Since I moved from A-mount with the α99 and α77 to E-Mount with α7 and α6000, I’ve been waiting for an adequate replacement of the SAL 16-35F28 ZA, especially since the α7 is in use and I sold the SAL 16-35F28 ZA a few weeks ago. The A-Mount 16-35 was too large, bulky and heavy mounted using the adapter LAEA-4 on the α7. Since the beginning of using the α7 I helped myself with the APS-C counterpart SEL 10-18F4 for wide-angle shots, which surprised the photo world with the fact, that it delivers good quality in the range between 12 and 16 mm illuminating the full frame sensor completely with very little flaws.
The long-term exposure to the left has been taken with the SEL 10-18mm F4 on the α7. Of course, when using the APS-C lens you have to accept performance degradation near the corners of the image, which can be hidden very well depending on the subject.
But today my intention is not to write about the SEL 10-18F4, which will continue to serve well on the α6000, but about the full-frame replacement of the SAL 16-35F28 ZA.
Comparison on spec level:
The comparison is a bit unfair although both lenses are build for full-frame sensors, because the FE-model for E-Mount is an F4. The comparison of the bare technical data:
|SAL 16-35F28 ZA||FE16-35mm F4 ZA OSS|
|Weight||900 gr||518 gr|
|Filter diameter||77 mm||72 mm|
|Size||83 x 114 mm||78 x 98,5 mm|
|Diaphragm||7 blades||9 blades|
I can’t make a direct comparison in using both lenses and can only recall from memory when it comes to the SAL 16-35F28 ZA. Therefore I would like to write less on the A-mount lens and focus more on the FE lens. The smaller maximum aperture enables a more compact design of the E-mount lens. Looking at the figures for the size of the lens, the difference in size is less than expected which is certainly related to the integrated stabilization. When mounted to the camera, the system is well balanced and this combination of camera and lens is easy to handle and not top-heavy.
The zoom ring is very smooth and in a little less than 90° the lens can be zoomed from one end of the focal range to the other. This easily allows for images with zoom effect, as the following picture of our Angie:
The wall paintings show another asset of the lens – color rendering, which is warmer than what is considered to be typical for Zeiss.
The last picture show another positiv characteristics of the FE16-35mm F4 ZA OSS, although this is not really important with a wide angle zoom starting at 16 mm. The Bokeh is soft and calm, which is also shown in the next picture:
Another positiv aspect to mention is the low degree of aberrations, especially in the corners, shown with the next two pictures taken with open aperture and have not been corrected in Lightroom:
Another aspect to mention in reference to image quality is the good performance in backlight conditions and the low sensitivity to stray light, which actually disqualifies this lens as usable for the currently very popular „lensflare images“. In fact, I had a hard time to even generate one or two flares as can be seen in below pictures:
Distortion is extremly low which is not typical for a wide angle lens but something I already appreciated with the SAL 16-35 F28 ZA:
At the closest focusing distance the autofocus is accurate and quick as lightning, even if the swan was not approaching at top speed. At 16mm focal lenght the swan actually was very close to the lens:
The FE 16-35mm is an adequate replacement of the A-Mount, at least from the perspective of image quality. An aperture stop less light is something to get over, because this is easily compensated by the better ISO performance of the α7 in comparison to the α99. I am looking forward to many hours of photography with this lens and I think this lens will not be inferior to the A-Mount counterpart in the field of architectural photography.
Edit: All picture used in this article can be found in higher resolution on Flickr