Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* FE 35mm F2.8 ZA (SEL35F28Z) lens review.

After getting a new lens, I always take a few technical shots to understand its strengths and weaknesses – usually it helps me a lot to start using unknown lens with much less of doubt. One day I decided that my data might be interesting for someone else and this site has been made.

SCZ2835_exterior_97.jpg

Sony CZ 35mm 1:2.8 FE parameters:

Name engraved on lens Carl Zeiss Sonnar FE
f[mm] 35
A max [1/f] 2.8
A min[1/f] 22
Number of blades 7
Lens design [el.] 7
Lens design [gr.] 5
Filter thread Ø front(rear)[mm] 49
closefocus[m] 0.35
Max. diameter[mm] 61.5
Lengh min/max [mm]  36.5
Weight[g] 120

Additional information:

  • I’ve got used copy of this lens for review (s/n 1843276)
  • This is the first auto-focused lens tested on the site. Even more, this is the first lens which is still in production which has been tested on the site
  • The lens itself is made of a thin weather resistant aluminum shell over plastic internals (wiki)
  • This lens was introduced 16 October 2013 (with Sony A7 camera – the first Full Frame mirrorless camera in the world)
  • The Zeiss Sonnar is a photographic lens originally designed by Dr. Ludwig Bertele in 1929[1] and patented by Zeiss Ikon (wiki). At least one more review for another famous Sonnar is presented on the site – Canon S 50mm 1:1.5 Serenar

    Sony CZ FE 35mm 1:2.8 ZA optical design
    Sony CZ FE 35mm 1:2.8 ZA optical design

Lens exterior:

(Please, forgive me the dust on the lens, I never have the patience to clean objects for close-up photo sessions)

 

 

 


Lens code name –  Saya Takagi  高城沙耶:

Saya Takagi (高城沙耶, Takagi Saya) is one of the main characters in Highschool of the Dead. Saya is a genius, and her high level of intellect is her major contribution to the group, though it often causes her to be stubborn and arrogant. She usually stays out of combat, preferring to think of strategies to help the others fight. However, this changes when the group prepares to leave the police station.

 

 


Sharpness – close distance:

Test description: target is a 10×15 cm picture (printed, glossy photo paper), fixed on the wall by scotch. Distance – 1.7m. Camera Sony A7II (24mpx, full frame) was fixed on the tripod and managed remotely with computer display as a viewfinder. All groups of shots were repeated 3 times for every target position on all apertures from fully opened up to F16, ISO-100, WB – same for all shots. SteadyShot – OFF. Focus was manually corrected for each shot. After all needed shots have been taken for one target position – I moved  the target to the next place. Main idea – to exclude the field curvature affect on so close distance. Of course, I can’t be absolutely accurate, but test results looks correct.

Finally, pictures were converted from ARW-files in Capture One with default settings (Some single files have a slight light correction, for better visual convenience in comparison), then cropped for 300×200 px elements, combined into diagrams and exported into JPEG-files.

Scene preview:

SCZ3528_b_res_close_previewNEW.jpg

Original target image (printed in horizontal orientation on 10cm X 15cm glossy photo paper)

Saya Takagi 8.jpg


Test results:

SCZ3528_c_res_close.jpg


Resolution – long distance:

Test description: Camera Sony A7II (24mpx, full frame) was fixed on the tripod and managed remotely with computer display as a viewfinder. Targets (buildings) were fixed by gravity power on the distances in more than 200 meters. All shots have been taken with apertures from fully opened up to F16. ISO-100. Shutter Speed – depends on light (camera A-mode), WB – fixed and the same for all shots. SteadyShot – OFF. Focus was manually corrected for each shot to exclude focus-shift affect.

Finally, pictures were converted from ARW-files in Capture One with default settings (Some single files have a slight light correction, for better visual convenience in comparison), then were cropped for 300×200 px elements, combined into diagrams and exported into JPEG-files.

Scene preview:

SCZ3528_e_far_preview.jpg

Test results:

SCZ3528_e_res_far.jpg


Vignetting:

(frames scaled – 300×200)

SCZ3528_f_vignetting.jpg


Geometric distortion:

(frame scaled 1200×800)

SCZ3528_F2_8_Geometry_897.jpg


Coma aberrations:

(100% crops – 300×200)

SCZ3528_h_coma_aberr_.jpg


Chromatic aberrations:

(100% crops – 300×200)

SCZ3528_i_chrome_aberr_.jpg


Close distance bokeh:

Test conditions: lens was focused on to distance 0.3m, plants were fixed in 2m distance from camera in front of the window with bright light from outside.

(frame scaled 1200×800, bokeh covers the frame partially)

SCZ3528_j_bokeh_close_Min.jpg


Long distance bokeh:

Test conditions: lens was focused on distance 1m, houses were fixed in infinity distance on the ground.

(frame scaled 1200×800)

SCZ3528_k_bokeh_far.jpg


Light dots bokeh:

Test conditions: lens was focused on to distance 0.3m, diodes were  fixed in 2m distance at the dark background.

(frame scaled 1200×800)

SCZ3528_l_dots_close.jpg


Light dots long distance bokeh:

Test conditions: lens was focused on to minimal distance, lights were fixed in more than 200m. Such scenes can’t be meet often, so this is demonstration of extreme conditions. In most cases of real life photography the blur level will be less.

(frames scaled 1200×800)

SonyCS35_28_DotsLongdistTotal


Other resources with reviews:

 


Demo Photos dedicated article

Some of examples:

 


My overall conclusion about the Sony Carl Zeiss FE 35mm 1:2.8 ZA Sonnar T* :

SCZ3528_Avatar.png

There is not a secret that this lens is very contradictory because of its price. It has good sharpness and low aberrations, but nothing extra against other competitors with same focal distance and light speed. It is small, lightweight and well-built, but can be easy scratched or damaged: look at photos please, I don’t know who designed thin notches on focus ring. Lens is labeled as ‘Carl Zeiss’ and created in 2013 but Minolta from 1983 gives us the same result on photos. Even auto-focus option isn’t unique, because one Korean manufacturer produces the lens with same characteristics and for half price. And it doesn’t have a lux-aura like Leica or Carl Zeiss optics, because everyone knows that this is not ‘true’ Zeiss. Sounds like a nit-picking? May be. But the market price says us that this lens is top. And it should be not just very sharp, well built etc., it should be sharpest, built as rock etc. In result: really nice lens with only one disadvantage – at such price, expectations from this lens are higher than reality. But grab it with no doubt if you can afford it, or if it has been found on sales or second-hand markets – this lens is great performer.


This lens took part in the battles:

Resolution test: Minolta MD 35mm f/1.8 vs. MD 35mm f/2.8 and one more

MD3518_MD3528_Battle__Avatar

MDZ3570_SCZ3528_MD5014_Battle__Avatar

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