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Gear Reviews

Sony Zeiss 24-70mm F/4 ZA OSS | Review

By Anthony Thurston on April 22nd 2015

Sony’s new Full Frame E-Mount or FE Mount system is still quite new to the world. Only a handful of lenses are even made for the system. But of all the lenses, this is one that I am asked about most often – the Sony-Zeiss FE 24-70mm F/4 ZA OSS.

The reason for the questions is the curious combination of price and specs that makes this lens sort of an enigma. Does the performance of this lens back up the price? Is it worth the upgrade over the very capable Sony 28-70mm Kit lens? These are the questions I aim to help answer in today’s review.

sony zeiss 24-70mm f/4 ZA OSS Review Video

[RELATED: Thor’s Well with the Sony A7 II]

03-performance-4-stars

The Sony FE 24-70mm F/4 ZA OSS is a great performer throughout its focal and aperture ranges. In my testing, the lens was nice and crispy sharp from the center of the frame all the way through to the far corners.

100-crop

However, the lens does suffer from quite a bit of barrel distortion wide open, as well as some slight vignetting in the far corners. Nothing that can’t be fixed rather easily (and quickly) in Lightroom – but worth noting.

barrel-wide

Overall, the experience of shooting this lens is a good one. The image stabilization is superb, offering you 5-axis stabilization when used in combination with an A7 II. I was able to shoot handheld video in a crowded locker room after a professional soccer match and the footage turned out great.

I will also say that the F/4 aperture was hardly a hindrance of this lens over other F/2.8 lenses that I have in my kit. The dynamic range and high ISO capability of the Sony sensors really make F/4 usable in situations that would have required F/2.8 in the past. You may prefer the depth of field that F/2.8 creates, but as far as light gathering goes – F/4 is no issue for this lens.

As far as performance goes, there is really not too much to complain about. As mentioned above, it is sharp and doesn’t suffer from any crazy coma or other image quality issues. If anything, you could say that this lens is a good happy medium, not incredible at what it does, but better than average. For that reason, I am giving it a solid 4 out of 5 for performance.

Sony 24-70mm F/4 @ F/4

Sony 24-70mm F/4 @ 70mm & F/5.6

Sony 24-70mm F/4 @ F/4

Sony 24-70mm F/4 @ 50mm & F/5.6

Sony 24-70mm F/4 @ F/4

Sony 24-70mm F/4 @ 24mm & F/4

Sony 24-70mm F/4 @ F/4

Sony 24-70mm F/4 @ 24mm & F/4

Sony 24-70mm F/4 @ F/4

Sony 24-70mm F/4 @ 50mm & F/5

Sony 24-70mm F/4 @ F/4

Sony 24-70mm F/4 @ 50mm & F/4

08-features-4-stars

As far as features go, this lens has just about everything that you could want a standard zoom to have. It features image stabilization, is dust and moisture resistant, and has a fairly standard 67mm filter thread.

Probably my only complaint about the features of this lens is the lack of any buttons on the lens body itself. There is no manual focus override or OSS on/off switch like we are used to on full frame DSLR lenses. You may prefer a lens without extra clutter. I like a lens to have these buttons because it’s faster than digging through a menu. In the end though, it is only a minor complaint.

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14-design-5-stars

I have absolutely no bad things to say about the design of this lens. It fits well on my A7 II, and it looks good. I like that it is simple, clean, and sleek. The black finish ties everything together nicely, and it just goes well on any A7 series body.

20150321-_DSC0096

18-quality-4-stars

This lens feels great. It’s not too heavy, but not too light either. It fits into that perfect happy medium spot where it balances well on your camera, without making it too front heavy. This makes the lens a joy to use when shooting handheld video because you do not have to compensate for extra weight at the front of the camera.

20150321-_DSC0087

22-value-3-stars

As usual, now we come to the part of the review that you all want to know about. How is the value of this Sony Zeiss FE 24-70mm F/4 lens? That is debatable, for sure. On one hand, you have a lens that performs well and offers a constant aperture – both huge benefits. But on the other, the image quality of the lens doesn’t offer a huge boost over the significantly cheaper kit lens that is similarly spec’d. So, for a general user, the kit lens is probably sufficient, but for a pro, or someone who wants/needs the absolute best – this lens is the way to go.

For that reason, I am giving this lens an average 3 out of 5 stars. It’s a good value if you need a lens of above average quality, but a bit pricey if you just need a standard zoom for general use.

32-overall-score-4-stars

Overall, I really enjoyed my time with this lens. It was a joy to use, and I genuinely found myself reaching for it over my kit lens more times than not. That said, I would probably not spend my own money on this lens. I am happy enough with what my kit lens produces that I would rather spend my $1200 on a lens that covers a different focal range.

