Zeiss 16-70mm f/4

Sony E OSS APS-C Vario-Tessar T✻

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Sony Zeiss 16-70mm OSS E

Sony Zeiss Vario-Tessar T✻ 16-70mm f/4 OSS (fits Sony Alpha/NEX, 55mm filters, 10.8 oz./307 g, 1'/0.35 meters close-focus, about $998). bigger. I got mine at Adorama. I'd also get it at Amazon, at B&H or at Crutchfield.

This ad-free website's biggest source of support is when you use those or any of these links to approved sources when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. Sony and Zeiss do not seal any of their boxes, so never buy at retail or any source not on my personally approved list since you'll have no way of knowing if you're missing accessories, getting a defective, dropped, damaged or used lens, a customer return or if the warranty has already been registered to someone else online! The approved sources I use ship from secure, remote automated warehouses where salespeople or other customers never, ever get to touch your lens before you do, and they have the best prices, selection, service and return policies.

 

March 2016    Sony   Zeiss  Canon   Nikon   Fuji   All Reviews

 

Sample Images

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Orange on Blue

Orange on Blue, 12 March 2016. Sony A7S II, Zeiss 16-70mm OSS at 29mm at f/4 at 1/15 at Auto ISO 160. bigger or © camera-original file to explore on your computer (mobile devices rarely can display these at full resolution).

 

Kaleidoscope at the Kaleidoscope Mall

Kaleidoscope at the Kaleidoscope Mall, 12 March 2016. Sony A7S II, Zeiss 16-70mm OSS at 70mm at f/4 at 1/15 at Auto ISO 1,000. bigger or © camera-original file to explore on your computer (mobile devices rarely can display these at full resolution).

 

Sony A7S II at ISO 32,000

The Planet Jupiter at Auto ISO 32,000, Zeiss 16-70mm at 23mm at f/4 for 1/15 handheld. bigger or © camera-original file to explore on your computer (mobile devices rarely can display these at full resolution).

 

Introduction

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Adorama pays top dollar for your used gear.

B&H Photo - Video - Pro Audio

The Sony Zeiss Vario-Tessar T✻ 16-70mm OSS is the world's best midrange zoom for Sony's APS-C NEX cameras like the a6000 and a6300.

This Zeiss lens excels because of its small size, built-in image stabilization, decent build quality and superb optics. It's always super sharp, its bokeh is always soft and smooth, it has no ghosts or flare and autofocus is super fast on my A7S II — even in pitch black darkness!

It has an electronic manual focus ring, that if activated in a camera's menu system, can allow manual focus.

 

Compatibility & Format

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It only works on Sony's NEX series of mirrorless cameras, which are all their mirrorless cameras like the a6000 and a6300.

It's only an APS-C, not full-frame, lens.

It works great on any of Sony's full-frame NEX cameras like the A7, A7R II and A7S II, which automatically self-crop and use the APS-C central parts of their sensors. The only silliness here is that you're wasting half the camera, but you are using all of the lens.

This lens does not work on DSLRs or DSLR-style cameras like the A99.

 

Sony Zeiss 16-70mm OSS E

Sony Zeiss Vario-Tessar T✻ 16-70mm OSS. bigger.

 

Specifications

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Name

Sony calls this the Zeiss Vario-Tessar T✻ E 4/16-70 ZA OSS.

    Zeiss: Brand name of famous German lens company. The lens is made by Sony in Thailand under license; it's not made by Zeiss.

    Vario-Tessar: Zeiss' trade names with no technical relation to this lens. They use "Vario" for "Zoom," and "Tessar" is a trademark first used for a classic 4-element fixed lens design back in 1902. Zeiss uses these to sound cool.

    E: APS-C lens for Sony's E-mount cameras.

    ZA: Solidarity with technical advances in South Africa (think Dr. Christian Barnard).

    OSS: "Optical Steady Shot," Sony's phrase for image stabilization.

