In this real world based review of the Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 24-70mm f/4 ZA OSS Lens I will go over everything you need to know with highly detailed sample photos, lab photos, video, and analysis.
For the camera body I used my full frame Sony Alpha A7r Mirrorless Camera which is 36mp, so the SEL2470Z lens will be pushed to the limit.
There are many quality reviews of the FE-Mount 24-70mm f/4 OSS Zeiss lens on the web, so I wanted to make sure I brought something else to the table. I hope you like my Sony lens review and please feel free to ask questions or comment below the review anytime. I would love to hear your experiences with the gear, and I don’t mind offering my help whenever possible 😉
Lets get on with it shall we!
Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 24-70mm f/4 ZA OSS Lens Review
At the time of this review, the the Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 24-70mm f/4 ZA OSS Lens is pretty much the best zoom lens option currently available for the Sony Alpha A7, A7r, and A7s, if you need all-in-one versatility and want OSS for easy hand holding abilities.
After using the lens for about three weeks now, I’m pretty happy with the results overall, but expected better considering the Zeiss badge. More on that to come… The constant f/4 aperture is a great feature and really makes the lens usable in the real world on such a small and light camera body.
A faster aperture would require the lens diameter to be much larger, and therefore it would be heavier. It would also be super expensive due to the larger glass elements required and Sony’s limited market shares/ production abilities these days. Sony high quality glass tends to be more expensive than the mainstream competition if you have not noticed 😉
The 24-70mm zoom range is not bad for a full frame format, but my Canon 24-105mm f/4 IS L lens range would be much preferred. The extra size would be worth it to me considering the gains. Sony should use that lens as a model if necessary and come out with a G lens version. I think that style lens would sell really well over the 24-70mm version. Just mot opinion of course…
*Many new lenses have come out since the time of this review, so be sure to check out my Sony E-Mount Lens Guides This Way >> for the currently available options and reviews.
Clearly Sony was going for the lightest possible lens, because it’s mostly plastic and very lightweight. The zoom is pretty smooth, but from 50-70mm it gets ever so slightly harder or less smooth. Not a big deal, but worth noting I thought, because the other E-mount 16-70mm f/4 OSS Zeiss lens is smooth the whole way. That lens is made for the regular e-mount as opposed to the FE-mount, so it does not need to be near as big or heavy thanks to the smaller APS-C sized sensor being covered.
No lens creep at all when holding the camera downward which is very nice and I can’t say the same for my 24-105mm lens I keep raving about. The lens cap is easy to get on and fits very snug plus does the job well for both protection and flare. I recommend always using the lens hood even when indoors, just in case you drop the camera, or bang into a wall with, whatever. The hood offers a lot of extra protection that can save the glass big time in a pickle, trust me! Size wise the SEL2470z fits the A7r camera body very well in my opinion and looks awesome aesthetically as well I must say 😉
You may have heard this lens is soft at f/4 and not the strongest in the corners. Well, it’s totally true and I wish it was not the case. So what does this mean in the real world? Honestly, not that much really. In the center the lens is still sharp wide open at f/4, so the subject area is going to be good 95% of the time. Also, if you stop down to f/5.6 of f/8 the lens really sharpens up nicely. So if you need maximum sharpness, go for one of the prime lenses over the zoom, but if you want versatility and very good overall optical quality/ performance then the sel2470z will be fine in the real world. Lab photos will illustrate the lens flaws most effectively, and you will see in the real world shots it really doesn’t make much of difference in the end.
Overall Value for the Dollar
Overall the SEL2470z zoom lens is a bit on the expensive side in my opinion @ ~$1200 US.
I feel with the optical quality, build quality, f/4 aperture, and range, this lens should be a little more affordable and have G badge instead of a Zeiss badge. Perhaps $999 would be a more fair price. Again, being the only real quality option, Sony can charge more and take advantage of the situation. If you want the all-in-one, it’s a great opinion for you. If you want the best optical quality, then go for a the prime lens.
*The price is now $898 US in 2019, so it appears Sony got the message loud and clear!!
Sony FE 24-70mm f/4 ZA OSS Lens – Key Features:
- E-Mount Lens/Full-Frame Format
- Aperture Range: f/4 to f/22
- APS-C Effective Focal Length = 36-105mm
- One ED and Five Aspherical Elements
- Zeiss T* Anti-Reflective Coating
- Linear Autofocus Motor; Internal Focus
- Optical SteadyShot Image Stabilization
- Dust and Moisture-Resistant Construction
- Seven-Blade Circular Diaphragm
- Minimum Focus Distance = 1.31′ / 40 cm
- Filter Thread = 67mm
- Weight = 15 oz / 426 g
- Price = $898 US @ BHPhoto
Sony E-mount 24-70mm f/4 OSS Zeiss Lens HD Video Review
Be sure to select the HD Quality once the video starts playing for the best viewing experience and full screen capabilities 😉
So I finally got my hands on another copy of the FE 24-70mm f/4 OSS ZA Lens and as you will see in the video, the results are slightly better, but not drastically better like I was hoping…. I updated the pros and cons plus the review score which did go up based on my impressions from a real world perspective, cost to quality ratio, competition, etc…
I took a ton of sample photos using the Sony Alpha A7r, and I will show you 100% Crops so you can see the real world output quality the Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 24-70mm f/4 ZA OSS Lens offers.
