Sony FE 16-35mm F4 G PZ Lens Review

Sony FE 16-35mm F4 G PZ Lens

The Sony FE PZ 16-35mm F4 G Lens produces sharp image quality over an oft-required ultra-wide-angle to modestly-wide-angle focal length range with a moderately wide constant f/4 aperture facilitating compact size and light weight.

  • Extremely Useful ultra-wide to wide zoom range
  • Outstanding landscape and architecture lens
  • Impressive sharpness
  • Fast and quiet Dual XD Linear AF
  • Professional grade
  • Aperture ring
  • Power zoom
  • Minor focus breathing
  • Moderately priced
  • Compact, lightweight
  • Strong barrel distortion at wide end
  • Strong peripheral shading at 16mm
  • Strong lateral CA at wide end
In-Depth Review

The Sony FE 16-35mm F4 G PZ Lens covers the oft-required ultra-wide-angle to modestly-wide-angle focal length range with a moderately wide constant f/4 aperture facilitating compact size and light weight.

Additional features, including power zoom, dual XD linear drive AF, and reduced focus breathing, make this lens a highly attractive choice for video capture.

Outstanding image quality combined with a moderate price additively ensures the popularity of this lens.

Sony FE 16-35mm F4 G PZ Lens Top View with Hood

Focal Length Range

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The focal length range is the first aspect to consider for zoom lens selection. Focal length drives subject distance choices, which determine perspective.

Often, one cannot back up far enough to get a large subject or vast scene in the frame, and in that case, an ultra-wide-angle zoom lens is the right choice. When a foreground subject is to be emphasized, rendered large in relation to a vast background (potentially in sharp focus), moving in close with an ultra-wide-angle zoom lens is the right choice.

What subjects are this versatile ultra-wide-angle zoom lens ideal for? That list is huge, but let's discuss a few of the genres most photographed by this lens class.

Sony FE 16-35mm F4 G PZ Lens Waterfall and Rock Cliff Sample Picture

Which photography genre has the hugest subjects? While astrophotographers arguably have the largest subjects, this lens lacks the ultra-wide aperture ideal for that use. Landscape photography is a great answer to that question.

Sony FE 16-35mm F4 G PZ Lens Waterfall and Moss Sample Picture

It's a big world, and the 16-35mm focal length range is a perfect choice for capturing the beauty of our planet.

Sony FE 16-35mm F4 G PZ Lens Rocks Sample Picture

This lens gives us reason to go out and enjoy the great outdoors.

Sony FE 16-35mm F4 G PZ Lens Waterfall Sample Picture

Another genre of photography with huge subjects, often including some landscape, is real estate photography, and this lens is a solid interior and exterior choice for this use. Directly related to real estate photography is architecture photography. This lens will take in massive structures even when a short working distance is available.

When photographing real estate and architecture, a level camera is often desired to keep walls and the sides of buildings straight/vertical in the frame, avoiding converging lines. However, it is not always possible, affordable, or convenient to get the camera to a height that permits the optimal framing with a level camera. This need is especially common when photographing building exteriors from ground level.

A tilt-shift lens is the ideal answer to that problem, but an ultra-wide-angle lens can also get the job done. Simply set up the camera in a level position, zoom out until the building (or another subject) is contained in the frame, capture the image, and then crop whatever is not desired in the frame, typically at the bottom, during post-processing. Basically, having a lens that takes in wide angles of view can circumvent the need for a tilt-shift lens (with resolution loss from the cropping being a downside) or pixel-level-destructive perspective correction.

Usually, the structures we photograph are built for people, and people are a good subject for this focal length range.

While a close-up perspective can look amazing in a wide-angle landscape scene, it is generally to be avoided when a person is the primary subject. We do not typically look at a person from really close distances, and if we do, that person becomes uncomfortable with us being in their personal space (and even more so when a camera is in hand). When we look at photos of people captured from close distances, certain body parts (usually the nose) start to look humorously (to some) large.

Unique portrait perspectives can be fun, but this technique should not be overused as it quickly gets old. Get the telephoto lens out for your tightly framed portraits.

Still, wide-angle focal lengths can still be a great choice for photographing people. Simply move back and include people in a larger scene, creating environmental portraits.

The 35mm focal length provides a natural perspective and is a great choice for full-body portraits. The 16-35mm focal length range also works well for small up to large groups. Note that group photography requiring an ultra-wide-angle focal length to fit everyone in the frame often leaves those in the front row appearing considerably larger than those in the back row (the subject distance varies by a significant percentage). Back up or move the subjects closer together (front to back) to reduce the multi-row perspective issue.

The 16-35mm focal length range is the perfect option for the wide work at weddings, family gatherings, and other events and for photojournalism and sports photography needs when the f/4 aperture is sufficient.

