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Home » Camera Lens Reviews » Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-70mm F4 ZA OSS Lens Review

Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-70mm F4 ZA OSS Lens Review

Without a good lens, your camera is just an expensive piece of plastic. But with the right lens, you can create images that are more engaging and professional looking. The Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-70mm F4 ZA OSS Lens is a great example of what you need to take your photography to the next level. Read our camera lens review to learn more about this lens’s key features, pros and cons of the lens, and if it’s worth the price point.

Key Features Of The Sony Vario-Tessar T* 16-70mm

The Sony Vario-Tessar T* lens has a 16-70mm equivalent zoom range. It has a constant f/4 aperture and is equipped with one extra-low dispersion element, one Advanced Aspherical, and three aspherical elements.

The lens features Zeiss’ T* anti-reflective coating to eliminate ghosting and flare, and is a versatile telephoto lens for APS-C and full frame cameras. It features fast, accurate autofocus and optical image stabilization (OIS) to help you capture sharp images even when shooting handheld.

The 16-70mm lens is also compact and lightweight, making it easy to carry around with you wherever you go. Finally, the Sony Vario-Tessar T* 16-70mm lens comes equipped with a dust reduction system that helps minimize the appearance of dust and more in your images.

Specifications

Indicative Price: $1000Zoom Type: Ring
Release Date: 08/27/2013Mount Type: Sony E
Focal Range: 16-70Tripod Mount: No
Aperture: F/ 4Colors Available: Black
Filter Diameter (millimeters): 55Full-Time Manual Focus: Yes
Maximum Diameter (millimeters): 66.6Number Of Lenses: 16
AF Motor: Stepping DC MotorLength (millimeters): 75
Stabilization: YesWeight (grams): 308

Performance

Sharpness is high centrally at the shorter focal lengths, but it achieves more uniform performance across the field in the middle of the zoom range.

Besides sharpness, this lens performs well, with low vignetting and generally good control of chromatic aberration (although low it is visible across the frame at the wide end). Barrel distortion at 16mm is bordering on complex (mustache) type.

Focus

The Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar T E 16-70mm f/4 ZA OSS lens has fast autofocus that is accurate in virtually total darkness. The lens has a narrow focusing ring and no hard stops at the ends of the range, making it more difficult to focus at infinity.

When it comes to auto-focusing, the Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar T E 16-70mm f/4 ZA OSS zoom is quick and accurate in good light or bad.

Bokeh

Bokeh is the out-of-focus areas of a photograph.

The Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar T E 16-70mm f/4 ZA OSS lens produces pleasing bokeh. This lens produces very nice looking bokeh balls that are circular and have a well-defined edge. The background highlights appear smooth, but the edges of the highlight are slightly visible in some situations.

It produces a nice buttery bokeh when the background is out of focus. The lens does produce some busy-looking bokeh in certain situations, but this can be easily avoided by stopping down the aperture and features a circular 7-blade diaphragm, which creates nice looking background blur. The out of focus areas look smooth and pleasant in most situations.

Distortion

The Zeiss 16-70 OSS has moderate pincushion distortion at all focal lengths, but this can be corrected in Photoshop’s Lens Distortion tool. Distortion at 16mm is about 1.1 percent, which increases to 2.2 percent at 24mm and then drops back down to 0.7 percent at 70mm.

The Sony lens has a bit more barrel distortion at 16mm, but less pincushion distortion at 70mm.

Ergonomics

The lens is an external zooming one- so at its widest it will be quite compact while at its most telephoto it will jut out quite a bit.

There are no dedicated controls for the lens- if you want to manually focus video, you’ll need to switch to the manual focus mode in the camera.

Ergonomics are easy: the back section of the lens is an easy grab for mounting, the middle is a big zoom ring, and the front has the electronic focus ring.

Falloff

Falloff for this lens is a little more pronounced than I expected it to be, but not terrible. Wide open at 16mm f/4 the corners are 2.63 stops darker than the center of the image and by f/5.6 they are 2 stops darker. At 70mm f/4 the corners are 1.3 stops darker than the center of the image and by f/5.6 they are 1.05 stops darker than the center of the image.

Image quality is very good at all focal lengths, but it’s worth noting that this lens isn’t as sharp in the corners wide open as the other 16-70mm f/4 lenses.

Flare & Ghosting

The lens does well in direct sunlight.

There is no flare or ghosting when pointed right at the sun at all focal ranges.

Lateral Color Fringes

There are no color fringes if you leave the camera’s corrections turned on, which is the default setting.

From what we experienced, we didn’t find any color fringing from this lens right out of the camera. Fringing only occurred when we cranked the contrast up in post-production.

When it comes to color rendition, we’ve always been smitten for what Sony’s sensor can produce. Indeed, when this lens is attached to the NEX 6 we still believe that this statement holds true. Colors from this lens are punchy out of the camera, vibrant, fairly well saturated and overall just beautiful.

Sharpness

Sharpness depends on the photographer, not their lens.

The Sony Zeiss 16-70mm OSS is very sharp even at wide open aperture.

MTF curves show excellent sharpness across all focal lengths and exposure settings.

Image Stabilization

Image stabilization is available on the Sony A7S II.

The Sony 16-70mm f/4 ZA OSS lens features Optical SteadyShot stabilization.

This system can be effective at slower speeds, allowing for handheld shooting at up to three stops slower than would otherwise be possible.

It can be used with still or moving images, or to to improve the sharpness of photos taken in low-light conditions.

Camera Lens Pros

The Sony E-mount camera lenses are known to be of high quality.

The Zeiss 16-70 mm f4 lens is ideal for videographers and has a constant aperture of f4.

The bokeh with this lens is great, and it’s a 400 euros / dollars cheaper option than the Sony G 18-105 lens for APS-C sensors

If you need the best possible camera lens for your E-mount system, the Zeiss 16-70 mm is the way to go

Bokeh is creamy and smooth

Camera Lens Cons

Some of the disadvantages of this lens include:

The lens is a bit heavy, and the zoom ring can be a bit stiff.

There is some distortion at all focal points

The lens is a bit pricey, but worth the features it comes with

The Sony G 18-105mm lens is a cheaper option that offers many of the same features as the Zeiss 16-70 mm f4 lens, but it costs less than the Zeiss lens.

Other Similar Lenses

Some other lenses that are comparable to the Sony Zeiss 16-70 mm f4 include:

The Sony G 28-135mm lens offers many of the same features as the 16-70 mm lens, but it costs less than the 16-70 mm lens. However, some users have complained that the 28-135mm is a little bit heavy compared to other lenses.

The Sony G 30mm f3.5 Macro lens is a cheaper alternative to the 16-70 mm lens. However, some users have complained that it does not focus very close and has no image stabilization system.

The Sony G 28mm f2 lens is a cheaper alternative to the 16-70 mm lens. However, some users have complained that it does not focus very close and has no image stabilization system.

The Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm f4 ZA OSS lens has a wider focal length range than the 16-70 mm lens, but it costs more.

Is This Camera Lens Worth The Price?

The Zeiss 16-70 mm f4 lens is a high-quality lens that is ideal for photographers who want to capture images with sharpness and detail. This lens has a constant aperture of f4, which makes it perfect for taking photos in low light situations.

The focusing system of the Zeiss 16-70 mm is fast and accurate, making it a great choice for videographers. It also has creamy bokeh, or the quality of out-of-focus areas, which some photographers may prefer over other lenses.

With the features that this lens includes, it’s well worth the price point for purchase.