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Sony A-Mount Distagon T* 24mm f/2 Lens Review by dpreview With Rating 87/100

2010-10-21 06:07 | Source
On July 28 2010, Sony announced 3 new A-mount lenses for its line of Alpha DSLRs. The Carl Zeiss Distagon T* is a 24mm f/2 lens that works on full frame and APS-C cameras giving the latter a classic type 35mm length and the former a usable wide angle.

The Distagon T* 24mm F2 ZA SSM (SAL24F20Z) features the acclaimed Carl Zeiss Distagon design and rounds out the existing Planar (SAL85F14Z) and Sonnar (SAL135F18Z) models also developed in conjunction with Carl Zeiss. It is intended to appeal to experienced photographers looking for a large-aperture wide-angle lens of real distinction. The lens functions as a wide-angle 24mm lens on full-frame cameras with 35mm sensors, or as a 36mm equivalent lens ideal for general use on cameras with APS-C sensors. This lens is distinguished by its fast response focus and extremely quiet, very smooth operation thanks to its built-in SSM (Super Sonic wave Motor). It offers a wide and therefore highly versatile focal range from 0.19m to infinity, and features a nine-blade circular aperture that along with the large F2 maximum aperture contributes to smooth, natural bokeh effects. In keeping with traditional Carl Zeiss design, the all-metal lens barrel has been finished to a very high standard resulting in a visibly high-quality appearance. Here's the summary of review by dpreview, giving the lens a rating of 87 out of 100:

"The Sony Distagon T* 24mm F2 SSM is undoubtedly an excellent lens, as we'd expect given its Carl Zeiss badge. In terms of out-and-out image quality it leaves very little to be desired; sharpness is excellent even wide open, lateral chromatic aberration is exceptionally low, and distortion minimal. On top of this the all-metal build, smooth focusing ring and large easy-to-operate controls make for a satisfyingly tactile package. The addition of Sony's 'Super Sonic wave Motor' for autofocus is also highly welcome. Focusing is fast, positive, and practically silent; we also found it to be reliably accurate on the bodies used for testing. This improves the user experience substantially over the two short telephoto Carl Zeiss primes, which can be relatively noisy and slow to focus. This all adds up to making it a solid, reliable performer that produces excellent results shot after shot.

It's not quite perfect, of course. Optically, the lens's biggest flaw is a certain susceptibility to flare - it's not terribly happy when pointed towards bright light sources, and this is most problematic on full frame cameras. In particular, when the sun is towards the edge or just outside the frame, it has a bad habit of producing a large red flare spot diametrically opposite. This isn't always immediately obvious in the viewfinder, so when you're shooting into the light it pays to check your image review. In terms of build quality, the only slight concern is that the lens is not advertised as resistant to dust or water (there's certainly no seal around the mount). This is a somewhat surprising omission given that Sony's high-end camera bodies such as the Alpha 900 are sealed (as are both Canon and Nikon's fast 24mm primes). Whether or not this will turn out to be a genuine problem in actual use is difficult to tell, and obviously depends on each user's individual needs, but I for one am certainly happier using a lens in the rain or snow if the manufacturer tells me it's designed to handle those conditions.

Overall though the 24mm F2 is a fine lens, and one which will be attractive to both full frame and APS-C users alike. It may be a stop slower than its Canon and Nikon rivals, but this does mean it's rather smaller and distinctly less expensive, and make no mistake it's fully capable of matching them optically. (Also let's not forget that in terms of low-light capability, that loss in light-gathering power is more than made up for by the in-body image stabilisation built into all Alpha DSLRs, assuming subject motion blur at slower shutter speeds isn't problematic). All this adds up to arguably the most compelling blend of price, performance and features in its class, making the Distagon a lens that's sure to be on many an Alpha enthusiast's wish list."

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