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

5.0
May 1, 2012 | Mark Goldstein |

Introduction

While the Sony NEX mirrorless camera system offers a number of excellent bodies, most notably the NEX-7 and NEX-5N, the lens range is a little more threadbare in terms of quality optics. The Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* E 24mm f/1.8 ZA is an obvious exception to this rule, offering a versatile focal length of 36mm and a fast maximum aperture. But is it a must-have lens for every NEX owner? Check out our Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* E 24mm f/1.8 ZA review to find out...

The Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* E 24mm f/1.8 ZA is a premium wide-angle prime lens for Sony NEX compact system cameras. It offers the equivalent angle of view as a 36mm lens on a 35mm camera and features a near-circular 7 blade diaphragm which creates an attractive blur to the out of focus areas of the image. It has a minimum focusing distance of 16cm/6in and a maximum magnification of 0.25x. Sony’s DMF technology allows for direct manual focusing after autofocus lock-on without having to switch modes. The Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* E 24mm f/1.8 ZA lens is currently available for £849 / $999 in the UK and the US, respectively.

Ease of Use

Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* E 24mm f/1.8 ZA The Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* E 24mm f/1.8 ZA lens

Weighing in at 225grams, the alloy-bodied Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* E 24mm f/1.8 ZA is quite a substantial E-Mount lens that rather dwarves the compact Sony NEX-5N body that we tested it with, as shown in the photos below.

Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* E 24mm f/1.8 ZA The Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* E 24mm f/1.8 ZA lens mounted on a Sony NEX-5N

Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* E 24mm f/1.8 ZA The Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* E 24mm f/1.8 ZA lens mounted on a Sony NEX-5N

Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* E 24mm f/1.8 ZA The Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* E 24mm f/1.8 ZA lens with the lens hodd fitted, mounted on a Sony NEX-5N

Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* E 24mm f/1.8 ZA The Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* E 24mm f/1.8 ZA lens alongside a Sony NEX-5N

Build quality is excellent, but you'd expect that given the high price of the lens. The wide and ridged manual focus ring is the only external control of note and it utilises the NEX series's fly-by-wire operation, which means that there are no hard stops at either end of the zoom range. There's also no depth-of-field scale, distance scale or infrared index, a shame given the cost.

Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* E 24mm f/1.8 ZA Front of the Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* E 24mm f/1.8 ZA lens

Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* E 24mm f/1.8 ZA Front of the Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* E 24mm f/1.8 ZA lens

Focusing is usefully internal and manual focusing is possible when set on the specific camera body. The Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* E 24mm f/1.8 ZA lens has a metal lens mount.

Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* E 24mm f/1.8 ZA Front of the Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* E 24mm f/1.8 ZA lens, isometric view

The Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* E 24mm f/1.8 ZA ships with a good quality case and a durable petal-shaped lens hood which attaches inside the lens barrel rather than outside. It accepts 49mm filters via plastic threads.

Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* E 24mm f/1.8 ZA Rear of the Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* E 24mm f/1.8 ZA lens

Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* E 24mm f/1.8 ZA Rear of the Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* E 24mm f/1.8 ZA lens, isometric view

Focal Range

At the 24mm focal length the angle of view is 61 degrees.

 Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* E 24mm f/1.8 ZA Field of view at 24mm

Focusing

The Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* E 24mm f/1.8 ZA lens has quite a wide focus ring. There are no hard stops at both ends of the range, making it a little more difficult to set focus at infinity. Polariser users should be pleased that the 49mm filter thread doesn't rotate on focus.

When it comes to auto-focusing, the Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* E 24mm f/1.8 ZA zoom is a quick performer, taking about 0.2 seconds to lock onto the subject when mounted on the Sony NEX-5N that we tested it with.

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 its in-lens motor, ideal for HD movie shooting.

Chromatic Aberrations

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

Light Fall-off

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

Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* E 24mm f/1.8 ZA Light fall-off

Macro

The Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* E 24mm f/1.8 ZA isn't claimed to be a macro lens, but it delivers a pretty good performance nonetheless. It has a minimum focusing distance of 16cm/6in and a maximum magnification of 0.25x. The following example demonstrates how close you can get to your subject, in this case a Compact Flash memory card.

Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* E 24mm f/1.8 ZA 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 Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* E 24mm f/1.8 ZA lens, Sigma employed an iris diaphragm with seven rounded blades, which has resulted in very appealing bokeh in our view. We do realise, however, that bokeh evaluation is subjective, so we've included several 100% crops for your perusal.

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

Sharpness

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

Entry Tags

review, photos, samples, images, wide-angle, lens, compact system camera, test, mirrorless, 24mm, wideangle, f1.8, e-mount, f 1.8, 36mm, NEX, Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* E 24mm f1.8 ZA, Carl Zeiss 24mm, Sony 24mm

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