Zeiss Sonnar T* FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA ( SEL55F18Z ) - Full Format Review / Test - Sample Images & Verdict
Lens Reviews - Sony Alpha (Full Format)

Sample Images & Verdict

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Make SONY
Model ILCE-7RM2
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 55.0mm
Aperture: f/2.8
Exposure 1/800s
Make SONY
Model ILCE-7RM2
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 55.0mm
Aperture: f/8.0
Exposure 1/400s
Make SONY
Model ILCE-7RM2
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 55.0mm
Aperture: f/2.0
Exposure 1/6400s
Make SONY
Model ILCE-7RM2
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 55.0mm
Aperture: f/4.0
Exposure 1/3200s
Make SONY
Model ILCE-7RM2
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 55.0mm
Aperture: f/11.0
Exposure 1/125s
Make SONY
Model ILCE-7RM2
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 55.0mm
Aperture: f/11.0
Exposure 1/200s
Make SONY
Model ILCE-7RM2
ISO Speed 640
Focal Length 55.0mm
Aperture: f/1.8
Exposure 1/60s
Make SONY
Model ILCE-7RM2
ISO Speed 100
Focal Length 55.0mm
Aperture: f/11.0
Exposure 1/125s

Verdict

The Zeiss Sonnar T* FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA is certainly capable of delivering stunning results ... if you are aware of a few limitations. The image center is sharp at f/1.8 but the outer image region isn't quite as impressive here. Now that being said you should ask yourself in how far sharp corners are critical for your applications at this setting. Stopping down improves the overall quality, of course. For a tack sharp center it is already sufficient to stop down to f/2.2. If you require critical sharpness across the image field, you should stop down to f/4. The lens produces some heavy vignetting at maximum aperture. Some may like this effect as a creative element but those who don't may prefer to correct this either via camera setting or in your favorite RAW converter. Otherwise you should stop down by about 2 f-stops. Lateral CAs are no issue at all nor are image distortions. The Zeiss lens is certainly a fast lens so the quality of the bokeh is a primary characteristic for shallow depth-of-field photography. The results are a bit mixed here. The critical blur in the image background is nicely rendered whereas the foreground isn't as pleasing (still good). Out-of-focus highlights are rather rough. A fair share of bokeh fringing is also present.

On the mechanical side we have nothing but praises. The Zeiss lens is small but it feels really solid. Combined with inner focusing, smooth controls and weather sealing this is about as close to perfection as it gets these days. The AF is quite fast although it won't win against similar DSLR lenses here for sure. Manual focusing is very precise and smooth. Some may disagree but we actually like the focus-by-wire system.

So finally there's the big question whether the high price tag is really worth the sacrifice. Well, at the time of this review you don't really have another choice if you want a standard prime lens with AF which may already answer the question for some. However, honestly speaking we think that Sony went a bit insane here. The lens is undoubtedly good but one thousand dollars for a 55mm f/1.8 lens ... ?

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