Sony FE 35mm F2.8 ZA Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* Lab Test Review
The FE 35mm F2.8 ZA Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* is one of the first three lenses available for Sony's full-frame E-mount system, having been announced alongside the Alpha 7 and 7R camera bodies. It offers a classic moderate wideangle view that's well-suited to a wide range of subjects, including such things as reportage or street photography. It uses a 7-element, 5-group optical design, which includes three aspherical elements to minimise aberrations.
The 35mm is a pretty compact lens (it's 37mm / 1.5" long, and weighs just 120g / 4.2 oz) which makes for a very portable combination when used with the A7 or A7R. The flipside of this, though, is its relatively slow maximum aperture; F2.8 is distinctly pedestrian for a modern prime. Despite this, it still commands premium pricing, doubtless as a result of that blue Zeiss badge. It costs about $800 / £680 / €800 at the time of writing, meaning it's significantly more pricey than other full frame 35mm lenses like the Canon EF 35mm F2 IS USM (which is a stop faster, and includes image stabilisation) or the recently-launched Nikon AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G.
The FE 35mm F2.8 can also be used on Sony's APS-C E-mount bodies, on which it will behave as a 'normal' prime with a 53mm equivalent angle of view. But we think that the faster, cheaper and image-stabilised E 35mm F1.8 OSS is a much better choice if you're not planning on buying into a full frame system. However the little 35mm F2.8 does look like a very natural companion to the A7 twins.
- 35mm focal length
- F2.8 maximum aperture
- FE lens for full frame Sony E-mount cameras (also works on APS-C E-mount models)
Lens test data
The 35mm F2.8 returns excellent test results on the Alpha 7R. It's very sharp, exhibits relatively low chromatic aberration and distortion, and has acceptable levels of vignetting. In fact it's very close indeed to the benchmark Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM, which is one of the sharpest lenses we've tested.
|Sharpness||Sharpness is excellent. The 35mm is extremely sharp in the centre of the frame wide open at F2.8, and while it's not quite so good towards the edges, it's still pretty impressive. The best results overall across the frame come from F5.6-F11, much as we'd expect on full frame. Indeed at F5.6 the central sharpness is literally off the charts here (helped by being tested on the AA-filterless 36MP A7R). Naturally diffraction causes some softening at f22, but it's not excessive, meaning this setting should be entirely usable when depth of field is a priority.|
|Chromatic Aberration||Chromatic aberration is pretty low. There's a little blue/yellow fringing towards the corners of the frame, but this type tends to be relatively unobjectionable visually. It'll be automatically corrected by the camera's JPEG processing too.|
|Vignetting||Vignetting is the nearest thing the 35mm has to a weak point. It reaches 1.8 stops in the corners wide open, although to be fair this is pretty typical for a compact F2.8 prime. However the vignetting never quite goes away on stopping down; even at F8 there's still 1.3 stops falloff. The good news is that the falloff profile is quite gradual, which makes vignetting less noticeable, and the camera can correct for it automatically too.|
|Distortion||The 35mm shows an unusual distortion profile, with somewhat pronounced barrel distortion that appears only towards the corners of the frame (a 1:1 crop from the centre would look near-perfectly corrected). This distortion will be visible in geometrical compositions such as architectural shots, and require profiled corrections in post-processing.|
The 35mm F2.8 generally compares favourably to other recently-designed full frame 35mm primes. It pretty much matches the Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM for sharpness, but loses out on distortion and vignetting (the latter a consequence of its small optical unit). It's much the same story when we look at the Canon EF 35mm f/2.0 IS USM; the Sony's measured central sharpness is higher, but this substantially reflects the fact that it's tested on a much higher resolution sensor. However if we look at edge sharpness, the two lenses are a pretty close match, and again the Canon has rather lower vignetting and more-tractable distortion characteristics.
From the lab test results, the Sony FE 35mm F2.8 ZA is a pretty impressive little lens. It doesn't quite attain the same heights as the FE 55mm F1.8, but it's still impressively sharp. It's also very small and portable, but this does come with some trade-offs, particularly in terms of vignetting. Overall it's a good match for both the Alpha 7 and Alpha 7R both physically and optically, but we do feel it's somewhat over-priced given its relatively slow maximum aperture.
