Sony 28-135mm Review – Why This Might Be “The” Cine Zoom Lens For You

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I must admit, we’ve been looking forward to the new Sony 28-135mm F/4 zoom lens for quite a while now. Ever since we got our hands on the prototype at IBC we felt this was “the one” lens many have been waiting for (including ourselves).

Now it is here. We reviewed it exclusively and compared it to the Canon 24-105mm F/4. Let’s see if this lens is also “the one” for you.

Facts why this lens is interesting for many?

  • Supports full frame cameras (Like the Sony A7S)
  • Covers a great range on full frame (28-135mm)
  • Manual focus with min/infinity hard stops
  • F/4 all the way through
  • Has an internal zoom motor
  • Declicked (cine) iris
  • Small & lightweight compared to “real” Cine Zooms
  • Parfocal lens (keeps focus when focal length is changed)

YU2A2089Well, all this sounds like a dream come true.
YU2A2079So far filmmakers who wanted a lens for video either had to use an affordable photo lens that lacks many of the features that professionals need, OR use a cine zoom that is usually very heavy and unaffordable.

We’ve never had the best of both worlds, a “broadcast” lens for compact, DSLR stlye cameras, but it looks like the Sony 28-135mm has it all.

Let’s take a closer look.

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Optical Quality

We have an Imatest test chart for resolutions up to 6K here in our office and we compared some of the optical quality factors of the lenses.

All images were taken with a Sony A7S in 4K, recorded to an Atomos Shogun. (As this is the maximum resolution / quality most people will use)
We compared the Sony 28-135mm to the Canon 24-105mm, as the latter is still THE go-to lens for full frame videographers who want to cover a wide zoom range.

In Camera Lens Compensation

Sony’s newest cameras feature in-camera lens compensation to correct for corner shading, chromatic aberrations, and geometric distortion. That’s why the Sony A7S will automatically make any Sony lens look better even when in video mode. Of course no Canon lens with a Metabones adapter will make use of this functionality.
The benefits of in-camera lens compensation will reflect positively on the Sony lens in this test. And this on it’s own is already an argument for the Sony lens.

Winner: Sony

Distortion

Looking at the Sony 28-135mm image it is almost 100% straight at any focal length. Quite impressive. Probably not even an expensive cine lens could compete as the Sony lens makes use of the in-camera lens compensation feature.
Looking at the 24-105mm image in comparison it distorts in and out on zoom. Applying manual lens correction in post we can also get a more straight image from the Canon, but this is usually not an option in video, definitely not when varying focal lengths are involved.
On the Sony at 70mm there is 1 pixel distortion on a horizontal line at the upper edge of the image. On the Canon at 70mm it’s 21 pixels. The performance on the Canon is still good.

Winner: Sony

Brightness Wide Open Issue

People who have used the Canon 24-105mm F/4 lens know that F/4 is not actually F/4. Especially when zooming in the image becomes radically darker. On the Canon at 28mm as well as 70mm we observed that the image had to be brightened up in post by 0.55 stops to retain the correct brightness throughout. The  Sony lens had to be brightened up by 0.2 stops.
The Sony doesn’t have a clean F/4 either, instead it seems to start at F/4.2. However it performs a lot better than the Canon.

Winner: Sony

Chromatic Aberration

Sony-vs-Canon_chromaticWhen comparing colour fringing between the two lenses (at 28mm F/4.0) we see that both lenses perform quite well wide open. Again, probably due to the in-camera lens compensation feature chromatic aberration on the Sony 28-135mm lens is practically invisible. (Crop area from the far left)

Sony-vs-Canon_chromatic_numbersBut even on the Canon performance seems rather good. On the Canon there’s little difference between chromatic aberration on F/4 or F/8 for example and it’s all hardly noticeable shooting 4K at F/4.

The measured Lateral Chromatic Aberration on the whole image goes up to about 0.1 pixels on the image edges for the Sony 28-135mm @28mm and F/4.0 while it goes up to about 0.35 pixels on the Canon 24-105mm @28mm and F/4.0.

