Sony FE 35mm F2.8 ZA Carl Zeiss Sonnar T*

Announced Sept. 9, 2018


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The FE 35mm F2.8 ZA Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* is one of the first three lenses available for Sony's full-frame E-mount system, having been announced alongside the Alpha 7 and 7R camera bodies. It offers a classic moderate wideangle view that's well-suited to a wide range of subjects, including such things as reportage or street photography. It uses a 7-element, 5-group optical design, which includes three aspherical elements to minimise aberrations. The 35mm is a pretty compact lens (it's 37mm / 1.5" long, and weighs just 120g / 4.2 oz) which makes for a very portable combination when used with the A7 or A7R. The flipside of this, though, is its relatively slow maximum aperture; F2.8 is distinctly pedestrian for a modern prime. Despite this, it still commands premium pricing, doubtless as a result of that blue Zeiss badge. It costs about $800 / £680 / €800 at the time of writing, meaning it's significantly more pricey than other full frame 35mm lenses like the Canon EF 35mm F2 IS USM (which is a stop faster, and includes image stabilisation) or the recently-launched Nikon AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G.


Sharpness is excellent. The 35mm is extremely sharp in the centre of the frame wide open at F2.8, and while it's not quite so good towards the edges, it's still pretty impressive. The best results overall across the frame come from F5.6-F11, much as we'd expect on full frame. Indeed at F5.6 the central sharpness is literally off the charts here (helped by being tested on the AA-filterless 36MP A7R). Naturally diffraction causes some softening at f22, but it's not excessive, meaning this setting should be entirely usable when depth of field is a priority.


The 35mm shows an unusual distortion profile, with somewhat pronounced barrel distortion that appears only towards the corners of the frame (a 1:1 crop from the centre would look near-perfectly corrected). This distortion will be visible in geometrical compositions such as architectural shots, and require profiled corrections in post-processing

Quick Specs

Filter Thread 49 mm
Colour Black
Materials Metal barrel, metal mount
Autofocus Stepper motor
Minimum Focus 0.35 m (13.78″)
Minimum aperture F22
Focal length 35mm FF
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Although this lens was released alongside the original A7/A7R bodies it's still a very popular & compelling option. I've reviewed it alongside the newer A7R-II to see if it's still optically up to the challenge of a more demand...

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