Sony FE PZ 16-35mm f4G REVIEW vs Zeiss 16-35 ZA
It z not z, launched in march 2022 and costing between 1200 and 1400. The pz in the title stands for power zoom, employing motors to drive the zoom smoothly and at a variety of speeds, not to mention remotely, if desired, its also compact light weather, sealed and sports sonys usual wealth of controls, including a d clickable aperture ring. Although, interestingly theres no optical stabilization, so it relies on ibis in alpha bodies or an optional gimbal to iron out any wobbles sony loaned me the lens to test and in this video ill show you what it can do and in particular how that power zoom works Out in practice, the pz 16 35 actually becomes sonys. Fourth lens to sport. This popular range, most obviously theres, the f 2.8 g master from 2017 that cost 2200 and the f4 za from 2014 costing 1350 dollars, but theres. Also, the t 3.1, a dedicated cinema lens with a detachable servo zoom that costs 5 500 for this review ill be directly. Comparing the pz f4g on the left, with the f4za oss on the right thats, a collaboration with size that may be seven and a half years older, but it remains on sale, sharing the same range, the same aperture and much the same price too, with them side By side youll see both lenses share a similar diameter with the same 72 mil filter thread, but the new pz lens is 10 millimeters shorter and once you pick them up, youll notice, a significant weight difference, just 353 grams for the new pz lens versus 518.
For the old za now that 165 gram saving may not sound like much, but i really noticed it when walking around with the lens on a body all day, and that makes it an ideal travel or hiking companion and, of course, if youre mounting it on a Gimbal or especially, on a drone, any weight saving is beneficial. Now the secret behind the compact size and weight is actually the power zoom itself without the need for a mechanical control. This lens can exploit two separate optical groups, synchronized by four linear motors, to perform the zooming process. These in turn allow a smaller barrel that doesnt extend when zooming its an interesting solution to a problem you didnt realize you had, but certainly allows more compact lens designs with the benefits of a motorized zoom sony also describes the pz lens as being dust and moisture Resistant and unlike the zeiss model, theres a rubber grommet at the mount moving on to controls, theres an aperture ring closest to the mount clicked at one third intervals between f4 and f22, but d clickable for smooth operation with a switch on the other side. Alongside are an afmf switch, a programmable focus hold button and a spring loaded lever, one of the many ways you can operate the power zoom more about which in just a moment then theres the zoom ring itself followed by the manual focusing ring. The zoom ring is a little more damped than the looser feeling focusing ring, but they do feel quite similar in practice.
Theyre, both free spinning with no hard stops or any labeling on the barrel, also notice how the zooming takes place internally with no extension in the barrel, so theres no need to rebalance it if youre using a gimbal being motor assisted. The zoom ring is also reversible. In operation with compatible cameras, including the a7r mark iv, here offering a menu to configure its direction, the focusing ring is also linear. In response, sony supplies the pz lens with a petal hood that twists on and off and its reversible, while still providing access to the zoom ring for comparison. Heres, the zeiss 16 35, already looking heftier with its longer barrel, in contrast to the control packed pz lens, the zeiss model has no switches, no buttons and no aperture ring either just a traditional zoom ring, which extends the barrel a little and has hard stops at Either end and a motor assisted, focusing ring at the end, both of the rings on the zeiss lens felt stiffer than those on the pz lens. The zeiss lens also comes with a hood, but it was missing on my sample right now for what makes the pz lens unusual. The mode tries zoom and you sing it in action here for video zooming smoothly through its optical range from 16 to 35, mil using the rocker control on the side of the barrel. This control has two speeds, depending on how far you push it. Taking about 14 seconds for the full range, when pushed very gently or around two seconds, when pushed all the way in theory its like the motorized zooms, that youll find on compact or superzoom cameras.
But thanks to the linear motors which drive it. The process is much smoother with a constant speed and no distracting lurches or axial wobbles. You can, alternatively, use the zoom ring to adjust the focal length, as seen here when composing photos. The ring allows you to make pretty quick or subtle adjustments and again it avoids the lurching of cheaper power. Zoom lenses like sonys own 16, 50 kit zoom. For the a6000 series. The zoom can also be operated by compatible cameras. Sporting, a rocker control their own, like the zv, e10 or fx3, and these models allow you to adjust the speed in 8 steps from the menus newer, alpha bodies like the a74. Alternatively, allow you to assign a zoom control to custom buttons like pushing the rear wheel. Left or right, or using the touchscreen and again with up to eight speeds from a menu. If you choose, the slowest speeds its also possible to seamlessly transition into a digital zoom, using sonys, clear image: option to extend that range further heres, the a74 zooming the lens. During a video using the wheel control and if you are filming with the aperture wide open, youll appreciate the constant f4 ratio, not varying as the focal length is adjusted. It all adds up to the most practical, responsive and smoothest power. Zoom experience that ive tested, but it still cant help feeling more detached than a traditional mechanical zoom ring and the absence of hard stops or any labeling on the barrel means theres.
