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

reviewer#11900 date: Jul-9-2014
sharpness: 4.5
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 4
flare control: 5
overall: 4.7
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:ZA2470
Although 24mm on the 1635 is not all that bad, the 2470 does a better job here. This is valid for 35mm as well.
Both are just slightly above average fully open, but are going to be excellent when stopped down to f5,6

Sigma 1224
I used the mark 1 of the 1224 some years ago. In overall I liked it. However compared to the Sony-Zeiss it can't really compete with colors and micro contrast. The big bulb prevents from using filters with it, which is a nogo for many landscape shooters.
price paid:1.200 € new
positive:Very good at 16mm, compatible with normal filters (77mm), low amount of CA, moderate vignetting, SSM AF
negative:If at all - its weight (~1kg)
comment:I love landscapes and architecture, so I was always in need of an ultra wide. A mandatory feature is compatibility with standard filters, as I like to play with long exposures at daytime. For a long time the ZA was not available in Germany and close Europe, so I was happy when I found a retailer having an unused demonstrator in the shelve. :-)

The Zeiss is huge and heavy, but it comes with the capability of delivering fantastic images in terms of color rendition. Zeiss-typicall it has a snappy contrast when stopped down. CA are in most cases a non-issue.
The sweet spot seems to be between f5,6 and f8. For >30mm f8 is a better choice.
Distortion is quite visible at 16mm, but nothing special. Same for the vignetting.
I am using it on my A99 as well as on my A7R (with LA-EA4).
Both FF are dealing excellent with it.
I hope the upcoming FE 1635Z will be of same quality (as I like it lighter for long-distance journeys).

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