Finally! A usable wide angle zoom for the α7

German version of articleFinally I was able to pick up the long-awaited FE16-35mm F4 ZA OSS at my local dealer. These are my first impressions using this lens on the α7.

The lens

FE16-35mm F4 ZA OSS

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.

 

 

Köln-Turm

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

Handling

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:

Zoomeffekt
Unsere Angie als Graffiti

The wall paintings show another asset of the lens – color rendering, which is warmer than what is considered to be typical for Zeiss.

Farben
Bokeh I

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:

Bokeh II

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:

Abbildungsfehler I

This picture at flickr.com allows a better judgement on the aberrations!

Abbildungsfehler II

This picture at flickr.com allows a better judgement on the aberrations!

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:

wenig Lensflares I
wenig Lensflares II

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:

geringe Verzeichnung I
geringe Verzeichnung II
geringe Verzeichnung III
geringe Verzeichnung IV

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:

Naheinstellgrenze

Verdict

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

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13 Antworten zu Finally! A usable wide angle zoom for the α7

  1. Matt Payne sagt:

    I saw you mentioned no vignetting with a step-up ring and a 77mm filter? Can you say which step-up ring you use? Thanks!

    • J. Haag sagt:
      Verfasser

      Hi Matt,
      I am using a no-name 72->77mm step-up for my 77mm ND and polarizer. I think any 72->77mm step-up would do.

  2. Johne377 sagt:

    Definitely, what a fantastic website and informative posts, I definitely will bookmark your blog.All the Best! fcbkbcedfded

  3. Rainer sagt:

    I was surprised how good an APS-C lens performs on my A7! I’ve tried an 60mm 2.8 SIGMA! The SONY 10-18mm is also on my wish list!

  4. Joe sagt:

    Hi, also from Cologne 🙂 did you sharpen the JPGs – really nice quality of pictures

  5. don sagt:

    thks for great review. you use 10-18mm on a7s in crop mode, correct? this mean the resolution less? for taking video, do these two lens yield big difference in IQ? may be something you can address in the coming review…. thks again!

  6. Juan sagt:

    Great write-up! Any chance you could do a Sel10-18 comparison against the Sel 16-35FE? Say both at 16mm?

    • J. Haag sagt:
      Verfasser

      Juan,
      I wanted to keep it secret, but since you asked: I am actually preparing a comparison with 16-35@16mm on a7 and 10-18@10mm on a6000.
      J.

  7. Rob Sims sagt:

    Is there any reason to keep the SEL1018 now that you have the FE 16-35? Just curious.

    (I’m also using the SEL1018 on an A7 and with a custom lens profile in LR it works well enough for non professional work where smudged corners are not a problem!)

    • J. Haag sagt:
      Verfasser

      Hi Rob,
      difficult question. I am using an alpha 6000 for travel and that is where I will use my SEL1018 in the future (like in the past). If you like e.g. architecture and the full-frame ILCE is the only camera you have, if you are not planning on using the 10-18 for professional work and you don’t need a wide-angle for professional tasks on top, I would not go for the 16-35. If you can spend the money for fun or need it for professional work the 16-35 is what I recommend. I was happy with the 10-18 on the alpha 7 up to last Saturday ;-).

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