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Sony FE 35 F2.8 - mediocre?

D&A

Well-known member
Don't worry, I'm not upset: but these are both lenses I have reviewed in depth and I simply don't think it's a simple as zoom versus prime. Many, many people for example think that the Nikkor 14-24 is the best ultra wide there is for that mount, including primes. Back to Sony: the 35 f2.8 is smaller, lighter and more versatile and a good copy is not only 'good enough' but is often much much better than that. I prefer it, for example, to the Sigma 35mm ART lens because it has much more predictable shape of field of focus. The 24-70 is huge and heavy and more expensive and isn't as much of a zoom as you might expect because of its weakness at the wide end. Sure it's great at 35mm but then so is the Sony Zeiss 24-70 F4.

Horses for courses but apples to apples....
Very nicely put and what I would have mostly expressed about this particular comparison. Putting aside size of the zoom for the moment, any given zoom is optimized for certain focal lengths in it's range, often at the expense of some others. This is especially true to mid range zooms. So often one finds a given focal length in a zoom that "betters" a single focal length lens but the zoom can be much worse at a different focal length in it's zoom range vs. another single focal length lens.

Comparisons are not always easy to make. Even when comparing one single focal length lens vs. another, size and weight and design objectives come in to play which relate to ultimate performance. Just look at the Otus. Part of extracting great performance from it I suspect required the lens to be that large, so simply comparing it to other 50-55mm f1.4 lenses, does require other considerations.

Dave (D&A)
 
D

Deleted member 7792

Guest
Mine works good on my A7, I actually did a test with my Zeiss 35/2 ZF.2 lens which I had changed the mount using the Leitex A mount.
Surprisingly the FE35 out performed my Zeiss 35/2

It seems the biggest nagging issue with Sony these days is there poor quality control
Steven, I suspect you're right about quality control. Sample variation seems high for the early lenses in the FE family. That may be why the rollout of the FE 70-200mm f/4 has been so slow - improvements in quality control.

I've been lucky so far. Each of my Sony/Zeiss FE lenses (35mm, 55mm, 24-70mm, 70-200mm) has performed very well right out of the box. Sharp with no decentering. On the a7R, my FE 35mm outperformed my Leica 35mm FLE and Zeiss 35mm. So I kept the FE 35mm and sold the others. I keep coming back to a photo I took in January 2014 as a [handheld] test shot of the FE 35mm I had just received. Minimal processing and sharp into the corners. Here's a link to a full-sized JPEG (75% quality, so please excuse any JPEG compression artifacts).

BTW, the Sony a7R-FE 35mm combo was sharper than the Leica M240-Leica 35mm FLE combo in the corners. A surprise to me. :shocked:

YMMV,

Joe
 

f/otographer

New member
You can put your left foot in, you can take your left foot out. You can put your left foot back in and shake it all about. But THIS...

I will not try another one. I have two classic manual lenses that work really well, the Nikkors 105/2.5 and 180/2.8. I have so much fun using them, I've just decided to go all manual with the A7r. I will sell the 24-70f4 and the 35/2.8.
Now I am on the epic quest to find the best manual lenses for me. Seems to be a lot of fun :)
...is what its all about. :)
 
D

Deleted member 7792

Guest
Thanks Joe. Yours is obviously sharper than mine. When did you buy it?
Thomas, I received it in late December 2013 from Amazon.com. My first test shots are stamped January 1, 2014. I was likely lucky to receive one of the early lenses without decentering. :thumbup:

Here's a link to another full-sized JPEG (75% quality, so please excuse any JPEG artifacts) shot today with the same lens and processing and POV. Dramatically different foliage though. :D

Joe
 
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Slingers

Member
I find its an excellent lens on an apsc camera. Its still not comparable to the FE55 on apsc. I'm a big fan of the FE35's OOF rendering and a 50mm equivalent is my favorite focal length so it is now my most used lens on my NEX 7.
 

ZoranC

New member
If I would say that I am extremely disappointed with performance of 35/2.8 copies I tried, and that my impression of Sony's quality control that resulted from that experience is extremely negative, so negative that I will think not twice, nor three times, but many times over before I buy another Sony lens, I would be making a huge understatement.
 

