Zeiss Sonnar 35mm F/2.8
8 March 2017 | Category: Motion
When using any Sony A7 series camera, I always get this lens as part of the kit. It is actually the only Sony/Zeiss lens that I use at the moment, as I have the Sigma MC-11 mount adapter with my Canon lenses for all other needs. Annoyingly, none of them can replace this one. In fact, the Zeiss Sonnar 35mm is the only lens out on the market that can give me exactly what I’m looking for in terms of a lightweight and small setup. With its mere 120g (130g with the lens hood) and size of 61.5 mm diameter x 36.5 mm long, it always fits into my bag, even for those times when I haven’t made plans, or space, to bring a camera in the first place. Moreover, it works perfectly with the autofocus on the Sony A7R II.
I have been through my options to for a 35mm lens a number of times; the Canon and Nikon 35mm F2.0, the Sigma 35mm F1.4, the Zeiss Loxia 35mm F2.0, and the Sony/Zeiss Distagon 35mm FE F1.4. Yes, it would be nice to be able to shoot on faster aperture. Yes, the Canon and Nikon are not only faster but also cheaper. But all of these other lenses are heavier, and apart from the Distagon 35mm F1.4, they will not give me the autofocus on the Sony A7 cameras.
My primary use for this lens is video (see video below for example footage). I often use a gimbal and need to be able to balance it quickly with a lightweight lens. Without the autofocus, the light weight and compactness of this lens, I can’t get the shots I’m after. Together with the Sony A7R II, this has become my ‘go to’ combination for shoots where I need to appear somewhat unnoticeable, as a second camera I thought I probably wouldn’t need but always end up using and the times when I wasn’t planning to take a camera but grabbed it just in case.
The autofocus is silent and very fast. The manual focus is smooth. The lens works on all Sony E-mount cameras. It gives a crisp, sharp image all across the frame, perhaps sharper than any other 35 mm lens I’ve used - especially from apertures of F4.0 and slower - which is astonishing for being so small. There is a very small amount of distortion and chromatic aberration, but nowhere near enough to concern me. At F2.8 there is quite a heavy vignette, though vignetting is, as far as I know, unavoidable with full-frame cameras when shooting wide open, as well as the ever so slight corner softness.
If you’re looking for speedy aperture and don’t mind the extra size and weight, the other 35mm options I mention above might be more interesting for you. However if like me, you need a small, lightweight set-up with or without gimbal, as well as excellent image quality, the Zeiss Sonnar 35mm is your new best friend.