Review

In this Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS Lens review I will cover as much real world photography as possible using both the 24mp Sony A7 II and my 36mp A7r full frame mirrorless cameras. I used both raw and jpeg modes so you can get a good feel of what the camera can do on it’s own, and so you can see the raw output, plus potential when edited.

Now, 16mm on a full frame camera is in the “ultra wide” category and this caused the lab scene to not work very good as I will show you. So, real world will have to work for the ultra wide angle corner testing shots. I do have some lab shots I will show you though, don’t worry.

The SEL1635Z is full frame coverage E-mount lens and it has built in OSS which works awesome on the A7 II in particular, but also very good on my A7r.

Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS Lens

This first thing I noticed is the relatively light weight considering the size and range, but it is only f/4. f/2.8 would be much larger and heavier. Next thing that I noticed was the zoom rotation was opposite from what I’m used to. Below is the lens mounted to my A7r at both 16mm and 35mm for visual reference and some scale.

Sony FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS ZA Lens Review

Sony FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS ZA Lens @ 16mm

Sony FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS ZA Lens Review

Sony FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS ZA Lens @ 35mm

Here she is mounted to the A7 II with the lens attached as well.

Sony A7II and FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS Lens

Sony A7II and FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS Lens

Sony A7II and FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS Lens

Sony A7II and FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS Lens


SEL1635z – Key Features

  • Full-Frame FE-Mount Lens
  • Aperture Range: f/4.0-22
  • ED & Aspherical Elements
  • Zeiss T* Coating
  • Silent Autofocus and Aperture System
  • Optical SteadyShot Image Stabilization
  • Dust and Moisture-Resistant Construction
  • Circular Aperture, 7 Blades
  • 72mm Filter Thread
 

Real World Sample Photos

Here are a few sample photos that will show off what this lens is capable of in various situations. Please click on the photos for a higher resolution versions and note the caption data just below each image for the aperture and focal length info. I used my A7r and raw quality for most of the sample photos, but the new Sony A7 II was also used for a few images in Jpeg quality. The Sony A7 II Review is Here if you missed it >>

Same scenes using different focal lengths

16mm

Sony A7r, FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS ZA Lens @ 16mm, f/8

Sony A7r, FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS ZA Lens @ 16mm, f/8

34mm

Sony A7r, FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS ZA Lens @ 34mm, f/8

Sony A7r, FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS ZA Lens @ 34mm, f/8

 

Here is another building this time standing in the same spot for reference.

16mm

Sony A7r, FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS ZA Lens @ 16mm, f/8

Sony A7r, FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS ZA Lens @ 16mm, f/8

24mm

Sony A7r, FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS ZA Lens @ 24mm, f/8

Sony A7r, FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS ZA Lens @ 24mm, f/8

35mm

Sony A7r, FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS ZA Lens @ 35mm, f/8

Sony A7r, FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS ZA Lens @ 35mm, f/8

 

Drastically different scenes from almost the same spot, just a different focal length 😉

16mm

Please click on the photos for a higher resolution versions ~1200px

Sony A7r, FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS ZA Lens @ 16mm, f/8

Sony A7r, FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS ZA Lens @ 16mm, f/8

Sony A7r, FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS ZA Lens @ 16mm, f/8

100% Crop – Sony A7r, FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS ZA Lens @ 16mm, f/8

35mm

Sony A7r, FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS ZA Lens @ 35mm, f/8

Sony A7r, FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS ZA Lens @ 35mm, f/8

Sony A7r, FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS ZA Lens @ 35mm, f/8

100% Crop – Sony A7r, FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS ZA Lens @ 35mm, f/8

 

Some noticeable chromatic aberration in the high contrast areas when shooting Raw quality. This can easily be corrected in Lightroom or equivalent program though of course.

ilce7r - 16-35mm f/4 OSS Lens @ f/5.6, 24mm, 1/60sec, ISO 200, hand-held

ilce7r – 16-35mm f/4 OSS Lens @ f/5.6, 24mm, 1/60sec, ISO 200, hand-held

ilce7r - 16-35mm f/4 OSS Lens @ f/5.6, 24mm, 1/60sec, ISO 200, hand-held

100% Crop – ilce7r – 16-35mm f/4 OSS Lens @ f/5.6, 24mm, 1/60sec, ISO 200, hand-held

 

Here is another building I drive past all the time and made for a nice real world sample photo I thought 😉

Please click on the photos for a higher resolution versions ~1200px

A7r, FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS ZA Lens @ 16mm, f/5.6

A7r, FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS ZA Lens @ 16mm, f/5.6

 

16mm on the full frame camera allowed me to get this really stretched out perspective view of the bridge including some horizontal span above.