Guy Mancuso

Administrator, Instructor
One reason I have been buying the Sony A glass , fast and proven. No surprises. Seems the 55 and 70-200 at least are very good without ant issues or problems that a lot of us have come across. I really like Sony but I will never pull punches when it comes to quality. I'll switch on a dime if I even smell something better. I have zero loyalty to brand. I'm willing to stick it out but the 35 and 24-70 have soured things.
 

dandrewk

New member
Honestly, this is the first forum I've read such negativity towards Sony lenses. Other than the 24-70 (the consensus is FAR from universal), the very worst I've heard about the FE35 is "good, maybe great, but not quite like the FE55". I rarely see the term "mediocre" applied to this lens. My own experiences are quite opposite from that.

It's not legendary, not even close. But name another FL35 AF lens, ANY make, that has the same or better IQ with the same size.
 

Guy Mancuso

Administrator, Instructor
It certainly is mediocre when you get a decentered lens. It sucks. How can one call it any better when you get a bad copy of it. I call it **** but if you get a good one than it's very good. The problem is this is not a couple but a general theme when it first hit the market. A lot of people complained about it. But let's be real here on size its a slow prime at 2.8. My Sony 20 2.8 is relatively small for a A lens. The speed is nothing special here . I have a 1.4 that's hot as hell at 1.4 by F2 its outstanding. Same price. Sure its big but what are we buying here IQ or size. If its size than great but there are many outstanding 35 lenses out there by Canon, Nikon, Zeiss and so on. Only thing that makes this lens good is its size but reality is its slow as hell for mid focal length. Now sure there are some good copies but this issue has been pretty wide spread. The 24-70 is unusable to a raw shooter that does not use Lightroom at 24mm. I'm not going to fix a 1k in images per job because the 24mm distorts like a banshee. That's unreasonable and these OEMs need to stop this crap with in camera software corrections as it does not apply to the raw shooter. That's called a cop out on lens design
 

ZoranC

New member
Honestly, this is the first forum I've read such negativity towards Sony lenses. Other than the 24-70 (the consensus is FAR from universal), the very worst I've heard about the FE35 is "good, maybe great, but not quite like the FE55". I rarely see the term "mediocre" applied to this lens.
I don't form my opinion on anything based on what I hear/see/read others say about it (especially not if they are absolute anonymous strangers to me), I always form it based on my personal hands on experience, and when my first experience is negative I try again with different copy, I don't rush to form my final opinion.

P.S. I don't know which forums you are referring to but out of those that I visit GetDPI is not the only one on which I have seen people unhappy with their copies of 35/2.8. Also I find GetDPI having one of highest ratios of people that are straight shooters. Nobody here has an agenda behind "negativity", all are either strong hard working professionals or strong enthusiasts, and they have absolute no motive to misrepresent what they think of gear they used. They pay for it with their own money, there is no influence of advertisers, if they feel it's great they will praise it, if they feel it stinks they will call it it's right name, regardless of brand name or whose uncle Bob is.
 

ZoranC

New member
I really like Sony but I will never pull punches when it comes to quality. I'll switch on a dime if I even smell something better. I have zero loyalty to brand. I'm willing to stick it out but the 35 and 24-70 have soured things.
Same here. I work hard for my money and I respect myself so I expect vendors that want my money to respect me. If somebody doesn't and fails to deliver their part of a deal I don't hesitate a second to vote with my feet and take my business to those that will. I don't care even a slightest about brands, all I care about is what I am getting for my money and how I am being treated. Years ago Ford showed to me they didn't seem to care about customers / my business by IMHO scr*wing me over on one issue which costed me a tons of money in the end. Prior to that I have given fair amount of business to Ford. Moment they did that I swore I will never again in my life buy Ford. Since then I have bought five Toyotas. If Toyota ever dares to behave like Ford toward me I won't even blink before they too lose me as a customer for life. Same goes for anything in my life, whether camera is Nikon, Canon, Sony, or whatever. If Kias / Hyundais / Samsungs of this world pick up balls others drop and run with them then so be it, survival of the fittest is the nature of the world and capitalism.
 

dandrewk

New member
I don't form my opinion on anything based on what I hear/see/read others say about it (especially not if they are absolute anonymous strangers to me), I always form it based on my personal hands on experience, and when my first experience is negative I try again with different copy, I don't rush to form my final opinion.
dpreview, miranda, the sony user forums, etc. Plenty of folks that aren't happy with the lens, but the vast majority are quite pleased with it.

