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

reviewer#8226 date: Nov-10-2010
sharpness: 4.5
color: 4
build: 5
distortion: 4
flare control: 3
overall: 4.1
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:Tam 11-18
CZ 16-80
Sony 35/1.4
price paid:1479 USD new, fm HK
positive:Overall performance
Color rendition
comment:If the weight and solidity won't impress you, the images will. Crisp, juicy, if a bit cool on the WB, and no excessive distortion or flare. Unsharpness in corners can't be denied, but is not an issue for most subjects. The heavy vignetting is! Very acceptable bokeh when you get it (like at 35/2.8).

(edited to remove the lens contact issue--it was a phantom issue)

The reason why I don't give it all fives is because I try to keep the label and Zeiss image out of this and just look at it as a plain, black lens ;)
Me thinks that some reviewers believe, it is a Zeiss, so it must get all fives. Hello!

Oh, and whoever complains about the price, that is something you can definitely expect from a Zeiss! Actually, I think it is very reasonably priced for a Zeiss. If only the performance were in line...

The finely ribbed rings are already collecting dust. Thank you, Sony! My old fingers also can't quickly distinguish them from the rest of the body.

Edit: after some more exposure (no pun intended) I noticed serious flare issues, even if the sun is not within the frame. Shielding the front element from the sun with one hand will make the difference clear. This led to a down-grade of the flare rating.

Also, horizontal distortion is significant at the 16mm end. I can't really imagine any non-fisheye lens of that FL being much or even any better, but it is what it is: distorted. Therefore only a "4".

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