Review Sony FE 24-70 mm f/4 ZA OSS Zeiss Vario-Tessar T
The Sony FE 24-70 mm f/4 is a versatile zoom lens for daily use on a Sony E full-frame camera, like the Sony A7 series, although the lens naturally also fits on Sony cameras with an APS-C sensor and an E mount (Sony A6300). A very compact zoom lens with a very popular zoom range. Do not expect the highest possible sharpness at full aperture, in particular at 24 and 70 mm. Instead of that, enjoy a beautifully built and—partly thanks to the limited brightness—a very handy lens for cameras with a full-frame sensor. The combination of the Sony A7R MK2 test camera with the Sony 24-70 mm f/4 was not much bigger than a micro-43 camera. That is great performance by Sony.
Sony FE 24-70 mm f/4 ZA OSS Zeiss Vario-Tessar T: compact all-arounder
Build and auto focus
|The build quality of this lens is flawless, with a beautiful matte black, metal housing. Both the zoom ring and the focus ring turn smoothly and are simultaneously sufficiently dampened not to turn on their own. This lens is extra well-sealed against dust and splashwater. Focusing takes place with a fly-by wire mechanism. There are no focal depth or distance scales on the lens. Turning image stabilization on or off, or setting the camera to manual focus you do on the camera, not with a switch on the lens. This is a lens that is designed for use on cameras with a full-frame sensor, and at the same time, it is light. AF is fast (in 125 ms from infinity to 1.5 meters), silent and accurate. Because the camera focuses on the sensor signaal, you do not have trouble with front or back focus. The shortest focal distance is 40 cm. This lens has a filter size of 67 mm and is delivered including flower-shaped lens hood.|
|This lens consists of 12 lens elements in 10 groups. Five aspherical elements and one glass ED element suppress aberrations. ZEISS® T* coating suppresses internal reflections. |
Vignetting and chromatic aberration
|In the jpg files—and RAW files that you open in Lightroom or Photoshop—vignetting is automatically corrected. That means that you have less than 1 stop of vignetting across the entire range. Only at 24 mm is the vignetting not completely corrected, and it is a bit more than 1 stop. Of itself, 1 stop of vignetting is not that high for a zoom lens on a camera with a full-frame sensor. Even so, the corrected vignetting only drops under half a stop starting at f/8. That correction can be a bit more, as far as I’m concerned. |
Chromatic aberration will be automatically corrected. If you work with RAW files in Lightroom/Photoshop or if you use the jpg files out of the camera, then you will not be bothered by it.
Distortion is also automatically corrected, and from 28 mm, you will not have any trouble at all from visible distortion. Sony has consciously chosen a lens design in which significant distortion is present. Move your mouse over the illustration below for the distortion in uncorrected RAW files.
The image stabilization of the Sony A7R MK2 worked well. That is very unusual for a camera with a full-frame sensor, since the physical shifts that the sensor has to make in order to combat vibrations become larger as the sensor becomes larger. We tested the image stabilization (Optical Steady Shot: OSS) at the longest focal length because that is the most difficult for sensor image stabilization to correct. We took multiple test shots with and without image stabilization and then measured the sharpness with Imatest. A shot with image stabilization and a shutter time of 1/3 of a second (at 70 mm!) is just as sharp as a shot taken with a shutter time of 1/50 sec without image stabilization. That is a clear profit of 3 stops. The difference from shots made without image stabilization and 1/100 of a second as the shutter time was small. Great performance by Sony.
|Below you see the MTF diagrams that Sony has published for this lens. You see the contrast on the vertical axis, set against the distance from the center. The higher the lines, the better. The red line shows the global contrast, while the blue line shows the micro-contrast. It can be clearly seen that the micro-contrast in the corners at the shortest focal length is not the strong point of this lens, and that stopping down does not offer much improvement. Even at 70 mm, the sharpness in the corners is not optimal, but here it does help to stop down. We saw this in our resolution measurements with Imatest as well. Modern cameras have very high resolution and place very high demands on lenses. If you want to make optimal use of them, then choose the Sony FE 55 mm f/1.8. If you want a nicely compact set with high image quality, then try to avoid the extremes of the zoom range and set the camera to f/5.6. You are sure to come home with great shots then. |
|Despite an aperture with 7 rounded lamellae, the bokeh is less beautiful and is noisy. Fans of bokeh are better off saving up for a Sony 24-70 mm f/2.8G, which we hope to be able to test shortly. With the announcement of the 24-70 mm f/2.8, Sony is getting deeply into the advanced production process of aspherical lens elements that should ensure that the bokeh of that lens is much nicer. |
Conclusion Sony FE 24-70 mm f/4 ZA OSS review with Sony A7 R II
|Use our list of reviewed lenses to compare this lens with other lenses. |
WYSIWYG score: This table shows the performance of this lens if you save the files in the camera as jpg, where you have applied all available in-camera lens corrections. This score gives you for this lens/test camera combination: "What you see is what you get".