Sony Carl Zeiss 16-35mm F2.8 ZA SSM Vario-Sonnar T* A-mount lens review by godsakes

reviewer#10755 date: Dec-4-2012
sharpness: 4
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 4
flare control: 2
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 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP; 61MP61 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:sigma 12-24mm
Sigma 10-20mm
KM 17-35mm
Min 24mm
price paid:
positive:Sharpest of it's class
Wonderful colour
can create great sunstars
negative:Heavy as hell
Cripplingly expensive
Suction effect with filter on
comment:First impressions, there's little doubt about in my mind, this is the sharpest of it's class, noticeably crisper than it's competition, good even wide open, with decent corners but not the sharpest lens ever (probably should be rated at around 4.25 for sharpness) i.e. it's not going to match the macro lenses but then it's unrealistic to expect it to, as if you start to compare macro lenses to most UWA lenses the UWA lenses will generally look like mush, the CZ still appears crisp.

If you don't need the range and speed then lenses like the minolta 24mm can hold their own against it at around f8 but at f2.8-4.5 the CZ blows them out of the water.

Colours are much nicer than the typical yellow cast of the sigma lenses or indeed the clinical soulless colours from the tamron made lenses.

If you stop down you can create amazing looking sunstars.

Great build quality but for the money I would have liked to see weather sealing. It's nice that it does not extend when zooming but it does create a resistive suction feeling if you have a lens filter on top trapping the airflow.

Like most lenses of it's class it's quite weak to flare, the modern sigma ultra wide lenses like the 10-20 or 12-24 are far more flare resistant but they are unusually good (ironic given I tend to find sigma telephoto lenses more prone to flare than the competition), the flare on the CZ is fairly typical of of it class, lenses like the KM 17-35mm fair no better.

As everyone else has mentioned this is heavy as hell and will cost you a arm and a leg. If you can live with that then go for it, if you want value for money don't even look at it.

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 57
  • sharpness: 4.66
  • color: 4.95
  • build: 4.86
  • distortion: 4.47
  • flare control: 4.42
  • overall: 4.67 - Home of the alpha system photographer
In memory of Cameron Hill - brettania