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Ed Rooney

Sony Zeiss E 24 f/ 1.8 vs. Sony Vario-Tessar 16-70 f/ 4

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I suspect most of you will go for the new zoom . . . zoom junkies that you are.   :)  

 

I own the 24, and it has two great advantages over the zoom: it focuses down to 6.5" and it's a few stops faster. In the perfect world, where money would not be a consideration, where I might have a Ferrari garaged near the Autobanden for the occasional weekend in Germany (Where else could you wind that thing up?) . . . I would own both.  

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I suspect most of you will go for the new zoom . . . zoom junkies that you are.   :)

 

I own the 24, and it has two great advantages over the zoom: it focuses down to 6.5" and it's a few stops faster. In the perfect world, where money would not be a consideration, where I might have a Ferrari garaged near the Autobanden for the occasional weekend in Germany (Where else could you wind that thing up?) . . . I would own both.  

 

It would have to be a really good zoom. It was the Nex system that really got me into primes and while I have 2 zooms, I always go to the primes if I need the best optical quality. Of course..... I'm a little stuck when it comes to 200mm options so a zoom it is on those occasions  :)

 

Favourite primes.... 14mm 35 & 60. I'm likely to add a 23mm and that is purely down to the fact that I enjoyed the focal length of that 24mm Zeiss lens when I had my Nex.

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I can't afford either of these lenses these days; but if I could buy only one, I would go with the zoom. I find that I tend to compose better and lose fewer shots with zooms. However, I do appreciate the poetry of primes.

 

P.S. If God had wanted us to shoot with primes all of the time, She would have given us telescopic arms. ;)

Edited by John Mitchell

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P.S. If God had wanted us to shoot with primes all of the time, She would have given us telescopic arms. ;)

 

She did, John. They're called feet. 

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P.S. If God had wanted us to shoot with primes all of the time, She would have given us telescopic arms. ;)

 

She did, John. They're called feet. 

Yes, I imagine you've become very artful at dodging all those Kamakazi NYC yellow cabs.

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P.S. If God had wanted us to shoot with primes all of the time, She would have given us telescopic arms. ;)

 

She did, John. They're called feet. 

Yes, I imagine you've become very artful at dodging all those Kamakazi NYC yellow cabs.

 

I lived in Rome, John. New York traffic is nothing compared to Rome . . . and when I lived there they had maybe a half-dozen traffic lights in the whole city.  And Rome is civil compared to Rio. 

Edited by Ed Rooney

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There's a user review of the 16-70 on fredmiranda. User likes lens but concerned over decentred element(s).

It's a lot of money to pay for a lens with QA issues, but I've had similar problems with more expensive Canon glass.

Slightly tempted, but will wait to see if price subsides. I am getting good results from manually focusing my collection of old primes, but there are times when you need to react quickly and a zoom with IS is the only way to go.

Edited by Bryan

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There's a user review of the 16-70 on fredmiranda. User likes lens but concerned over decentred element(s). 

 

It's a lot of money to pay for a lens with QA issues, but I've had similar problems with more expensive Canon glass. 

 

Slightly tempted, but will wait to see if price subsides. I am getting good results from manaully focusing my collection of old primes, but there are times when you need to react quickly and a zoom with IS is the only way to go.

Sounds like a nice lens but probably not worth mortgaging the farm for. Manufacturers turn out lenses so quickly these days that it's amazing any of them work properly. This lens is selling for $1100 in Canada. That's a lot to pay for decentred elements IMO.

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Another less than enthusiastic review here

 

I'm still awaiting for a more authoritative review, but it's looking like I won't be buying the Zeiss 16-70, and will continue to struggle on with a bag full of manual focus fixed focal length glass.

 

Where is Mr Sigma when you need him?

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Another less than enthusiastic review here

 

I'm still awaiting for a more authoritative review, but it's looking like I won't be buying the Zeiss 16-70, and will continue to struggle on with a bag full of manual focus fixed focal length glass.

 

Where is Mr Sigma when you need him?

 

The beat goes on. I guess the good news for me in this review is I need not consider spending another $1,000 for another lens. I've really gotten used to using the Sony Zeiss 24 f/1.8. I have no complaints about that lens, and I feel content in using it 90+% of the time. I have the 16, 30 and 50 when I need them. But If the Zeiss 16-70 isn't fab what would be?

Edited by Ed Rooney

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I just picked myself up an original old tiny Voigtlander 15mm f/3.5, this is really to try with the A7/A7r when it arrives. But of course I fitted it to my NEX-5n. I can't believe the quality - and absolutely ZERO colour shift or vignetting problems at all. Now wondering seriously about other manual prime stuff.

