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Sony FE 28mm f/2 Lens Review

Discussion in 'Sony Alpha E-Mount Lenses' started by Amin Sabet, Jul 28, 2015.

  1. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Aug 6, 2011
    The Sony FE 28mm f/2 Lens is a relatively new addition to the Sony E-Mount lineup. The "FE" designation means that this lens works well with both full frame and APS-C Sony E-Mount cameras.

    Unlike the 90mm macro and 35mm f/1.4 lenses I reviewed recently, the Sony FE 28/2 is relatively affordable, selling for $448 (USD) at the time of this review. It also differs in terms of size and weight, being much smaller and lighter than those other two lenses. Finally, I should note that Sony sells two conversion lenses for the 28/2, one of which turns it into a 21mm ultra-wide, and the other which converts it to a 16mm fisheye.

    Key specifications:
    Focal Length: 28mm
    Equivalent on APS-C Format: 42 mm
    Aperture Maximum: f/2
    Minimum: f/22
    Camera Mount Type: Sony E (Full-Frame)
    Minimum Focus Distance: 11.42" (29 cm)
    Magnification: 0.13x
    Elements/Groups: 9/8
    Diaphragm Blades: 9, Rounded
    Image Stabilization: No
    Autofocus: Yes
    Filter Thread Front: 49 mm
    Dimensions (DxL): Approx. 2.52 x 2.36" (64.01 x 59.94 mm)
    Weight: 7.05 oz (200 g)

    Current pricing/availability: Sony FE 28mm f/2 Lens SEL28F20 B&H Photo Video

    See the brief video below for my impressions of lens build quality, features, and performance:




    You can click through any of the images in this review to see full-resolution captures from my A7II.


    28mm is a great focal length for indoor people photography, and f/2 is more than fast enough to get the job done in natural light with the latest sensors. Fortunately, this lens has plenty of center sharpness to be usable at that aperture.

    19467047473_c2b438e1e4_h.

    ƒ/2.0 28.0 mm 1/60 500


    28mm is also great for tight framing with a bit of close up distortion but still a natural look. No problems quickly locking focus at tight range to get this shot:

    19465400614_99ccb02a8d_h.

    ƒ/2.0 28.0 mm 1/60 320


    Of course, many will want to use 28mm for landscape and architecture. One small weakness of this lens is that it has moderate (average) barrel distortion. Fortunately this gets automatically corrected by in-camera JPEG as well as most major RAW converters (including Lightroom and Capture One). Unfortunatly this distortion correction comes at this cost of a tiny bit of edge / corner sharpness. Still there is lots of detail throughout the frame from f/4 onwards.

    20093480675_6a32aaf5ae_h.

    ƒ/9.0 28.0 mm 1/160 100


    19905857120_4eef9a9a26_h.

    ƒ/4.0 28.0 mm 1/60 100


    20099271081_506ea3be9f_h.

    ƒ/7.1 28.0 mm 1/100 100


    20093475915_ca3d1cecfb_h.

    ƒ/7.1 28.0 mm 1/100 100


    You can see some color fringing from lateral (red/blue) and longitudinal (green/purple) chromatic aberration in this next image. Nothing too serious and easily correctable in post when using any of the popular image processing programs.

    19905355618_27bf78bea2_h.

    ƒ/5.6 28.0 mm 1/200 100


    28mm is a natural focal length for street / documentary photography. I'd love to have seen a clutch for manual focus mode with a distance scale for zone focus with this lens. That said, the size is discreet, and autofocus is fast, sure, and quiet.

    19472473383_6eaa8e9f86_h.

    ƒ/8.0 28.0 mm 1/125 100


    The FE 28/2 offers plenty of pop at moderate apertures:

    20098858911_e8a7ade5f9_h.

    ƒ/4.0 28.0 mm 1/800 100


    20093432465_e9607d7b86_h.

    ƒ/2.8 28.0 mm 1/500 100


    For my tastes, bokeh is pleasing if occasionally edgy at f/2 and always well behaved by f/2.8.

    20067195666_4a665f05ce_h.

    ƒ/2.8 28.0 mm 1/1000 100


    20094693655_0d990eab79_h.

    ƒ/2.8 28.0 mm 1/2000 100


    To wrap up the pics, I'll make another plug here for family photography. A 28mm lens with good speed and close up range (12" minimum focus distance for this lens) can find a lot of use in and around the kids.

    20094684765_a85848d912_h.

    ƒ/2.0 28.0 mm 1/60 100


    19476861363_f76d9158a9_h.

    ƒ/2.2 28.0 mm 1/500 100


    20071573386_be081543a8_h.

    ƒ/2.5 28.0 mm 1/200 100


    So am I going to pick this lens up? The answer is no, but that's only a function of focal length. My basic needs are met by a 35mm lens and an 85mm lens. There was a time when I was more of a 28/50/100 guy, and if that were still the case, this is the second lens I'd buy after the incredible FE55.

    The FE 28/2 has a lot to offer. It's very sharp, bright, has pleasing character, small size, light weight, quick and quiet autofocus, excellent close-range ability, and comes with a very reasonable price tag. Minor cons include an average amount of barrel distortion, some edge softness at apertures larger than f/4, and an average amount of color fringing. If you like the 28mm focal length, it's really a bit of a no-brainer.


