- Exceptional build quality with wonderful feel on the zoom and focus rings
- Fast and accurate autofocus
- Impressive image sharpness wide open at the wide and middle ends of the zoom range
- Excellent image sharpness across the frame at all focal lengths when stopped down
- Surprisingly pleasing bokeh when shot at wide apertures
- Outstanding color and contrast throughout the zoom range
- Minimal flare against bright light
- Low vignetting
- Optical stabilizer adds extra handholdability for lower light situations
- Large and heavy lens that is as big as DSLR ultra-wide zooms
- Some distortion present throughout the range (though easily correctable with profiles)
- Moderate lateral chromatic aberration, especially at the long end of the zoom range
- Underwhelming sharpness at 35mm and f/4
- Hood provides minimal coverage
The Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS is an extremely high quality ultra-wide angle zoom lens for Sony’s full frame mirrorless camera line. It produces images with excellent color and contrast and impressive image sharpness in almost all scenarios. The lens is truly built like a tank and feels wonderful to operate, but that build quality comes with a larger than hoped for size, with no reduction from a DSLR ultra-wide. There’s really little to dislike about the lens. There’s a little corner softness, but almost all ultra-wide zooms have some, and the 16-35 fares better than most in that department. Overall, it’s a very sharp lens let down only by average performance at 35mm and f/4.
For landscape and architectural use, the lens sings, and the useful range makes for convenient shooting in the field. I was very impressed with this lens, and it bodes well for future FE lenses for Sony’s very popular full frame lineup. It is a rather pricey lens, though. At $1350, the 16-35mm sits at a price point several hundred dollars higher than most f/4 ultra-wide-angle zoom lenses. Other mirrorless ultra-wides are notably cheaper, with the Sony 10-18mm f/4 sitting at the $850 mark and the Fuji 10-24mm f/4 OIS at $999. This lens even costs $150 more than the brand new Canon 16-35mm f/4 IS. However, the optical quality helps justify the high price tag, as it sits near the top of the heap when it comes to ultra-wide zoom lenses. If you like the wide angle look, this should be one of the very first lenses you buy for your A7 series camera. It’s a marvelous optic.
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