The Zuiko 28mm f2 on a Sony A7R

For a short while I’ve managed to wrench the excellent Zuiko 50mm f1.4 from the Sony to see how well my old favourite lens performs. I’ve found this to be a very good lens on other cameras so I’ve high hopes!

Zuiko 28mm f2, Sony A7R

Salisbury Cathedral from the ‘classic’ viewpoint. Looks good so far.

The lens is slightly longer than the 50mm f1.4 but still extremely compact. The aperture range is f2 to f16, minimum focus is around 30cm (or one foot) and the filter size is a standard (and cheap) 49mm.

It’s nicely balanced on the Sony, just like the 50mm. Focussing is slightly more difficult that the 50mm, presumably because of increased depth of field, but the ‘focus magnify’ button is your friend here and usually gets the job done. Operating the combo of camera and lens feels fast and easy.

Zuiko 28mm f2, Sony A7R

The combo from above – light, portable and easy to use – can’t fault it really.

Surprisingly I’m finding that manually focussing is producing much sharper results than autofocus systems on other cameras. Here’s an article on how phase detect autofocus works http://www.lensrentals.com/blog/2010/07/how-autofocus-often-works, and having seen how shallow the ‘really in focus bit’ is using focus magnify I can understand why. No anti-alias filter helps the sharpness a lot, but really shows when you’ve got the focus wrong.

It seems working slowly and deliberately is required to get the best from 36 Mp of resolution as some slightly mis-focussed shots have illustrated! It goes without saying that the depth of field scale on the lens and the focus peaking feature on the A7R aren’t to be trusted for best results.

Zuiko 28mm f2, Sony A7R

Using the ‘neutral’ colour profile and setting the white balance in post processing results in some very accurate colour.

Colours and contrast are good, though there is some vignetting at f2 as you would expect. There’s no image stabilisation with this combo so 1/60th is the absolute minimum hand held shutter speed for me – anything slower use a tripod or a monopod.

Zuiko 28mm f2, Sony A7R

Inside Sherborne Abbey and looking up at the spectacular fan vaulting, a good resolution test. The detail in the full size file is amazing!

Flare isn’t as well controlled as modern lenses, but it’s not too bad – there’s a hint of it around the windows in the above shot.

Zuiko 28mm f2, Sony A7R

Bokeh with a 28mm lens – if you want it you can do it.

Bokeh isn’t a feature usually associated with wide angle lenses due to the deep depth of field, but f2 is pretty fast and you can create some nice out of focus effects at close focus distances.

Right then, the standard test :-

Zuiko 28mm f2, Sony A7R

Full frame at f2. The vignetting is visible here, but apart from that not bad at all.

 

Zuiko 28mm f2, Sony A7R

The centre at f2 – a bit soft but useable in all but huge enlargements.

 

Zuiko 28mm f2, Sony A7R

Centre at f8 – nicely sharpened up and good enough.

 

Zuiko 28mm f2, Sony A7R

The extreme edges however never really get bitingly sharp, just ‘good’. This is at f16 but f5.6 and f8 are the same. Don’t ask about the edge at f2!

In conclusion then, a well behaved lens capable of very good results at smaller apertures, and fast enough to allow shooting in lower light if you’re prepared to accept softer images. Is it making the most of the 36Mp sensor? Not really, especially at the edge, so if you’re a very demanding photographer it might be best to look elsewhere. It is however more than capable for all but the largest enlargements and with it’s compact dimensions, a perfect physical match to the A7R.

The very best part of using these lenses is that I now sometimes leave the camera bag behind altogether, carrying the 28mm and a 135mm lens in each jacket pocket, and the 50mm on the A7R. To be able to do this and get files which exceed my agency’s image requirements is nothing short of fantastic!

Unless someone comes up with a reasonably priced, compact and outstandingly good 28mm I’ll stick with this as it’s more than good enough for my purposes.

Thanks for looking, hope you find this useful. A similar test of the 50mm f1.4 is here.

If you’re interested in using other MF lenses have a look at the other reviews on the film, camera and lens review index tab.

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6 thoughts on “The Zuiko 28mm f2 on a Sony A7R

  1. Informative and useful as always Rob! I’ve yet to try my Nikon 50mm f1.4 on the Sony due to a delay in delivering the adapter but I’ve been blown away by the results achieved with the Sony 35mm prime. Not as fast as I’d like but f2.8 isn’t bad and it’s such a small neat package it’s been a pleasure to be out shooting with it. I think shooting with my bigger Nikon lenses on the A7R will defeat the object but I’m looking forward to being able to compare with results obtained with the same lenses on the D800e.

    • Thanks Chillbrook.

      I completely agree about sticking huge lenses on the A7r – completely defeats the purpose. I’d like a look at some of those Zeiss primes, especially the Loxias, but I’ll have to wait till some funds stack up before any of the Zuikos are retired.

      The Zuikos have now ‘retired’ three times, only to be dragged back into use, so they’re probably the best long term investment I’ve ever made! Glad I kept hold of them.

      Rob

  2. Thank you for blogging! Your insights are really valuable if, as I do, you share these interests and lens setup. In addition very enjoyable reading and images. In fact you made me desire and buy a zuiko 28/2;) which so far hasn’t disappointed me. I use a Fuji X-pro1 for the digital part of my shooting and, inspired by the results, just returned to using my old OM bodies recently. Hope you keep on sharing your experiences! I will certainly come back to your blogg for inspiration.

    • Hi Elvira,

      The 28mm f2 Zuiko is a lovely lens and unlikely to disappoint anyone. Those old OM bodies are always a draw – I keep going back to mine (two OM2s and an OM1). Being able to use the same set of lenses on both the OMs and the Sony is an nice bonus.

      Thanks for the comment

      Rob

  3. Well Robert this review does also tell something about the author. Your favourite lenses do seem to inspire you to take great pictures. That cathedral and the closeup shot are really nice.

    Nick

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