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Home » Camera Lens Reviews » Sony FE Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar T* 24-70mm f4 ZA OSS Lens Review

Sony FE Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar T* 24-70mm f4 ZA OSS Lens Review

The Sony FE 24-70mm f/4 ZA OSS (SEL2470Z) is the first zoom lens designed specifically for the full frame E-mount system. It’s also the first Carl Zeiss branded lens for Sony mirrorless cameras. It’s a good time to be a Sony shooter, especially if you’re looking for lenses.

What makes the 24-70mm great?

The Sony 24-70mm f4 lens is an excellent performer and a great value. It is the perfect all around lens for most shooting situations. The size, weight, and price of this lens make it an easy choice for most photographers.

  • The 24-70mm focal range is a great all around lens and will cover almost any situation
  • Sony’s first professional grade lens is well built and feels solid
  • The lens has a fast silent focusing motor that works great in video mode
  • Image quality at all focal lengths is excellent with no visible distortion, vignetting, or chromatic aberration
  • The lens has a very smooth zoom and focus ring that is well dampened

Key Features

The Sony FE 24-70mm f/4 ZA OSS Lens has an all-in-one zoom lens with a focal length of 24-70mm.

The lens has image stabilization and aspherical optics that provide improved image quality and it weighs approximately 426 grams and is dimensions (without the hood) of 15.9×3.5x67mm.

The lens is available in black or silver color options and was released in 2013.

Indicative Price: $1200Zoom Type: Ring
Release Date: 10/16/2013Mount Type: Sony FE
Focal Range: 24-70Tripod Mount: No
Aperture: F/ 4Colors Available: Black
Filter Diameter (millimeters): 67Full-Time Manual Focus: Yes
Maximum Diameter (millimeters): 73Number Of Lenses: 12
AF Motor: Stepping MotorLength (millimeters): 94.5
Stabilization: NoWeight (grams): 426

Focal Length Range

The Sony FE 24-70mm f/4 ZA OSS Lens covers a wide range of focal lengths, from wide angle to telephoto.

This lens is an essential part of many landscape and cityscape photography kits, as well as product photography and videography.

The focal length range provides a variety of perspectives that can be useful for a variety of purposes.

The focal length range of the lens is 24-70mm.

This lens has a 1.5x magnification when mounted on an APS-C imaging sensor format Sony camera.

Max Aperture

The lens’ max aperture opening is the relationship of lens opening to focal length.

The lower the number, the more light the lens will allow to reach the sensor.

Each “stop” in aperture change (examples: f/2.8, f/4.0, f/5.6, f/8, etc.) increases or reduces the amount of light reaching the sensor by a factor of 2x (a big deal).

An f/4 lens is one stop slower/narrower than what is typically found in the fastest/widest zoom lenses covering the general-purpose focal length range and has a narrower max aperture meaning smaller diameter elements are needed resulting in a lighter weight and smaller size.

Having a narrower max aperture also means that there may be better options for stopping action in low light.

Long focal lengths, wide apertures, close subjects, and distant backgrounds are the keys to a strong background blur with an f/4 lens having a fixed max aperture over the entire focal length range.

The wider the aperture, the more light is allowed into the camera; however, this also means a narrower depth of field.

A fixed aperture allows you to set a specific f-stop regardless of how much light is available.

Image Stabilization

Image stabilization systems are complementary and can work together to improve image quality.

OSS is helpful for reducing camera shake-caused blur in images, while also being very helpful for precise framing of subjects in the viewfinder.

While OSS is active, drift of framing is minor with the viewfinder view remaining well-controlled and subject reframing being easily accomplished.

Image Quality

The Sony FE 24-70mm f/4 ZA OSS Lens delivers very good contrast and resolution.

The lens has a wide-open aperture that allows for better light exposure.

There is little to no barrel distortion, vignetting, or lateral chromatic aberration.

The Sony FE 24-70mm f/4 ZA OSS lens produces good image quality in the center of the frame.

The lens has a wide aperture and produces a “cat’s eye” effect in the corners of the frame due to vignetting.

Overall, the lens is mid-grade in terms of optical performance.

Focusing

The Sony FE 24-70mm f/4 ZA OSS Lens uses an internal focusing design, driven by a linear autofocus motor.

This lens focuses very quietly with good speed, and has mid-level low light AF performance.

It does not feature the AF hold button common on Sony lenses, and FTM (Full Time Manual) focusing is supported via Sony’s DMF (Direct Manual Focus) AF mode.

Normal is for the scene to change size in the frame (sometimes significantly) as focus is pulled from one extent to the other, referred to as focus breathing, a change in focal length resulting from a change in focus distance; this can negatively impact photographers intending to use focus stacking techniques, videographers pulling focus, and anyone very-critically framing a scene while adjusting focus.

