Sony Zeiss Sonnar T* FE 35mm f/2.8 ZA Lens Review

Discussion in 'Sony Alpha E-Mount Lenses' started by Amin Sabet, Aug 16, 2015.

  1. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Aug 6, 2011
    Today I'm taking another look at the Sony Sonnar T* FE 35mm f/2.8 ZA Lens, a lens which I first tried back in the winter time. The 35mm Sonnar is one of the smallest and lightest lenses in the full frame E-Mount lineup.

    Key Specifications:
    Focal Length: 35mm
    Equivalent on APS-C Format: 52.5 mm
    Aperture Maximum: f/2.8
    Minimum: f/22
    Minimum Focus Distance: 1.15' (35 cm)
    Magnification: 0.12x
    Elements/Groups: 7/5
    Diaphragm Blades: 7
    Image Stabilization: No
    Autofocus: Yes
    Filter Thread Front: 49 mm
    Dimensions (DxL): Approx. 2.42 x 1.44" (61.5 x 36.5 mm)
    Weight: 4.23 oz (120 g)

    You can click through any of the images below to see full-resolution captures. The first set of images were taken today with the A7RII, while the last three are from the wintertime using the A7R.

    To begin with, here are a couple images to show sharpness across the frame with the lens stopped down:


    ƒ/8.0 35.0 mm 1/500 100


    ƒ/11.0 35.0 mm 1/250 100

    You can see that the lens delivers great sharpness from edge to edge. There is a little color fringing evident but not bad at all.

    As usual, I'm mostly interested in family photography. This is a great lens for that purpose. It's small and light enough to stay out of the way and has fast enough autofocus to catch shots like this one:


    ƒ/2.8 35.0 mm 1/320 250

    Some longitudinal CA (green bokeh color fringing) on display here, again nothing unusually bad:


    ƒ/2.8 35.0 mm 1/125 1250

    Some more pics from the day out with the family:


    ƒ/8.0 35.0 mm 1/160 100


    ƒ/2.8 35.0 mm 1/125 1250


    ƒ/4.0 35.0 mm 1/100 6400

    Some barrel distortion evident (default conversion settings in Capture One 8.0.3):


    ƒ/8.0 35.0 mm 1/125 125


    ƒ/2.8 35.0 mm 1/125 400


    ƒ/2.8 35.0 mm 1/640 100


    ƒ/5.6 35.0 mm 1/160 100


    ƒ/5.0 35.0 mm 1/500 100

    The 35mm Sonnar is a definite winner from Sony. What it lacks in speed compared to the other 35mm offerings, it makes up in terms of size and weight. Build quality seems excellent. It autofocuses quickly, quietly, and accurately on both the A7II and A7RII. It's a very sharp lens, and I find the bokeh character pleasing. The only downsides I encountered were moderate color fringing, most of which is easily correctable, and mild barrel distortion.

    When I did the recent 35mm lens shootout, I concluded that the 35mm Loxia had won me over as the best compact 35mm lens to complement the 35/1.4 Distagon. Now I'm not so sure. I really enjoyed the practicality of the 35mm Sonnar. It's so easy to take along, and there's no denying the usefulness of autofocus on a family outing. So now I think I'd pick the Sonnar over the Loxia for my purposes, though I still believe it's the distortion-free Loxia which reigns supreme for landscape and architecture.

    Sony Zeiss Sonnar 35mm f/2.8 Lens pricing / availability: Sony Sonnar T* FE 35mm f/2.8 ZA Lens SEL35F28Z B&H Photo Video

    Link to download all RAW files from this review:
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2016
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  2. WoodWorks

    WoodWorks Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Dec 12, 2012
    Ashland, OR, USA
    Thanks for that review, Amin. Having originally bought the Sonnar with my A7 body instead of the kit lens (the only two options available at the time), I've never been much tempted by the Loxia nor the Distagon. As you say, the small form factor makes up for its minor, comparative shortcomings.
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  3. Jefenator

    Jefenator TalkEmount Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Nov 23, 2012
    Oregon, USA
    f/2.8 isn't too agonizingly slow if you can use it without hesitation from wide open, as is the case here. I seem to be partial to the "Sonnar" flavor of BOKEH.
  4. Danske

    Danske TalkEmount Rookie

    Aug 16, 2015
    Thanks for the review! The internal debate between this and the 28 rages on.
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  5. ggibson

    ggibson TalkEmount Regular

    Sep 1, 2011
    This is a cute lens for sure. I'm really tempted. I agree though, the 28/2 makes a strong case as well. I had a chance to play with it today, and was impressed with how small and light it was. Amin, have you shot with the 28 as well?
  6. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Aug 6, 2011
    I reviewed the 28/2 here:

    I'd say they are similarly sharp lenses. The 28/2 has more distortion and a bit more color fringing, but the extra stop of speed outweighs those issues to me. Despite this, my pick is the 35mm Sonnar based purely on my preference for 35mm over 28mm. The Sonnar is also noticeably smaller and lighter than the 28.
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