This lens, including the focal length range, size, and weight, is an ideal candidate for self-recording, vlogging, including on the optional Sony GP-VPT2BT Shooting Grip.

To explore this focal length range, we head to RB Rickett's falls in Ricketts Glen State Park (these examples were captured with the Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM Lens).

Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM Lens Focal Length Range Example

16mm | 20mm | 24mm | 28mm | 35mm

Utilizing a smaller portion of the image circle means that APS-C sensor format cameras see a narrower angle of view, with 1.5x being the multiplier (FOVCF) for Sony's lineup. An APS-C imaging sensor will see a 24-56mm full-frame angle of view equivalent from this lens. While not as ultra-wide angle on the small format imaging sensor, this range continues to work great for landscape use, and it is advantaged for portrait photography.

Videographers will find the 16-35mm focal length range equally useful as still photographers, and this lens is highly optimized for video recording.

Sony FE 16-35mm F4 G PZ Lens Side View

The Power Zoom Feature

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Directly related to the focal length discussion is how those focal lengths are selected.

We have witnessed the decoupling of focus rings from the focus mechanics, enabling electronic control of focusing, and decoupling the zoom ring makes similar sense. This lens has quad XD linear motors driving the zoom mechanism electronically, making focal length controllable from the conventional-appearing focus ring, a sliding switch on the lens, the optional Sony Remote Commander RMT-P1BT, the optional Sony GP-VPT2BT Shooting Grip, a video camera, software in a remote control app (including Sony's Imaging Edge Mobile app), etc.

It is like power steering for your zoom ring. With motors controlling the lens element movements required for focal length adjustment, the zoom ring becomes exceptionally smooth and easy to rotate while still remaining responsive — and silent.

Note that, with the zoom ring disconnected from the specific focal length, the focal length numbers cannot be printed on the zoom ring, and no electronic on-the-lens feature (an LCD, for example) provides this.

The power zoom switch imparts a variable adjustment rate, from slow to rapid, depending on how far it is moved from the spring-loaded zero position. Maintaining a specific adjustment rate is not difficult.

Moving a lens switch can move a camera, which is typically undesirable during movie recording. However, this switch adjusts with a light enough pressure to avoid that problem.

The power zoom feature enables a constant zoom adjustment rate that is otherwise difficult to achieve. With the power zoom, combine movements, including on a slider, jib, or crane, with focal length change to set your footage apart.

Overall, the Sony FE 16-35mm F4 G PZ Lens's power zoom feature is well implemented.

Sony FE 16-35mm F4 G PZ Lens Front View

Max Aperture

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The lower the aperture number, the wider the opening, and the more light a lens can allow to reach the imaging sensor. Each "stop" in aperture change (full stop examples: f/2.0, f/2.8, f/4.0, f/5.6) increases or decreases the light reaching the sensor by a factor of 2x (a substantial factor).

Wide aperture lenses, allowing more light to reach the sensor, permit freezing action and handholding the camera in lower light levels and at lower (less noisy) ISO settings. In addition to allowing more light to reach the sensor, increasing the aperture opening provides a shallower DOF (Depth of Field) that creates a stronger, better subject-isolating background blur (at equivalent focal lengths). Often important is the improved low light AF performance facilitated by the increased amount of light reaching the imaging sensor.

A narrow aperture's advantages are related to reduced (often significantly) lens element size and include smaller overall size, lighter weight, and lower cost. Right, everyone loves those factors.

Because the aperture is measured as a ratio of lens opening to focal length, the focal length must be taken into consideration when assessing how wide a lens's aperture can open. At 600mm, f/4 is a massive opening. In a 16-35mm lens, f/4 is relatively narrow, and this lens was designed to take advantage of the small size, light weight, and lower cost advantages.

Wide apertures are not always needed, especially in the ultra-wide-angle zoom focal length range.

Motion blur is caused when subject details cross over imaging sensor pixels during the exposure. Although this lens can be used with a close subject rendered large in the frame, lenses such as this one are often used at normal (or even long) subject distances. This low magnification means those subjects' details more readily stay in their pixels, permitting the longer exposures required to compensate for the narrower aperture to still deliver sharp results, free of subject or camera motion blur.

Many of the uses for this lens mandate a narrower aperture, such as f/8 or f/11, to keep everything in the frame sharp, and photographers concentrating on landscape, architecture, real estate, etc. may seldom use the f/4 option.

Still, f/4 reduces this lens's capabilities modestly relative to the f/2.8 zoom lens options available in this focal length range. Those photographing moving subjects, such as at sports events or under the night sky where light levels are so low that the earth's rotation becomes a source of camera motion, may prefer a wider aperture lens over the increased ISO setting alternatively required.

It is hard to diffusely blur the background with the low magnification provided by an ultra-wide-angle lens. Such lenses render the background details small in size, keeping the background subjects more recognizable (and potentially distracting).

