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Lens review

Sony Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar 16-35 mm f/2.8 T* SSM

4 August 2009
Arkadiusz Olech

11. Summary


Pros:
  • a tasteful, very solid barrel,
  • brilliant frame centre picture quality,
  • very good frame edge picture quality for the APS-C/DX sensor for the range of 16-24 mm,
  • good frame edge picture quality for the full frame sensor at the range of 16-24 mm,
  • low distortion on smaller matrix,
  • low coma on smaller APS-C/DX matrix,
  • astigmatism controlled well enough,
  • good work against bright light,
  • quick, noiseless and quite accurate autofocus,
  • lens hood and a case included.

Cons:
  • weaker frame edge performance at maximum aperture,
  • high full frame chromatic aberration at 16 mm,
  • very high coma in full frame corners,
  • huge vignetting on full frame.


Sony/Zeiss 16-35 mm is not a faultless lens, although its price is very high. Would it be possible to manufacture an optically better instrument? I think so, but it would certainly entail bigger dimensions and weight, more particularly the diameter of the front element. It would mean the necessity of using 82 mm filters (or even bigger) in turn. Would the game be worth the candle? It is difficult to give an unequivocal answer to such a question. We can just state that the lens will rather meet the expectations of its potential buyers. It is perhaps not as good as the Nikkor 14-24 mm f/2.8 but its parameters are more universal and it is significantly smaller; also, it seems to be optically a tad better than the new Canon 16-35 mm f/2.8L.



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Sample shots:

Sony Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar 16-35 mm f/2.8 T* SSM - Summary Sony Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar 16-35 mm f/2.8 T* SSM - Summary Sony Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar 16-35 mm f/2.8 T* SSM - Summary
Camera: Sony A900
Parameters: 16 mm, f/2.8, exp. 1/8000 sek., ISO 200
File: 6048x4032 pix, 12.5 MB
Camera: Sony A900
Parameters: 35 mm, f/3.5, exp. 1/1600 sek., ISO 200
File: 6048x4032 pix, 11.2 MB
Camera: Sony A900
Parameters: 26 mm, f/2.8, exp. 1/2500 sek., ISO 200
File: 6048x4032 pix, 10.5 MB
Sony Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar 16-35 mm f/2.8 T* SSM - Summary Sony Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar 16-35 mm f/2.8 T* SSM - Summary Sony Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar 16-35 mm f/2.8 T* SSM - Summary
Camera: Sony A900
Parameters: 26 mm, f/7.1, exp. 1/500 sek., ISO 200
File: 6048x4032 pix, 11.7 MB
Camera: Sony A900
Parameters: 22 mm, f/5.0, exp. 1/800 sek., ISO 200
File: 6048x4032 pix, 14.6 MB
Camera: Sony A900
Parameters: 16 mm, f/5.6, exp. 1/2000 sek., ISO 200
File: 6048x4032 pix, 14.7 MB
Sony Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar 16-35 mm f/2.8 T* SSM - Summary Sony Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar 16-35 mm f/2.8 T* SSM - Summary Sony Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar 16-35 mm f/2.8 T* SSM - Summary
Camera: Sony A900
Parameters: 30 mm, f/5.6, exp. 1/1250 sek., ISO 100
File: 6048x4032 pix, 11.3 MB
Camera: Sony A900
Parameters: 16 mm, f/5.6, exp. 1/800 sek., ISO 200
File: 6048x4032 pix, 14.5 MB
Camera: Sony A900
Parameters: 35 mm, f/9.0, exp. 1/640 sek., ISO 200
File: 6048x4032 pix, 13.2 MB
Sony Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar 16-35 mm f/2.8 T* SSM - Summary Sony Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar 16-35 mm f/2.8 T* SSM - Summary Sony Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar 16-35 mm f/2.8 T* SSM - Summary
Camera: Sony A900
Parameters: 17 mm, f/9.0, exp. 1/500 sek., ISO 200
File: 6048x4032 pix, 12.5 MB
Camera: Sony A900
Parameters: 35 mm, f/3.2, exp. 1/2500 sek., ISO 200
File: 6048x4032 pix, 11.9 MB
Camera: Sony A900
Parameters: 16 mm, f/2.8, exp. 1/30 sek., ISO 400
File: 6048x4032 pix, 15.0 MB
Sony Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar 16-35 mm f/2.8 T* SSM - Summary Sony Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar 16-35 mm f/2.8 T* SSM - Summary Sony Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar 16-35 mm f/2.8 T* SSM - Summary
Camera: Sony A900
Parameters: 16 mm, f/8.0, exp. 1/640 sek., ISO 200
File: 6048x4032 pix, 11.3 MB
Camera: Sony A900
Parameters: 16 mm, f/5.6, exp. 1/500 sek., ISO 200
File: 6048x4032 pix, 14.3 MB
Camera: Sony A900
Parameters: 16 mm, f/3.5, exp. 1/8000 sek., ISO 200
File: 6048x4032 pix, 10.8 MB
Sony Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar 16-35 mm f/2.8 T* SSM - Summary Sony Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar 16-35 mm f/2.8 T* SSM - Summary Sony Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar 16-35 mm f/2.8 T* SSM - Summary
Camera: Sony A900
Parameters: 35 mm, f/5.0, exp. 1/1600 sek., ISO 200
File: 6048x4032 pix, 10.0 MB
Camera: Sony A900
Parameters: 16 mm, f/4.0, exp. 1/60 sek., ISO 200
File: 6048x4032 pix, 11.4 MB
Camera: Sony A900
Parameters: 35 mm, f/7.1, exp. 1/320 sek., ISO 200
File: 6048x4032 pix, 11.2 MB
Sony Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar 16-35 mm f/2.8 T* SSM - Summary Sony Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar 16-35 mm f/2.8 T* SSM - Summary Sony Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar 16-35 mm f/2.8 T* SSM - Summary
Camera: Sony A900
Parameters: 35 mm, f/2.8, exp. 1/2000 sek., ISO 200
File: 6048x4032 pix, 10.6 MB
Camera: Sony A900
Parameters: 20 mm, f/3.2, exp. 1/60 sek., ISO 400
File: 6048x4032 pix, 13.1 MB
Camera: Sony A900
Parameters: 22 mm, f/5.6, exp. 1/250 sek., ISO 200
File: 6048x4032 pix, 14.6 MB
Sony Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar 16-35 mm f/2.8 T* SSM - Summary Sony Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar 16-35 mm f/2.8 T* SSM - Summary Sony Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar 16-35 mm f/2.8 T* SSM - Summary
Camera: Sony A900
Parameters: 16 mm, f/5.6, exp. 1/1000 sek., ISO 200
File: 6048x4032 pix, 19.2 MB
Camera: Sony A900
Parameters: 16 mm, f/4, exp. 1/5000 sek., ISO 200
File: 6048x4032 pix, 19.2 MB
Camera: Sony A900
Parameters: 24 mm, f/2.8, exp. 1/8000 sek., ISO 200
File: 6048x4032 pix, 18.7 MB
Sony Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar 16-35 mm f/2.8 T* SSM - Summary Sony Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar 16-35 mm f/2.8 T* SSM - Summary Sony Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar 16-35 mm f/2.8 T* SSM - Summary
Camera: Sony A900
Parameters: 26 mm, f/5.6, exp. 1/640 sek., ISO 200
File: 6048x4032 pix, 16.7 MB
Camera: Sony A900
Parameters: 26 mm, f/2.8, exp. 1/2500 sek., ISO 200
File: 6048x4032 pix, 16.3 MB
Camera: Sony A900
Parameters: 30 mm, f/2.8, exp. 1/1000 sek., ISO 200
File: 6048x4032 pix, 17.3 MB
Sony Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar 16-35 mm f/2.8 T* SSM - Summary Sony Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar 16-35 mm f/2.8 T* SSM - Summary Sony Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar 16-35 mm f/2.8 T* SSM - Summary
Camera: Sony A900
Parameters: 24 mm, f/4, exp. 1/1600 sek., ISO 200
File: 6048x4032 pix, 17.2 MB
Camera: Sony A900
Parameters: 30 mm, f/2.8, exp. 1/4000 sek., ISO 200
File: 6048x4032 pix, 14.7 MB
Camera: Sony A900
Parameters: 22 mm, f/2.8, exp. 1/3200 sek., ISO 200
File: 6048x4032 pix, 18.7 MB
Sony Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar 16-35 mm f/2.8 T* SSM - Summary Sony Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar 16-35 mm f/2.8 T* SSM - Summary Sony Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar 16-35 mm f/2.8 T* SSM - Summary
Camera: Sony A900
Parameters: 22 mm, f/5.6, exp. 1/640 sek., ISO 200
File: 6048x4032 pix, 19.1 MB
Camera: Sony A900
Parameters: 35 mm, f/2.8, exp. 1/500 sek., ISO 200
File: 6048x4032 pix, 13.8 MB
Camera: Sony A900
Parameters: 24 mm, f/8, exp. 1/100 sek., ISO 200
File: 6048x4032 pix, 18.4 MB
Sony Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar 16-35 mm f/2.8 T* SSM - Summary Sony Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar 16-35 mm f/2.8 T* SSM - Summary Sony Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar 16-35 mm f/2.8 T* SSM - Summary
Camera: Sony A900
Parameters: 24 mm, f/2.8, exp. 1/640 sek., ISO 200
File: 6048x4032 pix, 17.4 MB
Camera: Sony A900
Parameters: 18 mm, f/2.8, exp. 1/1000 sek., ISO 200
File: 6048x4032 pix, 15.3 MB
Camera: Sony A900
Parameters: 35 mm, f/2.8, exp. 1/320 sek., ISO 200
File: 6048x4032 pix, 16.0 MB
Sony Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar 16-35 mm f/2.8 T* SSM - Summary Sony Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar 16-35 mm f/2.8 T* SSM - Summary Sony Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar 16-35 mm f/2.8 T* SSM - Summary
Camera: Sony A900
Parameters: 35 mm, f/5.6, exp. 1/100 sek., ISO 200
File: 6048x4032 pix, 18.3 MB
Camera: Sony A900
Parameters: 35 mm, f/2.8, exp. 1/400 sek., ISO 200
File: 6048x4032 pix, 14.9 MB
Camera: Sony A900
Parameters: 35 mm, f/4, exp. 1/250 sek., ISO 200
File: 6048x4032 pix, 15.5 MB
Sony Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar 16-35 mm f/2.8 T* SSM - Summary Sony Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar 16-35 mm f/2.8 T* SSM - Summary Sony Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar 16-35 mm f/2.8 T* SSM - Summary
Camera: Sony A900
Parameters: 24 mm, f/8, exp. 1/125 sek., ISO 200
File: 6048x4032 pix, 16.2 MB
Camera: Sony A900
Parameters: 16 mm, f/2.8, exp. 1/4000 sek., ISO 200
File: 6048x4032 pix, 17.8 MB
Camera: Sony A900
Parameters: 16 mm, f/2.8, exp. 1/3200 sek., ISO 200
File: 6048x4032 pix, 16.6 MB



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