So my friend Matt and I went to this creepy pool the other day with a bunch of gear and I took a lot of sample photos with the Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 24-70mm f/4 ZA OSS Lens. I tried to show off the versatility of the lens as best I know how 😉 Check them out below and be sure to click on the photos for the 100% crops and maximum sharpness! First a quick 24-70mm test of the same scene so you get an idea of the actual coverage offered. 24mm
A few more Creepy Pool shots – Please click on the photos for a gallery view that will also show relevant the exif data.
Here are a few Water Themed Photos – Please click on the photos for a gallery view that will also show relevant the exif data.
Here are a few more random real world sample photos using the Sony FE 24-70mm f/4 OSS ZA Lens. Please click on the photos for a gallery view that will also show relevant the exif data.
Here are a few photos of an abandoned bus I found recently. The first image I edited to give it some pop, but the others are raw files so you can see what the pics look like straight off the camera as well.
Real World – Distortion Test
Updated 6/16/2016: These lab photos are updated since the original review and are raw files with no lens correction applied so you can see the distortion issues this lens more clearly. as you saw above in the real world distortion test, it can be fixed for the most part easily by selected the lens profile option in a program like Lightroom when shooting in raw quality, or you can shoot using jpeg quality and the camera will fix it for you.
The lens sharpness up more beyond f/4, but as you will see in the these f/4 lab test shots at various focal lengths, the lens is pretty darn sharp overall, however the corners are a bit soft, and the distortion is very noticeable.
Various focal lengths @ F/4 – Click Photos for larger view!
Update Conclusion: 5/27/2019:
With many more quality full frame e-mount lenses now available from Sony, like the FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM Lens and FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS Lens, the Sony FE 24-70mm f/4 OSS ZA Lens is now selling for a much more fair $898 US price point. Based on this new price point, the value for the dollar is way better considering the distortion and softer corners at f/4 in my opinion. Therefore the rating has gone up a bit, and with the new website I was able to add more criteria to the review scoring system.
I also did more lab testing in 2016 with another copy of this lens, and it was noticeable sharper @ f/4 than the original lens I tested as you can see above in the images, as compared to the video version of the review.
At the end of the day this lens is a great option as long as you don’t mind the distortion, and slightly softer corners when shooting at f/4. So for professional architecture photography, this is not a good option, but for real world photography it’s a very good option for the new $898 US price point.
Original Conclusion from 2014:
Update: 05/09/2014 It appears that I received a horrible copy of this lens and I will need to get another one. In the comments area below a reader has this same lens and did some very similar lab tests showing radically sharper results than what I got in the Lab. This clearly illustrates a quality control issue with this lens. I’m thinking I must have gotten one of the originals, but who knows. Bottom line is I’m going to get another copy of the SEL2470Z lens asap and re-do the lab testing to make sure this lens holds up to the Zeiss badge! As it stands now, the copy I had did not, but Edwards copy looks fantastic at f/4 in the corners comparatively.
Overall the Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 24-70mm f/4 ZA OSS Lens is a decent performer all around and when stopped down to f/8 it really sharpens up nice. Wide open at f/4 the lens does not perform the greatest and this is disappointing considering the Zeiss badge and cost of the lens. If you zoom in to ~35mm things sharpen up considerable in the corners as you can easily see in the Lab test photos above. In the real world however, f/8 looks awesome and is pretty sharp from corner to corner! The middle is still much sharper than the very corner when comparing A to B though as the Lab test shots illustrate. Real world the images looks awesome for my honest opinion despite the obvious weakness of this lens, especially when you stop down to f/8. The chromatic aberrations are well controlled even without the lens profile. In the end it captures the photos well and is extremely versatile, lightweight, and a compact fit for the full frame mirrorless Alpha cameras.
I rated the Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 24-70mm f/4 ZA OSS Lens at a 3.5 for the fact that it is ~$1200 US and has Zeiss badge, but clearly lacks in optical performance in the corners and wide open at f/4. This really is a shame to be honest, but on the bright side, the OSS works excellent and allows for some fairly slow shutter speeds and easier hand holding with the monster 36MP full frame A7r as reviewed here. So, if an all-in-one lens is desired for the full frame A7, A7r, or A7s, the Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 24-70mm f/4 ZA OSS Lens is currently the best option available and I recommend it as the real world results are great in the end. The FE-Mount Primes Lenses are clearly sharper, so look at those you want razor blade sharp shots corner to corner!
That is about it for this Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 24-70mm f/4 ZA OSS Lens Review, but please continue the conversation below in the comments area with questions or your thoughts on this lens or whatever as it relates to this review 😉
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Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 24-70mm f/4 ZA OSS Lens for $898 US @ BHPhotoVideo (Click Here)