Carl Zeiss Vario Tessar T* FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS Review

4.0
May 1, 2014 | Mark Goldstein |

Introduction

The Carl Zeiss Vario Tessar T* FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS is a premium standard zoom lens for Sony's 35mm full-frame E-mount camera system. The FE 24-70mm offers a constant F4 maximum aperture, 7-blade aperture, dust and moisture resistance, built-in image stabilisation and a unique T* surface coating. Is the Carl Zeiss FE 24-70mm the perfect partner for your A7/A7R/A7S camera? Read our Carl Zeiss Vario Tessar T* FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS review to find out...

The Carl Zeiss Vario Tessar T* FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS is a premium standard zoom lens for the Sony A7/A7R/A7S full-frame E-mount compact system cameras. It offers a fairly versatile focal range and constant F4 aperture, features 12 elements in 10 groups including 5 aspherical and 1 ED element, and is dust- and moisture-resistant. The Carl Zeiss Vario Tessar T* FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS has a minimum focusing distance of 40cm and a maximum magnification of 0.2x. It has a 7 blade diaphragm which creates an attractive blur to the out of focus areas of the image. A special Carl Zeiss T* coating is applied to the lens elements to help reduce lens flare and surface reflections. The Carl Zeiss Vario Tessar T* FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS lens is available for £1059 / $1199 in the UK and the US, respectively.

Ease of Use

The Carl Zeiss Vario Tessar T* FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS is a premium standard zoom lens for the Sony A7/A7R/A7S full-frame E-mount compact system cameras. It offers a fairly versatile focal range and constant F4 aperture, features 12 elements in 10 groups including 5 aspherical and 1 ED element, and is dust- and moisture-resistant. The Carl Zeiss Vario Tessar T* FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS has a minimum focusing distance of 40cm and a maximum magnification of 0.2x. It has a 7 blade diaphragm which creates an attractive blur to the out of focus areas of the image. A special Carl Zeiss T* coating is applied to the lens elements to help reduce lens flare and surface reflections. The Carl Zeiss Vario Tessar T* FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS lens is available for £1059 / $1199 in the UK and the US, respectively.

Ease of Use

Carl Zeiss Vario Tessar T* FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS The Carl Zeiss Vario Tessar T* FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS lens mounted on a Sony A7

Weighing in at 426g, the alloy-bodied Carl Zeiss Vario Tessar T* FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS is quite a substantial, very well built FE E-Mount lens. Measuring just under 9.5cms in length, it is actually taller than a full-frame body like the Sony A7 body that we tested it with, as shown in the photos below., especially when it's zoomed out to 70mm, where it measures nearly 12.5cms in length.

Carl Zeiss Vario Tessar T* FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS The Carl Zeiss Vario Tessar T* FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS lens mounted on a Sony A7

Carl Zeiss Vario Tessar T* FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS The Carl Zeiss Vario Tessar T* FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS lens mounted on a Sony A7, extended to 70mm

Carl Zeiss Vario Tessar T* FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS The Carl Zeiss Vario Tessar T* FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS lens mounted on a Sony A7

Carl Zeiss Vario Tessar T* FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS The Carl Zeiss Vario Tessar T* FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS lens mounted on a Sony A7, extended to 70mm

Build quality is excellent, but you'd expect that given the high price of the lens. The Carl Zeiss Vario Tessar T* FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS has a sealed dust and moisture resistant design and is a natural partner for the A7 and A7R cameras, feeling well-balanced and not front-heavy.

The Carl Zeiss Vario Tessar T* FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS incorporates a built-in optical image stabilizer which provides compensation of 3 f-stops, which partly compensates for the moderate f/4 maximum aperture.

Carl Zeiss Vario Tessar T* FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS The Carl Zeiss Vario Tessar T* FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS lens alongside the Sony A7

Carl Zeiss Vario Tessar T* FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS Front of the Carl Zeiss Vario Tessar T* FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS lens

Carl Zeiss Vario Tessar T* FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS Front of the Carl Zeiss Vario Tessar T* FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS lens, extended to 70mm

The zoom ring is smooth and well-damped, with a quarter-turn required to go from one end of the range to the other. As mentioned above, the lens barrel extends by 3cms when zooming to the full 70mm telephoto setting.