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Another less than enthusiastic review here

 

I'm still awaiting for a more authoritative review, but it's looking like I won't be buying the Zeiss 16-70, and will continue to struggle on with a bag full of manual focus fixed focal length glass.

 

Where is Mr Sigma when you need him?

Mr Sigma has apparently run off with Ms Tamron.

 

Bryan, keep in mind that Tim Ashley, who write the review that you linked to, is a very fussy fine art photographer (and obviously an excellent one).

 

These shots taken with the Zeiss 16-70 and Sony 20 MP Sony a3000 look pretty darn good to me.

Edited by John Mitchell

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I just picked myself up an original old tiny Voigtlander 15mm f/3.5, this is really to try with the A7/A7r when it arrives. But of course I fitted it to my NEX-5n. I can't believe the quality - and absolutely ZERO colour shift or vignetting problems at all. Now wondering seriously about other manual prime stuff.

 

Interesting and a very useful focal length. 

 

Have you tried the bargain basement Zuiko 50mm f1.8? I had a similar reaction when I fitted one to the NEX, and continue to be impressed whenever I use it.

 

80 mm is not a FL that I make that much use of, but, when applicable, this lens is superb. Mine cost £10 with a camera, hardly used. I've carried out a brief comparison with the Zuiko F1.4 and the  Pentax f1.7 and F1.4, and this cheaper variant came out tops.

 

 

Mr Sigma has apparently run off with Ms Tamron.

 

 

Bryan, keep in mind that Tim Ashley, who write the review that you linked to, is a very fussy fine art photographer (and obviously an excellent one).

 

These shots taken with the Zeiss 16-70 and Sony 20 MP Sony a3000 look pretty darn good to me.

 

:) Impending marriage not good for competition I fear  

 

They do look good John, but I am also interested in edge sharpness for landscape work.

 

I have the Canon 24-105 mm f4 that he refers to in his article. I think that I have a good copy as sharpness is not an issue, but it does produce quite a bit of distortion at 24mm, and CA is often a problem. Maybe this zoom range is just too much for the technology as it stands. 

Edited by Bryan

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I had the original Minolta 24-105mm D f/3.5-4.5 when I first got a full frame DSLR. It was so poor - strong distortion and CA - that I sold it and tried a few alternatives before settling on a 24-85mm 1999 vintage 'new boxed unsold' lens, which I used for three years. In the meantime I used Canon's 24-105mm L and realised that maybe my old Minolta was not so bad, as the L was not as sharp centrally even if was a  touch better behaved at the extremes. I have had maybe three different 24-105mm Ls on test cameras and I've never had a good one. The worst had patches of unsharpness at random points (to the eye) and eventually I sussed out that the problem was its field flatness - the focus plane is like a flat W shape, similar to the distortion. Combine this with a full frame sensor slightly out of parallel and not perfectly flat, and poor focus calibration (5D MkII) and it was possible to have a landscape where one tree was unsharp and the others round it were fine.

 

But, it's not the range 24-105mm which seems to be the issue. I bought a Tokina 24-200mm and despite overall low contrast due to coatings and complexity it was in fact a very sharp lens. I have a 24-120mm equivalent on my Sony A77 (16-80mm Zeiss) and a 24-100mm equivalent on my Olympus OM-D (12-50mm Zuiko) and both are much better than the Canon 24-105mm L. Earlier this year, I spotted a Sony 24-105mm new version of the Minolta I had going begging for £99 at Ffordes when most others were double this price - Ffordes allow the seller to set the price, so I bought, fast. This lens when tested turned out to head and shoulders above the 'identical' older Minolta, better than my 24-85mm, and a fair match for the 16-80mm Zeiss. I now use this one as my regular lens and it can be trusted to turn in 'micro detail' sharpness. So, it's not the focal length range, or the date of the design or the type of lens which matters. It's probably all down to quality control and there will be perfect Canon 24-105mm Ls out there too, I just never got lent one by Canon :-) with review kit...

