Richard Sibley tries out Sony’s fastest FE lens for the Alpha 7-series full-frame compact system cameras

Product Overview

Overall rating:

Sony Zeiss Distagon T* 35mm f/1.4 ZA

Product:

Sony Zeiss Distagon T* 35mm f/1.4 ZA review

Manufacturer:

Price as reviewed:

£1,450.00

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Image quality

It is hard to fault the image quality of the 35mm f/1.4 lens. In the centre it is extremely sharp, with only a slight drop-off at the very edges when shooting at f/8. The corners aren’t as sharp when shooting wide open. However, at this maximum f/1.4 aperture the shallow depth of field is lovely, with smooth out-of-focus areas that blend into one another.

 

Sony Zeiss Distagon T* 35mm f/1.4

Shot with the Sony Alpha 7R with the Sony Zeiss Distagon T* 35mm lens at f/1.4

A 100% pull-up of the centre of an image shot at f/1.4 with the Sony Zeiss Distagon T* 35mm f/1.4 lens

A 100% pull-up of the centre of an image shot at f/1.4 with the Sony Zeiss Distagon T* 35mm f/1.4 lens

Shot with the Zeiss Distagon T* 35mm f/1.4 lens, at f/1.4

Shot with the Zeiss Distagon T* 35mm f/1.4 lens, at f/1.4

Zeiss Distagon T* FE 35mm f/1.4 shot at f/11

Zeiss Distagon T* FE 35mm f/1.4 shot at f/11

100% crop from Zeiss Distagon T* FE 35mm f/1.4 shot at f/11

100% crop from Zeiss Distagon T* FE 35mm f/1.4 shot at f/11

Vignetting is noticeable at most aperture settings, but at f/1.4 it is very prominent, with very dark corners to images. However, vignetting doesn’t concern me, and I am actually drawn to the vignetting on the f/1.4 aperture because, when combined with shallow depth of field and the level of contrast that the lens offers, images take on a very cinematic quality. If vignetting isn’t your thing, the camera does a good job of correcting JPEG images, or it is easily removed when converting raw files.

Shot at f/1.4 with the Zeiss Distagon T* FE 35mm lens, the vignetting at the corners is quite severe

Shot at f/1.4 with the Zeiss Distagon T* FE 35mm lens, the vignetting at the corners is quite severe

There is some red/cyan chromatic aberration visible when shooting at f/1.4, but by the time the lens is at f/4 it is significantly reduced, and it has gone by f/8. Again, I found that it is easily cleared up when editing raw images.

Red/Cyan Chromatic aberration is in out of focus highlight areas when shooting at f/1.4

Red/Cyan Chromatic aberration is in out of focus highlight areas when shooting at f/1.4

detail-f1.4CR

  1. 1. Introduction
  2. 2. Build and handling
  3. 3. Image quality
  4. 4. Test results: MTF (Sharpness)
  5. 5. Test results: Distortion and vignetting
  6. 6. Conclusion
Page 3 of 6 - Show Full List
  • Chris Birchenhall

    The key word in Richard review is “character”. While I have not used this lens everything in the review suggests it a typical Zeiss design. It is typical for Zeiss lenses to vignette and concentrate on central sharpness. I think too much is made of sharpness but too little on overall character. I have long favoured Zeiss glass way back from the days I used a Hasselblad and a Rolleiflex for weddings. I can note the new Nikon 58mm has loads of character too.

  • Oleg Hutsalenko

    Taste is a bigger problem then MTF or Fstop =)

  • ZorakZoran01

    I never saw it in any shot except one, online, of a startrail pushed by 4 ev. And you need to look at 100% to see it. Over the hundredth of thousands pictures taken with the system since it’s out. So…

  • Nigrath

    Does the focus ring have a fixed beginnning and end point or is it continuous? Fixed is essential for remote focus pulling and a deal breaker for me.

  • moxford

    If you push/pull it in post the artifacts get nasty real quick. And seeing it in 10% of my shots is unacceptable. My personal opinion.

  • bakanecko

    why people always complaining the lossy-raw compression, in 90% of shooting style you can’t distinguish it, except if you have very special eye or have very extreme/odd shooting style.

  • moxford

    With excellent Sigma 35mm Art being about half the cost, it seems odd to offer this particular lens, with this optical quality, at this price-point, right now. I’d think they’d hold off until they could at least match the Sigma and shoot closer to the Zeiss Otus for quality. Can’t wait for the head-to-head reports but this release feels almost … premature. Curious. Sony continues to baffle me with what and how they’re tackling this whole MLC thing. While killer sensors are their ace in the hole, lack of a solid, cohesive and well thought out strategy may be a Sony killer. Even as much as I’m rooting for the due to the sensors, the body offerings, lenses and roadmaps just seem … scattered. I was –><– close to jumping systems when I found out about the lossy-RAW compression. I mean, really? What, they didn't think anyone would find out? That's like Nvidia thinking that no one would discover the issues with their 970 cards.