These examples illustrate the maximum blur this lens can create:

Sony FE 16-35mm F4 G PZ Lens Maximum Blur Example

16mm | 20mm | 24mm | 28mm | 35mm

While there is a nice amount of blur seen in these examples, the scene remains recognizable.

Sony FE 16-35mm F4 G PZ Lens and Click Switches

As usual for Sony FE GM and G prime lenses, the Sony FE 16-35mm F4 G PZ Lens — a zoom lens — features an aperture ring, permitting a manually selected aperture. The camera controls the aperture setting with the ring in the A (Auto) position. All other settings electronically force the aperture to the chosen opening. A 2-position switch on the bottom right side of the lens toggles the aperture ring between 1/3 stop clicks and smooth, quiet, non-clicked adjustments, ideal for video recording.

Aside from a slightly more complicated design, I find inadvertent aperture changes the primary disadvantage of an aperture ring (especially when photographing in the dark). In previous reviews, I mentioned that a lock for the ring would eliminate that issue, and this lens gets an iris lock switch. Perfect.

Sony FE 16-35mm F4 G PZ Lens on Tripod

Image Stabilization

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As mentioned, the shorter the focal length, the smaller subject details (captured at the same distance) are rendered, and the less still the camera must be held to avoid subject details crossing imaging sensor pixels, the source of motion blur. This lens features only ultra-wide to wide-angle focal lengths. Sony has omitted included image stabilization, OSS (Optical SteadyShot) in their recent wide-angle lenses, and not surprising is that the Sony FE 16-35mm F4 G PZ Lens also lacks OSS.

Still, image stabilization remains a valuable feature in any lens. Sony addresses that omission with Steady Shot IBIS (In-Body Image Stabilization) in their mirrorless cameras. In addition to reducing camera shake, the stabilized imaging sensor provides a still viewfinder image, enabling careful composition. Furthermore, sensor-based AF takes advantage of the stabilized view for improved accuracy.

With no IS switch on the lens, the camera menu must be used to enable or disable IBIS or check the current settings. This extra step is a slight impediment to working quickly, going from tripod mounted to handholding, for example.

Sony FE 16-35mm F4 G PZ Lens Top View

Image Quality

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While image quality testing awaits the arrival of this lens, the MTF charts indicated that the Sony FE 16-35mm F4 G PZ Lens would be an outstanding optical performer.

Sony FE 16-35mm F4 G PZ Lens MTF Charts

The lab and field testing back up this premise.

It is much easier to describe the sharpness, a combination of resolution and contrast, of high-performing lenses than low-performing options. With a wide-open aperture, the Sony FE 16-35mm F4 G PZ Lens is sharp from full-frame corner to full-frame corner.

With this lens, the primary reasons to use a narrower aperture are only the optimal ones, to increase depth of field and decrease peripheral shading.

Taking the testing outdoors, we next look at a series of center-of-the-frame 100% resolution crop examples. These images were captured in RAW format using a Sony Alpha 1 and processed in Capture One using the Natural Clarity method. The sharpening amount was set to only "30" on a 0-1000 scale. Note that images from most cameras require some level of sharpening, but too-high sharpness settings are destructive to image details and hide the deficiencies of a lens.

Sony FE 16-35mm F4 G PZ Lens Sharpness Comparison Example

16mm: f/4.0 | f/5.6   f/4.0 | f/5.6   f/4.0 | f/5.6
24mm: f/4.0 | f/5.6   f/4.0 | f/5.6   f/4.0 | f/5.6
35mm: f/4.0 | f/5.6   f/4.0 | f/5.6   f/4.0 | f/5.6

These results are impressive.

Next, we'll look at a comparison showing 100% resolution extreme top left corner crops captured and processed identically to the above center-of-the-frame images. The lens was manually focused in the corner of the frame to capture these images.

Sony FE 16-35mm F4 G PZ Lens Corner Sharpness Comparison Example

16mm: f/4.0 | f/5.6   f/4.0 | f/5.6   f/4.0 | f/5.6
24mm: f/4.0 | f/5.6   f/4.0 | f/5.6   f/4.0 | f/5.6
35mm: f/4.0 | f/5.6   f/4.0 | f/5.6   f/4.0 | f/5.6

Samples taken from the outer extreme of the image circle, full-frame corners, can be counted on to show a lens's weakest performance. These results exhibit minor weakness for a lens of this class.

This lens does not exhibit focus shift, the plane of sharp focus moving forward or backward as the aperture is narrowed (residual spherical aberration or RSA). Many modern lenses automatically correct for focus shift, though focus breathing (more later) can create slight angle of view changes.

a lens can be expected to create peripheral shading at the widest aperture settings when used on a camera that utilizes a lens's entire image circle. The about 4 stops of corner shading at 16mm f/4 will not go unnoticed. The corner shading rapidly reduces as the focal length is increased to 24mm, with about 2 stops showing in the corners at this and longer focal lengths.