    T✻: Zeiss' trademark for its multicoating, standard on all camera lenses of all brands since the 1970s.

Sony Part Number: SEL1670Z.

 

Optics

Sony Zeiss 16-70mm internal construction

Sony Zeiss 16-70mm internal construction. Aspherical, "Super Aspherical" and ED elements. bigger.

12 elements in 16 groups.

Four aspheric elements, one of which Sony calls "super aspheric."

One ED glass element.

Internal focussing.

Pumper zoom; gets longer as zoomed.

It's multicoated, which Zeiss calls T✻.

 

Close Focus

1 foot (0.35 meters) from the image plane.

 

Maximum Reproduction Ratio

1:4.3 (0.23 x).

 

Diaphragm

Sony Zeiss 16-70mm OSS E

Sony Zeiss Vario-Tessar T✻ 16-70mm OSS. bigger.

7 rounded blades.

Stops down to f/22.

 

Coverage

APS-C.

 

Focal Length

16~70mm.

When used on an APS-C camera, it sees angles of view similar to what a 26~110mm lens sees when used on a full-frame or 35mm camera.

 

Angle of View

23° ~ 83º diagonal on APS-C.

 

Hard Infinity Focus Stop?

No.

You have to let the AF system focus at infinity.

 

Focus Scale

No.

 

Depth-of-Field Scale

No.

 

Infra-Red Focus Index

No.

 

Aperture Ring

No.

 

Filter Thread

55mm.

Plastic.

 

Hood

Sony Zeiss ALC-SH127 Hood

ALC-SH127 Hood for Sony Zeiss Vario-Tessar T✻ 16-70mm OSS. bigger.

ALC-SH127 hybrid metal & plastic bayonet hood, included.

 

Sack

Cheesy unpadded vinyl drawstring sack, included.

 

Size

2.62" (66.6 mm) diameter by 2.95" (75mm) extension from flange, measured.

 

Weight

10.815 oz. (306.6 g) actual measured weight.

Rated 10.9 oz. (308 g).

 

Included

Lens.

Caps.

ALC-SH127 hood.

Sack.

Paperwork.

 

Quality

Made in Thailand.

 

Sony's Model Number

SEL1670Z.

 

Announced

27 August 2013.

 

Price, USA

March 2016: $998.

Sony Zeiss 16-70mm OSS E

Box, Sony Zeiss Vario-Tessar T✻ 16-70mm OSS. bigger.

 

Performance

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Overall    Focus    Bokeh   Distortion   Ergonomics

Falloff    Filters   Flare & Ghosts   Lateral Color Fringes

Macro   Mechanics   Sharpness   Sunstars   Image Stabilization

 

Overall

The Sony Zeiss 16-70mm OSS is the best midrange zoom made for Sony's NEX APS-C cameras. It excels optically, electronically, ergonomically and mechanically.

 

Focus

Autofocus

Autofocus is flawless. It's fast and accurate.

Even in essentially total darkness on the Sony A7S II, it easily focusses with no need for an AF illuminator.

 

Manual Focus

It focuses by wire, and since autofocus is so great, I don't know why I'd use manual focus for anything other than to keep the focus locked.

 

Bokeh

Bokeh is very good. Backgrounds never distract.

Here are wide-open shots from headshot distance:

Sony Zeiss 16-70mm bokeh

Bokeh at 16mm at f/4, 14 March 2016, Davis 6250 weather station. Sony A7S II, Zeiss 16-70mm OSS at f/4 at 1/800 at Auto ISO 100. bigger or © camera-original file to explore on your computer (mobile devices rarely can display these at full resolution).

 

Sony Zeiss 16-70mm bokeh

Bokeh at 70mm at f/4, 14 March 2016, Davis 6250 weather station. Sony A7S II, Zeiss 16-70mm OSS at f/4 at 1/800 at Auto ISO 100. bigger or © camera-original file to explore on your computer (mobile devices rarely can display these at full resolution).

