Sony Zeiss 16-35mm
Full-Frame FE Vario-Tessar T* OSS
Sony Zeiss Vario-Tessar T* 16-35mm f/4 FE OSS (fits Sony NEX only, metal 72mm filter thread, 18.4 oz./520 g, 0.9'/0.28m close-focus, about $1,248). bigger. I got mine at B&H. I'd also get it at Adorama, at Amazon or at Crutchfield.
This ad-free website's biggest source of support is when you use those or any of these links to approved sources when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. Sony and Zeiss do not seal any of their boxes, so never buy at retail or any source not on my personally approved list since you'll have no way of knowing if you're missing accessories, getting a defective, dropped, damaged or used lens, a customer return or if the warranty has already been registered to someone else online! The approved sources I use ship from secure, remote automated warehouses where salespeople or other customers never, ever get to touch your lens before you do, and they have the best prices, selection, service and return policies.
June 2017 Sony Zeiss Minolta Nikon Canon Fuji LEICA All Reviews
Christmas Lights, 14 November 2015. Sony A7R II, Zeiss FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS at 16mm at f/8 for 30 seconds at ISO 100. bigger or full-resolution © JPG to explore on your computer (mobile devices rarely can display these at full resolution).
Japan at f/4, 13 November 2015. Sony A7R II, Zeiss FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS at 26mm at f/4 at 1 second hand-held on table, ISO 100. bigger or camera-original © JPG to explore on your computer (mobile devices rarely can display these at full resolution).
Japan at f/8, 13 November 2015. Sony A7R II, Zeiss FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS at 26mm at f/8 at 5 seconds hand-held on table, ISO 100. bigger or camera-original © JPG to explore on your computer (mobile devices rarely can display these at full resolution).
Luminous Floating Toroid, 13 November 2015. Sony A7R II, Zeiss FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS at 16mm at f/4 at 1/25 hand-held at ISO 800. bigger, full-resolution JPG or camera-original © file to explore on your computer (mobile devices rarely can display these at full resolution).
Jewelry Store, 14 November 2015. Sony A7R II, Zeiss FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS at 35mm at f/8 at 1/500 at Auto ISO 100. bigger or camera-original © JPG to explore on your computer (mobile devices rarely can display these at full resolution).
ACS Discovery Shop, 14 November 2015. Sony A7R II, Zeiss FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS at 34mm at f/6.3 at 1/160 at Auto ISO 100. bigger or camera-original © JPG to explore on your computer (mobile devices rarely can display these at full resolution).
Italy, 14 November 2015. Sony A7R II, Zeiss FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS at 16mm at f/4 at 1/10 hand-held at ISO 400. bigger or full-resolution JPG to explore on your computer (mobile devices rarely can display these at full resolution).
While other state-of-the-art lenses like the Canon 16-35mm f/4 L IS, Nikon 16-35m f/4 VR and LEICA SUPER-ELMARIT M 21mm f/3.4 are fantastic when used on their own cameras, this Zeiss is far better than any of them when used on Sony's cameras.
While it's easy to adapt anything to Sony's NEX cameras, adapted ultrawides work poorly. Adapted ultrawides don't interface well at random acute angles of incidence at the sides of sensors, making them both much softer and far more susceptible to ghost images than this native Sony Zeiss FE lens. See my comparisons where I show this; other ultrawides work poorly when adapted to Sony, while this Zeiss looks awesome.
This Zeiss also handles much better than adapted lenses, with autofocus and auto aperture control and EXIF communication you can't get with an adapted lens.
While the similar Nikon, Canon and LEICA full-frame ultrawides are at least as good as this made-in-Thailand Zeiss lens optically, only this Zeiss lens actually works properly on Sony cameras, with sharp corners and no phantom ghost images in the corners.
It has plastic innards covered by a metal outer shell.
It has an electronic manual focus ring, that if activated in the camera, can allow manual focus.
