Sony FE 28-70mm F3.5–5.6 OSS E-mount lens review by seeky

reviewer#18344 date: Sep-2-2015
sharpness: 4
color: 4
build: 4
distortion: 4
flare control: 4
overall: 4
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP24MP24 MP36MP36 MP42MP42 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:FE 55mm f1.8
FE 35mm f2.8
Minolta 50 f1.4
Sony 16-50 f2.8 SSM
Olympus OM Zuiko 28mm f3.5
price paid:part of kit
positive:Cheap in kit
Fast and silent focus
Very good central sharpness
Reasonable contrast and colours
Smooth zoom and focus rings
Some degree of weathersealing
OSS
Very light weight
Decent build quality
negative:Low corner sharpness 28-35mm
Low microcontrast
Cheap feeling plastics
Difficult to get sunstars
Sharpness varies with focus distance
comment:After 1.5 years of use and 12000 images, I found it was about time I reviewed this lens.
TL;DR version: It is a great, light-weight, stabilized and sharp lens in the center but wider than 35mm, the borders can be soft depending on subject distance.
Long version: It is sharp in the center at all focal lengths and apertures. Therefore, for portraits, or objects placed in the center of the frame this lens is perfect. However, for landscapes and architecture this lens falls short in the 28-35mm range. At 28mm, sharpness falls of strongly towards the edges. At 35mm, this is greatly improved, and stopped down it is sharp from edge to edge. This holds up to 70mm where performance decreases slightly.
What many people forget is that image quality may vary depending on subject distance. I found that the sharpness was generally better when focused closely (MFD-10m), compared to focus distances closer to infinity. For example, compared with the legendary 55mm f1.8 at f5 (wide open for FE28-70), central sharpness is nearly indistinguishable whereas corner sharpness is slightly lower. Similar results were obtained when comparing it with the FE 35mm f2.8 at f4. This is very impressive. On the other side, corner performance wider than 35mm is not impressive. The Olympus OM 28mm f3.5 lens is better at all apertures. CA is minor and easily correctable. Distortion is there but manageable.
The colours and contrast are not as good as the Zeiss primes, which is to be expected. It lacks the T* coating which results in much more reduced contrast in general and specifically when shooting against bright light sources. It is also very difficult to get sunstars because the aperture stays circular even when stopped down considerably. Finally, the build quality is not bad at all; It is assembled with tight tolerances and the zoom action is very smooth. It also held up well against moisture and the rubber zoom and focus rings look and feel as new. My only gripe is the low quality feeling plastic used in the construction, though it holds up well. In conclusion, it is a fine walk around lens, but discerning landscape and architecture photographers, including pixel peepers need to look elsewhere.

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 13
  • sharpness: 4.12
  • color: 4.31
  • build: 4.15
  • distortion: 3.92
  • flare control: 4.00
  • overall: 4.10
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