Review Sony Zeiss Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS Lens Review

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Interesting. In my test the 16-35 is better than my 35/2 at all apertures. And I have more than fairly sharp corners even at f4 with the 16-35 at 100% crop. Sharper than what I see from your shots. Agree with the focusing.
Wouldn't be the first time we see sample variability in even the high-grade Sony lenses, your sample must be better than mine. I'm considering to dump the FE 16-35mm in favor of the upcoming Zeiss Loxia 21mm, not because of sharpness but because of my difficulties in nailing focus with the FE 16-35mm, AF or MF. Although legacy glass is slower to operate I feel much more confident in getting home with critically sharp pictures.
 

NickCyprus

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I'm considering to dump the FE 16-35mm in favor of the upcoming Zeiss Loxia 21mm, not because of sharpness but because of my difficulties in nailing focus with the FE 16-35mm, AF or MF. Although legacy glass is slower to operate I feel much more confident in getting home with critically sharp pictures.
I feel exactly the same! Its been the same with every e-mount lens I've had
 

robbie36

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Well it takes all sorts I guess. First of all, you dont buy a wide angle zoom to shoot it at 35mm. It is definitely a bit soft at the corners (particularly noticeable on the A7r2). So if you are a 'general landscape' guy I can understand why you might want to replace this by something like the 21mm Loxia. But for me this lens is for shooting in the 16-20mm range where the zoom is very useful and the superwide angle can produce 'wow' type photos that easily transcend a little corner softness here and there. I moved to the A7 series primarily because I was unhappy with the images I was getting from the M43 7-14 and the 16-35 is perhaps the biggest upgrade of moving to full frame. Here are 5 of my favorite shots from the 16-35 in 2015.

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Well it takes all sorts I guess. First of all, you dont buy a wide angle zoom to shoot it at 35mm. It is definitely a bit soft at the corners (particularly noticeable on the A7r2). So if you are a 'general landscape' guy I can understand why you might want to replace this by something like the 21mm Loxia. But for me this lens is for shooting in the 16-20mm range where the zoom is very useful and the superwide angle can produce 'wow' type photos that easily transcend a little corner softness here and there. I moved to the A7 series primarily because I was unhappy with the images I was getting from the M43 7-14 and the 16-35 is perhaps the biggest upgrade of moving to full frame. Here are 5 of my favorite shots from the 16-35 in 2015.
With those beautiful pictures, point taken :). It appears I use the FE 16-35mm either at around 20mm or around 30mm, so I would be good with a 21mm and 28mm lens. And I just don't like working with the 16-35mm very much, it leaves me wondering too much what I'll come home with, and I find MF with the FE 16-35mm a real pain.

Not being a pro like you but an amateur with relatively little time for photography, I do either landscape work or family pictures these days. For the latter category the FE 24-70mm and FE 70-200mm combo is just great. The FE 70-200mm is also excellent for landscape work, but for shorter focal lengths I consider going the prime route now that there's a very good 21mm option coming; for focal lengths between 24mm and 70mm there are excellent lenses already, be it native E-mount or legacy glass.
 

GabrielPhoto

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Well it takes all sorts I guess. First of all, you dont buy a wide angle zoom to shoot it at 35mm. It is definitely a bit soft at the corners (particularly noticeable on the A7r2). So if you are a 'general landscape' guy I can understand why you might want to replace this by something like the 21mm Loxia. But for me this lens is for shooting in the 16-20mm range where the zoom is very useful and the superwide angle can produce 'wow' type photos that easily transcend a little corner softness here and there. I moved to the A7 series primarily because I was unhappy with the images I was getting from the M43 7-14 and the 16-35 is perhaps the biggest upgrade of moving to full frame. Here are 5 of my favorite shots from the 16-35 in 2015.
Beautiful work! Goes to show how you can create images with this lens if you know how to use it. I need to learn a lot about wide angle indeed :)
 

fractal

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OK, here goes. This is my Canon FD 35mm 1:2 S.S.C. Click on the picture for more images of this lens.


The test scene.
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I took test shots with the A7 and the FE 16-35/4 and Canon FD 35/2 at f/4 and f/8. Both lenses were focussed at the taking aperture, in case of the FE 16-35mm that means Live View settings set to ON. OSS off, tripod, A mode, focussing with 5.9x magnified view and peaking set to mid. Imported in Lightroom CC with my default settings for sharpening and correction profiles were applied to both lenses as that's what I always do. I made a custom profile for the Canon 35mm correcting for geometric distortion and chromatic aberrations. White balance set with the WB picker on the mid of the grey table.

Center crop at f/4. Click the picture in your browser to cancel the scaling and see it in full resolution.
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Yikes! There is detail in the FE shot but also a lot of halo and loss of contrast. The CFD is excellent here.

Center crop at f/8
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Much closer now, it's a toss-up IMHO.

Upper-right corner crop at f/4
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Essentially same story as in the center at f/4, but notice the CFD's sharp decay in sharpness in the extreme corner. But the CFD is much better overall.

Upper-right corner crop at f/8
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Again it's a toss-up I think. Only in the very extreme corner the CFD gets a little less sharp.

See the full-res test shots here and there's also another gallery for the Canon 35/2.

The Canon FD 35/2 is the clear winner at f/4 except in the extreme corners, at f/8 I find both lenses equivalent and both will be able to produce very high-quality imagery. I must say that focussing with the Canon is a breeze while manual focussing with the FE lens remains a painful experience, mainly due to its dual-speed behaviour.
Interesting, but to be fair you are comparing a zoom lens at likely it's worst focal length vs. an excellent prime at the same length. A prime should be better (in general) at the same focal length due to the compromises needed to make a zoom lens. The differences at f/4 center crop were still surprising. Any chance the slower shutter speed on the FE lens picked up wind movement in the leaves?
 
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izTheViz

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Interesting, but to be fair you are comparing a zoom lens at likely it's worst focal length vs. an excellent prime at the same length. A prime should be better (in general) at the same focal length do to the compromises needed to make a zoom lens. The differences at f/4 center crop were still surprising. Any chance the slower shutter speed on the FE lens picked up wind movement in the leaves?
Good point here. I compared both shooting static subject (building, concrete) and my FE looks better than my prime...
 

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