Lens review

Sony Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar 24-70 mm f/2.8 T* SSM

14 September 2010
Arkadiusz Olech

3. Build quality

At first glance the Zeiss 24-77 mm looks solid but is distinctly barrel-shaped. When you hold it into your hand you feel at once that it weighs almost 1 kilo. It can’t be otherwise, though – there is a huge front element to take into account and the housing of the lens was made of high-quality composites and metal, which shines brightly near the mount.

Sony Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar 24-70 mm f/2.8 T* SSM - Build quality

The Sony lenses’ design arouses mixed feelings. I showed the Zeiss several people and I always got extreme opinions about it. They ranged from crude expressions, discrediting the Sony designers completely, to the opinion of my wife, who, after taking the lens into her hand, decided it had a very stylish and professional appearance and, seeing the blue Zeiss logo, smacked her lips and nodded understandingly. As I love dearly my wife I couldn’t agree more. Personally, I like the lens’s design very much – I consider it interesting. Let’s get down to the facts, though, it’s not a beauty contest after all.

Sony Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar 24-70 mm f/2.8 T* SSM - Build quality

It’s enough to click the following link to compare the tested lens with its competitors. You can notice at once that each producer decided to apply a bit different approach here. Canon in its EF 24-70 mm f/2.8L USM used such a construction that the lens is the smallest at 70 mm. The Zeiss is made the other way round, being the most folded at 24 mm. The Nikkor, for a change, reaches minimum dimensions near 50 mm focal length and then it extends, no matter whether you increase or shorten the focal length value. The Zeiss is the heaviest lens of all four devices, presented here, but the differences are minimal; it is also distinctly the smallest, being from 4 to 22 mm shorter than its competitors.

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It doesn’t change the fact that neither of the lenses, described above, is perfectly sealed. In each and every case the focal length change is made by extending a solid inner lens tube with the front element and it can potentially cause the ingress of dust inside the construction.

The Zeiss 24-70 mm features two comfortable rings. Personally I would be more happy if they were less finely ribbed – the ribs we get here are a bit too narrow and my big fingers prefer something with a higher resistance. It doesn’t change the fact, though, that the choice of the right focal length as well as the manual focusing have smooth, well-damped action and the right precision.

Between these rings we find a clear distance scale, starting from 0.34 meter, which makes the Zeiss stand out in a positive way against its competitors, and the focus mode switch (AF/MF).

When we look inside, we see that the Zeiss is the most complex construction in its class. We deal here with as many as 17 elements in 13 groups. It’s worth adding that two of them are made of low-dispersion ED glass and two others are aspherical. Apart from that you can also find an aperture with nine diaphragm blades which can be closed down to f/22. The lens ends with a non-rotating filter thread, 77 m in diameter.

Sony Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar 24-70 mm f/2.8 T* SSM - Build quality

The buyer gets a petal-type lens hood and a soft pouch included in box.

Sony Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar 24-70 mm f/2.8 T* SSM - Build quality