Sony Sonnar T FE 35mm F2.8 ZA


    Photo Review 8.8
    User Rating: 0/10 (0 votes cast)

    Thank you for rating!

    You have already rated this item, you can only rate it once!

    Your rating has been changed, thanks for rating!

    Log in or create a user account to rate.

    Sony Sonnar T FE 35mm F2.8 ZA

      In summary

      As a fast prime lens, this lens makes a good partner for either of the new E-mount cameras. With a maximum aperture of f/2.8, this lens can handle most types of subjects encountered in everyday shooting, although it is more suitable for landscape photography than portraiture.

      Its minimum focusing distance is 35 cm, which isn't great for close-ups of small objects but the 35mm angle of view is good for general photography. For sports and wildlife photographers, it's best suited to 'action-within-a-landscape' shots.

       

      Full review

      Sony's Sonnar T FE 35mm f/2.8 ZA (SEL35F28Z) lens was announced concurrently with its two new 'full frame' interchangeable-lens compact system cameras. Designed by Zeiss, this lens carries a 'Made in Japan' label and is specifically for Sony's E-mount. It's supplied with an interesting lens hood, which, instead of flaring outwards, actually shades the front element, leaving a purpose-designed aperture to let in light without interfering with image creation.

      Side view of the Sonnar T FE 35mm f/2.8 ZAlens with the supplied lens hood fitted.
       
       

      The Sonnar T FE 35mm f/2.8 ZA lens shown with the lens hood removed.

      The hood adds roughly 10mm to the overall length of the lens. It can be left attached to the lens in all situations including storage and when filters are fitted. (The filter ring is located inside the bayonet mounting for the lens hood.)

      The Sonnar design originated with Dr. Ludwig Bertele in 1929 and was notable for its simplicity, relatively light weight and fast aperture. However, it was incompatible in shorter focal lengths with 35mm SLR cameras because of the space required for the mirror. On a CSC, this restriction vanishes and the advantages of excellent contrast plus reduced flare and chromatic aberration can be realised.

      Who's it For?
      As a fast prime lens, this lens makes a good partner for either of the new E-mount cameras. With a maximum aperture of f/2.8, this lens can handle most types of subjects encountered in everyday shooting, although it is more suitable for landscape photography than portraiture.

      Its minimum focusing distance is 35cm, which isn't great for close-ups of small objects but the 35mm angle of view is good for general photography. For sports and wildlife photographers, it's best suited to 'action-within-a-landscape' shots.

      Build and Ergonomics
       Constructed mainly from made lightweight aluminium alloy, the Sonnar T FE 35mm f/2.8 ZAlens is very well built, with a metal lens body and focusing ring. It has a very solid, chromed mounting plate that attaches to the camera with a firm click.

      The lens hood locks onto the front of the lens with a sturdy bayonet mounting that is easily attached and removed but difficult to dislodge inadvertently. It provides both excellent shading and protection for the front element of the lens and eliminates any need for 'protective' filters. (Filters can be attached via a threaded ring around the front element itself.)

      The front element does not rotate and the physical length remains constant regardless of the focus setting. The focusing ring is approximately 16 mm wide and located 8 mm behind the front of the lens (without the lens hood attached). It has  very fine ribbing to provide a grip and turns through 360 degrees.

      Manual focusing operates 'by wire', which means the focusing ring is not directly coupled to the focus gears but to the AF motor. DMF ('Direct Manual Focusing') is supported in Single Shot AF mode. This lens has neither an aperture ring nor a distance scale and there appears to be no built-in stabilisation. Nevertheless, we found we could hand-hold the camera-plus-lens at shutter speeds slower than 1/10 second.

      Performance
      The review lens proved capable of exceeding the resolution expectations of the sensor in the Sony ILC-a7 camera we tested it with. (INSERT LINK) The graph below plots the results of our Imatest tests across the aperture range.
       
      Slight edge softening could be seen in shots taken at the widest apertures. For many subjects, this feature is desirable as it leads the viewer's eye towards the centre of the frame.
       
      Lateral chromatic aberration was consistently negilg8ible at all aperture settings as shown in the graph of our Imatest results, below. The red lien marks the border between 'negligible' and 'low' CA.
       
      The lens hood helped the review lens to be very flare-resistant. Even shots taken with a bright light source inside the frame showed few signs of compromised contrast and no evidence of coloured spots due to internal reflections.

      We didn't have time to test the lens for distortion or vignetting but examination of test shots showed neither was an issue with this lens. In-camera corrections for both defects are available in many cameras and they are also correctable in most image editors.

      The relatively wide angle of view and 35 cm minimum focusing distance make this lens ill-suited to close-up photography, unless subjects are relatively large. Given these limitations, bokeh was relatively smooth and reasonably attractive and out-of-focus highlights showed no signs of outlining or sharply-defined edges.

       

      SPECS

      Picture angle: 63 degrees 
      Minimum aperture: f/22
      Lens construction: 7 elements in 5 groups
      Lens mounts: Sony E-mount
      Diaphragm Blades: 7 (circular aperture)
      Focus drive: Not specified
      Stabilisation: No
      Minimum focus: 35 cm
      Maximum magnification: 0.12x 
      Filter size:  49 mm
      Dimensions (Diameter x L): 61.5 x 36.5 mm
      Weight: 120 grams

       

      TESTS

      Based on JPEG files from the Sony ILC-a7 camera.

       

       

      SAMPLES

      (All images captured with the review lens on the Sony ILC-a7 camera.)

       

      ISO 100, 1/60 second at f/11.
       
       

      ISO 100, 1/1000 second at f/2.8.
       
       

      Strong backlighting; ISO 250, 1/500 second at f/11.
       
       

      ISO 100, 1/2500 second at f/2.8.
       
       

      ISO 100, 1/2500 second at f/2.8.
       
       

      16:9 aspect ratio; ISO 100, 1/10 second at f/16.
       
       

      ISO 250, 1/250 second at f/11.
       
       

      ISO 80, 1/100 second at f/9.
       
       

      ISO 100, 0.62 second at f/9.
       
       Additional image samples can be found with our First Look at the Sony ILC-a7 camera.

       

      Rating

      RRP: AU$999

      • Build: 9.0
      • Handling: 8.5
      • Image quality: 9.0
      • Versatility: 8.5

       

       

      BUY