Lens review

Sony FE 35 mm f/1.8

2 November 2020
Maciej Latałło

4. Image resolution

The resolution test (resoltuion meaning the MTF50 function values) of the Sony 35 mm f/1.8 FE was based on RAW files from the Sony A7R II camera. In the case of that mirrorless device the decency level we set about 39-41 lpmm and the best fixed focal length lenses have been able to exceed 70 lpmm. So far, two Voigtlander lenses have fared the best: the Apo-Lanthar 65 mm f/2 Aspherical 1:2 Macro (78.5 lpmm) and the Nokton 50 mm f/1.2 (78.6 lpmm). The Zeiss Batis 40 mm f/2 CF (77.1 lpmm) is very close behind them.

Let's check how the Sony FE 35 mm f/1.8 compares – its results in the frame centre, on the edge of the APS-C sensor and on the edge of full frame presents a graph below.

Sony FE 35 mm f/1.8 - Image resolution

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You can observe a quite typical performance for this class of equipment. When the lens is wide open and near the maximum relative aperture, the image quality is sensible in the frame centre and it gets better very quickly on stopping down. By f/2.8 results are already very good and the peak of its possibilities the FE 35 mm f/1.8 reaches by f/4.0 and f/5.6, where it is able to exceed a very good level of 70 lpmm. Such a performance is far better than the results of the more expensive Sonnar 2.8/35.

When it comes to the edge of the APS-C sensor we shouldn't complain. Even by f/1.8 the results slightly exceed the decency level and further stopping down the aperture allows you to notice a distinct improvement if image quality, even if it is not as fast as in the centre of the frame. The maximum values you can observe near f/5.6 where you get resolution of a very good level, reaching almost 60 lpmm.

The edge of full frame is the place where you can express your first serious reservations. At the maximum relative aperture image quality is simply unnacceptable. You have to close the lens down to f/2.0-2.2 in order to reach a decent level of resolution. The peak of the performance can be noticed near f/5.6 – still, this time, it is slightly over 50 lpmm so definitely lower. As you see, no fireworks at this point but, fortunately, the lens still allows you to get sharp images across the frame and in a rather wide range of apertures too.

The summary of this chapter can be only positive. The lens fares exceedingly well in the frame centre and is quite good on the edge of the APS-C sensor. It has one weak spot, the maximum relative aperture on the edge of full frame, but it is a forgivable slip-up, especially as it disappears on slight stopping down.

At the end of this chapter, traditionally, we present crops taken from photos of our resolution testing chart saved as JPEG files alongside RAW files we used in our analysis above.

A7R II, JPEG, 35 mm, f/1.8
Sony FE 35 mm f/1.8 - Image resolution
A7R II, JPEG, 35 mm, f/4.0
Sony FE 35 mm f/1.8 - Image resolution