At f/5.6, 16mm shading falls under 3 stops, with the longer focal lengths averaging about 1.5 stops. At f/8, 16mm shading drops to about 2 stops, with the longer focal lengths averaging just over a stop. At f/11, 16mm shading drops to about 1.5 stops, with the longer focal lengths still averaging just over a stop.

APS-C format cameras using lenses projecting a full-frame-sized image circle avoid most vignetting problems. In this case, the just under one stop of corner shading showing at f/4 may be visible in select images, primarily those with a solid color (such as a blue sky) in the corners.

One stop of shading is often used as the visibility number, though subject details provide a widely varying amount of vignetting discernibility. Vignetting is correctable during post-processing with increased noise in the brightened areas being the penalty, or it can be embraced, using the effect to draw the viewer's eye to the center of the frame. Study the pattern shown in our vignetting test tool to determine how your images will be affected.

Lateral (or transverse) CA (Chromatic Aberration) refers to the unequal magnification of all colors in the spectrum. Lateral CA shows as color fringing along lines of strong contrast running tangential (meridional, right angles to radii), with the mid and especially the periphery of the image circle showing the most significant amount as this is where the most significant difference in the magnification of wavelengths typically exists.

With the right lens profile and software, lateral CA is often easily correctable (often in the camera) by radially shifting the colors to coincide. However, it is always better to avoid this aberration in the first place.

Color misalignment can be seen in the site's image quality tool, but let's also look at a set of worst-case examples. The images below are 100% crops from the extreme top left corner of Sony a1 frames showing diagonal black and white lines.

Sony FE 16-35mm F4 G PZ Lens Lateral Chromatic Aberration Example

16mm | 20mm | 24mm | 28mm | 35mm

This lens's lateral CA ranges from moderately strong at 16mm to mild at the longer end.

A relatively common lens aberration is axial (longitudinal, bokeh) CA, which causes non-coinciding focal planes of the various wavelengths of light. More simply, different colors of light are focused to different depths. Spherical aberration along with spherochromatism, or a change in the amount of spherical aberration with respect to color (looks quite similar to axial chromatic aberration but is hazier) are other common lens aberrations to observe. Axial CA remains somewhat persistent when stopping down, with the color misalignment effect increasing with defocusing. The spherical aberration color halo shows little size change as the lens is defocused, and stopping down one to two stops generally removes this aberration.

In the real world, lens defects do not exist in isolation, with spherical aberration and spherochromatism generally found, at least to some degree, along with axial CA. These combine to create a less sharp, hazy-appearing image quality at the widest apertures.

The examples below look at the defocused specular highlights' fringing colors in the foreground vs. the background. The lens has introduced any fringing color differences from the neutrally-colored subjects.

Sony FE 16-35mm F4 G PZ Lens Spherical and Axial Aberration Example

16mm | 20mm | 24mm | 28mm | 35mm

The color separation illustrated here is mild, which is common for relatively narrow apertures.

Bright light reflecting off lens elements' surfaces may cause flare and ghosting, resulting in reduced contrast and sometimes interesting, usually destructive visual artifacts. The shape, intensity, and position of the flare in an image are variable, dependent on the position and nature of the light source (or sources), selected aperture, shape of the aperture blades, and quantity and quality of the lens elements and their coatings.

Sony does not specify the lens coating used to avoid flare and ghosting from this lens, but the design, including a relatively low 13-element count, produced practically no flare effects even at narrow apertures in our standard sun in the corner of the frame flare test.

Flare effects can be embraced or avoided, or removal can be attempted. Removal is sometimes challenging. Thus, high flare resistance is a welcomed trait of this lens.

Two lens aberrations are particularly evident in images of stars, mainly because bright points of light against a dark background make them easier to see. Coma occurs when light rays from a point of light spread out from that point instead of being refocused as a point on the sensor. Coma is absent in the center of the frame, gets worse toward the edges/corners, and generally appears as a comet-like or triangular tail of light which can be oriented either away from the center of the frame (external coma) or toward the center of the frame (internal coma). Coma clears as the aperture is narrowed. Astigmatism is seen as points of light spreading into a line, either sagittal (radiating from the center of the image) or meridional (tangential, perpendicular to sagittal). This aberration can produce stars appearing to have wings. Remember that Lateral CA is another aberration apparent in the corners.

The images below are 100% crops taken from the top-left corner of Sony Alpha 1 images captured at f/4.

Sony FE 16-35mm F4 G PZ Lens Coma Example

16mm | 24mm | 35mm

While f/4 is a narrow aperture for nightscapes, the peripheral stars are well-rendered.

