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Carl Zeiss 24mm f/1.8 Sonnar E ZA T* Lens Review

Carl Zeiss 24mm f/1.8 Sonnar E ZA T* Lens Review - Gary Wolstenholme reviews the Carl Zeiss 24mm f/1.8 Sonnar E ZA T* Lens for NEX cameras.

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Category : Interchangeable Lenses
Product : Carl Zeiss 24mm f/1.8 Sonnar E ZA T*
Price : £760
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Handling and features
Carl Zeiss Sonnar T 18 24 Tstar (6)

This wide angle lens provides an angle of view equivalent to a 36mm lens used on a 35mm camera and costs around £760. It has a fast maximum aperture of f/1.8, silent internal focusing and is one of Sony's premium lenses that carries Carl Zeiss branding and T* anti-reflective optical coatings.

Carl Zeiss 24mm f/1.8 Sonnar T* Handling and features

As metal has been used for construction of much of the lens barrel and the lens mount, this lens feels very solidly put together, in keeping with its premium position in Sony's lens line up. Even with all the metal used, it still isn't a heavy lens, tipping the scales at 225g, which makes it a good companion for the Sony NEX-5R body used for testing.
Carl Zeiss Sonnar T 18 24 Tstar (8)

Auto focus is fast and accurate, inspiring confidence when using the lens at fast apertures. A wide, lightly damped focusing ring makes applying manual focus adjustments a pleasure. Minimum focus is 16cm from the sensor plane, which is perfect for the occasional close up image, or for shooting when space is tight.

Carl Zeiss Sonnar T 18 24 Tstar (9)

As focusing is performed internally, the 49mm filter ring does not rotate, which makes the lens ideal for use with graduated and polarising filters.

Carl Zeiss 24mm f/1.8 Sonnar T* Performance

In keeping with the premium build, this lens offers premium performance too. At maximum aperture sharpness is already excellent in the centre of the frame, although towards the edges of the frame clarity is only fairly good. Stopping down to f/4 improves sharpness towards the edges of the frame to good levels and outstanding clarity is achieved in the centre of the frame. Very good levels of sharpness are achieved towards the edges of the frame with the aperture stopped down to between f/5.6 and f/11.

Sony24mmZA MTF
Resolution at 24mm

How to read our charts

The blue column represents readings from the centre of the picture frame at the various apertures and the green is from the edges. Averaging them out gives the red weighted column.

The scale on the left side is an indication of actual image resolution. The taller the column, the better the lens performance. Simple.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Sony NEX-5R using Imatest.

Levels of chromatic aberrations are are a little on the high side towards the edges of the frame, just exceeding three quarters of a pixel width. Although this amount of fringing my be acceptable for many, care may need to be taken when placing high contrast edges close to the edges of the frame.

Sony24mmZA CA
Chromatic aberration at 24mm

How to read our charts

Chromatic aberration is the lens' inability to focus on the sensor or film all colours of visible light at the same point. Severe chromatic aberration gives a noticeable fringing or a halo effect around sharp edges within the picture. It can be cured in software.

Apochromatic lenses have special lens elements (aspheric, extra-low dispersion etc) to minimize the problem, hence they usually cost more.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Sony NEX-5R using Imatest.

Falloff of illumination towards the corners of the frame is well controlled, especially for a lens with such a fast maximum aperture. At f/1.8 the corners are 2.08 stops darker than the image centre and visually uniform illumination is achieved with the lens stopped down to f/4 or beyond.

Imatest picked up 1.05% pincushion distortion during testing, which is an incredibly mild amount and shouldn't prove problematic in normal picture taking. If absolutely straight lines are paramount, the distortion pattern is uniform across the frame, which should make applying corrections in image editing software reasonably straightforward.

Contrast holds up very well when shooting into the light and there are very few instances of flare, even in very harsh lighting conditions.

Carl Zeiss 24mm f/1.8 Sonnar E ZA T* Other sample images

Value for money

Although the price may seem steep at around £760, this is justified by the excellent build quality and optical performance. As there are currently no alternatives at this focal length for the Sony NEX system, if you want a 24mm prime, then it has to be this one.

Carl Zeiss 24mm f/1.8 Sonnar T* Verdict

This lens delivers performance worthy of the Carl Zeiss name, especially in the centre of the frame, where sharpness is excellent, or even outstanding when stopped down.

It is a premium piece of glass, and so it carries a premium price tag. Those willing to stump up the £760 for this lens will not be disappointed.

  The Carl Zeiss 24mm f/1.8 lens delivers excellent performance with premium build.

Carl Zeiss 24mm f/1.8 Sonnar T* Pros

Superb build quality
Fast, accurate focusing
Excellent sharpness

Carl Zeiss 24mm f/1.8 Sonnar T* Cons

CA levels a touch high towards the edges of the frame


Carl Zeiss 24mm f/1.8 Sonnar E ZA T* Specifications

Lens Mounts
  • Sony E Mount
Focal Length24mm
Angle of View61
Max Aperturef/1.8
Min Aperturef/22
Filter Size49mm
35mm equivalent36mm
Internal focusingYes
Min Focus16cm
Box Contents
Box ContentsFront and rear caps, lens hood, case.

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josa 2 25 Czech Republic
18 Apr 2013 8:53PM
What happened to the edge sharpness?Sad

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