Sony Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar T * FE 16-35mm f / 4 ZA OSS (SEL1635Z) lens review

Sony SEL1635Z lens test

This article opens a series of publications on Sony optics with the E mount. We at Prophotos have set ourselves the ambitious task of testing all the current full-frame Sony Alpha mirrorless lenses. The first seven tests will be ready in the near future. Follow the news on Prophotos.ru!
  • Sony Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar T * FE 16-35mm f / 4 ZA OSS (SEL1635Z) lens review
  • Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T * 35mm f / 2.8 ZA (SEL35F28Z) lens overview
  • Sony FE 28mm f / 2 (SEL28F20) lens overview
  • Sony Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar T * 24-70mm f / 4 ZA OSS Lens Overview (SEL2470Z)
  • Sony FE 24-240mm f / 3.5-6.3 OSS (SEL24240) lens overview
  • Sony SEL057FEC Converter Overview
  • Sony SEL075UWC Converter Overview

Sony Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar T * FE 16-35mm f / 4 ZA OSS (SEL1635Z)

The Sony Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar T * FE 16-35mm f / 4 ZA OSS (SEL1635Z) is the top-end ultra-wide-angle lens (viewing angle up to 107 °) in the Sony Alpha mirrorless full-frame system. He retained the leader’s position even after the announcement of the professional G-Master line of lenses : at the time of writing, he had no more competitive competitor. How high quality is the lens? Does it correspond to its, frankly, not the lowest price and high status? Read about all this in our test!
ILCE-7RM2 / FE 16-35mm F4 ZA OSS Installation: ISO 500, F4, 1/60 s, 16.0 mm equiv.Download RAW
Check Price Sony Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar T * FE 16-35mm f / 4 ZA OSS (SEL1635Z)

Design

One of the main advantages of mirrorless cameras is their compactness. Cameras themselves significantly outperform mirror competitors in size. However, physics cannot be fooled: optics for a full frame cannot be small, especially when it comes to an ultra wide angle. Sony SEL1635Z - a good compromise between different features.
ILCE-7RM2 / FE 16-35mm F4 ZA OSS Installation: ISO 320, F4, 1/6 s, 16.0 mm equiv.Download RAW
The developers did not chase the ultra-high aperture, significantly saving on the size and weight of the lens. The f / 4 values in the entire range of focal lengths are quite enough to solve most creative tasks. But the lens is equipped with a built-in image stabilizer. Little light? Increase shutter speed and remove from your hands without grease! It is a logical decision.
Handheld shooting with longer shutter speeds.
ILCE-7RM2 / FE 16-35mm F4 ZA OSS Installation: ISO 250, F4, 1/5 s, 22.0 mm equiv.Download RAW
As a result, photographers got a not-so-compact, but still not gigantic, super-wide angle with a weight of just over 500 grams. Note that when zooming, the dimensions of the lens increase slightly (in the 16 mm position, the front lens block extends by less than 2 cm). In this case, the lens block does not rotate, which allows the use of gradient and polarization filters with a diameter of 72 mm. The Sony Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar T * FE 16-35mm f / 4 ZA OSS is made of metal, including zoom and focus rings. The ring travel is very smooth and moderately tight. There are no backlashes in any of the nodes. Build quality is very high! The design has dust and moisture protection, but without external manifestations such as a rubber mount bayonet seal.
Moisture protection we checked with snow and rain.
ILCE-7RM2 / FE 16-35mm F4 ZA OSS Installation: ISO 100, F9, 1/80 s, 16.0 mm equiv.Download RAW