Note that when this lens is mounted, the camera forces distortion correction to be enabled. When we process the test images, that correction is disabled, sometimes resulting in the off-standard framing seen in the distortion test results.

At 16mm, there is strong barrel distortion, the primary reason for the correction being forced. Barrel distortion remains strong at 20mm and becomes mild at 24mm. This lens transitions to mild pincushion distortion by 28mm and to moderate pincushion distortion at 35mm.

Most modern lenses have aberration correction profiles available for the popular image processing software, and distortion can be easily removed using these. However, geometric distortion correction requires stretching, and this technique is seldom as good as using a distortion-free lens and focal length in the first place.

As seen earlier in the review, it is easy to illustrate the strongest blur a lens can create, and wide-angle lenses are inherently disadvantaged in this regard. Due to the infinite number of variables present among all available scenes, assessing the bokeh quality is considerably more challenging. Here are some f/11 (for diaphragm blade interaction) 100% crop examples.

Sony FE 16-35mm F4 G PZ Lens Bokeh Example

16mm | 24mm | 35mm
16mm | 24mm | 35mm | 35mm

Ultra-wide-angle focal lengths seldom render defocused highlights with great attractiveness, but the longer focal length results are nice. The shapes are round for f/11 from a 7-blade diaphragm, thanks in part to f/11 being only 3-stops closed from f/4.

The second set again shows 100% crops, with the second 35mm example being a full image reduced in size. All of these results look nice.

Except for a small number of specialty lenses, the wide aperture bokeh in the frame's corner does not produce round defocused highlights, with these effects taking on a cat's eye shape due to a form of mechanical vignetting. If you look through a tube at an angle, similar to the light reaching the frame's corner, the shape is not round, and that is the shape we're looking at here. Here are upper-left quadrant crops:

Sony FE 16-35mm F4 G PZ Lens Cat's Eye Bokeh Example

16mm | 20mm | 24mm | 28mm | 35mm

The corner shapes at the wide end show strong truncation, while the shapes at the longest focal length look great. As the aperture narrows, the entrance pupil size is reduced, and the mechanical vignetting absolves with the shapes becoming rounder.

A 7-blade count diaphragm will create 14-point sunstars (diffraction spikes) from point light sources captured with a narrow aperture. In general, the more a lens diaphragm is stopped down, the larger and better-shaped the sunstars tend to be. A narrow max aperture lens does not afford much stopping down before reaching apertures where diffraction causes noticeable softening of details, and these lenses typically do not produce the biggest or best-shaped sunstars. Still, this sunstar shape appears nice.

Sony FE 16-35mm F4 G PZ Lens Sunstar Effect Example

The example above was captured at f/16.

The design of this lens is illustrated below.

Sony FE 16-35mm F4 G PZ Lens Design

[1] Advanced aspherical lens (AA lens) [2] Aspherical lens [3] ED (extra-low dispersion) aspherical lens [4] Super ED glass [5] ED (extra-low dispersion) glass

"Impeccable Sony G Lens design emphasizes a graceful balance between high resolution and gorgeous background bokeh that can enhance the artist’s vision." [Sony]

The Sony FE 16-35mm F4 G PZ Lens is an outstanding optical performer — except for the extreme linear distortion.

Sony FE 16-35mm F4 G PZ Lens Angle View


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"Two XD (extreme dynamic) Linear Motors deliver quick, quiet, low-vibration autofocus while maintaining compact lens dimensions. Tenacious, reliable AF can smoothly track subjects while shooting high frame rate photos or movies." [Sony]

With this lens, Sony promises high tracking performance even at 30 fps while zooming, with tracking performance while zooming improved by approximately 2x over the version I lens.

As expected, the Sony FE 16-35mm F4 G PZ Lens focuses fast.

This lens focuses in dark environments when adequate subject contrast is available. My wife called it "No light" when when she was highly surprised to find me in the dark behind a cracked door. As usual, AF becomes slow when light levels drop.

Remember that (at least some) cameras, including the Sony Alpha 1, defocus the image slightly before final focusing in AF-S mode, even if the subject was initially in focus. This process adds significantly to the focus lock time. However, this lens focuses fast enough to significantly reduce this lock time issue.

Sony's FE lenses, including this one, consistently focus accurately, the number one requirement of an AF system.

This is an internally focusing lens.

A customizable AF hold button is provided. With the camera set to continuous focus mode, press the AF hold button to lock focus at the currently selected focus distance, permitting a focus and recompose technique. This button also acts as a custom button, programmable to other functions via the camera's menu.

FTM (Full Time Manual) focusing is supported via Sony's DMF (Direct Manual Focus) AF mode with the shutter release half-pressed or the AF-ON button pressed. This lens has an AF/MF switch, allowing this frequently used camera setting to be changed without accessing the menu system.