 

Distortion

As shot on the Sony A7S II, the Zeiss 16-70 OSS has moderate pincushion distortion at all focal lengths, except at the 16mm end where it has moderate barrel distortion.

It corrects in Photoshop's Lens Distortion tool with these factors, and most Sony cameras can be set to correct it automatically.

Correction Factor at 10'/3m
16mm
+2.5*
24mm
-1.5
35mm
-2.0
50mm
-2.0
70mm
-2.0

© 2016 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.

* Waviness remains

 

Ergonomics

Sony Zeiss 16-70mm OSS E

Sony Zeiss Vario-Tessar T✻ 16-70mm at 70mm. bigger.

It feels like a thin metal vanity shell over a plastic lens.

Ergonomics are easy: the back section of the lens is an easy grab for mounting, the middle is a big zoom ring, and the front has the electronic focus ring.

The focus ring turns well, but it only does something if you set your camera just right.

Manual focus isn't as nice as a real focus ring; presuming you set your memories correctly, turning the ring simple tells the camera's computer how to move the autofocus motors.

Zooming turns well and is very well spaced. The front barrel pokes out as zoomed to 70mm as shown.

 

Falloff

Falloff is completely invisible as shot on the Sony cameras which correct it by default.

It's not a problem even in this extremely exaggerated case where I've shot a gray field and show it against a gray background:

 

Falloff, default shading compensation:

f/4
f/5.6
f/8
16mm
Sony Zeiss 16-70mm OSS falloff Sony Zeiss 16-70mm OSS falloff Sony Zeiss 16-70mm OSS falloff
35mm
Sony Zeiss 16-70mm OSS falloff Sony Zeiss 16-70mm OSS falloff Sony Zeiss 16-70mm OSS falloff
70mm
Sony Zeiss 16-70mm OSS falloff Sony Zeiss 16-70mm OSS falloff Sony Zeiss 16-70mm OSS falloff

© 2016 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.

 

 

Filters, use with

Filters work GREAT.

55mm is bigger than needed, so I can stack two normal 55mm filters with no vignetting.

I can stack three filters and get no vignetting as wide as 28mm.

Go ahead and use all your standard rotating grads and polarizers; there's no need for expensive thin filters.

 

Flare & Ghosts

There are no ghosts and no flare, even pointed right at the sun. This is exceptionally good for any lens, much less a zoom.

 

Lateral Color Fringes

There are no color fringes if you leave the camera's corrections turned on, which is the default setting.

 

Macro

Macro gets very close:

Sony Zeiss 16-70mm OSS macro performance

Mondaine A1323034811SBB at close-focus distance at 70mm at f/8. bigger or camera-original © file to explore on your computer (mobile devices rarely can display the full resolution).

It's super sharp at f/8, and just about as good wide-open at f/4, but of course much less is in focus:

Sony Zeiss 16-70mm OSS macro performance

Mondaine A1323034811SBB at close-focus distance at 70mm at f/4. bigger or camera-original © file to explore on your computer (mobile devices rarely can display the full resolution).

There's no need for a separate macro lens.

 

Mechanics

Sony Zeiss 16-70mm OSS E

Sony Zeiss Vario-Tessar T✻ 16-70mm OSS. bigger.

The Sony Zeiss 16-70 OSS is a metal shell over plastic innards. The metal outside is more of a charade than a sign of durability.

 

Filter Threads

Plastic.

 

Hood Bayonet Mount

Plastic.

 

First Front Barrel

Plastic.

 

Second Front Barrel

Anodized aluminum.

 

Focus Ring

Anodized aluminum.

 

Zoom Ring

Anodized aluminum.

 

Internals

Seem like mostly of plastic.

 

Rear Barrel

Metal.

 

Identity

Engraved and filled with paint on metal ring inside filter threads, and on the barrel.

 

Dust seal at mount

No.

