Sony FE 16-35mm f/4 G PZ lens

      Photo Review 9.0

      In summary

      The Sony FE 16-35mm f/4 G PZ is a great little lens for owners of Sony’s full frame cameras who are looking for a reasonably-priced, high-performance wide angle zoom. It’s not the fastest of its type; nor is it the widest of Sony’s full-frame zooms. But it’s one of the lightest and most versatile.

      There’s no point using it on Sony’s APS-C cameras, which will crop away much of the frame. Better alternatives are available, such as the Sony E 10-20mm f/4 G and E 10-18mm f/4 OSS.

      Full review

      Announced in March 2022 and manufactured in Thailand, the Sony FE 16-35mm f/4 G PZ lens can be used for all kinds of content creation, although the design emphasis is on videography. Both focusing and zooming are driven by Sony’s Extreme Dynamic (XD) linear motors and the lens is equipped with a zoom lever that adjusts zoom speed in addition to its normal zoom control ring. The aperture ring can also be de-clicked to minimise operational noises while shooting video, although the lens works very well for shooting stills.

      Angled view of the FE 16-35mm f/4 G PZ lens without the supplied lens hood. (Source: Sony.)

      This lens is claimed as the lightest in its class, making it a good match for the ZV-E1 camera on which we reviewed it. It’s the third lens Sony’s produced with the 16-35mm zoom range, which began with the FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM  and included the Zeiss-branded Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS, (which we haven’t reviewed) both of which are considerably larger.

      The optical design (shown above) consists of 13 elements arranged in 12 groups. There are two Advanced Aspherical (AA) elements, one regular aspherical element and one ED aspherical element to suppress distortion and aberrations plus one Super ED (Extra-low Dispersion) glass element and one ED glass element to subdue chromatic aberrations.

      Although designed for cameras with full-frame sensors, this lens can also be used on Sony’s cropped-sensor cameras where it covers the equivalent of a 24-50mm lens. We reviewed the lens on the ZV-E1 vlogging camera, which is reviewed separately. (INSERT LINK).

      Who’s it For?
      This is a professional standard lens with weather-resistant sealing and a complex optical design, which makes it best suited to more sophisticated cameras, A key feature is the powered zoom system which extremely smooth and quiet as well as precisely adjustable. The constant maximum aperture of f/4 is another advantage in a lens of this type.

      This lens is also highly resistant to focus breathing, where the image changes size as the lens is focused. Seven iris diaphragm blades should produce smooth bokeh at wide apertures, along with 14-pointed sunstars when the aperture is stopped right down.

      The small size and light weight of the FE PZ 16-35mm is advantageous for shooting with gimbals, while its minimum focus of 24 cm should suit vloggers who specialise in product promotions. Internal focusing ensures nothing gets pulled into the lens while focusing.

      Build and Ergonomics
      The FE PZ 16-35mm is solidly built, with most of it composed of industrial-grade polycarbonate on a metal core. It has a very solid chromed mounting plate that attached securely, with a narrow rubber flange to keep out moisture and dust.

      At first glance it appears to have complex controls, with separate rings for adjusting focus, zoom and aperture settings. The front element is approximately 35 mm in diameter and bulges slightly outwards. It’s surrounded by an annulus of mostly ridged black plastic that steps outwards and carries details of minimum focus, filter diameter and zoom range.

      An inner filter threading and outer bayonet mount for the supplied lens hood (which wasn’t provided with the review lens) form the periphery of this section of the lens barrel. The focusing ring is located just behind the bayonet mounting for the lens hood. It’s 10mm wide and clad in rubberised ribbing.

      Behind the focusing ring and stepped inwards a notch is the zoom ring, which is roughly 15 mm wide and also rubber-clad but with slightly wider ribbing. Both focusing and zooming are driven electronically from the camera so these rings turn freely when power is off. Neither ring carries any markings, which could lead to confusion because of their close proximity.

      Another small step inward takes you to a fixed section of the barrel that is 15 mm wide. Sony’s branding label is located here, along with the zoom slider, which is an easy-to operate alternative to the zoom ring and has T and W indicators to show the zoom direction.

      It’s conveniently located for average-to-large hands but could be problematic for those with smaller hands or limited dexterity. Be prepared for a slight lag between when you start adjusting the slider or zoom ring and the lens actually starting to zoom since the zoom is driven electronically.

      A focus Hold button and AF/MF focus switch are situated further to the left. To the right you’ll find an iris lock switch and, further round, the ‘Click’ switch for clicking/de-clicking the aperture ring.

      The aperture ring comes next. It’s about 8 mm wide and carries settings in full f-stops from f/4 to f/22 with 1/3 stop marks between them. A red ‘A’ at the f/22 end sets the lens to auto aperture control.

      The next section of the barrel slopes inwards for about 12 mm, ending in a roughly 12 mm wide section of the barrel that carries the small white index dot for aligning the lens when mounting it on the camera. The mounting plate is chromed metal with a thin rubber gasket around it to keep out moisture and dust. Inside the mount are 10 gold-plated contacts for passing signals between the lens and the camera body.