It only works on Sony's NEX series of cameras.
It's a full-frame lens and I'm reviewing it that way.
it works great on cropped-sensor cameras, but it's a complete waste of money, considering that the 16-50mm OSS does the same thing — and more — on a cropped-sensor camera.
You're paying the big bucks for this lens to get great performance over a large sensor, which you don't need with a cropped-sensor camera.
Sony Zeiss Vario-Tessar T* 16-35mm f/4 FE OSS. bigger.
Sony calls this the Zeiss Vario-Tessar FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS T*.
Zeiss: Brand name of famous German lens company. (Lens is actually made by Sony under license in Thailand; it's not made by Zeiss.)
Vario-Tessar: Zeiss' trade name for a zoom lens.
FE: Full frame coverage lens for Sony's NEX cameras.
ZA: Solidarity with South Africa.
OSS: Image Stabilization. lets you leave the tripod at home.
T*: Zeiss' trademark for multicoating, standard on all camera lenses of all brands since the 1970s;
Sony Zeiss FE 16-35mm f/4 T* OSS internal diagram. Aspheric elements and ED elements.
12 elements in 10 groups.
Five aspheric elements, one of which (the front element) Sony calls "Super Aspheric."
Three ED glass elements.
Pumper zoom; front section moves in and out as zoomed.
It's multicoated, which Zeiss calls T*.
0.92 feet (0.28 meters) from the image plane.
Maximum Reproduction Ratio
Sony Zeiss FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS. bigger.
7 rounded blades.
Stops down to f/22.
Full frame, as well as smaller formats.
When used on an APS-C camera, it sees angles of view similar to what a 24-50mm lens sees when used on a full-frame or 35mm camera.
Angles of View
107º ~ 63° diagonal on full-frame.
83º ~ 44° diagonal on APS-C.
Hard Infinity Focus Stop?
You have to let the AF system focus at infinity.
Infra-Red Focus Index
Sony ALC SH134 hood. bigger.
ALC SH134 hybrid metal & plastic bayonet hood, included.
Included unpadded drawstring vinyl sack. bigger.
3⅛" (78 mm) diameter by 4" (98.5 mm) extension from flange, at 35mm setting.
It gets longer at 16mm setting:
Zeiss FE 16-35mm at 16mm. bigger.
18.350 (520.3 g), actual measured weight.
Rated 18.3 oz. (518 g).
Big folded multilingual instruction sheet.
Made in Thailand.
Sony's Model Number
15 September 2014.
June 2017: $1,248.
November 2015: $1,348.
Box, Sony Zeiss FE 16-35mm. bigger.
Microcorrugated cardboard box.
Lens in bubble wrap, put in case, and that's put in more bubble wrap
Microcorrugami insert to hold this at one end.
The Sony Zeiss FE 16-35mm has superb optics and handles well.
Autofocus is fast and accurate, no worries here.
It focuses by wire, and since autofocus is so great, I don't know why I'd use manual focus for anything other than to keep the focus locked for some reason.
Bokeh, the quality of out-of-focus areas as opposed to the degree of defocus, is only fair, but it doesn't matter since it's nearly impossible to get anything out of focus with a lens as slow and as wide as this.
Here are samples shot wide open from headshot distance. Click either for the camera-original file to explore on your computer (portable devices rarely can display the full resolution of these files):
While you're here, notice how the spider webs are exceptionally sharp are in the center where they are in focus. The sides are out of focus; this isn't shot straight-on.
As shot on the Sony A7R II, the Zeiss FE 16-35 has moderately strong barrel distortion at 16mm and moderately strong pincushion distortion from 24mm through 35mm.
Thankfully it's mostly low-order distortion, so these values in Photoshop's Lens Distortion tool will completely remove it. These aren't facts or specifications, they are the results of my research that requires hours of photography and calculations on the resulting data.
© 2015 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.
Zeiss FE 16-35mm. bigger.
