Sony Distagon T* FE 35mm f/1.4 ZA Review

May 1, 2015 | Jack Baker | Rating star Rating star Rating star Rating star Half rating star


Quite simply, the Sony Distagon T* FE 35mm F1.4 ZA is a superb prime lens. You’d expect sharpness to be high across the frame from such a premium optic, and it doesn’t disappoint. Even with the Alpha 7 Mark II test camera shooting at ISO1600, detail is exceptionally sharp. Shoot at low sensitivities in bright light and this is a lens which can let even an Alpha 7R perform at its best.

Shooting at the maximum f/1.4 aperture does reveal a minor reduction in corner sharpness compared to the centre of frame, as well as negligible chromatic aberration. Both are resolved by f/2.8 though, and even at this aperture the lens is able to produce beautifully smooth bokeh.

The Sony Distagon T* FE 35mm F1.4 ZA is also a pleasure to use, thanks to its superb build quality and smooth focus and aperture rings. The lens’ internal Direct Drive SSM autofocus motor also does a great job, focussing with speed, silence and precise accuracy that’s essential when working with a very shallow depth of field. The 30cm minimum focussing distance also makes the lens versatile enough to shoot fairly close subjects.

There are only really two drawbacks to the 35mm f/1.4. At 630g, it’s not exactly light for a wide-angle prime lens and is actually heavier than a ready-to-shoot Alpha 7 II body. In fact, the only thing heavier than the lens itself is its price tag. To be fair, ultra-fast lenses like this are rarely cheap, but when you consider that the Sonnar T* 35mm f/2.8 can be had for less than half the price of the Distagon T* f/1.4, the latter’s two extra diaphragm blades and aperture stops don’t come cheap. British buyers are also likely to feel rather ripped off by the lens’ substantially higher RRP on this side of the pond.

But if you’ve got the cash to splash on a no-compromise wide-angle E-mount prime, the Distagon T* FE 35mm F1.4 ZA is a superb choice that’s capable of stunning results.

4.5 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 4.5
Features 4
Ease-of-use 4.5
Image quality 5
Value for money 4