 

Mount

Chromed metal.

 

Markings

Mostly engraved and filled with paint.

Grey model numbers on bottom of barrel are just paint.

 

Serial Numbers

1.) Engraved on front identity ring.

2.) Sticker from Sony with a different printed number glued to the bottom of the barrel..

 

Date Code

None found.

 

Noises When Shaken

Sounds like there is something big flopping around inside, which I presume is the stabilization system.

 

Made in

Thailand.

 

Sharpness

Image sharpness depends more on you than your lens, and lens sharpness doesn't mean much to good photographers.

It's the least skilled hobbyists who worry about this and waste the most time blaming fuzzy pictures on their lenses, while real shooters know that few photos ever use all the sharpness of which their lenses are capable due to subject motion and the fact that real subjects are rarely perfectly flat.

This Sony Zeiss 16-70mm OSS is super-sharp, right out to the corners, even wide open.

We get our money's worth with this lens; sharpness is exemplary.

Here are Sony's MTF curves:

Sony Zeiss 24mm f/1.8 E MTF at 200mm
Sony Zeiss 24mm f/1.8 E MTF at 200mm

MTF at 16mm at f/4 at 10 cycles, 20 cycles and 40 cycles per millimeter.

MTF at 16mm at f/8 at 10 cycles, 20 cycles and 40 cycles per millimeter.

 

Sony Zeiss 24mm f/1.8 E MTF at 200mm
Sony Zeiss 24mm f/1.8 E MTF at 200mm
MTF at 70mm at f/4 at 10 cycles, 20 cycles and 40 cycles per millimeter. MTF at 70mm at f/8 at 10 cycles, 20 cycles and 40 cycles per millimeter.

Please note that 10 cycles, 20 cycles and 40 cycles per millimeter on APS-C are equivalent only to 6 cycles, 12 cycles and 25 cycles per millimeter on full-frame.

 

Sunstars

There are no sunstars, even at f/22.

The curved diaphragm is too round; we never get any sunstars.

 

Image Stabilization

There is optical image stabilization, as well as whatever sensor stabilization your camera may have.

With the insanely good high ISO performance of the Sony A7S II, I had no problems shooting even in total darkness at any speed. I never got to the really slow speeds, and I can vouch that the finder image locks down tight as you try to wiggle the camera.

 

Recommendations

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Sony's Zeiss 16-70mm OSS offers optical and ergonomic near perfection. There is no better zoom made for Sony APS-C cameras.

The 16-70mm is ultra sharp at every aperture, has smooth bokeh that makes images look 3D, focuses fast and super close, and it has the perfect focal length range.

It could easily be the only lens you'd need.

It's always better to get a great lens regardless of the price; economize on your camera, but never on your lenses.

The very best protective filter is the Hoya multicoated HD3 55mm UV which uses hardened glass and repels dirt and fingerprints, and is also multicoated.

For less money, the B+W 55mm 010 is an excellent filter, as are the multicoated version and the basic multicoated Hoya filters, but the Hoya HD3 is the toughest and the best.

 

Where to Get Yours

I got mine at Adorama. I'd also get it at Amazon, at B&H or at Crutchfield.

Don't ever buy an exotic lens like this at a local, retail or chain store since it will have been played with by everyone before you pay full price for it as "new." Sony and Zeiss do not seal their boxes in any way, so never buy at retail or any source not on my personally approved list since you'll have no way of knowing if you're missing accessories, getting a defective, dropped, damaged, demo or otherwise used product, a customer return or if the warranty has already been registered to someone else online. The approved sources I use ship from secure, remote automated warehouses where salespeople or other customers never, ever get to touch your lens before you do, and they have the best prices, selection, service and return policies.

Thanks!

Ken, Mrs. Rockwell, Ryan and Katie.

 

More Information

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Specs   Performance   Recommendations   More

 

Zeiss' 16-70mm OSS page

 

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24 March 2016