This is an easy lens to shoot. The big zoom ring moves smartly and smoothly.
The focus ring turns well, but it only does something if you set your camera just right.
If feels like it is: a metal shell over a plastic lens.
Falloff is completely invisible as shot on the Sony cameras.
It's not a problem even in the extreme case of exaggerating it by shooting a gray field and showing it on a gray background:
On full-frame; two stacked normal filters work with no vignetting as wide as 18mm.
Don't use polarizers on ultrawide lenses; nature looks funny through them. This is the case for all ultrawides.
There is just a little bit of blue/violet fringing on a 42MP A7R II.
I wouldn't worry about it.
Macro doesn't get very close, considering how wide is this lens. Here's as good as you can get on full-frame:
Crop from above at 100%. If this is about 8" (20cm) on your screen, printing the complete image at this same high magnification would result in a 50 x 80" (125 x 200 cm) print!
It's super-sharp at f/8, but it's not so hot at f/4 at macro distances.
Sony Zeiss FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS. bigger.
The Sony Zeiss FE 16-35 is a metal shell protecting plastic innards. Yes, the mount really is a little pink.
Seem like all plastic.
Engraved on metal ring inside filter threads.
Dust seal at mount
Engraved and filled with paint.
Serial Numbers1.) Engraved on front identity ring.
2.) Sticker from Sony with a different printed number glued to the bottom of the barrel..
Noises When Shaken
Image sharpness depends more on you than your lens, and lens sharpness doesn't mean much to good photographers. It's the least skilled hobbyists who waste the most time blaming fuzzy pictures on their lenses, while real shooters know that few photos ever use all the sharpness of which their lenses are capable due to subject motion and the fact that real subjects are rarely perfectly flat.
This Sony Zeiss FE 16-35mm is super sharp from edge-to-edge at all apertures, whoo hoo! There's no problem here.
Sunstars are great! We get good sunstars at just about every aperture:
Sunstar at f/5.6. bigger.
Sunstar at f/8. bigger.
Sunstar at f/11. bigger.
Sunstar at f/16. bigger.
Sunstar at f/22. bigger.
Image Stabilization (OSS) isn't critical for ultrawide lenses, but its nice to have.
It's not smart; it doesn't know when you're already on a tripod.
If you're on a tripod or resting on a table, turn it OFF otherwise it will blur images made with exposure times around one second!
See also Full-Frame Ultrawide Lenses Compared.
The Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 GM is bigger, heavier, faster, tougher, more expensive and adds a focus-lock button, but lacks image stabilization. Get this Zeiss for lighter weight and hand-held images of things that hold still, like interiors, nature and landscapes, but get the 16-35mm f/2.8 GM for sports, news, action or if you're going to abuse it physically or if you want the ultimate optical performance (both of these are superb) and don't need stabilization.
Adapting other brands to a Sony give poor results:
Canon 5DSR vs. Sony A7 II 17 October 2015
This Zeiss is optically superb. It is far better when used on Sony than any other lens adapted to it.
The very best protective filter is the 72mm Hoya multicoated HD3 UV which uses hardened glass and repels dirt and fingerprints, and is also multicoated.
Filters last a lifetime, so you may as well get the best. The Hoya HD3 stays cleaner than the others since it repels oil and dirt.
This ad-free website's biggest source of support is when you use those or any of these links to approved sources when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. Sony and Zeiss does not seal its boxes in any way, so never buy at retail or any source not on my personally approved list since you'll have no way of knowing if you're missing accessories, getting a defective, dropped, damaged or used product, a customer return or if the warranty has already been registered to someone else online! The approved sources I use ship from secure, remote automated warehouses where salespeople or other customers never, ever get to touch your lens before you do, and they have the best prices, selection, service and return policies.
Thanks for helping me help you!
© Ken Rockwell. All rights reserved. Tous droits réservés. Alle Rechte vorbehalten.
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24 June 2017, 16 November 2015