In work

Of the controls on the lens, there is only a zoom ring and an electronic focus ring. Turn on and off the optical stabilizer through the menu of the camera. Inconvenience? Maybe. But the lens does not claim the title of reporting. Rather, it is a creative tool for shooting landscapes and interiors, architecture.
ILCE-7RM2 / FE 16-35mm F4 ZA OSS Installation: ISO 100, F11, 2 s, 16.0 mm equiv.Download RAW
The range of focal lengths from the category of classical: the photographer has at his disposal an ultra-wide angle of 107 ° with the possibility of small zoom. Actually, most of the shots on such lenses are taken just in a wide-angle position. And 35 mm is a kind of nice bonus.
Focal length 16 mm.
ILCE-7RM2 / FE 16-35mm F4 ZA OSS Installation: ISO 100, F11, 4 s, 16.0 mm equiv.Download RAW
Focal length 35 mm.
ILCE-7RM2 / FE 16-35mm F4 ZA OSS Installation: ISO 100, F11, 3 s, 35.0 mm equiv.Download RAW
In the 16-mm position, the image acquires characteristic promising distortions: with the tilt of the camera, the parallel lines begin to converge dynamically as they move away from the shooting point. This effect does not depend on the lens model, but is associated only with its viewing angle. But the main thing is that these pictures look bright and unusual. This feature is a real creative tool in the hands of a skilled photographer.
ILCE-7RM2 / FE 16-35mm F4 ZA OSS Installations: ISO 640, F8, 1/15 s, 16.0 mm equiv.Download RAW
SEL1635Z has a good focus speed. In any case, during testing, there was never a situation when the frame was missed due to the sluggishness of autofocus. However, the depth of field of this model is simply huge, especially if you cover the diaphragm. This is very important when shooting landscapes.
ILCE-7RM2 / FE 16-35mm F4 ZA OSS Installation: ISO 200, F14, 1/60 s, 16.0 mm equiv.Download RAW
Manual photographer will have to focus using the electronic ring. It has a nonlinear stroke, depending on the speed of rotation. The solution is ultimately very convenient, but requires getting used to by the photographer. Many masters of the old school do not immediately accept it.

Stabilizer

The built-in stabilizer significantly expands the possibilities of handheld shooting. Even with the “sevens” of the first generation, the lens allows you to shoot indoors or after sunset with your hands at f / 4 – f / 5.6 apertures and low ISOs within 100–400 units. When working with Sony Alpha 7RM2, both stabilizers - in the lens and in the camera - work simultaneously.
Handheld shooting at a slower shutter speed.
ILCE-7RM2 / FE 16-35mm F4 ZA OSS Installation: ISO 250, F4, 1/6 s, 16.0 mm equiv.Download RAW
Most of the frames of this test were made without the use of a tripod, including in the subway and in the museum, where the use of tripods is prohibited. Regrets about the lack of aperture never arose.
Handheld shooting at a slower shutter speed.
ILCE-7RM2 / FE 16-35mm F4 ZA OSS Installation: ISO 400, F4, 1/6 s, 16.0 mm equiv.Download RAW

Sharpness

Sharpness is what photographers expect from lenses of this level. Both landscape and interior photography imply the highest detailing of images. Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar T * FE 16-35mm f / 4 ZA OSS (SEL1635Z) is able to provide it! We specifically tested it on the Sony ILCE-7RM2 42-megapixel camera to demonstrate maximum capabilities. Focal Length 16 mm Already at the open aperture, the lens has the highest sharpness in the center of the frame. If the image is replete with small details, then moire may appear on the Sony ILCE-7RM2 matrix. And this is a clear sign that the resolution of the optics is higher than the resolution of the matrix. Sharpness quite naturally decreases closer to the edges of the frame, but this is really noticeable only at the very periphery of the image. The open diaphragm is fully operational.
ILCE-7RM2 / FE 16-35mm F4 ZA OSS Installation: ISO 100, F4, 1/50 s, 16.0 mm equiv.Download RAW
ILCE-7RM2 / FE 16-35mm F4 ZA OSS Installations: ISO 100, F5.6, 1/25 s, 16.0 mm equiv.Download RAW
ILCE-7RM2 / FE 16-35mm F4 ZA OSS Installation: ISO 100, F8, 1/13 s, 16.0 mm equiv.Download RAW
ILCE-7RM2 / FE 16-35mm F4 ZA OSS Installation: ISO 100, F11, 1/6 s, 16.0 mm equiv.Download RAW
ILCE-7RM2 / FE 16-35mm F4 ZA OSS Installation: ISO 100, F16, 1/3 s, 16.0 mm equiv.Download RAW
ILCE-7RM2 / FE 16-35mm F4 ZA OSS Installation: ISO 100, F22, 1 s, 16.0 mm equiv.Download RAW
Aperture a step up to f / 5.6 leads to a slight increase in detail in the middle part of the image (in the center the maximum has already been reached at f / 4) and significantly “pulls up” the edges of the frame. Some softness of the image remains only in the corners. The angles become sharper as the aperture closes further to f / 8 – f / 11, however, in terms of detail, they still cannot compete with the center of the image. After f / 16, sharpness decreases due to diffraction. Focal Length 35 mm In the telephoto position, the situation repeats: the lens gives a sharp picture practically across the entire frame at the open aperture, and only at the periphery is there a slight decrease in detail. Closing the aperture one step up to f / 5.6 makes the central part of the image ringing-sharp and adds detail to the edges of the frame. However, on a 42-megapixel sensor, even with f / 11, you should not expect the same sharpness from the edges of the picture as from its center.
ILCE-7RM2 / FE 16-35mm F4 ZA OSS Installation: ISO 100, F4, 1/40 s, 35.0 mm equiv.Download RAW
ILCE-7RM2 / FE 16-35mm F4 ZA OSS Installation: ISO 100, F5.6, 1/25 s, 35.0 mm equiv.Download RAW
ILCE-7RM2 / FE 16-35mm F4 ZA OSS Installation: ISO 100, F8, 1/10 s, 35.0 mm equiv.Download RAW
ILCE-7RM2 / FE 16-35mm F4 ZA OSS Installation: ISO 100, F11, 1/5 s, 35.0 mm equiv.Download RAW
ILCE-7RM2 / FE 16-35mm F4 ZA OSS Installation: ISO 100, F16, 1/3 s, 35.0 mm equiv.Download RAW
ILCE-7RM2 / FE 16-35mm F4 ZA OSS Installation: ISO 100, F22, 1 s, 35.0 mm equiv.Download RAW

