user views

Sorry your 16-70 and 24-70, f/4s, & 24, f/1.8, did not meet your expectations mine are excellent including the R1 lens (last image). I post images when commenting on lenses so others can see what I consider excellent, good, or acceptable because others my look and see the images differently. Expressing an opinion without examples does not show your frame of reference. We all have our standards and what is important to someone may not be important to someone else.

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Lenses: 24mm, f/1.8, FE 24-70, f/4, & FE 70-200, f/4.
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Foto4x4 Senior Member • Posts: 2,736
Re: Quality of Zeiss lens - real user views

Jerry R wrote:

Sorry your 16-70 and 24-70, f/4s, & 24, f/1.8, did not meet your expectations mine are excellent including the R1 lens (last image). I post images when commenting on lenses so others can see what I consider excellent, good, or acceptable because others my look and see the images differently. Expressing an opinion without examples does not show your frame of reference. We all have our standards and what is important to someone may not be important to someone else.

Yes, you make a fair point, so I dug up four photos to demonstrate my points. I didn't say the 24/f1.8 didn't meet my expectations. I said it was superb. The 24-70Z was okay too, but nothing special compared with the kit 28-70. That is borne out by DXOmark's ratings too.

As for the following example photos, all were taken from my back verandah and I use this scene as its a consistent view albeit the homes opposite are now completed. its easy to replicate test shots to compare. First three are with the 16-70Z the last my 16-50PZ kit lens.

This first image is taken at 24mm/f5.6. When viewed at 100% it's nice and sharp in the centre but softens as you go to the sides. The right side is particularly mushy. Note the pontoon walkway and palms on the right or the picket fence on the left.

This second shot is at f10. Barely any better. At f10, I believe any shallowness in DOF should be no longer an issue. It should be reasonably sharp across the entire frame. My feeling is that at this FL the lens displays a fair degree of field curvature.

This third photo was taken the previous afternoon which explains the light difference. It was taken at 19mm f5.6, the same focal length as Jerry's photo and even wider aperture. The photo is acceptably sharp even at the sides though still softer than at 24mm.

Here's the contrast... this photo taken the same afternoon as the previous one is from the often maligned 16-50 Kit lens at 24mm, f5.6. Compare the centre and both edges to the first image. It is equally sharp in the middle but significantly sharper on those edges. In fact it's fine across the whole frame. The colour is similar to the Sony/Zeiss taken about the same time so ignore colour variations to the first two.

Jerry, I included your photo above for a reason. I find your image a little softer, slightly distorted and with some CA especially on the right hand side when viewed at 100%. I would be slightly disappointed with that if it were mine. Not wishing to cause offence, just speaking like I see it especially as you do as you say, often post this series to support your point of view. Yours was taken at 19mm, f11. Possibly there is a little diffraction present. Do you have a photo taken at 24mm and f5.6? Id be interested to see who that compares to my lens. Like you say, we all may have different standards and points of reference.

Cheers,

John

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JRP64
JRP64 Contributing Member • Posts: 823
Re: Quality of Zeiss lens - real user views

I have a Zeiss Batis 2/25 lens and at first I was a little disappointed in it, but it really has grown on me.  My latest picture really made me change my mind on the lens -

Really impressed with the clarity of the lens and the sharp details it brings out.

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OP Macman4789 Forum Member • Posts: 95
Re: Quality of Zeiss lens - real user views

Thank you all for your input. It seems that although subjective, some people rate the Zeiss or Sony/Zeiss branded lenses as good if not produce better results than certain G Master lenses. This is encouraging as it shows that the strength in depth in the lens line up of Sony is improving.

I wonder how the Zeiss lenses stack up against their equivalent Canon L series/Nikon focal lengths?

Jerry R Forum Pro • Posts: 10,775
Re: Quality of Zeiss lens - real user views

I agree with all your observations. We have a difference it what we consider acceptable.

