- Compact and well-built body handles beautifully on the camera
- Autofocus is fast and accurate
- Excellent manual focus feel
- Images are sharp right from f/2.8 across most of the frame, and stopped down, images are sharp throughout
- Outstanding contrast provides plenty of pop while still producing pleasing portraits
- Excellent color that is vibrant without being oversaturated
- Minimal distortion
- Excellent control of chromatic aberration
- Low vignetting
- Fairly good bokeh
- Fairly expensive for a 35mm f/2.8 prime, at $800 US
- Flare can be an issue with light sources near the edges of the frame
- Really should be f/2 for the price
Carl Zeiss and Sony have created an excellent wide-angle lens for the FE lineup. The lens produces images that are sharp and contrasty, with excellent color, low aberrations and fast autofocus in a small, lightweight and well-built package. The lens handles beautifully on the A7, and indeed, many shooters will feel at home being able to shove an A7 or A7r with this lens into a jacket pocket and get extremely high image quality out of this portable combo.
The only real downside to the lens is that it’s not a very fast lens, especially given the price. For $800, this really should be an f/2 lens, especially as a 35mm option on a full-frame camera. The lens is only $100 less expensive than Fuji’s 23mm f/1.4, which is two full stops faster, allows for one full stop shallower depth of field and has similar optical quality (and in some ways superior optical quality). Canon’s 35mm f/2 IS for their SLRs is $200 cheaper, a stop faster and has image stabilization. The modest maximum aperture, while keeping size down, negates one of the big benefits of a full-frame camera, and that’s the ability to use faster lenses and get shallower depth of field. If they had chosen to make a slightly larger f/2 lens with similar quality, and charge slightly more, most people would have no need for any other 35mm lens. As it is, Sony or Zeiss will likely end up adding a 35mm f/1.4 to the system, which given the prices of current FE lenses, will likely cost an arm and a leg.
On its merits alone, however, it is an excellent lens. Whether it is worth the money to you will be up to the individual, but know that if you do shell out the cash, you’ll be gaining an outstanding optic in a small, well-built package.
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