Blitz protection

Shooting with an ultra-wide-angle lens has its own specifics: with a very high probability there will be a sun or any other bright source of light in the frame. Therefore, the issues of glare protection are especially acute for this optics! The Zeiss Vario-Tessar T * FE 16-35mm f / 4 ZA OSS (SEL1635Z) has a few things to keep in mind here.
ILCE-7RM2 / FE 16-35mm F4 ZA OSS Installation: ISO 100, F9, 1/320 s, 16.0 mm equiv.Download RAW
ILCE-7RM2 / FE 16-35mm F4 ZA OSS Installation: ISO 100, F9, 1/500 s, 16.0 mm equiv.Download RAW
In general, the lens holds backlight very well: it does not lose contrast, practically does not form flares. The contrast in the backlight is so high that you can safely put the plot-important object in an overexposed area. Highlights and glare "will not eat it." With strong aperture, “beams” may appear around the light source.
You can catch such a glare only on a covered diaphragm and with a special arrangement of the light source in the frame.
ILCE-7RM2 / FE 16-35mm F4 ZA OSS Installation: ISO 100, F9, 1/320 s, 16.0 mm equiv.Download RAW
Only in some cases, when the sun is slightly away from the edge of the frame, the Zeiss Vario-Tessar T * FE 16-35mm f / 4 ZA OSS (SEL1635Z) can catch a round glare of a rather large size. The shape and size of this lens flare strongly depends on the aperture value and the position of the light source in the frame. I will say more: it’s easy to get rid of glare by moving the camera a little bit to the side. To demonstrate these pictures to you, I had to specially select the shooting conditions when the flare is manifested in all its glory.
ILCE-7RM2 / FE 16-35mm F4 ZA OSS Installation: ISO 100, F4, 1/500 s, 16.0 mm equiv.Download RAW
ILCE-7RM2 / FE 16-35mm F4 ZA OSS Installation: ISO 100, F5.6, 1/250 s, 16.0 mm equiv.Download RAW
ILCE-7RM2 / FE 16-35mm F4 ZA OSS Installation: ISO 100, F8, 1/125 s, 16.0 mm equiv.Download RAW
ILCE-7RM2 / FE 16-35mm F4 ZA OSS Installation: ISO 100, F11, 1/60 s, 16.0 mm equiv.Download RAW
ILCE-7RM2 / FE 16-35mm F4 ZA OSS Installation: ISO 200, F16, 1/60 s, 16.0 mm equiv.Download RAW
ILCE-7RM2 / FE 16-35mm F4 ZA OSS Installation: ISO 400, F22, 1/60 s, 16.0 mm equiv.Download RAW

Chromatic aberration

Chromatic aberration - colored borders at contrasting borders - is a real scourge of wide-angle optics. In the modern photo world there are not many lenses that are reliably protected from such distortions. Sony SEL1635Z has a very low level of chromatic aberration, allowing it to be used in almost any environment. Aberrations are manifested mainly at the edges and corners of the frame, somewhat weaken when aperture is a step or two. However, their size is so small that they can be noticed only with a detailed study of images enlarged to 100%. During our test, software suppression of chromatic aberration was disabled.
ILCE-7RM2 / FE 16-35mm F4 ZA OSS Installation: ISO 250, F4, 1/60 s, 16.0 mm equiv.Download RAW
ILCE-7RM2 / FE 16-35mm F4 ZA OSS Installation: ISO 400, F4, 1/15 s, 16.0 mm equiv.Download RAW