I now have a better understanding in judging your comments and critique. Thanks much for your response and critique of one of my favorite photos. The 24, f/1.8, is one of my favorite lenses and realized after I posted that you did not include the 24mm, f/18, in the lenses which you were disappointed.

Thanks,

Jerry

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Lenses: 24mm, f/1.8, FE 24-70, f/4, & FE 70-200, f/4.
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JohnNEX Senior Member • Posts: 1,885
Re: Quality of Zeiss lens - real user views

Its a difficult comparison since there is not a lot of overlap.

On zooms, there is only one Zeiss lens, the 24-70 f/4.  There is no GM equivalent lens.

On primes, the GM lenses have no Zeiss equivalents:

24/1.4 GM has no Zeiss equivalent.  The Batis 25/2 is close in focal length but f/2 vs f/1.4 doesn't make for much comparison.  You would be choosing between these two lenses based on your intended use, not on if you think one is 'better' than the other.  They are both excellent lenses, its just a smaller vs faster trade-off.  I think the GM is probably the better buy because you get f/1.4 for a similar price and not that much extra size.

85/1.4 GM has no Zeiss equivalent.  The Batis 85/1.8 really competes with the Sony 85/1.8, with the Batis arguably marginally ahead.

100/2.8 STF GM has no Zeiss equivalent.

135/1.8 GM is not out yet but has no Zeiss equivalent.

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Steve W Veteran Member • Posts: 4,709
Re: Quality of Zeiss lens - real user views

The Sony GM, Sony G, Sony/Zeiss ZA, Zeiss Batis, and Zeiss Loxia all have good FE products with some being better than others but I think with the exception of a few you can fined winners. I own some of each and have found ones in each family I personally like. Right now my best ZA is the 50/1.4 but when I had the 55/1.8, and 16-35/4 they were great as well. Clearly the GM are doing really well but the 90/2.8 Macro and 24-105/4 G's I have are great as well. Also a big fan of both Batis and Loxia which you can see from my gear list here.

All depends on what your looking tor.

Steve W

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PWPhotography Veteran Member • Posts: 8,479
Re: Quality of Zeiss lens - real user views

Steve W wrote:

The Sony GM, Sony G, Sony/Zeiss ZA, Zeiss Batis, and Zeiss Loxia all have good FE products with some being better than others but I think with the exception of a few you can fined winners. I own some of each and have found ones in each family I personally like. Right now my best ZA is the 50/1.4 but when I had the 55/1.8, and 16-35/4 they were great as well. Clearly the GM are doing really well but the 90/2.8 Macro and 24-105/4 G's I have are great as well. Also a big fan of both Batis and Loxia which you can see from my gear list here.

All depends on what your looking tor.

Steve W

Agreed, depend on what OP photo areas and in what priority.

For ultimate sharpness, prime lenses in Sony GM (such as newly announced 135/1.8 GM), some Zeiss Batis and Loxia.

For zoom versatility, Sony zooms (I categorized ZA lenses as Sony lenses as well). The GM zoom are great in sharpness and performance.

For special characters such as sunstar - Loxia lenses, pleasing color rendering - Loxia, Batis, ZA lenses, GM (with post processing).

Otherwise are comparing apple to orange.

A sample from my newly acquired Zeiss Loxia 85mm/f2.4. It's so sharp. It may rival CV 65mm/F2.0 macro well although they are different FL.

full size

As all other Loxia lenses, it can generate beautiful 10-point sunstar that none of my Sony lenses can match. For example you can view this sample in Phillip Reeve Loxia 35/2.0 review (that I also own) to show the sunstar at the right scene (the bridge). It is stunning beauty of Loxia (as well as Voigtlander) lenses. I have not used Loxia 35 and 85 in real world and will carry them into my next Manhattan trip. The newly announced E-mount Voigtlander 50mm/F1.2 causes my attention. From what I see from M-mount, it has great sharpness, almost perfect circular bokeh at F1.2, very pleasing 12-point (not 10-point as in CV 40/1.2) sunstar, and very pleasing micro-contrast.

