Sony has been grabbing the headlines over the past year or so for its innovative 'SLT' cameras, the mirrorless NEX system and prolific launches of inexpensive SLRs. But it has also been quietly building up an impressive line of high-end full frame equipment, spearheaded by an array of Carl Zeiss branded optics. And it's into this upper half of the company's curiously bifurcated product line that the Distagon T* 24mm F2 SSM arrives, offering a genuinely fast and wide option for Alpha 850 / 900 users, while doubling as a classic semi-wide 35mm equivalent on APS-C cameras. This lens was shown in advanced pre-production form at PMA earlier this year, and has been hotly anticipated by Sony fans ever since.

The design and construction is typical of Sony's Carl Zeiss lenses, with a rather utilitarian, purposeful aesthetic and extremely high quality fit and finish (however in contrast to Canon and Nikon's 24mm F1.4 lenses, it's not described as dust- or water-sealed). The optical design uses 9 elements in 7 groups, including two aspheric and two Extra-low Dispersion glass elements to combat aberrations. For the first time in a Carl Zeiss prime, a built-in ultrasonic-type SuperSonic Wave Motor is employed for autofocus, promising fast, silent focusing and enabling Direct Manual Focus override. A circular aperture diaphragm, comprised of nine curved blades, is designed to produce a smooth, natural rendition of out-of-focus regions of the frame.

Sony's full frame cameras have drawn plenty of critical admiration for their exceptional low-ISO image quality and pared-down feature set unashamedly focused on stills photography. But for the company to gain a real foothold in this high end sector it also needs to convince potential buyers that its lens offerings can match those from its more-established rivals, Canon and Nikon. The two existing Carl Zeiss-branded primes, the Planar T* 85mm F1.4 and Sonnar T* 135mm F1.8, are certainly highly regarded by those who've used them (including us), so can the 24mm F2 follow suit?

Headline features

  • 24mm wideangle with fast F2 maximum aperture
  • Built-in ultrasonic-type SuperSonic Wave Motor (SSM) for autofocus, with Direct Manual Focus override
  • Alpha mount for Sony and Konica Minolta SLRs

Angle of view

The pictures below illustrate the angles of view on 35mm full frame and APS-C camera bodies:

24mm (full-frame) 24mm (APS-C; 36mm equivalent)

Sony Distagon T* 24mm F2 SSM specifications

Price • US: $1250
• UK: £1100
• EUR: €1250
Manufacturer's code SAL24F20Z
Date introduced July 2010
Maximum format size 35mm Full Frame
Focal length 24mm
35mm equivalent focal length (APS-C)
Diagonal Angle of view (FF) 83º
Diagonal Angle of view (APS-C) 63º
Maximum aperture F2
Minimum aperture F22
Lens Construction • 9 elements / 7 groups
• 2 aspherical elements
• 2 ED glass elements
Number of diaphragm blades 9, rounded
Minimum focus 0.19m / 0.62ft
Maximum magnification 0.29x
AF motor type Ultrasonic (SSM)
Focus method Rear
Image stabilization Via camera body when available
Filter thread • 72mm
• Does not rotate on focus
Supplied accessories** • ALC-SH110 hood
• Front and rear caps
• Lens case
Weight 555g (19.6oz)
Dimensions 78mm x 76mm (3.1in x 3.0in)
Lens Mount Sony Alpha

*Supplied accessories may differ in each country or area