When Sony E-Mount first became a thing for full frame there weren’t many options available in lenses. This was one of the first lenses available in the FE lens category and the only 24-70mm option a few several years. Now you have a variety of lenses that have squeezed into this focal range, which has made deciding what lens to obtain hard.
Since the addition of lenses like the Sony 4/24-105mm G and Sony 2.8/24-70mm G Master lenses in the mix it's a big tossup in what lens to choose from. Below I'll share some of my images and viewpoints about the ZEISS 24-70mm lens, that will hopefully help you in deciding what lens may be best for you.
Carl ZEISS 24-70mm Specs & Images
Sony E-Mount (FE - Full Frame lens)
Vario-TESSAR Optical Lens Design
Aperture Range: f/4-f/22
ZEISS T* Anti-Reflective Coating
67mm Diameter Filter Thread
Metal Construction with Dust & Weather Seals
84.1 - 34.3 degrees - Angle of View
1.31” inches (40cm) Minimum Focus Distance
Optical Steady Shot
0.94lb (426g) - Weight
I owned this lens for quite a short time and didn’t utilize it for a wide spectrum of genre’s that I photograph in, but from the things I did take images of with this lens I hope gives the gist to what you can capture with this lens.
Something to note is that this lens is a Full Frame (FE) lens for Sony’s Mirrorless E-Mount cameras, but it can be used on the cropped APS-C cameras, which will give you a 35mm equivalent focal range of 36mm - 105mm.
What I think about the 24-70mm
This is quite a fantastic lens, in my opinion. I read so many reviews online that really speak very poorly about this lens. I don’t pick at things too much in detail and pretty much everything people mentioned about it I didn’t even notice with my using it. Things such as very soft on the edges wide open, not entirely sharp through the full range, a poor lens to be called a ZEISS just didn’t really show themselves in my usage, but I’m not looking at photos with a microscope either. You can see my images for yourself... this lens is far from poor, I would think.
I will note that there were many bad copies of this lens and experienced that from some attendees of my workshops over the years. I highly recommend you having your lens checked if you're experiencing problems. One way to really know if you have a good copy or bad one is by looking at the face of the lens. If your front ring says "Carl Zeiss" then that's among the early copies of this lens, which are prone to have more of the bad versions. If your front ring says "ZEISS", then your copy is a later lens, as ZEISS changed their branding after this lens was released. By this time the issues had been resolved and there's not really any issues from the "ZEISS" branded lenses. This also applies for the Vario-Tessar 4/16-35mm ZA lens as well.
This lens has your customary focal range for a standard zoom full frame lens of 24-70mm and being a quality lens like other 24-70mm lenses from other manufacturers.
On the mirrorless bodies this lens is a lot lighter than you’d think it would be. This of course is helped by it being an f/4 aperture, as opposed to f/2.8, like the much larger and heavier Sony FE 2.8/24-70mm G Master. For some the slower aperture may be a negative, but for most it's a very usable lens with this aperture. As long as you're not doing much with low light situations you can easily get away with using the f/4 version.
What makes the 24-70mm great?
Image Quality - I’ve read many places that have given this lens a lot of slack about quality, but it's actually quite good. It's not "as" strong wide open, but it's not terrible by any means and vastly improves when you stop down. As I mentioned earlier as well, you want to make sure you have a good copy of this lens, as there are many bad copies of this lens out there. That's usually why you'll find so many bad reviews on this lens. Those lenses have not been corrected and are not calibrated.
Build - You can tell this is a greatly built lens. It’s all metal and I love that it’s not really that heavy either. Even when you’re zoomed all the way in it still feels pretty good in the hand. If you’re using say the Sony a7Rii then you’ll have even greater balance between the lens and the camera body, vs that of the older gen Sony a7′s.
Color - You’re always certain to obtain great colored images with any ZEISS lens and this is no exception to that. Many say ZEISS lenses have like a 3D looking effect to them and you certainly do feel that way with this lens and the great ZEISS colors.
Optical Steady Shot - For anyone photographing with the older Sony a7 cameras you’ll appreciate having this. Since the camera bodies themselves lack IBIS you’ll at least have it in the lens, which will help in reducing blurry images in low light and allowing you to photograph a few stops lower than what you would be able to without stabilization. It adds more usability if your camera does have IBIS built in however.
T* Coating - ZEISS lenses are popular for this coating, which reduces lens flare drastically and enhances overall performance of the lens. Whether it’s a filter or lens with this coating you’ll notice the difference from having it vs a lens or filter that doesn’t.
Carl ZEISS 4/24-70mm vs Sony 2.8/24-70mm G Master?
I’m sure those reading this review may be trying to decide between this and the Sony G Master lens. I’ve used both of these lenses and here’s some of my thoughts on which I would use for various reasons.
Carl ZEISS 24-70mm
ZEISS Pop - I’m known for using entirely ZEISS lenses and for this reason is the reliability, but also the crisp and beautiful colors I obtain from ZEISS lenses. The Sony 24-70 GM is an amazing lens, but I prefer the quality I receive from that of the ZEISS lenses.
Size - I switched from the Sony A-Mount to E-Mount for the smaller form factor lenses, so the f/2.8 isn’t a priority for me (that’s why I use prime lenses). The size different is quite apparent, especially just from their filter threads, 82mm vs 67mm.
Optical Steady Shot - If you use an older generation Sony a7 you’d really want this in your lens. On the newer Sony cameras this may not be a big deal, as all the bodies have IBIS (In Body Image Stabilization). Even on the newer cameras having the lens with OSS can improve your low light shooting conditions even further.
Sony 24-70mm G Master
Aperture - This makes this lens an excellent low light choice, excellent choice for astrophotography and better depth of field performance.
Image Quality - Most people know I’m all for ZEISS, but one thing about my reviews is that I remain unbiased in the information I share. The G Master seems to give far sharper results from edge to edge than the ZEISS throughout its entire focal range. If you’re wanting the the best you’d want to choose this one.
Conclusion: Who is/isn’t this for & what other options are there?
If you’re new to the Sony full frame cameras and searching for a great standard lens then this is a highly recommended choice for me. It’s not extremely expensive and it offers great quality in sharpness and color. It’s a major step up from the Sony FE 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens.
If you love that unique ZEISS color pop, want something not too heavy or large or money is a priority for you then the ZEISS 24-70mm will be a satisfying choice. If you want the best 24-70mm lens for Sony E-Mount, with money not being an option then the G Master is your satisfying choice.
All images have also been post processed from their RAW files, using Adobe Lightroom.