The FE 24-70 features a forward-positioned (as I prefer) ribbed manual focus ring that is not rubber-coated but that detail seems of low importance on this design.

This lens shows a modest change in subject size as full extent focus adjustments are made; the reviewed lens appears to be parfocal with a subject remaining in focus after zooming in or out.

The FE 24-70 has a multi-speed focus ring that turns it quickly for a full extent change in about 30° or turn it slowly for several full rotations of adjustment (I lose my focus when trying to turn the ring around that many times).

Focusing down to 15.7″ (400mm) at 70mm yields a maximum magnification spec of 0.

8 GM Lens can focus at a minimum distance of 0.24x.

The lens has an extension tube that can provide a significant decrease in the minimum focus distance and an increase in magnification.

Extension tubes are hollow lens barrels that shift the lens farther from the camera, permitting shorter focusing distances at the cost of long-distance focusing.

Build Quality & Features

The Sony FE 24-70mm f/4 ZA OSS lens is a wide angle lens that extends and retracts modestly.

The mount does not appear to have a gasket seal, creating concern for not only moisture penetration into the lens but also into the camera body.

The size of the lens is positive because it does not significantly impact finger joints when mounted on a tightly gripped Sony camera body.

Price and Value

The Sony FE 24-70mm f/4 ZA OSS Lens is compatible with all Sony E-mount cameras, including both full-frame and APS-C sensor format models.

Compared to the recently revised $1,300 Nikon AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor 24-120mm f4G ED the Zeiss fares quite well, but peak sharpness looks a little low when compared with the stabilized Canon EF 24-70mm f4L IS USM . That’s just peak sharpness though, at most focal lengths and aperture settings the Zeiss is sharper across the image field.

It’s worth keeping in mind that the Canon lens is $300 more expensive than the Zeiss and that Canon combination has slightly higher peak sharpness from a 22-Mpix sensor, and one that’s equipped with an AA filter.

Although we can’t say for sure, it’s likely peak sharpness would be considerably higher with a similar sensor. In all other respects the Zeiss performs similarly to the Nikkor , despite that model’s greater zoom range, but it is surpassed in some areas by the Canon .

Control of other aberrations at the wide end chromatic aberration, distortion and vignetting isn’t quite what we would expect, but at all other focal lengths the lens performs well. Given the not unreasonable price of the lens (and the camera body for that matter), Sony has managed to deliver a balance of performance and value, while at the same time offering something different to the mainstream options.

Alternatives to the Sony FE 24-70mm f/4 ZA OSS Lens

The Sony FE 24-70mm f/4 ZA OSS Lens is a shorter and lighter alternative to the Sony FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS Lens .

The Sony FE 24-70mm f/4 ZA OSS Lens has a narrower aperture than the Sony FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS Lens , allowing up to 2x more light into the exposure.

In terms of image quality, the two lenses perform similarly at their widest apertures with each taking some of the focal length wins.

The wider max aperture lens has the advantage at f/4 and that advantage is utilized if shooting at f/4.

Tamron 28-75mm f/2 lens is similar in terms of specifications to the Sony FE 24-70mm f/4 ZA OSS Lens.

Tamron lens has 2 additional aperture blades, 9 vs. 7.

Camera Lens Pros

  • The Sony FE Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar T* 24-70mm f4 ZA OSS Lens is a full frame lens that has been designed for APSC cameras. The lens has a 24-70mm range, is made of metal and glass. It weighs 1.3 pounds and it’s dimensions are 6 x 3 x 9 inches.
  • The Sony FE 24-70mm f/4 OSS Lens is a very good lens that produces sharp images with decent contrast and minimal CA. The bokeh looks fine, but the out of focus areas are a bit busy. The lens is also very good at controlling flare and ghosting.
  • The Sony FE 24-70mm f/4 OSS Lens has nice build quality. It’s made of metal and it’s weather sealed. The focus ring is smooth, the zoom ring has a nice amount of resistance and there’s no play in the lens when it is extended or retracted.
  • The Sony FE 24-70mm f/4 OSS Lens is very good for portraits. The bokeh looks fine, but the out of focus areas are a bit busy.
  • The Sony FE 24-70mm f/4 OSS Lens is a very good landscape lens. The corners are sharp at 24mm and the mid section of the frame is pretty sharp at 70mm.
  • The Sony FE 24-70mm f/4 OSS Lens is a very good lens for shooting in low light. The image quality at 70mm f/4 is similar to that of the Sony FE 70-200mm f/4 OSS Lens at 70mm f/5.6.

Is This Lens Worth The Money?

In the world of photography, there are plenty of lenses to choose from. With that being said, it is not always easy to find one that will suit your needs. That is when you need to do your research before you make a purchase. The Sony FE Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar T* 24-70mm f4 ZA OSS Lens is the lens for you if you are looking for a high quality lens that will take your pictures to the next level.

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