Some street, some landscape and the Zeiss 24-70mm F4 FE

A dinner in town with work presented an opportunity to try out the 35mm F2.8 Zeiss lens and the A7 at 5000 ISO. I’m impressed by the performance of this combination.

Boarding the last train

I spent some time using the 35mm and 55mm lenses for some street and environmental pictures.

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Basically the lesson here is in the comparison here is to the zoom below, and the 35 and 55mm primes are sharper across the frame. But you would expect that.

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A walk down the south bank to Westminster bridge provided a great opportunity to try out Sony’s new 24-70mm F4 zoom for its 35mm sensor A7/r cameras.

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The Zeiss 24-70 is a lens that divides opinions. Many have said that it’s poor lens, that’s overpriced, with soft corners. Others have praised its contrasty saturated rendering. Which is it? Well a bit of both.

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Although these examples have tidied up nicely in post, it’s undeniable that the corners are a bit soft at F4, particularly at 24mm. However, the centre is sharp, if not as sharp as the primes.

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What’s very impressive is the size, which is smaller than the Oly 12-40 for M43s, and the OSS which I managed to use at 1/15-1/30 to get appreciably sharper results.

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I used to own the F2.8 24-70mm for my A900 back in the day and that was a ridiculously robust lens. The 24-70mm F4 is not quite up to that standard of build quality, but its not dissimilar to the other FE lenses. It’s actually tiny compared to most 35mm sensor zooms. It certainly compares well to the olympus 12-40mm in size if not optical performance.

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Optically there’s a degree of distortion there which goes from barrel to pincushion as you increase the focal length.

St Katherine's boats

Red Repertor

In fairness, the OSS is excellent in low light.

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In summary, I think this is a decent zoom, not quite as good as the F2.8 constant aperture alternatives for other brands, but not terrible either. Basically, if you don’t use this lens for landscape, you’ll very likely be very happy with it.

6 thoughts

  1. My impression on the value of the A7, compared to the Fuji X-E2 or X-T1, is that because of the relatively slow speed, and high cost of the available lenses the A7 is uncompetitive. If we had the 2nd generation A7 with all the bugs ironed out and reasonably priced f2.0 35mm & 50mm primes then the A7 would win. For now I am going to buy an X-T1 to go with my Fuji XF35mm f/1.4

    • I do think the X-T1 is a more developed camera/system. But I don’t think the argument should solely be about cost and functionality. The F2.8 35mm price is falling and its an excellent lens. The 55mm is off the scale good, and the price seems to be falling too. If Nikon or Canon made a lens this good, it would be more expensive.

      Broadly – one thought might be that you can only ever buy a camera system with a developed lens range, but I think thats to miss out on some great photos and experiences. There would never have been an X-T1 without an X-Pro1, for all its faults.

  2. Love the contrast and colours there. I wish Sony brings out a portrait lens soon. I am inclined to getting XT1 with 56mm at the moment, though I want A7

  3. Pingback: Dinosaurs in the Woods and more thoughts on the Zeiss 24-70mm F4 FE | sgoldswoblog

  4. I’m a m43 user who is tempted by the current bargain price of the a7 mk1. I own the Oly 12-40 and I’m curious about your comments comparing that lens with the Sony. Are you suggesting the Olympus is actually a better (if larger) performer? It would seem like the aperture advantage that the Olympus enjoys would be more than negated by the I so advantage of the Sony. Perhaps you mean that the Olympus exhibit s less distortion on the wide end? That said, the color/contrast of the images above looks great.

    • Thanks for the comment. The olympus lens is better optically. That’s a combination of sharpness, contrast, saturation and consistency across the frame and through the zoom range. The Sony/Zeiss is weaker in the corners and performance drops off at the wider and longer ends (meaning it’s really a lens that performs between 30-60mm). Interestingly, my copy performs worse with my A7 II than the original A7, no idea why. That said, all of the FE 16-35, 35 and 55 are excellent.
      All the best
      Simon

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