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]
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.