Also no feedback. When you reach the extremes of the focal range other than to check the screen or viewfinder plus even at its fastest speed, its still not as quick to crash back and forth through the range as a simple manual twist, so it works well but whats. The point! Well, the most obvious benefit is for video users, where you can smoothly zoom in or out of a scene at a choice of speeds. I generally use this with the lens started fully zoomed in before zooming out slowly to reveal the full picture, its a nice effect for stills photography when youre behind the camera, though theres less of an obvious benefit. While it is the most responsive power zoom that ive used, i still personally prefer the feel of a traditional mechanical system, but step away from the camera and the power zoom becomes more compelling. You can operate it by remote control, say from your phone or a dedicated accessory when taking group shots or presenting pieces to camera. You can adjust it without touching the barrel, when its mounted on a gimbal and again, a non extending barrel means no rebalancing and taking this to an extreme, the zoom could also be operated remotely, while the camera is mounted on a drone while its in flight, where Again, its lightweight is a boon, but again the hidden benefit of the power zoom for anyone whos using it is the simple fact that it makes the lens smaller and lighter than a traditional mechanical solution, and that non extending barrel is going to be easier to seal.
As well id love to hear what you think about this solution and also how youd use it? Okay, now for my test, starting with focusing for still photos with the pz 16 35 mounted on the a7r mark iv at 16mm, f4 with a central af area and single af mode here, the focusing is almost instant with no fuss switch to the older size 16 To 35 again, at 16, f4 and youll see its visibly a tad slower, but it still gets the job done quickly enough and both lenses were equally quiet. Now, back to the power zoom model, this time at 35mm, f4, where the focusing is again almost instant theres, certainly no hanging around here and for comparison – the size 16 to 35, again at 35 f4, where it remains visibly a little slower with more of a wobble To confirm its nice that the new lens is faster, but the old one is still perfectly usable and ill show you some video tests later. Okay, now of my optical tests, but before launching into my comparisons, a quick look at lens corrections like most modern mirrorless lenses, especially wide ones. The pz 16 35 employs profiles to correct the geometry. Heres a grid pattern for an outer camera jpeg at 16, mil where the corrective profile is applied automatically, and it looks nice and square as youd hope and now. Heres. The raw file where the profile hasnt yet been applied. Switching between them shows the work that the profile is doing at 16mm, where the lens has pronounced barrel distortion, but again its corrected automatically by the camera for jpegs and also for raw files.
So long as your converter has the profile for it, if it doesnt, i found that either of sonys earlier 24mm profiles will get you pretty close for comparison. Heres, the older zeiss 16 35 at 16mm, with the profile applied to a raw file and now for the version without the profile applied. Switching between them shows. This model has much less distortion to correct, but how does that actually impact real life results, especially in those corners lets, find out so heres my distant landscape scene angled, so that details run right into the corners. All the results were taken with each lens mounted on an a7r4 body using a central af area and theyre all jpegs out of camera lets start with the pz 16 35 at its widest 60mm focal length and zooming in on the middle shows a detailed high contrast Image out of the gator f4, with no benefit here, stopping down any further placing the pz on the left with the zeiss at 16mm, f4 on the right shows both lenses. Looking very similar in this first comparison, moving out into the corners of the pz image, shows some softening as well as darkening from vignetting, but with the pz image on the left and the zeiss on the right, you can see how the new model is sharper in The extreme corners when both are set to 16 mil f4 closing the aperture on both lenses to f 5.6, sees the vignetting reduced and a minor improvement sharpness on both lenses and that improves a tad again when close to f8.