P.S. I don't know which forums you are referring to but out of those that I visit GetDPI is not the only one on which I have seen people unhappy with their copies of 35/2.8. Also I find GetDPI having one of highest ratios of people that are straight shooters. Nobody here has an agenda behind "negativity", all are either strong hard working professionals or strong enthusiasts, and they have absolute no motive to misrepresent what they think of gear they used. They pay for it with their own money, there is no influence of advertisers, if they feel it's great they will praise it, if they feel it stinks they will call it it's right name, regardless of brand name or whose uncle Bob is.
Nothing I have said runs counter to this. When it comes down to it, most posters do not have any sort of agenda other than what they have directly experienced. Those that do have an agenda are quickly and easily identified.

I suspect dpreview is the largest general photographers forum. As a former Nikon owner, I frequented those forums often, along with Nikonians. FWIW, the level of angst Sony owners express with E mount lenses pales in comparison to Nikon owners.

I guess it's like all things - if someone has an issue with a product, they are far more likely to make their feelings known. If they are happy, they are more likely to be silent.

This in no way marginalizes those that have issues with the FE35. I have no doubt the problems are real and quantifiable.
 

ZoranC

New member
dpreview, miranda, the sony user forums, etc. Plenty of folks that aren't happy with the lens, but the vast majority are quite pleased with it.

...

I suspect dpreview is the largest general photographers forum.
I don't consider DPReview E-mount forum anywhere even remotely close to accurate reflection of technical reality based on posts I see there. I would be very interested to know how many of those that posted there about how happy they are with 35/2.8 actually know how to test lens for decentering etc and have actually subjected their lens to such test rigorously and methodically. I don't consider random snapshots of scene that is 95% out of focus downsized to Web forum dimensions, kind of you usually see posted on DPR as illustrations how "good" lens is, a proof of anything but poster not knowing what they are talking about.

P.S. Considering you mentioned FredMiranda I will quote Roger Cicala's (of LensRentals fame, guy that knows a thing or two or three about lenses) post there, IIRC: "Sony is aware of the alleged issue and is looking into it". 'nuff said, as they say.
 

dandrewk

New member
I never said dpreview was anything close to an accurate representation of the professional photographer community. Only that it is quite popular. But I agree with your observation of the type of "reviews" that some users give.

Lest we forget, for many... most even, pixel peeping just to spot potential decentering is totally unnecessary. In the real world, and for virtually every non-professional application, there is no need to concern oneself with marginally soft corners which will only be noticed at 100 percent magnification. "Just take the shot" has validity. However, that is not an excuse for lousy quality control.

I am familiar with LensRental's comment. That was what, six months ago? If Sony was "looking into it", I haven't read any followup.
 

ZoranC

New member
I never said dpreview was anything close to an accurate representation of the professional photographer community. Only that it is quite popular.
Yet you used DPR's "popularity" in attempt to add weight to assertion that criticism of 35/2.8 on GetDPI is exaggerated. IMHO discussions like these are not a popularity contest.

One last observation on popularity contests: How many DPR E-mount forum 35/2.8 posters you can count that know their way around lens testing? And on GetDPI Sony forum? Which forum then is more popular? :)

In the real world, and for virtually every non-professional application, there is no need to concern oneself with marginally soft corners which will only be noticed at 100 percent magnification.
I am sorry but I don't think you should make generalized statements like "marginally soft corners" without being there to see for yourself how "marginal" they were.

And I am sorry again but I don't buy 36 MP camera to produce small prints. And when one prints big it is not good to assume that people will be looking at it from afar. It is common in people when they see big print to come up close and look at detail, it is natural curiosity. And if they are not happy with what they see up close they will walk away and you just lost whole point behind printing big, if you printed smaller you wouldn't have lost a sale. But staying downsized to hide flaws means you didn't need to buy that body and lens in first place so if Sony lens division has problem following pace of Sony sensor division then make that Sony's problem, not yours, and save yourself $3K or so that was spent unnecessarily without getting result from it.