    Link to download all RAW files from this review: 28mm-RAW.zip


    Sony FE 28mm f/2 Lens pricing / availability: Sony FE 28mm f/2 Lens SEL28F20 B&H Photo Video


    PS - If you like the reviews, please use the "Share This Page" buttons at the bottom (Facebook, G+, Twitter). They help improve the search rankings of our reviews so that others can find them. Thanks!
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2016
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  2. serhan

    serhan TalkEmount All-Pro

    Aug 27, 2011
    NYC
    You are on a roll:) Thanks for the another great review. It is a good lens for the price, but a little high on the distortion for me esp after using similarly priced Sony nex 35/50mm 1.8 OSS lenses with min distortion. Yes, it needs stopping down to f8 for max corner sharpness. Your 35mm 1.4 photos have more pop compared to this.
     
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  3. addieleman

    addieleman Passionate amateur

    Nov 13, 2012
    Netherlands
    Ad Dieleman
    Thanks for this review, I feel it's an excellent set of pictures to judge on this lens for myself.
     
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  4. quezra

    quezra TalkEmount Top Veteran

    916
    Aug 22, 2012
    Thanks for this. You know, what I really like about your reviews is that you seem to use your camera the way I use mine: Family 80-90% and the rest is on a "if I get a chance" basis. So given that distribution of usage, dreaming about what I "might" do with the lens is less important than what I know I'm actually going to end up spending all my time using the lens for.

    Anyway, good review. As a budget option for FE and APS-C it seems to be a really great choice (I would assume the barrel distortion is non-existent in APS-C crop?).
     
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  5. WestOkid

    WestOkid TalkEmount All-Pro

    Jan 25, 2014
    New Jersey, USA
    Gary
    Another great review. I heard nothing but good things about this lens and you seem to continue the trend. I hope Sony makes more small inexpensive lenses.
     
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  6. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Aug 6, 2011
    Barrel distortion would be less on APS-C, to the point where for me it's a non-factor, but even there it is a touch more than the Sigma 30/2.8, which for all purposes is distortion-free. The Sony 35/1.8 has a touch of pincushion distortion.
     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2015
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  7. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Aug 6, 2011
    Many thanks, Ad. That's my primary objective with these reviews and the reason I don't crop or straighten any of the samples.
     
  8. metalmania

    metalmania TalkEmount Regular

    122
    Dec 3, 2014
    USA
    Maybe I should update my Capture One 8.0 to 8.3, I couldn't find the FE 28/2.0 profile in Capture One 8.0. Here is a sample I shot:

    zEb5nqh.

    I like this lens wide open. Consider the price from abroad is less than $400.

    JY6xSBz.
     
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  9. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Aug 6, 2011
    I used C1 version 8.1 to process the images in this review, and it automatically addressed the distortion. Have just now updated to 8.3.
     
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  10. slothead

    slothead TalkEmount Top Veteran

    544
    Mar 1, 2015
    Maryland
    Tom
    Amin, Good review (it motivated me to buy one - but unfortunately I forgot about ordering via a link from the forum). If you mentioned detail about the converters in your review I missed it. I am curious how the 21mm and 16mm converting lenses convey EXIF data to the camera. I would expect that it would require some electronic interface to convey that data, but I don't see any contacts on the front of the 28mm lens (the converters certainly look like they attach to the front of the 28mm lens). Can you comment on that?
     
  11. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Aug 6, 2011
    Hi Tom, sorry I don't know the answer to that question. I know that EXIF is conveyed but not how.

    Unrelated: I added a link to the end of the review for those who would like to download all the RAW files from the review.
     
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  12. WTran

    WTran TalkEmount Rookie

    10
    Aug 10, 2015
    I'd love to know how this lens does for astrophotography.
     
  13. slothead

    slothead TalkEmount Top Veteran

    544
    Mar 1, 2015
    Maryland
    Tom
    I may find this out WTran, but it is not at the top of my priority list at the moment.
     
  14. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Aug 6, 2011
    I don't have the lens anymore. Hopefully someone else can answer!
     
  15. slothead

    slothead TalkEmount Top Veteran

    544
    Mar 1, 2015
    Maryland
    Tom
    Generally speaking wide lenses are good for wife field AP, such capturing the Milky Way (if you have dark enough skies) and star trails (which I have only minimally done in the past). I don't doubt that it will be a very good AP lens if you have good exposure control over your camera.
     
  16. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Aug 6, 2011
  17. slothead

    slothead TalkEmount Top Veteran

    544
    Mar 1, 2015
    Maryland
    Tom
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  18. michelb

    michelb TalkEmount Regular

    195
    Oct 27, 2013
    Greater Montreal area in Quebec, Canada
    Michel Brien
    I have this set (28 +UWA) and it conveys the EXIF data through some magnets that make magnetic contact when the converter is mounted on the lens.
     
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  19. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Aug 6, 2011
    @michelb@michelb - How do you like the UWA converter?
     
  20. michelb

    michelb TalkEmount Regular

    195
    Oct 27, 2013
    Greater Montreal area in Quebec, Canada
    Michel Brien
    A lot sharper than i expected from F4 to F11
    Quite heavy and i find the front cap to be too easy to un-clip when handling/storing it.
    I have seen some weird internal reflections when shooting with my face towards the sun. I expected a lot of flare but this lens has very little except when it does, it burns a small white/green hole in your picture (more than one as you close down the aperture..
     
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