Lens review

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

14 September 2010
Arkadiusz Olech

4. Image resolution

In this category we will get down to the facts very quickly because they are worth it. Let’s look at the situation in the frame centre, presented in the picture below.

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

In short, taking into account zoom lenses, such nice graphs we see only in the case of the Nikkor 14-24 mm. The Zeiss is outstandingly sharp, starting already from the maximum relative aperture. By f/4.0 and in the middle of the focal range a formal record for 10-megapixel APS-C/DX sensors was broken here; the previous one belonged to the Nikkor 1.8/50. The new record value, achieved by the Zeiss, amounts to 47.3 +/- 0.7 lpmm and it shows clearly the tested lens is the equal of the best fixed-focal lenses.

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How do the frame edges look? Let’s glance at the picture below.

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

Beginning from f/4.0 we don’t see practically any resolution problems. By that aperture and higher we will get images of excellent quality. At 24 mm and in the middle of the focal lengths range even shooting at the maximum relative aperture is not troublesome. The image quality is perhaps not outstanding there but still good or even very good. The only weak point which we were able to find is the combination of the maximum focal length and f/2.8 – the result significantly below 30 lpmm is a medium level at most but, in fact, this remains the only Achilles’ heel of the tested lens.

We must admit, though, that it most probably has been a well-though-out weakness. It is very difficult to construct a fast zoom lens which would be perfectly sharp everywhere and, at the same time, would have sensible dimensions, weight, and a decent wide angle to boot. If manufacturing such a perfect lens demanded from the Zeiss constructors e.g. increasing the weight and the dimensions by 1.5x, perhaps it would be better to leave the instrument how it is and be reconciled with a bit weaker edges for one aperture/focal length combination. After all for the same combination the instrument gives a very sharp image in the frame centre. It is perhaps a reasonable price to be paid, taking into account the fact that none of the 24-70 mm class devices, tested by us, have shown such a good performance in this category.

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