So as you said depend on what OP wants?

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OP Macman4789 Forum Member • Posts: 95
Re: Quality of Zeiss lens - real user views

Thank PWPhotography wrote:

Steve W wrote:

The Sony GM, Sony G, Sony/Zeiss ZA, Zeiss Batis, and Zeiss Loxia all have good FE products with some being better than others but I think with the exception of a few you can fined winners. I own some of each and have found ones in each family I personally like. Right now my best ZA is the 50/1.4 but when I had the 55/1.8, and 16-35/4 they were great as well. Clearly the GM are doing really well but the 90/2.8 Macro and 24-105/4 G's I have are great as well. Also a big fan of both Batis and Loxia which you can see from my gear list here.

All depends on what your looking tor.

Steve W

Agreed, depend on what OP photo areas and in what priority.

For ultimate sharpness, prime lenses in Sony GM (such as newly announced 135/1.8 GM), some Zeiss Batis and Loxia.

For zoom versatility, Sony zooms (I categorized ZA lenses as Sony lenses as well). The GM zoom are great in sharpness and performance.

For special characters such as sunstar - Loxia lenses, pleasing color rendering - Loxia, Batis, ZA lenses, GM (with post processing).

Otherwise are comparing apple to orange.

A sample from my newly acquired Zeiss Loxia 85mm/f2.4. It's so sharp. It may rival CV 65mm/F2.0 macro well although they are different FL.

full size

As all other Loxia lenses, it can generate beautiful 10-point sunstar that none of my Sony lenses can match. For example you can view this sample in Phillip Reeve Loxia 35/2.0 review (that I also own) to show the sunstar at the right scene (the bridge). It is stunning beauty of Loxia (as well as Voigtlander) lenses. I have not used Loxia 35 and 85 in real world and will carry them into my next Manhattan trip. The newly announced E-mount Voigtlander 50mm/F1.2 causes my attention. From what I see from M-mount, it has great sharpness, almost perfect circular bokeh at F1.2, very pleasing 12-point (not 10-point as in CV 40/1.2) sunstar, and very pleasing micro-contrast.

So as you said depend on what OP wants?

Thank you for your comments. My main priority personally when buying a lens is sharpness. I know it has been mentioned but the Sony Zeiss 50mm 1.4 planar is meant to be an incredibly sharp lens. But how does this level of sharpness stack up against GM sharpness? (I know there is no equivalent focal length equivalent). Are Sony Zeiss lenses regarded as ‘pro’ level like the GM line?

PWPhotography Veteran Member • Posts: 8,479
Re: Quality of Zeiss lens - real user views

Macman4789 wrote:

Thank PWPhotography wrote:

Steve W wrote:

The Sony GM, Sony G, Sony/Zeiss ZA, Zeiss Batis, and Zeiss Loxia all have good FE products with some being better than others but I think with the exception of a few you can fined winners. I own some of each and have found ones in each family I personally like. Right now my best ZA is the 50/1.4 but when I had the 55/1.8, and 16-35/4 they were great as well. Clearly the GM are doing really well but the 90/2.8 Macro and 24-105/4 G's I have are great as well. Also a big fan of both Batis and Loxia which you can see from my gear list here.

All depends on what your looking tor.

Steve W

Agreed, depend on what OP photo areas and in what priority.

For ultimate sharpness, prime lenses in Sony GM (such as newly announced 135/1.8 GM), some Zeiss Batis and Loxia.

For zoom versatility, Sony zooms (I categorized ZA lenses as Sony lenses as well). The GM zoom are great in sharpness and performance.

For special characters such as sunstar - Loxia lenses, pleasing color rendering - Loxia, Batis, ZA lenses, GM (with post processing).