Vignetting

You need to remember this feature of the lens: on an open aperture, the brightness of the corners of the frame will be significantly lower than the brightness of the center. Vignetting is quite pronounced. It noticeably weakens at f / 5.6, but an even better result is obtained at f / 8. In our test, the software correction of vignetting in the camera was disabled.
ILCE-7RM2 / FE 16-35mm F4 ZA OSS Installation: ISO 100, F4, 1/1250 s, 16.0 mm equiv.Download RAW
ILCE-7RM2 / FE 16-35mm F4 ZA OSS Installation: ISO 100, F5.6, 1/640 s, 16.0 mm equiv.Download RAW
ILCE-7RM2 / FE 16-35mm F4 ZA OSS Installation: ISO 100, F8, 1/320 s, 16.0 mm equiv.Download RAW
ILCE-7RM2 / FE 16-35mm F4 ZA OSS Installation: ISO 100, F11, 1/160 s, 16.0 mm equiv.Download RAW

Geometric distortion

Sony SEL1635Z has weak barrel distortion. Its correction can be carried out programmatically directly in the camera or in a graphical editor when converting a RAW file. Adobe products already have a built-in profile for this lens. It is noteworthy that in the camera, the automatic distortion distortion is turned off (for a number of lenses with pronounced distortion, it is made non-disconnectable). In practice, geometric distortions do not cause big problems.
Geometric distortion correction is disabled.
ILCE-7RM2 / FE 16-35mm F4 ZA OSS Installation: ISO 100, F9, 1/320 s, 16.0 mm equiv.Download RAW
Distortions are fixed in the process of converting RAW using a profile in Adobe Camera RAW.
ILCE-7RM2 / FE 16-35mm F4 ZA OSS Installation: ISO 100, F9, 1/320 s, 16.0 mm equiv.

conclusions

Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS (SEL1635Z) ???????? ?????????? ???????? ???????????, ????????? ????? ??????????? ????????????? ?????????????. ???? ?? 42-?????????????? ?????? ?? ????????????? ???????? ??????????. ???????? ???????? ??????? ???? ? ????? ????? ????? ? ?????????? ??? ????????????????. ???? ??????? ??????? ?????? ????? ??? ?? ???????? ?????????. ????????????? ????????? ? ?????????????? ????????? ? ????? ????, ?? ????????? ????????????? ??????? ?? ???????? ??????????? ? ????? ??????????? ??????????, ? ??? ????? ?????????? Adobe. ???????? ????????? ?????? ????????? ????, ?? ????? ????????. ???? ??????? ????? ????, ?? ??? ????? ????????? ???????? ????????? ????????? ??????, ???????? ????????? ????????? ????? ? ????? ? ???????? ?????????. ?? ???? ?????????? ??????????? ???? ????? ???????? ??????????????, ??? ???????????? ? ?? f/4, ? ?? f.5.6, ????????? ???? ? f/8. The lens turned out to be very successful in terms of characteristics. The ultra-large viewing angle coexists with a relatively small weight for ultra-wide-angle full-frame optics - about 500 grams. Not too high aperture compensates for the built-in optical stabilizer. The formal disadvantages of using this model include only the absence of a stabilizer shutdown selector, as well as an electronic focus ring that requires some getting used to. As befits Carl Zeiss optics, this model has a metal case, devoid of backlash. The manufacturer claims dust and moisture protection. We recommend Sony Vario-Tessar T * FE 16-35mm f / 4 ZA OSS (SEL1635Z) primarily for lovers of landscape, architectural, interior and travel photography. It will be useful in the recruitment of a wedding photographer, as it will allow you to create spectacular pictures in the interiors. This is a really high-quality lens from Sony and Carl Zeiss, which has a minimum of flaws.

Pros:

  • a good balance between size and optical performance;
  • metal case with dust and moisture protection;
  • high sharpness of most of the frame already on the open aperture;
  • a relatively low level of chromatic aberration;
  • low level of distortion;
  • holds back light well;
  • good glare protection;
  • effective image stabilizer.

Minuses:

  • retractable structure;
  • lack of a stabilizer switch on the case;
  • electronic focus ring is addictive;
  • noticeable vignetting;
  • drop in detail on the periphery of the frame at the open aperture.

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