Winner: Sony

 Vignetting

We didn’t measure Vignetting in detail. Both lenses have some degree of vignetting, but it is not severe. It is most apparent when fully zoomed in on both lenses and it is more severe on the Canon than on the Sony.

Winner: Sony

Detail

Sony-vs-Canon_detail_70mmBoth lenses create a very sharp image at 4K. There is a certain degree of softness at the edges with a wide open aperture. Both lenses perform a little differently at different focal lengths. (Crop samples from corners)

Sony-vs-Canon_detail_28mm@ 28mm Sony is sharper. Sony quite sharp even at F/4.0. Canon retains some softness at F/8.0
@ 70mm Canon is sharper. Sony retains a lot of softness at the edges even at F/8.0
@ 105mm Canon performs good.
@ 135mm Sony is quite sharp and performs better than Canon @105.

Winner: Both

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Concluding optical the Sony lens wins in (almost) all areas. In terms of looks theSony is a lot cooler (more neutral) than the Canon and appears to have a tad more contrast.

Hands-On

In terms of handling these lenses are quite different.

Sony 28-135mm F/4.0Canon 24-105mm F/4.0
Full FrameYesYes
Hard StopsYesNo
Parfocal LensYesNo
Soft IrisYesNo
Servo ZoomYesNo
Manual ZoomManual Through ServoYes
Zoom ElementsInternal Zoom (good)Lens Extends (bad)
Focus Throwca 140°ca 100°
Near Limit0.4m0.45m
MacroNoNo
Weight1120g670g

Size & Weight

In terms of size & weight the Sony 28-135mm might be a lot less clumsy than other cine zooms, but it’s almost twice as heavy and twice as big as the Canon 24-105mm.

On the Sony A7S I must admit this makes a huge impact. Not the camera, but the lens becomes the centre of attention as it’s much more heavy than the camera itself. While many aspects of the lens make it more ergonomic, this point can be a huge drawback.

Because of it’s weight, you will in many cases be forced to use a rig or tripod to use the lens properly. Shooting from the hand is not so easy (but possible).

Where’s the lens cap?

It seems Sony decided to ship this lens without a lens cap. Instead users are forced to use the clumsy “mattebox” lens shade that comes with it and has a square cover.

YU2A2083The lens comes with a plastic cover protection. But this is paper thin, barely remains on the lens and is definitely not a replacement for a proper lens-cap.

All Electronic / Zoom

YU2A2082The Sony 28-135mm is a hybrid cine / broadcast / compact lens. It is obviously an attempt to merge electronic control with manual control.

YU2A2081We notice when we see that the focus ring is actually the only mechanical part on this lens.
Both the zoom as well as the aperture are controlled by internal servos while the gear rings only serve as controllers. They do a pretty good job at that and at first it’s quite hard to notice.

YU2A2080This servo control has both advantages and disadvantages:

The servo zoom lets you control the camera via a zoom rocker that is built into the lens. This micro zoom rocker has 2-3 zoom speed stages and allows for surprisingly smooth zoom control right on the lens.

On Sony cameras that support an external zoom rocker the lens zoom can be controlled remotely. This is extremely handy and makes this lens work like a traditional broadcast lens. The Sony FS7 handgrip comes with this functionality.

The downside: No possibility to do crash zooms! So you cannot zoom in very quickly, you’re always restricted to the pacing of the servo.
Crash zooming comes in very handy for fast documentary style focusing on parfocal lenses. The Sony 28-135mm is a parfocal lens, meaning it stays in focus when the focal length is changed.

Image Stabiliser

In the video above I compared the optical image stabilisation between the Sony 28-135mm and the Canon 24-105mm. As you can see the Sony performs a little better both at wide angles as well as fully zoomed in. The Canon image stabiliser is good and has a natural feel, but the Sony stabiliser seems more consistent and efficient, especially at wide angles.