      Our Imatest tests showed the review lens to be very competent for its type, with measured resolution in the centre of the frame in JPEG  files falling above expectations for the ZV-E1’s 12-megapixel sensor at the 20mm and 24mm focal lengths and coming close to expectations for the remainder. ARW.RAW files recorded simultaneously were significantly higher and above expectations for all focal lengths

      As anticipated, resolution declined towards the edges of the frame for both JPEG and raw files.  although not quite to the degree we had expected. The graph below shows the results of our tests for JPEG files across the main focal length and aperture settings.

      Because Sony’s cameras provide internal corrections for JPEGs, our lateral chromatic aberration measurements are based on ARW.RAW files with optical corrections disabled in Adobe Camera Raw. In the graph of our test results below, which shows this aberration to be largely irrelevant, the vertical red line marks the boundary between ‘negligible’ and ‘low’ CA.

      Like chromatic aberration, vignetting and rectilinear distortion had to be assessed through raw files with all optical and profile corrections disabled in Adobe Camera Raw. The effects of vignetting and rectilinear distortion were much less than we expected, even at the widest angles of view, where barrel distortion was both anticipated and noticeable. However, neither has much practical relevance since both are automatically corrected in-camera in all JPEGs and adjustments are provided most raw file converters.

      Test shots showed that, even without a lens hood, the review lens was quite flare-resistant, although it could be forced to produce flare artefacts in extreme conditions. With normal backlit shots we found no visible veiling flare, even when the sun was just inside the frame and there was very little loss of contrast and colour saturation in the shots we took.

      The seven-bladed iris diaphragm produced 14-pointed sunstars when the lens was stopped down to its minimum aperture. However, the resulting images were softened by a combination of flare and diffraction. At the widest angles of view they were also relatively small within the frame.

      Bokeh was much better than we expected from an ultra-wide, f.4 zoom lens with a minimum focus of 24-28 cm. That said, few photographers would consider using this lens for close-ups with a shallow depth of field when better alternatives exist.

      Autofocusing was generally fast and accurate with most types of subjects in different lighting conditions and able to adjust quickly as conditions changed. It was also very quiet, thanks to the stepping motor drive. Focus breathing was only just detectable at the shortest focal lengths but absent at the 35mm setting.

      Although stabilisation is seldom needed in ultra-wide angle lenses, this lens benefits from SteadyShot IS in Sony’s cameras, especially in low light levels. We found no instances of camera shake affecting any of our test shots or video clips.


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      Picture angle: 107 to 63 degrees diagonal
      Minimum aperture:  f/22
      Lens construction: 16 elements in 13 groups (including two AA (advanced aspherical) elements, a Super ED (Extra-low Dispersion) element, and an ED element)
      Lens mounts: Sony E
      Diaphragm Blades: 7 (rounded aperture)
      Weather resistance: Dust and weather-resistant sealing
      Focus drive: Two XD (extreme dynamic) linear motors
      Stabilisation: No
      Minimum focus: 24-28 cm
      Maximum magnification: 0.23x
      Filter size: 72 mm
      Dimensions (Diameter x L): 80.5 x 88.1 mm
      Weight: 353 grams
      Standard Accessories: Front and end caps, petal-shaped lens hood (ALC-SH172), soft case

      Distributor: Sony Australia; 1300 720 071



      Based on JPEG files taken with the Sony ZV-E1 camera.

      Based on ARW.RAW recorded simultaneously and converted into 16-bit format with Adobe Camera Raw.



      Vignetting at 16mm.

      Vignetting at 20mm.

      Vignetting at 24mm.

      Vignetting at 28mm.

      Vignetting at 35mm.

      Rectilinear distortion at 16mm.

      Rectilinear distortion at 20mm.

      Rectilinear distortion at 24mm.

      Rectilinear distortion at 28mm.

      Rectilinear distortion at 35mm.

      16mm focal length, ISO 64, 1/80 second at f/11.

      35mm focal length, ISO 64, 1/80 second at f/11.

      Close-up at 16mm focal length, f/4.5, ISO 80, 1/40 second.

      Close-up at 35mm focal length, f/4.6, ISO 80, 1/50 second.

      Bokeh in close-up at 16mm, f/4, ISO 64, 1/640 second.

      Bokeh in close-up at 35mm, f/4, ISO 64, 1/640 second.

      Sunstar at 16mm focal length, ISO 64, 1/8 second at f/22.

      Sunstar with flare artefacts at 35mm focal length, ISO 64, 1/20 second at f/22.

      Flare; 16mm focal length, ISO 80, 1/200 second at f/7.1.

      25mm focal length, f/5, ISO 125, 1/80 second.

      16mm focal length, ISO 80, 1/160 second at f/10.

      35mm focal length;
      ISO 80, 1/500 second at f/7.1.

      35mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/200 second at f/4.5.

      28mm focal length; ISO 80, 1/100 second at f/6.3.

      16mm focal length, ISO 80, 1/100 second at f/6.3.

      35mm focal length, ISO 5000, 1/80 second at f/4.5.

      35mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/25 second at f/5.

      35mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/30 second at f/5.6.

      35mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/20 second at f/4.5.

      Additional image samples can be found with our review of the Sony ZV-E1 camera.



      RRP: AU$1699

      • Build: 8.9
      • Handling: 9.0
      • Image quality: 9.1
      • Autofocusing: 9.0
      • Versatility: 8.8