Sony FE 16-35mm F4 G PZ Lens Side View with Hood

The Sony FE 16-35mm F4 G PZ Lens has a fine-sharp-ribbed rubberized focus ring ideally positioned forward of the zoom ring. This ring is modest in size and raised noticeably from the zoom ring immediately behind it, making it easy to find.

The focus ring turns smoothly, has light resistance and no play, and the 165° of MF rotation adjusts focusing at an ideal rate, allowing precise manual focusing even at close distances. This is a linear response MF ring, facilitating marks for repeatable distances. Overall, this lens provides a good quality manual focus experience.

Normal is for the scene to change size in the frame (sometimes significantly) as the focus is pulled from one extent to the other. This is focus breathing, a change in focal length resulting from a change in focus distance. Focus breathing impacts photographers intending to use focus stacking techniques, videographers pulling focus (without movement to camouflage the effect), and anyone critically framing while adjusting focus.

Sony promotes this lens having a minimal change in subject size through a full extent focus distance adjustment.

"Smooth Motion Optics (SMO) suppresses focus breathing to help maintain compositional accuracy when changing focus. This lens is also compatible with the Breathing Compensation function in select Alpha cameras." [B&H]

At the wide end, this lens produces only a minor change in subject size through a full extent focus distance adjustment, and the change at the long end is slight.

Sony FE 16-35mm F4 G PZ Lens Focus Magnification Example

16mm: Far | Close   35mm: Far | Close

Usual is for a non-cinema lens to require refocusing after a focal length change.

As illustrated in the 100% crops below, the reviewed lens does not exhibit parfocal-like characteristics. When focused at 35mm, zooming to wider focal lengths results in focus blur.

Sony FE 16-35mm F4 G PZ Lens Parfocal Example

35mm | 28mm | 24mm | 20mm | 16mm

Especially with the Sony FE 16-35mm F4 G PZ Lens being so highly optimized for video recording, it is surprising that Sony has not chosen to electronically adjust the focus distance during the electronic focal length adjustment.

Here are more Sony lens advantages for video:

A focus distance window is not provided, but a focus distance meter shows in the lower portion of the camera's electronic viewfinder during manual focusing.

With a minimum focus distance of 11.0" (280mm), this lens has a 0.23x maximum magnification spec. Interesting is that this lens has the same minimum focus distance as its predecessor but creates a higher maximum magnification. Likely this difference shows the PZ lens's lack of focus breathing.

ModelMin Focus Distance "(mm)Max Magnification
Canon RF 14-35mm F4 L IS USM Lens7.9(200)0.38x
Canon RF 15-35mm F2.8 L IS USM Lens11.0(280)0.21x
Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG DN Art Lens11.0(280)0.14x
Sony FE 12-24mm F2.8 GM Lens11.0(280)0.14x
Sony FE 12-24mm F4 G Lens11.0(280)0.14x
Sony FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM Lens11.0(280)0.19x
Sony FE 16-35mm F4 G PZ Lens11.0(280)0.23x
Sony FE 16-35mm F4 ZA OSS Lens11.0(280)0.19x
Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 Di III RXD Lens7.5(190)0.19x

At 16mm, a subject measuring approximately 13.5 x 9" (343 x 229mm) fills a full-frame imaging sensor at this lens's minimum focus distance. At 35mm, a 5.5 x 3.7" (140 x 93mm) subject does the same.

Sony FE 16-35mm F4 G PZ Lens Maximum Magnification Example

The USPS love stamps above have an image area that measures 1.05 x 0.77" (26.67 x 19.558mm), and the overall individual stamp size is 1.19 x 0.91" (30.226 x 23.114mm).

Need a shorter minimum focus distance and higher magnification? Mount an extension tube behind this lens to significantly decrease and increase those respective numbers. Extension tubes are hollow lens barrels that shift a lens farther from the camera, allowing shorter focusing distances at the expense of long-distance focusing. Electronic connections in extension tubes permit the lens and camera to communicate and otherwise function normally. As of review time, Sony does not publish extension tube specs or manufacture these items, but third-party Sony-compatible extension tubes are available.

This lens is not compatible with Sony teleconverters.

Sony FE 16-35mm F4 G PZ Lens Front View on Camera

Build Quality & Features

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"World-class design and technology come together to deliver a compact, lightweight lens that also includes focus, zoom and aperture/iris rings and power zoom for unprecedented mobility and handling. [Sony]

While an "M" is not attached to the "G" in the name, meaning this lens is not a member of the Grand Master lineup, Sony's G lenses are always well built.