But the newer pz model on the left stays ahead at each aperture setting in this test. Now, if you were to focus the zeiss lens in the corner, it can deliver sharper results in that particular area. But if you want fine detail across the whole frame, the pz lens edged ahead in this test at 16, millimeter next for them roughly midway through their ranges at 24, mil starting again with the pz 16 35 and again wide open at f4. Looking closely in the middle again shows loads of fine detail and high contrast, placing the pz lens on the left and the zeiss on the right. Both at 24 mil f4 again shows very similar results or bit perhaps a tad higher contrast from the pz on the left. Theres. Nothing really to be gained here in the middle from closing the aperture any further head into the corners of the pz image at 24. Mil and youll see it resolving finer details than at 16 mil and looking very well corrected right into the corner, wide open place. The pz on the left and the zeiss on the right, though, and youll see the older lens on the right, becomes visibly softer. The closer you get to the extremes, the new lens on the left is clearly outperforming it here, at least in terms of a flatter field. Closing the aperture to f, 5.6 and then to f8, makes minor improvements to the zeiss image on the right.
But the pz on the left already looks so good at f4 that it has little to gain from stopping down other than to lift some mild vignetting. So a clear lead from the newer pz lens midway through their ranges, although if you were to focus in the corner, the zeiss will improve and finally for and pier at the long end of their ranges, starting with the pz lens at 35mm, f4. Taking a closer look in the middle continues, the story of sharp details and high contrast with no reason to stop down further but place the pz on the left, and this is on the right. Both are f4 and focused in the middle and youll notice. The old design sits a fraction softer when wide open its, not bad its just that the newer pz is better here. Closing the aperture first to f 5.6, then to f8, will, however, boost the sharpness on the zeiss to a similar level, but the pz lens is performing better out of the gate heading into the corner of the pz image here back at f4 again shows decent detail With little to complain about placing the pz on the left and the zeiss on the right again illustrates how the newer lens benefits from a flatter field, with more consistent sharpness across the frame. Closing the aperture to f 5.6, then to f8, makes big improvements to the zeiss image on the right, which is looking pretty good by f8.
The pz lens on the left also benefits from closing down, but by less as its already looking really good at f4. Again, if you were to focus the zeiss in the corner, it will be sharper here, but for a flat field. Thats sharp across the frame, the newer pz outperforms it as the focal length increases next for a portrait distance test. First, with the pz 16 35 at 35mm f4 and focused on me using the a7r4s face and eye detection, while youre never going to get very shallow depth of field effects from this distance at 35, f4 theres still a little blurring in the background, and if you Take a closer look, very sharp details in the focused areas around my eyes, with the pz on the left and the oldest eyes on the right. Youll see the new lens delivering a higher contrast image that looks sharper too, although look closely in the old desires is resolving the finest details just as well, but out of camera, the pz definitely looks crisper. Meanwhile, when comparing the rendering of out of focus areas, id say neither lens looks amazing, nor takes a clear lead. Both have textures within the blobs in the background and fairly busy bokeh, so dont expect desires to necessarily enjoy an edge here to really evaluate those bokeh blobs heres, a test close to their minimum focusing distance, starting with the pz at 35 f4, where youll see small Blobs that are mostly well behaved with only subtle, outlining and textures within with the pz lens on the left and the zeiss on the right.
Youll notice, slightly greater magnification from the latter, when both are positioned at the same distance and set to 35 mil as such. The bokeh blobs are also larger from the size and theyre less elongated than the pz in the corners at their maximum apertures. But taking a closer look reveals greater textures within those blobs and more defined outlining now bokeh. Rendering is always a personal choice, but id say the newer pz lens on the left is looking better here plus, despite both lenses, quoting the same minimum focusing distance, i actually managed to get the pz lens to focus a little closer at the 35mm focal length where You can see it here, delivering similarly sized blobs as the size. This in turn, though, has made those textures a little more obvious, though so neither is going to satisfy as a bokeh monster. In fact, do you have a preference between them right now for some video tests and youve already seen how the pz lens can deliver dramatic perspectives with the chance for smooth zooms back and forth, but whats it like for focusing heres the pz at 16mm f4 filming Video on the a7r mark iv, with a central af area and continuous afc, where the focus pulls back and forth smooth and avoid overshooting zoom, the pz lens to 35mm, still at f4, and it again delivers consistent performance. Although a lot of this is also dictated by the body in question and the default settings, remember you can change the focusing speed and response time for comparison, heres, the zeiss at 16mm, f4 again on the a7r4 using the same default settings and now at 35mm, f4 With very similar performance, so no issues there next for face tracking, starting with the pz lens at 35mm, f4 on a tripod mounted camera, with the focusing driven by face and eye detection on the a7r mark iv and as youd expect no problems here.