Edited by David Kilpatrick
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It seems that quality control is becoming more of a problem these days. Whether or not you get a properly working lens appears now to be the luck of the draw. I guess it has to do with the fact that manufacturers must be tripping over themselves in order to keep up with the competition. Also, I wonder if workers in camera/lens factories in China, Thailand, etc. get paid much more than garment workers in these countries. If not, that might help explain things as well,

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Another less than enthusiastic Zeiss user here

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I had the original Minolta 24-105mm D f/3.5-4.5 when I first got a full frame DSLR. It was so poor - strong distortion and CA - that I sold it and tried a few alternatives before settling on a 24-85mm 1999 vintage 'new boxed unsold' lens, which I used for three years. In the meantime I used Canon's 24-105mm L and realised that maybe my old Minolta was not so bad, as the L was not as sharp centrally even if was a  touch better behaved at the extremes. I have had maybe three different 24-105mm Ls on test cameras and I've never had a good one. The worst had patches of unsharpness at random points (to the eye) and eventually I sussed out that the problem was its field flatness - the focus plane is like a flat W shape, similar to the distortion. Combine this with a full frame sensor slightly out of parallel and not perfectly flat, and poor focus calibration (5D MkII) and it was possible to have a landscape where one tree was unsharp and the others round it were fine.

 

But, it's not the range 24-105mm which seems to be the issue. I bought a Tokina 24-200mm and despite overall low contrast due to coatings and complexity it was in fact a very sharp lens. I have a 24-120mm equivalent on my Sony A77 (16-80mm Zeiss) and a 24-100mm equivalent on my Olympus OM-D (12-50mm Zuiko) and both are much better than the Canon 24-105mm L. Earlier this year, I spotted a Sony 24-105mm new version of the Minolta I had going begging for £99 at Ffordes when most others were double this price - Ffordes allow the seller to set the price, so I bought, fast. This lens when tested turned out to head and shoulders above the 'identical' older Minolta, better than my 24-85mm, and a fair match for the 16-80mm Zeiss. I now use this one as my regular lens and it can be trusted to turn in 'micro detail' sharpness. So, it's not the focal length range, or the date of the design or the type of lens which matters. It's probably all down to quality control and there will be perfect Canon 24-105mm Ls out there too, I just never got lent one by Canon :-) with review kit...

 

I switched back to Canon a few months ago and have the 24-105mm and always thought the problems were my error. Very unpredictable. I had this lens a few years ago and didn't care for it either but thought it was defective.The only thing I find it suitable for is when I am shooting events with flash and appx 5-6 feet away from my subject. Landscapes,interiors,not feeling the love for this lens.What should I go with.I need wide to portrait length mainly.I'm using the Canon 6D.

 

Thx

L

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I switched back to Canon a few months ago and have the 24-105mm and always thought the problems were my error. Very unpredictable. I had this lens a few years ago and didn't care for it either but thought it was defective.The only thing I find it suitable for is when I am shooting events with flash and appx 5-6 feet away from my subject. Landscapes,interiors,not feeling the love for this lens.What should I go with.I need wide to portrait length mainly.I'm using the Canon 6D.

 

Thx

L

I have had both the 24-70 F2.8L and the 24-105 f4 L and, of the two, I preferred the 24-105. Probably had a bad copy of the 24-70, but it's a very complex lens and the innards have a tendency to wear. Trips to Canon for repair never really sorted it out. In contrast, other than for the distortion and CA probs, my 24-105 is reasonably sharp. All comes down to quality control perhaps?

 

I am becoming increasingly convinced that primes are the only answer if you want a lens that will perform over a long period of use producing distortion free images that are sharp corner to corner.

 

If I could buy a lens the equivalent of my Canon 24-105 for use with the NEX I would, the convenience/quality ratio is about right for me. Have thought about buying a Metabones adapter and using 24-105 on the NEX, but that defeats the purpose of a  light weight compact camera.

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I got the Zeiss 16-70/4 this week and today managed to go out and take some test shots. I was slightly apprehensive because of mixed user reports and a complete lack of professional reviews, but I can happily report that my first impression is actually quite good. Yes it does have quite a bit of corner softness, especially wide open at the extreme ends of the zoom range. But hey, it's a very useful focal length range and constant f/4 aperture in an incredibly small and lightweight package, so anyone expecting the same image quality as a Zeiss prime is simply not being realistic. Center sharpness is good at all apertures, corners sharpen up nicely when stopped down, and distortion and CA seem mostly absent. I also didn't see any obvious signs of decentered elements. Can't comment yet on colour and contrast as neither were available on this typical grey and wet Vancouver day ;-)

 

So is it worth the high price? Tough question. You definitely pay a premium for that blue badge. But I expect this to become my most used lens and hope to keep it for many years, so as a long term investment in my photography I hope for me the answer will be positive. I'll keep you posted.