Sony FE 16-35mm F4 G PZ Lens Product Images

MFD |    MFD |    w/ Hood:  MFD |    MFD |    Rotated   Compare »

Rings and switches consume much of the FE PZ 16-35mm lens's fixed size, and Sony notes that this lens's overall balance remains constant for gimbal or drone-mounted movie recording. Engineering plastic is utilized for exterior construction.

The Sony FE 16-35mm F4 G PZ Lens features a dust and moisture-resistant design, ready for outdoor use in challenging conditions.

Sony FE 16-35mm F4 G PZ Lens Mount

All seams are sealed, the buttons and switches have silicone rubber gaskets, and a rubber ring seals the lens mount.

Sony FE 16-35mm F4 G PZ Lens Weather Sealing

The front lens element is fluorine coating to avoid dirt and moisture adhesion and make cleaning considerably easier.

With the Sony FE 16-35mm F4 G PZ Lens, Sony claims "The world's lightest full-frame F4 wide-angle power-zoom lens." It is also the only full-frame F4 wide-angle power-zoom lens among the lenses we currently cover.

Sony FE 16-35mm F4 G PZ Lens Compared to Sony FE 16-35mm F4 ZA OSS Lens

Still, this compact, lightweight lens weighs 30% less than its predecessor.

ModelWeight oz(g)Dimensions w/o Hood "(mm)FilterYear 
Canon RF 14-35mm F4 L IS USM Lens19.1(540)3.3 x 3.9(84.1 x 99.8)772021
Canon RF 15-35mm F2.8 L IS USM Lens29.7(840)3.5 x 5.0(88.5 x 126.8)822019
Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG DN Art Lens28.1(795)3.3 x 5.2(85.0 x 131.0)n/a2020
Sony FE 12-24mm F2.8 GM Lens29.9(847)3.8 x 5.4(97.6 x 137.0)2020
Sony FE 12-24mm F4 G Lens19.9(565)3.4 x 4.6(87.0 x 117.4)2017
Sony FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM Lens24.0(680)3.5 x 4.8(88.5 x 121.6)822017
Sony FE 16-35mm F4 G PZ Lens12.5(353)3.2 x 3.5(80.5 x 88.1)722022
Sony FE 16-35mm F4 ZA OSS Lens18.3(518)3.1 x 3.9(78.0 x 98.5)722014

For many more comparisons, review the complete Sony FE 16-35mm F4 G PZ Lens Specifications using the site's lens specifications tool.

I find the joints of my fingers against the barrel of this lens when tightly gripping the Sony Alpha 1.

Here is a visual comparison:

Sony FE 16-35mm F4 G PZ Lens Compared to Similar Lenses

Positioned above from left to right are the following lenses vertically aligned on their mounts (not the bottom of their caps):

Sony FE 16-35mm F4 G PZ Lens
Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 Di III RXD Lens
Canon RF 14-35mm F4 L IS USM Lens
Sigma 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens
Sony FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM Lens

The same lenses are shown below with their hoods in place.

Sony FE 16-35mm F4 G PZ Lens Compared to Similar Lenses with Hoods

The Sony 16-35 shows itself advantaged in these group photos. Use the site's product image comparison tool to visually compare the Sony FE 16-35mm F4 G PZ Lens to other lenses.

Fitting is for a compact lens to have relatively narrow filter threads — the common 72mm size in this case.

Standard thickness circular polarizer filters commonly increase peripheral shading when in front of focal lengths this wide, and they darken this lens's widest-angle corners. Therefore, a slim model such as the Breakthrough Photography X4 is highly recommended.

Sony FE 16-35mm F4 G PZ Lens Mount ALC-SH172 Lens Hood

The Sony ALC-SH172 lens hood is included in the box.

Sony FE 16-35mm F4 G PZ Lens Angle View with Hood

This semi-rigid plastic petal-shaped hood has a matte interior designed to avoid reflections. An advantage of this hood shape is easier installation alignment (simply learn the small petal to the top orientation), though a round-shaped hood better enables the lens to stand on its hood. This hood offers some physical protection and, especially at wide focal lengths, optimal protection from bright light.

Sony FE 16-35mm F4 G PZ Lens Case

Sony also includes a case with this lens.

Sony FE 16-35mm F4 G PZ Lens Cap

Price, Value, Compatibility

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The Sony FE 16-35mm F4 G PZ Lens has a mid-level price. For the overall performance this lens delivers, that price makes it a solid value.

As an "FE" lens, the Sony FE 16-35mm F4 G PZ Lens is compatible with all Sony E-mount cameras, including full-frame and APS-C sensor format models. Sony provides a 1-year limited warranty.

The reviewed Sony FE 16-35mm F4 G PZ Lens was online-retail sourced.


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When the FE 16-35mm F4 G PZ Lens was announced, Sony already had the FE 16-35mm F4 ZA OSS Lens in the lineup. From the names, we see the Zeiss "ZA" branding and "OSS" (Optical Steady Shot) drop off, with the "G" and "PZ" Power Zoom added.