A7r, FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS ZA Lens @ 16mm, f/11

Sony A7r, FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS ZA Lens @ 16mm, f/11

A7r, FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS ZA Lens @ 16mm, f/8

A7r, FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS ZA Lens @ 16mm, f/8

A7r, FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS ZA Lens @ 16mm, f/11

A7r, FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS ZA Lens @ 16mm, f/11

I edited this next photo a bit using the Nik filters and Lightroom 5. I was able to get much more drama out of the clouds and metal with the edit.

A7r, FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS ZA Lens @ 16mm, f/11 - Edited

A7r, FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS ZA Lens @ 16mm, f/11 – Edited

 

Separation Examples @ F/4

At 35mm you can get some solid separation even with the arguable slower f/4 aperture.

Sony A7r, FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS ZA Lens @ 35mm, f/4

Sony A7r, FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS ZA Lens @ 35mm, f/4

Sony A7r, FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS ZA Lens @ 35mm, f/4

100% Crop – Sony A7r, FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS ZA Lens @ 35mm, f/4

Bones outside using 35mm at f/4 to get the most separation possible from the background. Note the rich colors and punchy contrast, even when shooting raw quality.

Please click on the photos for a higher resolution versions ~1200px

Sony A7r, FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS ZA Lens @ 35mm, f/4

Sony A7r, FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS ZA Lens @ 35mm, f/4

A familier scene that really shows off the killer separation and Zeiss rendering quality.

Sony A7r, FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS ZA Lens @ 35mm, f/4

Sony A7r, FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS ZA Lens @ 35mm, f/4

Even at 16mm f/4 you can some killer separation when using the minimum focus distance!

Sony A7r, FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS ZA Lens @ 16mm, f/4

Sony A7r, FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS ZA Lens @ 16mm, f/4

 

Optical SteadyShot on the A7r

This next photo was taken at 1/30sec using my A7r hand-held.

Sony A7r, FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS ZA Lens @ 35mm, f/5.6

Sony A7r, FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS ZA Lens @ 35mm, f/5.6

Sony A7r, FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS ZA Lens @ 35mm, f/5.6

100% Crop – Sony A7r, FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS ZA Lens @ 35mm, f/5.6

Taken at 1/15sec using my A7r hand-held.

A7r, FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS ZA Lens @ 35mm, f/4, 1/15sec. ISO 800

A7r, FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS ZA Lens @ 35mm, f/4, 1/15sec. ISO 800

A7r, FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS ZA Lens @ 35mm, f/4, 1/15sec. ISO 800

100% Crop – A7r, FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS ZA Lens @ 35mm, f/4, 1/15sec. ISO 800

 

F/8 and some steel

Shot these with the New A7 II in Jpeg quality @ f/8.

a7m2, FE 16-35mm @ 16mm. f8, Jpeg

a7m2, FE 16-35mm @ 16mm. f8, Jpeg

a7m2, FE 16-35mm @ 16mm. f8, Jpeg

a7m2, FE 16-35mm @ 16mm. f8, Jpeg

a7m2, FE 16-35mm @ 16mm. f8, Jpeg

100% Crop – a7m2, FE 16-35mm @ 16mm. f8, Jpeg

a7m2, FE 16-35mm @ 35mm. f8, Jpeg

a7m2, FE 16-35mm @ 35mm. f8, Jpeg

 

Long Exposure Fun

A few longer exposure night scenes.