Manual focusing is possible via the slightly narrow, textured focus ring when set on the specific camera body. The lens utilizes a linear motor to produce quiet and smooth focusing, making it well-suited to shooting video.

Carl Zeiss Vario Tessar T* FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS Front of the Carl Zeiss Vario Tessar T* FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS lens

Carl Zeiss Vario Tessar T* FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS Rear of the Carl Zeiss Vario Tessar T* FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS lens

The Carl Zeiss Vario Tessar T* FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS lens has a metal lens mount. It accepts 67mm filters via plastic threads.

Carl Zeiss Vario Tessar T* FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS Front of the Carl Zeiss Vario Tessar T* FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS lens

Carl Zeiss Vario Tessar T* FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS Rear of the Carl Zeiss Vario Tessar T* FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS lens

Carl Zeiss Vario Tessar T* FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS The Carl Zeiss Vario Tessar T* FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS lens in-hand

The lens ships with a soft case and a petal-shaped plastic lens hood (ALC-SH130), neither of which was provided to us for review.

Focal Range

At the 24mm focal length the angle of view is 34 degrees.

 Carl Zeiss Vario Tessar T* FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS Field of view at 24mm

At the 70mm focal length the angle of view is 84 degrees.

 Carl Zeiss Vario Tessar T* FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS Field of view at 70mm

Focusing

The Carl Zeiss Vario Tessar T* FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS lens has quite a wide focus ring. There are no hard stops at either end of the range, making it a little more difficult to set focus at infinity. Polariser users should be pleased that the 67mm filter thread doesn't rotate on focus.

When it comes to auto-focusing, the Carl Zeiss Vario Tessar T* FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS zoom is a quiet and fairly quick performer on the Sony A7 that we tested it with, taking about 0.15 seconds to lock onto the subject.

We didn't experience much "hunting", either in good or bad light, with the lens accurately focusing almost all of the time, and it's also a quiet performer thanks to the linear motor driven internal focusing, making it ideal for movie shooting.

Chromatic Aberrations

Chromatic aberrations, typically seen as purple or blue fringes along contrasty edges, are only notable by their almost complete absence from our test shots.

Carl Zeiss Vario Tessar T* FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS Carl Zeiss Vario Tessar T* FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS

 

Light Fall-off

With the lens set to its maximum aperture, there is some light fall-off in the extreme corners, but it won't affect your real-world shots too much.

Carl Zeiss Vario Tessar T* FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS Light fall-off at 24mm

Carl Zeiss Vario Tessar T* FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS Light fall-off at 70mm

Macro

The Carl Zeiss Vario Tessar T* FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS isn't claimed to be a macro lens, offering a minimum focusing distance of 40cm and a maximum magnification of 0.2x. The following example demonstrates how close you can get to your subject, in this case a Compact Flash memory card.

Carl Zeiss Vario Tessar T* FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS Close-up performance

Bokeh

Bokeh is a word used for the out-of-focus areas of a photograph, and is usually described in qualitative terms, such as smooth / creamy / harsh etc. In the Carl Zeiss Vario Tessar T* FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS lens, Sony employed an iris diaphragm with seven rounded blades, which has resulted in quite appealing bokeh in our view. We do realise, however, that bokeh evaluation is subjective, so we've included several 100% crops for your perusal.

Carl Zeiss Vario Tessar T* FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS Carl Zeiss Vario Tessar T* FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS
   
Carl Zeiss Vario Tessar T* FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS Carl Zeiss Vario Tessar T* FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS

Sharpness

In order to show you how sharp this lens is, we are providing 100% crops on the following pages.

Entry Tags

review, samples, lens, compact system camera, test, mirrorless, sample images, csc, jpg, jpgs, full frame, sample, full-frame, e-mount, a7, a7r, sony a7, sony a7r, 24-70mm, sony fe, 35mm full frame, Carl Zeiss, a7s, sony a7s, FE 24-70mm, Carl Zeiss Vario Tessar T* FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS Review

Tracker Pixel for Entry