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

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Sony Zeiss Distagon T* 35mm f/1.4 ZA


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


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

Over a year and a half since the original Zeiss Sonnar T* FE 35mm f/2.8 ZA lens was released alongside Sony’s Alpha 7 cameras, another 35mm focal-length lens has arrived for the Sony FE system. The new Zeiss Distagon T* FE 35mm f/1.4 ZA has a larger maximum aperture, enabling faster shutter speeds and lower sensitivity settings in low light, as well as a shallower depth of field. However, the new lens is significantly larger than the f/2.8 version, so just how well does it pair with the relatively small full-frame Sony Alpha 7 cameras?


Sony Zeiss Distagon T* FE 35mm f/1.4 ZA controls

The aperture ring operates in 1/3 stop increments, with an A position allowing control from the camera

There are a couple of notable features on what is otherwise a fairly straightforward lens. The main one is that the Zeiss 35mm f/1.4 lens features a manual aperture ring on the lens barrel, which is a first for the Sony FE mount. This allows all the apertures between f/1.4 and f/16 to be selected in 0.3EV intervals. There is also an Automatic (A) setting that switches aperture control back to the camera body.

Of course, the clicking aperture ring doesn’t lend itself to video, where a videographer may wish to change the depth of field during recording. To combat this, Sony has introduced a switch that turns the click on or off. Although this is another first for the Sony FE mount, it is something we have previously seen in the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 bridge camera.

  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 1 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.