You may find that your needs are completely different, or that you are not happy with what the kit lens does for you. In that case, you will probably love this lens. It is a great performer, and will provide you with excellent image quality.

If you would like to get your hands on this lens, you can find it now over on B&H for just $1198.

Anthony Thurston is a photographer based in the Salem, Oregon area specializing in Boudoir. He recently started a new project, Fiercely Boudoir to help support the growing boudoir community. Find him over on Instagram. You may also connect with him via Email.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Matthew Magbee

    This is my everything lens since switching to A7/a7r last year. Ugly as b@lls but its sharper than anything i have used in a long time

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  2. Suhaana Manhattan

    G00gle pay 78$ per hour my last pay check was $9240 w0rking 98 hours a week online. My y0unger brother friend has been averaging 13k for months now and he works about 22 hours a week. I cant believe h0w easy it was once I tried it out. This is what I do.. click at this go to tech tab for more details…
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    http://www.careertoday-10.com
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++

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  3. Ralph Hightower

    But it’s a Zeiss! That has as much cachet as a Leica.

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  4. Austin Swenson

    I have and love this lens, and I think this review is pretty spot on, I do miss having the rubber grip on my old A-mount 24-70 f2.8 lens and of course the f2.8, but I generally enjoy it just about as much at a much lighter weight than my DSLR setup. Meh, who am I kidding, I love both my setups.

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  5. Not A Troll

    Anthony, I could build a pinhole camera out of an oatmeal can, use old photo paper, scan the results on a cheap flatbed scanner, and the images would look great when posted online at 600 pixels wide. If you’re going to post sample images in order to gauge a lens’ image quality, they need to be 100% crops. Or link to the full-res versions. But an image that has been downsampled to 600 pixels wide tells me absolutely nothing about the quality of a lens.

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    • Anthony Thurston

      There is ‘a’ 100% crop in both the video and in the post (which makes 2 total). Im not going to post a ton of 100% crops, this isn’t a pixel peeper review. That said, your feedback is noted, and will be taken into account for the next one. :)

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  6. Rafael Steffen

    Great review. Thanks for sharing. A great value with the new ISO capabilities.

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  7. Kishore Sawh

    nice review kid. still wanting to use this lens.

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  8. Patrick Shipstad

    I completely agree about the price point for an F4 lens. I got this lens to go with my Sony A7II and I really feel the difference between F4 and a 2.8 when shooting in low light. And for this premium price, I really wish it was a 2.8.

    Yes, it’s smaller and lighter than my 2.8 24-70 L lens for the Canon, and I understand there are technical issues of why it is what it is. Like he said, It fits the bill for the familiar, useful focal range… the quality feels good and solid but there isn’t anything magical about it. That said, I’m still going to keep it as my (so far) one full frame native lens for the A7II.

    With the price points and very selective options in the native Sony lens line, I think my best bet is to use the faster glass I already have with adaptors, shoot manual with the focus peaking assist. It’ll slow me down but sometimes that’s a good thing :-)

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  9. Phil Bautista

    I’m guessing a 24-70/2.8 FE mount would be too heavy to balance well on an a7 but I wonder how light they could make a 24-70/2.8 E mount?

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    • Richard Reed

      I think it would be too costly to engineer a light/compact f/2.8 mid range zoom with OSS for the FE mount which is probably why they went with the f/4.

      Referencing another article on this site, f/4 seems to be the sweet spot for lightweight “fast” lenses given the high ISO capabilities of modern camera bodies.

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    • Austin Swenson

      You know there is a chance they could make one since they recently came out with a 35mm f1.4 in response to the demand from consumers, but making it f2.8 is gonna make it heavier and bigger just like the A-mount version, so it might not be worth it to them to have it in 2 mounts… who knows

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    • Phil Bautista

      A 16-50/2.8 for E-mount would be golden. Sure buyer here.

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  10. adam sanford

    Nice review, thanks.

    I will, however, always roll my eyes when folks complement how a lens *looks*. “This is a nice lens, but it looks like a crappy 1992 Toyota Camry, and as such, I cannot recommend it’s purchase” has been said by no one ever. :-P

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    • Anthony Thurston

      HA! Fair enough Adam, Fair enough :)

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    • J. Dennis Thomas

      There’s nothing wrong with appreciating the way a lens or camera looks, in my book. After all you wouldn’t put red rims on an orange car (or maybe you would…?)

      Attention to small details such as design show how much pride a company puts into their products.

      And honestly, I prefer the way the new Sigma lenses look on my silver Df than the black and gold Nikon lenses. And I also don’t wear black shoes and a brown belt. Nothing wrong with matching…

      If the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 and the Nikon 35mm f/1.4 were the same price and the same IQ and I had to choose based solely on looks, I’d pick the Sigma.

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