Sony FE 35mm F2.8 ZA Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* specifications
|Lens type||Prime lens|
|Max Format size||35mm FF|
|Focal length||35 mm|
|Lens mount||Sony FE|
|Number of diaphragm blades||7|
|Special elements / coatings||3 aspheric elements|
|Minimum focus||0.35 m (13.78″)|
|Motor type||Stepper motor|
|Full time manual||Unknown|
|Weight||120 g (0.26 lb)|
|Diameter||62 mm (2.44″)|
|Length||37 mm (1.46″)|
|Materials||Metal barrel, metal mount|
|Filter thread||49.0 mm|
|Filter notes||Lens hood accepts 40.5mm filters|
|Hood product code||ALC-SH129|
This lens review uses DxOMark data thanks to a partnership between dpreview.com and DxO Labs (read more about DxOMark and our partnership with DxO Labs). DxOMark is the trusted industry standard for independent image quality measurements and ratings. DxOMark has established this reputation with its rigorous hardware testing, industry-grade laboratory tools, and database of thousands of camera, lens and mobile test results. Full test results for this lens can be found at www.dxomark.com.
Feb 13, 2017
Feb 12, 2017
Jul 15, 2016
Dec 6, 2015
|Rocks at Dawn by phucthang|
from The Rock
|Sarlat, France by poppyjk|
from Your City - Dinertime!
|Double Eagle by herbymel|
|Great White Egret vs Lizard by jose garcia|
from Strong - Weak
Fujifilm recently unveiled the second in its series of affordable cine lenses, the MK50-135mm T2.9. We got our hands on it for a couple days and took it for a spin.
Leica's first attempt at an M-series digital rangefinder was rough around the edges, but set a pattern for all of the cameras that came after it. In this week's Throwback Thursday, Barney remembers the M8.
No stranger to extreme situations, legendary climber and filmmaker Jimmy Chin talks to Outside Magazine about his career, and the challenge of filming Alex Honnold's rope-free solo climb of El Capitain.
A company backed by Android co-founder Andy Rubin is attempting to make video conferencing less terrible.
Rangefinder magazine asked five professional portrait and wedding photographers about posting on Instagram; no surprise, they got five different answers.
This captivating stop motion film was created by stripping away one layer of wood at a time. It's hard to look away.
It will enable users to simulate the presence of the sun, moon and Milky Way and see how they interact with an area's topography.
Since its introduction in November last year Instagram's live streaming feature has been used by millions, but videos could not be archived for watching at a later stage. A new update has now added the capability.
CopyTrack's study also found that the second most-stolen image is a woman wearing painted jeans. That's apparently a thing.
Forget expensive lenses with fancy coatings and special lens elements – photographer Robin de Puy took these portraits using just a water drop for a lens.
Adobe reports a record quarterly revenue of $1.77 billion for the second quarter fiscal year 2017 ended June 2, 2017.
Zeiss says its new lens is particularly suited for portrait photography but also a good all-rounder and can be used in video applications.
We present to you the top photos from the Kennel Club's 2017 Dog Photographer of the Year photo contest – take a look at 10 of the award-winning puppers.
In case you were looking for any more inspiration to go fly one.
Following a couple of successful Kickstarter campaigns, Videre 35mm's creator has re-tooled the camera with sturdier components and a simpler user assembly process.
The two hour long video covers everything an aspiring drone pilot needs to know.
This is what happens when a Canon 17-85mm F4-5.6 lens meets 60,000 PSI of water pressure. Spoiler Alert: the water jet always wins.
Andrew Harnik discusses the challenges – and rewarding moments – of a career making images for the Associated Press in his native DC.
The VMic Pro, VMic Recorder and VMic microphones are targeted at DSLR users who want to record high-quality audio.
While our full OnePlus 5 review is underway, we've put together a sample gallery with images that were taken with both the wide-angle and tele lens in a variety of lighting situations.
The OnePlus 5 main camera comes with a 1/2.8" 16MP Sony IMX 398 sensor and a fast F1.7 aperture. It is supported by a 2x tele-module featuring a 20MP 1/2.8" Sony IMX 350 sensor and F2.6 aperture.
In this video, Vincent Laforet explains why the RED 8K Weapon camera has mostly replaced his still cameras, and it's not all about resolution.
Dupe, Dupe Negative is not a pop song, and Newton's Rings are not NASA's next destination. If you've ever wondered what all that film terminology means, Kodak has you covered.
Fujifilm's X-A3 is the company's only offering to use a new 24MP sensor without their trademark X-Trans color filter array. We've had it out and about with a variety of lenses to see how it compares.
If you thought Nikon had the market cornered on expensive commemorative products, we've got news for you.
The simple drag-and-drop web app reveals the Lightroom edits applied to any JPEG, along with its associated EXIF data, provided that metadata is intact.
Danish photographers Ulrik Hasemann and Mathias Svold spent time documenting the 75,000 refugees currently in Serbia's capitol city. Most are young men from conflict zones in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
It takes a highly-skilled drone operator to execute a video like this in one take.
According to a report by Nikkei Ricoh is facing its biggest crisis ever and will have to cut costs in order to survive.
Air Koryo started flying in 1952, and much of its current fleet still dates from the 1960s. Danish commercial photographer Arthur Mebius has taken 24 flights on some of its oldest airplanes, so you don't have to.