Otherwise are comparing apple to orange.

A sample from my newly acquired Zeiss Loxia 85mm/f2.4. It's so sharp. It may rival CV 65mm/F2.0 macro well although they are different FL.

full size

As all other Loxia lenses, it can generate beautiful 10-point sunstar that none of my Sony lenses can match. For example you can view this sample in Phillip Reeve Loxia 35/2.0 review (that I also own) to show the sunstar at the right scene (the bridge). It is stunning beauty of Loxia (as well as Voigtlander) lenses. I have not used Loxia 35 and 85 in real world and will carry them into my next Manhattan trip. The newly announced E-mount Voigtlander 50mm/F1.2 causes my attention. From what I see from M-mount, it has great sharpness, almost perfect circular bokeh at F1.2, very pleasing 12-point (not 10-point as in CV 40/1.2) sunstar, and very pleasing micro-contrast.

So as you said depend on what OP wants?

Thank you for your comments. My main priority personally when buying a lens is sharpness. I know it has been mentioned but the Sony Zeiss 50mm 1.4 planar is meant to be an incredibly sharp lens. But how does this level of sharpness stack up against GM sharpness? (I know there is no equivalent focal length equivalent). Are Sony Zeiss lenses regarded as ‘pro’ level like the GM line?

Not all GM lenses have the best sharpness at respective FL. I see in some reviews the Sigma FE 50/1.4 Art is as sharp as Sony FE 50/1.4 Planar and actually slightly sharper at F1.4 wide open at edges.

The new 24/1.4 GM is very sharp while 85/1.4 GM is sharp but not the sharpest. Much cheaper FE 85/1.8 actually is a bit sharper or as sharp as. Then Sigma 85/14 Art is a bit sharper but not sure if it's sharper than Loxia 85/2.4? CV 65/2.0 macro is also very sharp. The 85/1.4 GM has the best bokeh and background rendering nevertheless.  The new Sony 135/1.8 GM likely is sharpest or one of sharpest lenses at 135mm and below.

Sharpness is not the only factor in IQ but some other characters are also important such as sunstar and color rendering. None of Sony GM lenses, zoom or prime can match to Loxia and Voigtlander lenses' sunstar for example that is an important character in evening cityscape photos.

So is case by case as you cannot simply to categorize one brand of lenses is always better than another that really depends on what FL and what type of photos you shoot?

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JohnNEX Senior Member • Posts: 1,885
Re: Quality of Zeiss lens - real user views

PWPhotography wrote:

The new 24/1.4 GM is very sharp while 85/1.4 GM is sharp but not the sharpest. Much cheaper FE 85/1.8 actually is a bit sharper or as sharp as.

I don't think this is correct, although the difference is probably not noticeable in most circumstances.  Dxomark has the 85/1.8 and the 85/1.4 GM at around the same sharpness, but every other test site has the GM significantly ahead.

The results are mixed as to which is sharper wide open, but that is f/1.4 for the GM vs f/1.8 for the 85/1.8.  At the common apertures the GM wins every time except for dxomark where they are about the same.

You can see how the tests line up here .

Then Sigma 85/14 Art is a bit sharper but not sure if it's sharper than Loxia 85/2.4? CV 65/2.0 macro is also very sharp.

Yes, if sharpness is your top criteria then you will likely end up with manual focus and/or very large lenses with no compromises with AF mechanisms or trying to reduce size.

The 85/1.4 GM has the best bokeh and background rendering nevertheless. The new Sony 135/1.8 GM likely is sharpest or one of sharpest lenses at 135mm and below.

Sharpness is not the only factor in IQ but some other characters are also important such as sunstar and color rendering. None of Sony GM lenses, zoom or prime can match to Loxia and Voigtlander lenses' sunstar for example that is an important character in evening cityscape photos.

Yes. if you are really serious about landscapes the Loxia lenses are the best option.  The sunstars are amazing.