The ZA lens was optically a strong performer — except at the long end. We often reach the extents of the zoom lens in our hands, making the full extent focal length image quality especially important.

In the image quality comparison, we see both lenses producing excellent image quality. As expected, the PZ lens is a bit sharper at 35mm. The ZA lens has considerably less barrel distortion at the wide end but modestly less pincushion distortion at the long end.

The Sony FE 16-35mm F4 G PZ Lens vs. FE 16-35mm F4 ZA OSS Lens comparison shows the PZ lens considerably lighter and modestly shorter and the ZA lens slightly narrower. The PZ lens has the namesake power zoom feature, reduced focus breathing, and a higher maximum at the same minimum focus distance — 0.23x vs. 0.19x. The PZ lens has Dual XD Linear AF drive vs. SSM. It also has a fixed length that maintains balance on a gimbal. That the newer PZ lens costs noticeably less than the ZA lens makes this decision considerably easier.

Does a wider aperture have value to you? The Sony FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM II Lens shares the same focal length and provides a 2x wider aperture. Those photographing subjects in motion in low light, including the night sky, will especially appreciate that aspect.

In the wide-open aperture image quality comparison, the f/4 lens is slightly sharper in the corners at the wide end, and the f/2.8 lens is slightly sharper in the center at the long end. Stop the f/2.8 lens down to f/4 and it matches and often exceeds the sharpness of the f/4 lens.

Comparing peripheral shading at wide-open apertures shows the two lenses performing similarly except at the long end where the f/2.8 lens has moderately less shading. Stop the GM lens down to f/4 and it has big advantage over the entire focal length range. The G lens has dramatically stronger barrel distortion at 16mm and stronger pincushion distortion at 35mm.

The Sony FE 16-35mm F4 G PZ vs. 16-35mm F2.8 GM II Lens comparison shows the GM lens weighing and measuring substantially more. The GM lens has 11 aperture blades vs. 7 and has 0.32x maximum magnification vs. 0.23x. The G lens has 72mm filter threads vs. 82mm and features power zoom, which you may consider an advantage or disadvantage. A clear advantage is that it costs dramatically less.

The Sony FE 16-25mm F2.8 G Lens provides an interesting comparison. Would you prefer an f/2.8 aperture over the longer focal length range while retaining the same size, weight, and price?

The image quality comparison shows two impressive-performing lenses with little to differentiate them. As expected, the 16-35 has stronger peripheral shading wide open at f/4 than the 16-25 stopped down to f/4. The 16-25 produces less lateral CA.

The Sony FE 16-35mm F4 G PZ vs. 16-25mm F2.8 G Lens comparison shows the f/4 lens weighing and measuring slightly less. The 16-25 has 11 aperture blades vs. 7 and 67mm filter threads vs. 72mm. The PZ lens goes to 0.23x magnification vs. 0.20x, has power zoom, and shows less focus breathing. As mentioned, the two lenses share the same price.

It is always interesting to look across systems when comparing lenses. While not Sony camera compatible, the RF 14-35mm F4 L IS USM Lens is Canon's closest option. Obvious from the names is that the Canon lens has significantly wider focal lengths available, has 5.5-stop-rated in-lens image stabilization, and does not have power zoom.

The image quality comparison shows the two lenses producing similar sharpness until 35mm, where the Sony lens shows a strong advantage. Both lenses have strong barrel distortion at the wide end.

The Sony FE 16-35mm F4 G PZ Lens vs. Canon RF 14-35mm F4 L IS USM Lens comparison shows the Sony lens considerably lighter and noticeably smaller. The Canon lens has 9 aperture blades vs. 7 and focuses considerably closer, turning in a 0.38x maximum magnification vs. 0.23x. The Canon lens is moderately more expensive.

Use the site's tools to create additional comparisons.

Sony FE 16-35mm F4 G PZ Lens


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The diminutive, lightweight Sony FE 16-35mm F4 G PZ Lens is a great option for the frequently needed ultra-wide through wide-angle coverage.

Only the strong barrel distortion at the wide end of the focal length range detracts from the otherwise stellar optical performance this lens delivers. Plan on utilizing the correction options provided.

Additional features this lens avails include power zoom, dual XD linear drive AF, and reduced focus breathing, make this lens a highly attractive choice for video capture.

The moderate price ensures high popularity for this lens.

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Sony FE 16-35mm F4 G PZ Lens
Sony FE 16-35mm F4 G PZ Lens
$50.00 Savings! gives the Sony FE 16-35mm F4 G PZ Lens an overall 4.0 rating
Manufacturer ID: SELP1635G
Review Date: 2022-07-04
Last Updated: 2024-02-01
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