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

reviewer#9586 date: Nov-14-2011
sharpness: 4.5
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 4
flare control: 4
overall: 4.5
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:Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* 16-80 f3.5-4.5 ZA
price paid:
positive:Build, SSM, Constant f2.8 Aperture, AF accuracy
negative:Having a filter on causes a "suction" effect when zooming from 16mm and 35mm. Otherwise, none.
comment:This Zeiss lens is a great companion to my Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* 24-70 f2.8 ZA SSM. When compared to my Zeiss 16-80 it is quite apparent that it's focus is by far more accurate at the 16mm end than the Zeiss 16-80. I suspect that having an f2.8 aperture helps since the f2.8 sensor is activated on my A700 when using this or any lens that has a constant f2.8 aperture. I also feel that the SSM also is a more accurate way to focus the lens than the original screw-drive system when the lens has a very short throw.

Sharpness is great. However, as usual I will give it only a 4.5 since it is not a prime lens and the sharpest lens I have is truly my Sigma 70 f2.8 EX DG Macro. Color is great and quite neutral and contrast is excellent. Naturally, there is some barrel distortion on the wide end even with an APS-C sensor and flare control can be a problem depending on the photographic situation.

The Build is great as is the SSM. My only beef with the lens is that when you put a filter on a "suction" effect is created when turning the zoom ring from 16mm or 35mm. Take the filter off and there is no problem. This is due to the fact that the front element retracts back then forward during zooming behind the filter threads. No big deal. I just found it an odd feeling on the zoom ring is all.

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