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Sony’s New Release Is A Zeiss 16-35mm F4 For The A7 & It’s Flying Off ‘Shelves’

By Kishore Sawh on September 17th 2014


Since Sony dropped the A7 on us a little while back, it and all its variants have entered our consciousness and headlines the photo-world over, and surprisingly, stayed there. There’s been much whispering about what the successor to this platform/game changer is going to be, and when it would materialize, and even though it’s been getting louder, it doesn’t seem to dissuade anyone from buying them.

Many pros I know with complete platforms for either Nikon or Canon have made the switch, with more in tow. There’s a huge part of me that wants to do the same, so it figures then that Sony’s announcement of a beautiful Zeiss 16-35 f4 Full Frame E-mount lens is about the most enticing piece of kit to spawn for me from recent news. It seems, however, I’m in good and plentiful company, as apparently it’s been flying off the pre-order ‘shelves’ since it was announced two days ago.

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Many critics of the Alpha system often hang their arguments on the fact Sony doesn’t have many native lenses for the full frame A7, A7R, & A7S, but it is clear that Sony and Zeiss are trying hard to nullify that argument. Zeiss recently listed its new Loxia line of FE glass, and now there’s this Zeiss Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm F4 ZA OSS. Well, that’s a mouthful, but a welcome one to Sony system owners who now have a nice wide angle zoom to work with. If you are working with a Sony APSC camera like the A6000 you can still use it, but apply the 1.5 crop making this a 24-52.5mm.

Being a Carl Zeiss T* lens, it has anti-reflective qualities that dampen flares and ghosting while simultaneously boosting contrast, is smaller than the recent Canon counterpart, has 10 groups and 12 elements with a 7-bladed aperture diaphragm. It also features the optical Steady Shot in-lens image stabilization, which will come in handy when you consider the max aperture of F4. Being a Zeiss lens, it’s also not cheap, at $1349. This lens, I assume, would be greatly paired with the A7s where the higher aperture won’t matter as much for camera shake.

This has actually been a debate of recent, whether Sony is making the right moves by producing three really sharp and high quality, yet somewhat slower zooms. You’ve got the Vario-Tessar T8 FE 24-70mm F4, the FE 70-200mm F4 G, and to complete the set there’s now the 16-35mm F4. All apparently brilliant in their own right, but it does beg the question: when will they release an F2.8 or faster, and now that the zooms are ‘covered’ when will they release a new fast primedon’t we all wish it would be the 85mm?

You can immediately pre-order the Zeiss Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm F4 ZA OSS here.

Source: Sony Alpha Rumors, Cinema 5D

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A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Kevin Cucci

    Sorry, I meant for the A7 camera, yes E mount.. Something like an 85 1.4 or 135 f2 that is a native lens without any adapters being involved. Also its hard coming from 2.8 zooms to 4.0. My biggest fear would be the AF system compared to the 5diii and the FPS/Buffer. Also what is the on camera/off camera flash situation like for these?

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    • Austin Swenson

      Well right now I use a pretty simple setup of some cowboy studio radio triggers and yongnuo 560ii’s, some light stands, and then depends on whether to use soft boxes or umbrellas for the situation, but I think it’s pretty simple to get some great off camera flash shots when you have a trigger on the shoe, but I have yet to actually put a flash on the camera.

      The weight from a flash built more for DSLR cameras might or might not be an issue, but I will have to admit that when I have seen pictures of attaching a flash to the A7, it looks kind of silly.

      I am with you though about getting that 85 or 135mm lens, I am salivating for january to come so that I can buy the 85mm when it comes out. Hopefully it will be as downright killer as the 55mm f1.8 they came out with.

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  2. Kevin Cucci

    If Sony came out with a native badass portrait lens for the A line I would also consider making the switch from canon. Though the battery life and AF still suffers… Which sucks.

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    • Austin Swenson

      Do you mean the E-mount? Sony has yet to come out with the longer ones in the E-mount, but the A-mount has had several awesome portrait lenses like the 85mm f1.4 and the 135mm f1.8, and of course the 70-200 f2.8… or are you saying something with f1.2?

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  3. Austin Swenson

    I think it would be an engineering miracle to get f2.8 glass in a zoom lens factor that small, and it would be heavier (and expensive), which would kind of take away from the whole lightness factor of smaller mirrorless camera setups, but there is (sort of) a way around this with their adapters to the A-mount system full frame glass that offers f2.8 pro-glass, albeit with less AF points.

    I don’t think that an f4 lens would be a terrible idea anyway even with the stop of light you lose, since most times you want that depth of field with higher numbered f stops in landscape shots which is what this lens is used for more often for.

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    • Kishore Sawh

      I agree Austin that this particular lens is suited more for the fields you mentioned, but it does still leave unanswered why they wouldve made the 24-70 and 80-200 f4.

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    • Austin Swenson

      Making a lens that can take all the light in required to make an f2.8 aperture work and have good image quality would make the lens big and heavy… I have the 24-70 f4 lens and its less than half the weight of the A-mount 24-70 f2.8. I think that when they were going for the smaller form factor, f4 was more practical to make.

      After having an f4 lens for a while though, I can really only say that I miss the f2.8 when I am taking low light shots and for the bokeh, but since then I have just boosted my ISO and it’s worked out great with how much better ISO performance has been getting in cameras over the years. Would I like the bokeh and depth of field from the more open aperture? Yeah, but there is that trade-off with having that zoom. I am hoping that when I can get that rumored 85mm that it will be an awesome f1.8 or even f1.4, and hopefully Sony will even make a 135mm prime sometime soon that could be as awesome.

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  4. Kim Farrelly

    Seems to me that all the big players are making f4 lenses with IS built in the standard zoom option now. I really wish they would push the speed a bit more, kinda like Sigma did with their 18-35 f1.8.

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