Sony FE PZ 16-35mm F4 G Review
The Sony FE PZ 16-35mm F4 G is a very compact, lightweight and weather-sealed ultra-wide-angle power zoom lens for the Sony Alpha full-frame mirrorless camera system.
This professional-grade E-mount lens has been designed with an emphasis on videography rather than stills photography. While it's fully compatible with Sony E-mount full frame and APS-C cameras, it's probably best suited to higher-end interchangeable lens video cameras like the PXW-FS7 II.
This lens' most notable feature is an internal powered zoom system which provides extremely smooth and quiet motorized zooming that’s vital for smooth movie making.
It offers a constant maximum aperture of f/4 throughout the 14-35mm zoom range, plus fast and quiet auto focusing.
It has an optical formula comprised of 13 elements arranged in 12 groups, including two Advanced Aspherical (AA) elements, a standard aspherical element, and one ED aspherical element to suppress distortion and aberrations, and one Super ED (Extra-low Dispersion) glass element and one ED glass element to subdue chromatic aberrations.
Other highlights include a minimum focusing distance of 24cm and a maximum magnification of 0.23x, with a fluorine coating applied to the front element to resist dust, oils, and fingerprints.
The Sony FE PZ 16-35mm F4 G lens is priced at £1299.99 in the UK and $1199 in the US. The Sony PZ 16-35mm F4 was launched in March 2022 and is manufactured in Thailand.
Ease of Use
The Sony FE PZ 16-35mm F4 G is a fully weather-sealed ultra-wide-angle zoom lens with a dedicated Sony E mount that is made of metal. Communication between lens and camera body is provided through 10 electrical contacts.
Note however that in order to take full advantage of the weatherproofing, you will need to mount it on a similarly weather-sealed body, like the Sony Alpha A9 camera that we tested it with.
The weather-proofing gives you confidence that the lens will survive all kinds of different inclement conditions, while its sturdy construction also gives the lens an air of high quality.
The FE PZ 16-35mm F4 G lens is well built, fully living up to the professional designation that Sony have given it.
Tipping the scales at just 353g / 12.5 oz and measuring 88.1mm in length and 80.5mm in diameter, the Sony FE PZ 16-35mm F4 G is an incredibly compact and lightweight ultra-wide-angle zoom lens that you can carry around all day without noticing.
The Sony Alpha A9 used for this test proved to be a very good match for the lens, offering pleasing balance, fast and near-silent auto-focus, and full environmental sealing.
The FE PZ 16-35mm F4 G features separate focus, zoom and aperture (iris) rings.
The aperture ring has 1/3ev stops ranging from f/4 to f/22 and can be switched between smooth and notched rotation using the dedicated Click switch on the lens barrel.
Using the Iris Lock switch on the lens barrel, it can also be locked to either the Auto or F4-F22 settings to prevent accidental movement of the aperture ring.
The zoom ring sits in the middle of the aperture and focusing rings and rotates through approximately 90 degrees.
Although the zoom ring appears to operate the lens elements directly as you’d expect from a typical zoom lens, it doesn't here. Instead the ring simply actuates the four internal XD Linear focusing motors.
Unlike the older FE PZ 28-135mm f/4 G OSS lens, which suffered from a slight lag when quickly zooming from maximum wide angle to full telephoto, the new FE PZ 16-35mm F4 G immediately responds with virtually no delay at all.
The power zoom can be be remotely controlled via compatible camera bodies, a remote commander or accessory grip, and even while the camera is mounted on a gimbal using the Imaging Edge Mobile application.
Unlike most zoom rings on ultra-wide-angle lenses, the FE PZ 16-35mm F4 G is not marked with different focal lengths so you can quickly jump to the focal length you’d like to use.
Instead you have to rely on the horizontal scale and focal length that are displayed in the viewfinder and LCD screen, which rather slows down the operation of the lens.
In addition to the manual zoom ring, there's also a rocker lever for full power zooming. Push the lever up to zoom in and down to zoom out.
It’s a control system much as you’d find on the lens barrel of many superzoom bridge cameras and works very well here, providing steady and completely silent zooming that’s perfect for video work.
Importantly the zooming is completely internal so the lens barrel doesn't extend, making FE PZ 16-35mm F4 G ideally suited to use with a gimbal.
This lens does not feature built-in image stabilisation, instead relying on the camera body to supply it, which will prove frustrating for owners of early Alpha camera bodies without IBIS.
Manual focusing is possible by using the focus mode switch to toggle between AF and MF.
Manual focusing is done in a traditional fashion, with the adequately sized focus ring electronically coupled to the moving lens elements, although there are no hard stops at either end. Focusing is fully internal and the 72mm filter thread does not rotate on focus.
With the FE PZ 16-35mm lens attached to a Sony Alpha A9 body, focusing proved to be very quick in most situations thanks to the XD Linear Motor system which uses two separate motors.
This combination is capable of locking focus on a subject almost instantly, even when alternating between close and faraway subjects.
In extreme low-light situations you may experience a little focus hunting at the long end, where a lens with a faster f/2.8 constant aperture would help avoid this.
The lens has a customisable focus hold button which keeps the lens locked to the current focusing distance, useful if you're auto-focusing and don't want the lens to try and find focus again. It can also, amongst other things, be usefully set to Eye AF.
Included in the box is a slim petal-shaped lens hood (ALC-SH172), which is easy to attach to the lens - simply line up the red line with the red marking on the lens and twist into place until it clicks. You can also reverse the lens hood for reducing the overall size when transporting the lens. This lens accepts 72mm front filters.
The 16mm focal length provides an angle of view of 107 degrees.
The 35mm focal length provides an angle of view of 63 degrees.
Chromatic aberrations, typically seen as purple or blue fringes along contrasty edges, are not too much of a problem with the Sony FE PZ 16-35mm F4 G lens, except in areas of very high contrast.
With the lens set to its maximum aperture of f/4, there is some light fall-off in the corners, requiring you to stop down by at least 2 f-stops to completely prevent it.
The Sony FE PZ 16-35mm F4 G doesn't exhibit too much barrel or pincushion distortion, as you can see in the photos below.
Sunstars and Flare
The Sony FE PZ 16-35mm F4 G is capable of producing nice sunstars when stopped-down to f/16 or f/22, as shown below, and the lens isn't very susceptible to flare when shooting directly into the sun with the supplied lens hood fitted.
The Sony FE PZ 16-35mm F4 G is not really a macro lens, but it does offer a usefully close focus point of 24cm / 9.4in across the entire zoom range from the sensor plane and a maximum magnification of 0.23x.
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.
Sony have paid close attention to this aspect of lens use, employing a 7-segment diaphragm with rounded blades for more pleasing bokeh.
In our view, their efforts have been fairly successful for an ultra-wide zoom lens - see the examples below to judge for yourself.
In order to show you how sharp the Sony FE PZ 16-35mm F4 G lens is, we are providing 100% crops on the following pages.