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

reviewer#11911 date: Jul-19-2014
sharpness: 4
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 5
overall: 4.8
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:16-80 (which is just not comparable)
price paid:ex. USD 1400 (new)
positive:Sharpness stopped down is excellent
Distortion is generally minimal and predictable if you use it correctly (I rated it 5, and it probably doesn't quite deserve that, but what A-mount lens is better, even primes?)
Colours and contrast are very pleasing
It feels so nice in your hands on a heavy A900, especially with the silent, fast focus
Zoom range is great and at some focal lengths it is as good as most A-mount primes. At all focal lengths it is at least pretty good compared to primes.
negative:It can be soft in the corners, especially if you don't stop down enough (duh! But it can be an issue if you want to focus on something bottom foreground)
It is heavy
The focus hold button feels tacky compared to everything else
It's expensive and if your budget is stretched and you don't often do what this lens is made for, you'd be a fool to buy it.

comment:I've had this lens a few years but never write a review because I didn't really have anything to compare it with. It was an impulse buy to force me to shoot wide... the shop was out of the 24-70! I am an idiot. At first it was a bit disappointing, but since my photographs with it keep getting better and better I learned that this was mostly me and not the lens. Who knew I was technically such a poor photographer?
What I can say about this lens is that it sometimes produces photographs that will surprise and please like no other. You'll think "How did it do that?" The flare control is excellent (not so great if you want to induce flare, but it can be done) and I think distortion is very well controlled indeed (again not so great if you want funky distortion). I rarely have to correct much for that other than when there is user error or a situation forces me to shoot too close. Interiors, architecture, etc. are where it shines brightest, but it does more than okay as a landscape lens and for groups of people. Stop it down enough if you want everything sharp,please. It's easy to say any lens is good stopped down, but I think you will find that this is better.

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