Sony 24–70mm f/4: Just About Perfect

Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 24–70mm f/4 ZA OSS

Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 24–70mm f/4 ZA OSS

The Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 24–70mm f/4 ZA OSS is probably the most important lens in the FE lineup, and as Raj Lalwani finds out, rightly so.

Last month, we tested the new mirrorless full frame camera, the Sony Alpha 7R, and while the camera boasts of an outstanding sensor, we were a little hesitant about singing paeans to the new Sony as certain things largely depend on how the FE system moves ahead in the future.

But a beginning that definitely holds key, is this new expensive standard zoom lens The Sony FE 24–70mm f/4 OSS is the only zoom lens available for the A7R and the demands it has to face are quite steep.

It is important to note that this lens is totally different from the 24–70mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS lens that is the kit lens of the A7.

The constant f/4 aperture automatically differentiates this lens from the other standard zoom that is made, but I personally found the differentiation itself to be odd. When a camera system is so remarkably young, you would expect the manufacturer to release as many lenses as possible. And yet, strangely enough, we see two of them mirroring the same focal range (though obviously different in terms of feel and quality).

Though it is not an f/2.8 lens, the constant aperture does signify the potentially serious target group of this Fuji. Five aspherical elements out of 12 are aspherical, which puts the expectations from this lens into the serious league. As an image-stabilised piece of optics, I wondered if this lens also represented the best that this system could possibly get.

The stepper motor for silent AF is an important process in the acceptance of this lens, it makes video focusing far more intuitive. There is a large and solid lens hood, but since the lens was already quite good at preventing flare, I largely used the hood as a front element that works well in crowded places.

Both the focusing ring as well as the zoom ring have a rubber lining and are rather comfortable to switch and adjust.

The photographs made by the 24–70mm f/4 are constantly sharp, across all aperture ranges. In fact, the initial dissonance I had from the Alpha 7R body, I did not seem to have any from the lens itself.

It does complete justice to the brilliant sensor of the camera, and we see 36MP of top-notch detail from the lens across the aperture range. While f/5.6 and f/8 seem to be the sweet spot in terms of centre-to-edge quality, what’s absolutely admirable is that the f/4 resolution and f/11 detail are nearly the same.

There is some vignetting that this standard zoom lens produces, especially while using the widest aperture.

Distortion is extremely well controlled, and there is virtually zero fringing. Finally, even when including multiple light sources within the frame, I ensured that there was never even the slightest of lens flare in the final photographs. This is truly a delightful package of optics.

Priced at Rs. 76,990, the Sony 24–70mm is not cheap. But it is the only zoom lens worth using on the Alpha 7R, and might well be the company’s most popular lens for quite some time. The company needs to do a lot more to convince people of its optical support, but purely in terms of this lens, the quality is, unbelievably, as good as packaging in three prime lenses into one.

Despite the presence of so many LEDs in the frame, the optics control flare superbly. Exposure: 1/60sec at f/6.3 (ISO 1000). Photograph/Raj Lalwani

Despite the presence of so many LEDs in the frame, the optics control flare superbly. Exposure: 1/60sec at f/6.3 (ISO 1000). Photograph/Raj Lalwani

Final Ratings
No f/2.8, optically stabilised, convenient focal length, rounded diaphragm

Decently sharp, Fast AF, less flaring and fringing, slight softening at the corners

Build Quality
Plastic build, lightweight, convenient to carry

Quite a large lens, especially considering the otherwise small size of the cameras

Warranty & Support
Two-year warranty, widespread service network in India

Value For Money: 4.5/5

Who should buy it?
Anyone who invests into a Sony Alpha FE-mount camera.

If you want a non-fixed lens for the Alpha 7 or Alpha 7R, the fantastic quality of this stabilised standard zoom will make it an absolute nobrainer of a buy.

Tags: Raj Lalwani, Sony, sony lens review, sony 24-70 review, sony 24-70 f/4 review, sony 24-70 price india, april 2014, Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 24–70mm f/4 ZA OSS