I am familiar with LensRental's comment. That was what, six months ago?
No, that was month ago.
 

dandrewk

New member
Yet you used DPR's "popularity" in attempt to add weight to assertion that criticism of 35/2.8 on GetDPI is exaggerated. IMHO discussions like these are not a popularity contest.
No, I never intended to call any criticisms "exaggerated". That implies overstated or inherently embellished to the point of being false. I just pointed I've read more about his issue here than elsewhere. It may be due to a preponderance of professionals in this forum.

One last observation on popularity contests: How many DPR E-mount forum 35/2.8 posters you can count that know their way around lens testing? And on GetDPI Sony forum? Which forum then is more popular? :)
Again I point out, in other forums they don't CARE about pixel peeping lens tests. That doesn't make them any less a photographer, but it also means they are not likely making a living off of photography.

I am sorry but I don't think you should make generalized statements like "marginally soft corners" without being there to see for yourself how "marginal" they were.
And you shouldn't make generalized assumptions about what I have and have not seen for myself. I've seen the tests and results, and I will stand by -my own- definition of "marginal". That's just me, and it is purely subjective. But I DO understand the need for pros to have tack sharpness, edge to edge, so even "marginal" is unacceptable.

And I am sorry again but I don't buy 36 MP camera to produce small prints. And when one prints big it is not good to assume that people will be looking at it from afar. It is common in people when they see big print to come up close and look at detail, it is natural curiosity. And if they are not happy with what they see up close they will walk away and you just lost whole point behind printing big, if you printed smaller you wouldn't have lost a sale. But staying downsized to hide flaws means you didn't need to buy that body and lens in first place so if Sony lens division has problem following pace of Sony sensor division then make that Sony's problem, not yours, and save yourself $3K or so that was spent unnecessarily without getting result from it.
Understood. Please understand I am not debating the severity, prevalence or importance of the decentering issue. It's acknowledged, and as I said before, even if the average A7/r buyer isn't pixel peeping, Sony needs to do a better job with QC.
 

fotografz

Well-known member
ANY lens will be mediocre with severe decentering, or any other design or manufacturing flaw.

Sony has gone on record regarding wanting to capture the higher end photographer, but to do that they will need to step up their game at every level. Part of that is honest feed back with enough vigor in the collective voice that they hear us. Getting a well made lens should NOT be akin to winning the lottery.

IMO, to accomplish that goal they also need to jettison their consumer category mind-set with video game interfaces and semi useless no-brainer settings in favor of understanding how more serious photographers work. Amazingly, they were moving in the right direction with the A900, then the video game faction at Sony took over.


"Are we buying size or IQ? That is a good question Guy. To that I'd add price to the "tripod of buying". Evidence so far seems to support the design reality that you can pick two, but so far can't have all three. Both Leica and Zeiss have been quite clear that this is the case.

Personally, I do not need ALL of my lenses to be super-duper IQ … IF, as a result, the optic is bigger that the camera it mounts to … and I sure the hell do NOT want to pay $4,000 for a walk about lens … I have other ways of accomplishing eye watering IQ when I need it.

My point is, that we need choices so we can fit our lens selections to level of need. To this end, Sony needs to slow down on the "Cavalcade of Cameras" and get the damned lenses out the door so we have those choices. The poor little FE35/2.8 is taking all the heat because there is no AF FE35/1.8 that delivers like the FE55/1.8 … albeit most likely much larger and more expensive.


Dear Sony:

We need lenses that maximize what your sensor division is producing! We need them NOW, not a year to two years after the camera comes to market.

Your's truly,

Marc Williams
Fotografz, LLC
USA
 

Georg Baumann

Subscriber Member
Hi Georg, looks indeed pretty much the same. Maybe he had also a decentered lens :)
:)

I intend to think that your 35 f/2.8 is a compromise in terms of IQ and compactness. Let's face it, this lens is really small and light, there has to be some compromise.

If I look at the Sigma ART 35mm F/1.4, even there the corners are less sharp, and only from F4 to around F8 corners are getting better.

I think, if your concern is due to print output, well, I can understand that. Otherwise I'd see it as a fine lightweight travel lens with limitations.
 
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