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

The Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* FE 35mm F2.8 ZA is a compact, sharp wide-angle lens for Sony full-frame mirrorless cameras, but it's on the pricey side.

The Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* FE 35mm F2.8 ZA ($799.99 direct) is one of a pair of prime lenses that the company released along with its full-frame mirrorless camera system. Its field of view is a bit wider than the Sonnar T* FE 55mm F1.8 ZA, and its aperture isn’t as wide. But it’s also less expensive, and impressively small. The lens is an excellent performer on both the Alpha 7 and 7R, delivering minimal distortion and impressive edge-to-edge sharpness at all apertures. It’s a top-notch lens, living up to its Zeiss branding, and earning our Editors’ Choice award.

The Sonnar T* 35mm covers a classic moderate wide-angle field of view. It measures just 1.4 by 2.4 inches (HD) and weighs just 4.2 ounces. There’s a removable hood that adds just a little depth to the lens, it latches in via a bayonet; the included lens cap coves the opening of the hood, but is probably unnecessary due to the protection that the hood provides for the front element of the lens. The filter thread supports 49mm threaded filters, though you’ll have to remove the hood if you want to make adjustments to a circular polarizer.

The lens barrel is metal, and there’s a wide manual focus ring. It’s a focus by wire design, so you’ll need to switch the camera to manual focus mode in order for it to function. The Sonnar focuses on objects as close as 13.8 inches (35cm). You don’t think of a 35mm f/2.8 as a lens that is capable of really blurring the background of an image, but when working at closer distances to your subject the Sonnar T* 35mm is capable of doing just that, but not like an f/2 lens would.

I used Imatest to check the sharpness of the lens when paired wight he 36-megapixel Alpha 7R. At f/2.8 it records 3,366 lines per picture height on our SFRPlus Test chart; an 1,800-line score is required to call a photo sharp. Edges are impressive, topping 2,200 lines. The lens gets only slightly sharper as it’s stopped down, peaking at 3,537 lines at f/8. On the 24-megapixel A7 the images aren’t quite as sharp; they start at 2,872 lines at f/2.8, and increase to about 2,800 lines by f/8. There’s no distortion of note.

The Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* FE 35mm F2.8 ZA is a gem of a lens. It’s sharp from edge to edge at every aperture, shows no distortion, and is light and compact to boot. It’s not stabilized, but that’s a rare feature in a wide-angle lens and the Alpha 7 and 7R are capable of incredible high ISO performance, so shooting at a higher sensitivity is not an issue. It’s simply a great lens, and deserving of our Editors’ Choice award.

Specifications
Lines Per Picture Height 3366
Type Lens
Dimensions 2.4 x 1.4 inches
Weight 4.2 oz
35-mm Equivalent (Wide) 35 mm

Verdict
The Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* FE 35mm F2.8 ZA is a compact, sharp wide-angle lens for Sony full-frame mirrorless cameras, but it's on the pricey side.
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