Sony 16-35mm Vario-Tessar T FE F4 ZA OSS Review

Some days I feel like a mercenary with camera companies. I keep switching teams! Earlier this month I switch over from the Nikon system to Sony’s mirrorless system with its brand-spanking- new A7r II (full post coming soon!) Immediately after receiving the new system I loaded up on a few lens to test during a road trip up California. To my surprise the Sony 16-35mm Vario-Tessar T FE F4 ZA OSS became my go to lens for the expedition. Let’s break down why this lens is so awesome for the road.

ML-Sony1635-001

 

Quick Specs:

Lens configuration (group / element) 10 / 12
35mm-equivalent focal length (APS-C)* (mm) 24 – 52.5
Angle of view (APS-C)* 83° – 44°
Angle of view (35mm full frame) 107° – 63°
No. of aperture blade 7 (circular aperture)
Min. aperture (F) 22
Max. magnification ratio (x) 0.19
Min. focus (m) 0.28
Distance Encoder for ADI flash metering
Filter dia. (mm) 72
Hood shape / mount petal / bayonet
Dimensions: Dia. x L (mm) 78 x 98.5
Dimensions: Dia. x L (in.) 3-1/8 x 4
Weight: (approx.) (g) 518
Weight: (approx.) (oz.) 18.3
Provided accessories hood (ALC-SH134), case

Build Quality + Design

This wide-angle zoom lens feels extremely solid and is almost equally balanced with the weight of the A7r II’s body. At 518g the Sony 16-35mm is relatively lighter and more compact compared to similar zoom lens from Canon and Nikon. The outer barrel and filter thread is of metal construction, while its hood and inner barrel are of plastic construction. The textured focus and zoom ring have a grippy feel to them, which makes pulling focus and composing your shot a breeze.

Additionally according to Sony this lens is both dust and moisture resistant. I took the 16-35mm out near water falls where the air was filled with moisture and down into dry, dusty lava tubes.

ML-Sony1635-002
A7R2 + 16-35mm/4 OSS @ Burney Falls, CA

MellyLee-BurneyFalls

ML-Sony1635-004
A7R2 + 16-35mm/4 @ Lava Bed National Monument

MellyLee-LavaBed

Autofocus

I got 99 problems, but autofocus ain’t one! Couple the 16-35mm with the A7r II’s 399 focal-plane phase-detection AF points and you’ll unlock AF instant gratification.

 

Image Quality

If you’re into shooting landscapes or anything that would benefit from that extra wide angled shot, hands down this lens is perfect. The colors and sharpness are exceptional –even the in the corners of the frame.

I was also pleasantly surprised by the textured characteristic of the bokeh. Usually I associate shallow depth of field with longer and faster lens. Never with a wide-angle. However, if you really wanted to get up close and personal with your photo subject the 16-35mm could give you some decent blurry background goodness.

Photo by: Melly Lee (mellylee.com)
35mm 1/320 f/4 @ iso 250

I found this to be my primary lens while backpacking through several national parks. Granted the slower f/4 aperture might force you to boost the iso while shooting or drop the shutter speed, but the lens’ built in image stabilization, Optical Stead Shot (OSS), helps out in lower light conditions. If all else fails and you’re photographing the great out doors just use a tripod.

MellyLee-LassenVolcanicNP-23
20mm 1/500 f/7.1 @ iso 100

 

MellyLee-CraterLakeNP-59
25mm 1/320 f4 @ iso 100

 

Photo by: Melly Lee (mellylee.com)
16mm 30.0s f/4 @ iso 6400

 

The one thing that I’m not fond of with this lens is the amount of distortion you get around the corners –especially at 16mm. Unless a bendy, bloated aesthetic is part of your artistic direction I would not recommend framing your subject matter near the frames corners. For example in the photo below my travel buddy’s white car grows a large posterior

MellyLee-CraterLakeNP-252
16mm 30.0s f/4 @ iso 6400

A bonus perk of the lens’ construction is that its bokeh yields a starburst like characteristic.

MellyLee-CraterLakeNP-247

 

Final Thoughts

ML-Sony1635-003

What I liked:

  • Build Quality
  • Travel friendly size
  • Speedy autofocus

What I like to see on the next generation:

  • f/2.8
  • Witness marks on the lens barrel for pulling focus
  • Less distortion in corners

 


SUPPORT THE BLOG

The Sony 16-35/4 ZA OSS featured in this post was provided by B&H.

If you find content like this review helpful, please consider purchasing gear from B&H or any of my other my affiliate links. Anything you purchase after clicking through these links helps keep the lights on for the blog –and you get to treat yourself to a new toy!

Tags from the story
, ,