So is case by case as you cannot simply to categorize one brand of lenses is always better than another that really depends on what FL and what type of photos you shoot?

Well put!

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Steve W Veteran Member • Posts: 4,709
Re: Quality of Zeiss lens - real user views
1

Macman4789 wrote:

Thank PWPhotography wrote:

Steve W wrote:

The Sony GM, Sony G, Sony/Zeiss ZA, Zeiss Batis, and Zeiss Loxia all have good FE products with some being better than others but I think with the exception of a few you can fined winners. I own some of each and have found ones in each family I personally like. Right now my best ZA is the 50/1.4 but when I had the 55/1.8, and 16-35/4 they were great as well. Clearly the GM are doing really well but the 90/2.8 Macro and 24-105/4 G's I have are great as well. Also a big fan of both Batis and Loxia which you can see from my gear list here.

All depends on what your looking tor.

Steve W

Agreed, depend on what OP photo areas and in what priority.

For ultimate sharpness, prime lenses in Sony GM (such as newly announced 135/1.8 GM), some Zeiss Batis and Loxia.

For zoom versatility, Sony zooms (I categorized ZA lenses as Sony lenses as well). The GM zoom are great in sharpness and performance.

For special characters such as sunstar - Loxia lenses, pleasing color rendering - Loxia, Batis, ZA lenses, GM (with post processing).

Otherwise are comparing apple to orange.

A sample from my newly acquired Zeiss Loxia 85mm/f2.4. It's so sharp. It may rival CV 65mm/F2.0 macro well although they are different FL.

full size

As all other Loxia lenses, it can generate beautiful 10-point sunstar that none of my Sony lenses can match. For example you can view this sample in Phillip Reeve Loxia 35/2.0 review (that I also own) to show the sunstar at the right scene (the bridge). It is stunning beauty of Loxia (as well as Voigtlander) lenses. I have not used Loxia 35 and 85 in real world and will carry them into my next Manhattan trip. The newly announced E-mount Voigtlander 50mm/F1.2 causes my attention. From what I see from M-mount, it has great sharpness, almost perfect circular bokeh at F1.2, very pleasing 12-point (not 10-point as in CV 40/1.2) sunstar, and very pleasing micro-contrast.

So as you said depend on what OP wants?

Thank you for your comments. My main priority personally when buying a lens is sharpness. I know it has been mentioned but the Sony Zeiss 50mm 1.4 planar is meant to be an incredibly sharp lens. But how does this level of sharpness stack up against GM sharpness? (I know there is no equivalent focal length equivalent). Are Sony Zeiss lenses regarded as ‘pro’ level like the GM line?

I own the FE 50mm f/1.4 ZA but only GM zooms currently so I am not the best judge but the 50/1.4 on is a great lens that offers a lot. I can tell you that the Sony/Zeiss is sharper than any Sony GM 50mm out there.

Steve

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richj20 Veteran Member • Posts: 7,230
Re: Quality of Zeiss lens - real user views
1

Macman4789 wrote:

Hi,

We’ve seen Sony continue to grow it’s lens line up over the last few years and continues to do so. However I was interested in your views in respect to the Zeiss line up.

My understanding is it it places it’s lens in this particular order :standard FE lens, then G, then Zeiss and lastly GM.

I'm not sure what that order signifies in the real world, since you find users attesting to the greatness of FE and the ZA lenses as well as Zeiss and GM.

I used Zeiss Batis 2/25 and 2.8/18 until Sony released its FE 4/12-24 G. I rented it and compared to the Batis and purchased it shortly after.

I don't have any of those comparisons, but here is a quick one from this morning comparing color:

Batis 2.8/18

Sony FE 4/12-24 G

I was happy that the Sony has color similar to the Batis. It is remarkable that the science of optics has improved in our times so that zoom lenses have such excellent sharpness and color quality.

A few others with the 4/12-24 G:

- Richard

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