Sony's ultra-wideangle has a fixed f2.8 aperture to set it apart from the crowd. But at £1400 is it worth every penny? The What Digital Camera Sony Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* 16-35mm f/2.8 ZA SSM lens review...
As far as APS-C cameras are concerned this is more of a wideangle zoom than an ultra-wideangle model but it offers full-frame coverage and in that sense its range is directly comparable with that of a 12-24mm zoom on an APS-C body. It also has a fixed f/2.8 maximum aperture that sets it apart from the crowd.
Although the lens shares the same uniformly cylindrical form as its 11-18mm stable-mate the same drawbacks do not apply to the 16-35mm lens. In particular, the rearward zoom ring falls readily to hand and the manual-focusing ring does not rotate during AF operation. Equally importantly, the manual-focusing ring can be used at any time (except in AF-C mode) and exhibits just the right amount of resistance for quick and reliable use. Automatic focusing is also quick, quiet and reliable.
Although the lens is fairly big and heavy, so might not be best suited to a long hike, these characteristics give it a very solid feel. It has also been nicely thought-out, with a focus-lock button provided on the left side of the lens (seen from behind) just where the user’s left thumb would normally fall.
Technically, the results obtained using this lens on an APS-C (a700) body were very good. As would be expected, bearing in mind that only the centre of the image circle was being examined, there is virtually no chromatic aberration to be seen at any aperture and focal-length setting. Similarly, the MTF figures stay above, or within touching distance of 0.25 cycles-per-pixel from f/2.8 right down to f/16. The only spoiler in this respect was a slight weakness in the middle of the focal-length range.
Sadly, all these good things come at a price and even the keen bargain hunter is likely to have to pay £1,400 or more for this lens. That is not an unreasonable price for an f/2.8 pro-spec zoom but it does put the lens out of reach of some buyers.
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T* coating, aspherical elements, ED glass, SSM AF
17 elements in 13 groups
83 x 114mm