 

On a side note, earlier this year I also got the Sony 35/1.8 and it's really very very good. It's half the price of the Zeiss 24/1.8 and has OSS as an added bonus. I think it complements the 16-70/4 nicely and together they make a neat little kit with the Nex 6 or 7.

Edited by NielsVK

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I got the Zeiss 16-70/4 this week and today managed to go out and take some test shots. I was slightly apprehensive because of mixed user reports and a complete lack of professional reviews, but I can happily report that my first impression is actually quite good. Yes it does have quite a bit of corner softness, especially wide open at the extreme ends of the zoom range. But hey, it's a very useful focal length range and constant f/4 aperture in an incredibly small and lightweight package, so anyone expecting the same image quality as a Zeiss prime is simply not being realistic. Center sharpness is good at all apertures, corners sharpen up nicely when stopped down, and distortion and CA seem mostly absent. I also didn't see any obvious signs of decentered elements. Can't comment yet on colour and contrast as neither were available on this typical grey and wet Vancouver day ;-)

 

So is it worth the high price? Tough question. You definitely pay a premium for that blue badge. But I expect this to become my most used lens and hope to keep it for many years, so as a long term investment in my photography I hope for me the answer will be positive. I'll keep you posted.

 

On a side note, earlier this year I also got the Sony 35/1.8 and it's really very very good. It's half the price of the Zeiss 24/1.8 and has OSS as an added bonus. I think it complements the 16-70/4 nicely and together they make a neat little kit with the Nex 6 or 7.

Do you know if the NEX-6's hybrid autofocus system (contrast+phase detect) works with Zeiss 16-70 lens as it does with the regular Sony lenses?

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Sounds good, Niels. Keep us posted if you would. As you may have seen in another post, I now have an RX10 with the Zeiss 24-200 f/2.8. I like the look of most of the small amount of shooting I've been able to get in, what with the angry weather, but I've not yet been about to shoot tests on all the f/stops and zoom points. For now I'm just going to shoot and get to the tests down the road a bit. This zoom has image stabilization as well as the ability to do closeups at every zoom point. 

Edited by Ed Rooney

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John, it's Sony's flagship zoomlens for the NEX system, so I assume it does!

 

Ed, that lens on the RX10 looks impressive! Not so sure about the fly-by-wire zooming though.

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John, it's Sony's flagship zoomlens for the NEX system, so I assume it does!

 

 

One would hope so, but you can't assume anything with Sony, I've discovered. The 16-70 sounds like an impressive lens, but it would be interesting to see a thorough review comparing it with the much less expensive Sony 18-55. No doubt the Zeiss is sharper, but I wonder really how much sharper it is.

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John, let me put it this way: I think I've had to downsize 50%-75% of all my images taken with the 18-55 on the NEX-7 to increase perceived sharpness before I felt good enough about them to send to Alamy QC. I've also had some problems with distortion and vignetting correction causing noise in e.g. clear blue skies.

Yesterday I shot 100 or so test images with the 16-70 and I'm quite sure each of them would pass Alamy QC without issues.

I also simply like to increased zoom range.

It could be that my copy of the 18-55 is a bad one, and it could also be that none of this is relevant on the 14 and 16 MP sensors. The problem is of course that there is simply not a lot of choice between the two kit lenses (18-55 and 16-50) and the overpriced Zeiss.

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John, let me put it this way: I think I've had to downsize 50%-75% of all my images taken with the 18-55 on the NEX-7 to increase perceived sharpness before I felt good enough about them to send to Alamy QC. I've also had some problems with distortion and vignetting correction causing noise in e.g. clear blue skies.

Yesterday I shot 100 or so test images with the 16-70 and I'm quite sure each of them would pass Alamy QC without issues.

I also simply like to increased zoom range.

It could be that my copy of the 18-55 is a bad one, and it could also be that none of this is relevant on the 14 and 16 MP sensors. The problem is of course that there is simply not a lot of choice between the two kit lenses (18-55 and 16-50) and the overpriced Zeiss.

Yes, from what I've read, the 18-55 is not up to the NEX-7's 24 MP sensor, but it's a decent performer IME on the 14/16 MP models. I plan to keep using it for the time being on the NEX-6 body that I've ordered from Sony (assuming that it arrives one day). The 16-70 sounds great but is too pricey for me (yes, I'm jealous). I would love to see some less expensive third-party alternatives appear on the market, but that doesn't seem to be forthcoming. Let's hope the sun reappears in gloomy Vancouver soon. Have fun with the new lens.

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