Carl-Zeiss Vario-Tessar T* FE 24-70mm f/4 ZA OSS (Sony SEL2470Z) - Review / Test Report
Lens Reviews - Sony Alpha (Full Format)

Review by Klaus Schroiff, published March 2014


One of the key elements of a system is the availability of - hopefully decent - standard zoom lenses. Sony released two of them straight from the start of its new full format mirrorless cameras. There's, of course, a cheap kit lens but in this review we will have a closer look at the more interesting one - the Carl-Zeiss Vario-Tessar T* 24-70mm f/4 ZA OSS. As you may have guessed from the Zeiss brand name, you have to be prepared to invest quite a bit here (MSRP: 1200US$/EUR). However, compared to a DSLR counterpart like the Canon EF 24-70mm f/4 USM L IS (1500 US$), the pricing is not really disproportionate.

In the very theory, mirrorless cameras allow an improved lens design compared to DSLRs simply because they don't have the constraint of having a mirror in between the lens and the sensor. However, that's only the theory. In practice, the shorter lens to sensor distances has been more of an obstacle because of the usual sensor characteristics (recessed photo diodes, sensor micro lenses, various filters in front of the sensor). Thus from a real life perspective, wide-angle lenses had a difficult time here so far. It'll be interesting to see whether the Zeiss lens can overcome these issues.

The Vario-Tessar is a comparatively big lens for a mirrorless design - especially considering the small size of the Sony cameras. In fact it is almost as large as the mentioned DSLR counterpart albeit it's somewhat more light-weight. The build quality is superb thanks to a tightly assembled metal body and smoothly operating focus and zoom control ring. The lens extends when zooming towards the long end of the range but there's no wobbling whatsoever. The lens also features weather sealing. A petal-shaped lens hood (plastic) is supplied as part of the standard package.

We tested the lens on a Sony A7R which is not exactly renowned for its AF speed. However, unless you are into sports the performance is adequate. AF operations are also essentially noiseless. Typical for E-mount lenses, manual focusing works "by-wire". The implementation is really good and allows very fine grained focusing. The lens also incorporates an optical image stabilizer which provides a equivalent gain of about 2-3 f-stops in real world situations.

Optical construction12 elements in 10 groups inc. 5x aspherical and 1xED elements
Number of aperture blades7 (circular)
min. focus distance0.4m (1:5)
Filter size67mm
Hoodsupplied, petal-shaped, bayonet mount
Other featuresWeather Sealing, Optical Image Stabilizer

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