If you prefer to capture more of your surroundings, heres the pz lens filming at 16, mil f4 again from a fixed position with the a7 r4 using face and eye detection, obviously theres some distortion as you move up close towards the edges, but thats normal for 16. Mil and if you stay towards the middle of the frame, it can be very usable for videos. 16. Mil is also perfect for vlogging at arms length, but remember, unlike the zeiss lens, the pz does not have any optical stabilization, so heres how it looks. Handheld on a body without ibis or with ibis disabled, obviously its wobbly without any stabilization at all. Now here it is with ibis sensor shift stabilization alone and ive switched from the a7r mark 4 to the newer a7 mod 4 for these vlogging clips. Considering this clip doesnt have any optical or digital image stabilization, the resort is looking okay and if you can master the stealthy walk, it can look much smoother than my result here and finally heres the a74, with active stabilization enabled which applies some digital compensation at the Cost of a crop, but since the lens was already ultra wide at 16 to start with that crop isnt too detrimental and the additional stabilization has become so much better. That id say its well worth the trade off. If you are into vlogging with a full frame, sony, though, do also consider the excellent sony 21.8 g, which is almost as wide but with a much brighter aperture for a blurrier background.
If thats the sort of thing you want. Okay, now before my final verdict, one more comparison for you focus breathing, starting with the pset at 16, mil manually, focusing from infinity to the closest distance and back again, where theres, a tiny change in magnification, but its so small. Its hardly worth mentioning and now for the pz lens at 35, mil again focusing from infinity to the closed system back again, where theres even less evidence of breathing. In fact, arguably none at all. So, while the new pz lens is compatible with the focus breathing compensation on models, like the a74 id say, you dont really need it, which makes a refreshing change for a sony lens just for comparison. Heres the zeiss lens at 16mm, focusing from infinity to the closed system back again, where it shows a similarly small amount of magnification. But again i wouldnt say theres anything to worry about here, its not that distracting and finally, with the zeiss lens at 35mm, where it more obviously appears to magnify the image, as you focus from distant to close now, its not the worst breathing that ive seen. But the fact that its showing any at all makes it worse than the pz lens in this regard at the same focal length right now its time for my final verdict, during which ill show you a selection of sample images. I took with the pz lens and, as always, you can access some of those original images via my review, the lens at cameralabs.
com. If youd like a closer look, the sony pz, 16 35 f4g is a compelling ultra wide zoom lens for their full frame. Roller system delivering sharp results across the frame and throughout the focal range. The lack of optical stabilization is frustrating for anyone mounting it on a body without ibis, but the lens is smaller and lighter than most rivals, sealed against dust and moisture packed with controls, including a d clickable aperture ring and its reasonably priced for the range and aperture. Oh, and it also has a motorized zoom now, ive left that to last as im still in two minds about it. On the one hand, it is the smoothest power zoom lens that ive tested with consistent speed and none of the lurching or axial shift that plagues lesser models. Itll deliver great looking zooms for videographers or simply let you make adjustments from afar without touching it and thats invaluable for gimbals and drone users alike, but its also useful, if youre in front of the camera for a group shot a distant selfie or perhaps a video Presentation and unlike many sony lenses, its also almost bereft of focus breathing, especially at the long end. But despite its impressive speed and response for a motorized zoom system, its still slower than the traditional mechanically linked zoom, which you can twist in a fraction of a second. While the free spinning ring without hard stops or labeling cant help but feel more detached, if youre behind the camera, mostly taking photos, i suspect youd prefer the exact same lens, but with a mechanically linked zoom instead, but that wouldnt be possible since its the power zoom.
That actually allows this lens to be so compact. Ultimately, as a videographer, i really like the pz 16 35. I found the power zoom useful and i hope that a similar approach is applied to a longer or standard range in the future. As a photographer, though, im torn again id have personally preferred a mechanically linked zoom, but theres simply no getting away from the size weight range and results which all make for a highly compelling general purpose lens. I wonder if sony will deploy a similar strategy for a range of lightweight f4 power, zoom lenses in the future thats the end of my review, but id love to hear what you think of the pz 16 35 in the comments, and as always, if you find What i do useful, please do consider giving this video a like and subscribing to my channel.