- Solidly constructed lens with smooth controls
- Fast autofocus in good light
- Optical stabilization is good for around 3 stops
- Images are very sharp in the central area wide open and sharp to the edges stopped down over most of the focal range
- Outstanding color and contrast
- Good control of longitudinal CA
- Good flare control
- Image edges are a bit soft at 24mm, and corners stay soft stopped down at 24mm
- Bokeh is somewhat nervous
- High native distortion that requires profile correction for most images
- High vignetting
- Autofocus can hunt a bit in lower light
The Zeiss FE 24-70mm f/4 ZA OSS is a lens with a lot of promise and a fairly high price tag to go along with the Zeiss name. It’s also a lens that has been criticized in many reviews for optical shortcomings, and I certainly saw some of those shortcomings myself: it has fairly high native distortion, unremarkable bokeh, high vignetting and some lateral CA. It also has some image softness at the wider end of the zoom towards the edges. Because of these faults, the $1,200 retail price is a bit hard to justify in pure terms.
With all of that said, I actually quite liked the lens. There are certainly some optical flaws with thie 24-70mm, but ultimately, I was still able to produce images that look great, and I think that for most print sizes, the 24-70 will do a great job. It’s plenty sharp where it really matters wide open and stopped down it’s quite good. The biggest positive for me is the excellent rendering, with punchy color and strong contrast that really makes the images pop. It’s a convenient focal range and it’s a well-built lens that’s not too heavy to carry for an extended period of time.
While I think $800-900 is a more appropriate price considering some of the flaws, it’s ultimately a very competent lens that is capable of producing excellent images.
Click on an image to enlarge