Sony FE PZ 16-35mm F/4 G Lens Review

John Riley has been putting the latest wide zoom lens from Sony - FE PZ 16-35mm f/4 G - through its paces on a Sony A7R III to find out just how good it is.

| Sony FE PZ 16-35MM F4 G in Interchangeable Lenses

Sony FE PZ 16-35mm F/4 G Lens Review: Sony Fe 16 35mm F4 Pz Front Oblique View | 0.3 sec | f/16.0 | 135.0 mm | ISO 100

If we take the previously reviewed Sony E 10-20mm f/4 PZ G lens for the APS-C range of cameras, then the new Sony FE PZ 16-35mm f/4 G for full frame is pretty much what we would expect to see in the grown-up version. In terms of design, the two are dead ringers for each other, so it will be especially interesting to see how this translates in terms of performance as well. Intended to be perfect for videographers, content creators and stills photographers, and coupled up to the  42MP Sony A7R III, let's see how both the handling and the technical results pan out.



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Sony FE PZ 16-35mm F/4 G Handling and Features

Sony FE PZ 16-35mm F/4 G Lens Review: Sony Fe 16 35mm F4 Pz On A7RIII | 0.3 sec | f/16.0 | 88.0 mm | ISO 100

We have the expected well-made lens, weighing in at a modest 353g and measuring just 88.1mm long and 80.5mm in diameter. There is a provided petal lens hood that bayonet securely into place without any need for a locking catch to hold it there. Within the bayonet mount for the hood is a standard 72mm filter thread.

There is a slim electronic focusing ring, which is ultra-smooth, but if anything perhaps just a tad too light. All the usual Sony focusing methods are supported, including DMF where manual teaks can be made to the focusing position whilst still in AF mode. AF is driven by 2 XD (Extreme Dynamic) linear motors and is virtually silent, accurate and quick. Focusing is down to 0.24m (0.79 feet) at 16mm or 0.28m (0.92 feet) at 35mm, for a maximum magnification of 0.23x.

This is a Power Zoom lens, driven by 4 XD linear motors, which again prove to be fast and virtually silent. The zoom ring is also electronic, so as expected utterly smooth, but maybe a bit tricky to move to a specific focal length and leave it there, certainly so if we wanted to make one swift movement to a point. There is an electronic indication in the monitor/viewfinder to indicate the focal length. The alternative is the zoom lever, which offers motorised focal length change. This has the same advantages and disadvantages as the ring. An additional feature is that the zooming can be operated by remote control. Power Zoom is probably of far more value to videographers than to stills photographers. This can be controlled remotely from the optional GRV-PT2BT grip, the RMT-P1BT remote commander or via a smartphone using the Imaging Edge Mobile App.



Sony FE PZ 16-35mm F/4 G Lens Review: Sony Fe 16 35mm F4 Pz On A7RIII Top View | 1/5 sec | f/16.0 | 31.0 mm | ISO 100

Next up are a series of controls around the lens body. The AF/MF switch is self-explanatory. There is also a focus lock button. The Power Zoom lever controls the zoom position. On the opposite side of the barrel, the Iris Lock can be used to keep the aperture on the A setting, or conversly to stop the aperture ring being moved from the scale into the A setting by mistake. There is also a lever to switch aperture click stops on or off, the latter again being perfect for videography.

Finally, we have the aperture ring, which if used with click stops has quite an unsophisticated, heavy and jerky feel. However, it does its job and is clearly marked in one-third of a stop intervals. The click stops, as mentioned, can be switched off.

Optical construction is 13 elements in 12 groups, including 2 AA (Advanced Aspherical), 1 Super ED and 1 ED. The diaphragm comprises 7 blades, rounded to create a circular aperture. The lens is also dust and moisture-resistant.


Sony FE PZ 16-35mm F/4 G Lens Review: Sony Fe 16 35mm F4 Pz Rear Oblique View | 0.3 sec | f/16.0 | 135.0 mm | ISO 100

Image Stabilisation is via the inbuilt SteadyShot of the camera body. The lens is not compatible with any of the teleconverters.

In terms of handling, this lens is to full frame what the tiny 10-20mm lens is to APS-C, in the sense of its design, handling and probable applications. It can be anything from a vlogging lens, to a general purpose travel lens, to a creative ultra-wide. At the 35mm end we have the traditional “wide standard” beloved of documentary and street photographers since 35mm format photography began. It is an absolutely gorgeous lens to use, a real pleasure, so now let's see if the technical performance lives up to the promise.


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