Lens review

Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* FE 35 mm f/2.8 ZA

20 August 2016
Arkadiusz Olech

3. Build quality

Full frame 35 mm lenses as fast as f/2.5-2.8 are quite popular in the rangefinder M mount system. As they feature the same registering distance they are appropriate rivals of the Zeiss 2.8/35FE, tested here; the relevant comparison is shown in the following chart.

The Zeiss Sonnar T* FE 35 mm f/2.8 ZA, even if physically small and noticeably lighter than completely metal construction designed for the M mount, shouldn’t be consider a pancake lens. In this group it sticks out with a smaller number of aperture blades. It is not limited by the rangefinder construction so it’s able to set focus already from 0.35 of a meter, a distance two times shorter than that of its rangefinder rivals.

The photo below emphasizes the dimensions of the Sonnar 2.8/35FE. It is noticeably shorter than its system brother, the Zeiss 1.8/55FE; it also seems shorter and much less bulky than the stabilized Canon EF 2/35 IS USM.

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Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* FE 35 mm f/2.8 ZA - Build quality

The tested lens starts with a metal mount surrounding contacts and a plastic window sheltering an inner tube of the lens. If you look deeper inside you see a very nice, properly matted interior and a rear element, 18 mm in diameter. The element is not round, though; its edges are truncated so along its vertical axis it is less than 16 mm in diameter. There are no slits or electronic parts visible between the edge of the element and the inner tube so the whole construction is properly sealed.

Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* FE 35 mm f/2.8 ZA - Build quality

The body of the lens starts with an immobile, black, metal ring as wide as 13 mm on which there are parameters of the instrument (FE 2.8/35) the Zeiss company logo, a white dot, making an alignment with a camera easier, the type of the mount (E-mount), a stickler with the serial number of the lens, the Sony logo and information that the lens was produced in Japan.

A ribbed, manual focus ring, almost 17 mm wide, is another part. Its work is based on electrical linear motor and it is devoid of any scale. It moves smoothly and is well-damped; running through the whole distance scale needs a turn through an angle of 180 degrees which is a high value, allowing you to lock precisely onto subject.

Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* FE 35 mm f/2.8 ZA - Build quality

The lens ends with a short, metal ring with a red dot, showing the place where you can attach a hood, and an inscription stating its minimum focusing distance (0,35m/1,15ft).

The front element is just 15 mm in diameter, surrounded by an inscription with the name and parameters of the lens along with its serial number. Round the inscription goes a non-rotating filter thread, 49 mm in diameter.

Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* FE 35 mm f/2.8 ZA - Build quality

The optical construction of the Sonnar 2.8/35 FE consists of seven elements positioned in five groups. As many as three elements are aspherical. Inside there is also an aperture with seven blades which can be closed down to a value of f/22.

Buyers get both caps and an interesting hood with a very characteristic window.

Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* FE 35 mm f/2.8 ZA - Build quality