Please click on the photos for a higher resolution versions ~1200px

Sony A7r, FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS ZA Lens @ 22mm, f/16, 10 seconds

Sony A7r, FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS ZA Lens @ 22mm, f/16, 10 seconds

Sony A7r, FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS ZA Lens @ 16mm, f/16, 20 seconds

Sony A7r, FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS ZA Lens @ 16mm, f/16, 20 seconds

Sony A7 II, FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS ZA Lens @ 32mm, f/11, 8 seconds

Sony A7 II, FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS ZA Lens @ 32mm, f/11, 8 seconds

Sony A7 II, FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS ZA Lens @ 35mm, f/8, 30 seconds

Sony A7 II, FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS ZA Lens @ 35mm, f/8, 30 seconds

 

Lab Testing

35mm, f/4, minimum focus distance, bokeh testing

Sony A7r, FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS ZA Lens @ 35mm, f/4 - Lab

Sony A7r, FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS ZA Lens @ 35mm, f/4 – Lab

16mm just doesn’t work for the corners and being this close also means the lens has to be perfectly aligned which is very difficult. So, take a look at the full scene and a center crop for reference.

16mm, f/4

Sony A7r, FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS ZA Lens @ 16mm, f/4 - Lab

Sony A7r, FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS ZA Lens @ 16mm, f/4 – Lab

Sony A7r, FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS ZA Lens @ 16mm, f/4 - Lab

100% Crop – Sony A7r, FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS ZA Lens @ 16mm, f/4 – Lab

24mm, f/4

Sony A7r, FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS ZA Lens @ 24mm, f/4 - Lab

Sony A7r, FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS ZA Lens @ 24mm, f/4 – Lab

35mm @ f/4

A7r, FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS ZA Lens @ 35mm, f/4, Lab

A7r, FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS ZA Lens @ 35mm, f/4, Lab

35mm @ f/16

A7r, FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS ZA Lens @ 35mm, f/16, Lab

A7r, FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS ZA Lens @ 35mm, f/16, Lab

 

Conclusions

sel1635z-reviewSo as you can see by this Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS Lens Review, The lens is quite capable! I really enjoyed using the lens so the user experience factor is high, no question. Image quality is excellent overall although not perfect in the corners and with some stretching distortion.

The colors are rich and the contrast punchy thanks to the Zeiss T* coatings. This is noticeable when shooting raw in particular I notice as the images don’t seem as flat or dull compared to when using the kit lenses for example. Editing the raw files really brings out the quality to another level, but the jpegs also look great as you can see from steel photos images.

The Auto focus is very smooth, fast, and silent. This makes it great smooth quiet focus transitions while recording video.

The Optical SteadyShot works excellent on my A7r, but noticeable better on the newer A7 II. I was able to get about 1/15sec sharp shots with the A7r and about 1/4 second on the A7 II depending on the situation. Even slower shutter speeds are possible if anchored down or leaning on something.

Build quality is very good although the zoom is a bit awkward and backwards from what I am normally used to. The lens zoom was reasonable tight when I first got it, but loosened up a bit after some use. The zoom dampening felt good as did the focus ring when using manual focus.

Considering the A-Mount Vario-Sonnar T* 16-35mm f/2.8 ZA SSM Lens goes for $1999 US, the $1349 US price tag on the Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS Lens is somewhat reasonable, but still in the expensive lens category for sure.

After putting the lens to the test for over a month in all sorts of situations, I can honestly say I would love to keep it for my A7r and it’s worth the cash if you are an ultra wide angle lens fan. The f/4 aperture offers enough separation for creativity depth of field play. The high

I really hope you got what you were looking for in this review, and please consider using the links below when making your purchases! Also, please consider joining the awesome forum community if you want to learn and share: SonyAlphaLab – Forums >>

Jay

Support Links:

Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS ZA Lens for $1348 US @ BHPhoto

Sony A7 II for $1698 US @ BHPhoto

Sony A7r for $2098 US @ BHPhoto

72mm Lens Filters @ BHPhoto

Don’t forget to check out the E-Mount lens Guide Over Here for all the lenses currently available!



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Jay

 


About the Author

Jay
Hello, I'm the owner and operator of SonyAlphaLab.com. Please check out the About page for a full background on myself and the Lab ;) Google+ | Twitter | RSS-feed | Email Updates!!