Build Quality

The build quality of the Sony 28-135mm can be felt immediately when the lens is taken out of the box. It’s dust and moisture resistant, made of high quality materials and feels very solid. The gear rings are made of strong rubber and thus provide a very good grip for use with your hands.

Some Concerns

YU2A2086On our test lens the lens support bracket wasn’t locked hard enough for larger setups.
In our test we used the Sony A7S with an Atomos Shogun. With minor force the whole setup was rotatable thus not offering enough safety as a lens support bracket for video.

There is no focal length indicator on the lens or in camera, so it is not possible see which focal length you’re on. Only during zoom in zoom servo mode there is a readout on the camera screen.

28-135mm is a great focal length range for a full-frame zoom lens. When used with a super 35mm or APS-C sized sensor like the Sony FS7, then the focal length is not ideal and could be for many too narrow.

[UPDATE]: The front diameter of this lens is 95mm. As it is usually essential on cameras like the Sony A7S to equip the lens with an ND filter this is a problematic undertaking. Most VariND filters max out at a diameter of 82mm.
But there are 2 solution2:
• The Bower 95mm Vari ND.
(found by Matt Allard from newsshooter.com)
The B+W XS-Pro 95mm Vari ND (professiossenial glass)

Some Surprises

The zoom ring rotation direction can be switched in-camera.

YU2A2087The iris ring can be set to step increments, or smooth iris (de-clicked). The iris can be controlled in-camera as well.

The iris ring can be locked down, so it is not changed by accident.

The lens has auto focus as well. It works similarly fast to other Sony photo lenses.
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 Conclusion

The Sony FE PZ 28-135mm f/4 G OSS Lens is truly a stunner. It comes with many very useful (if not essential) features for professional shooters and brings broadcast lens functionality into the full frame world at a compact size.

Optically the lens is better than the very popular Canon EF 24-105mm lens in any area. The great build quality, internal zoom, parfocal construction and superb image stabilisation make it a lens of choice for video shooters and justify the price difference. (Canon EF 24-105mm costs half at $1150)

So yes, it delivers all a video lens for full frame should have, but it doesn’t come without downsides you should consider: It is twice as heavy as the Canon 24-105 and it is definitely more clumsy to use. While the servo zoom is beneficial it won’t let you do crash zooms. Also remember this lens only works on Sony cameras, while Canon lenses can be adapted to Sony.

Other small points of concern are the missing front cap and support bracket that can’t be fully locked.

Aside from these minor design flaws the lens offers really a lot of essential benefits that any full frame documentary style shooter will enjoy. Most importantly the focal length of 28-135mm is just ideal for full frame, while it may not be ideal for super 35mm sized sensors.

All in all, if you can live with the weight of the lens, and if you use Sony cameras, then we think this piece of gear is well worth every dollar of the $2,498 investment it requires.

The lens will start shipping next week. If you enjoyed this review, please pre-order it at our partner B&H HERE.

 
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Faris Dobrača Reply
Faris Dobrača February 12, 2015

Good combination.

Clemens Milan Polywka Reply
Clemens Milan Polywka February 13, 2015

Nice setup!!

David Oesch Reply
David Oesch February 13, 2015

Don’t get the review. I am not a Canon Fanboy but the lense is almost as good, much cheaper & lighter than the one from Sony. Why taking the huge lense just because it’s slightly better? There has to be a HUGE difference that I would go for the bigger one.

People who don’t need that much zoom are better of with the TAMRON SP 24-70mm F/2.8 for Canon. An incredibly good lense with much wider aperture. I worked with it once and can only recommend it.

Sebastian Wöber Reply
Sebastian Wöber February 13, 2015

Hi David,
The Tamron lens is a lot shorter than the Sony 28-135mm.
At the end of the day your decision on the lens should always depend on what you need for the shoot. If that extra stop is what you’re after, or if you don’t need the additional features the Sony has (which do make a huge difference for some by the way), then the Tamron will do as well.

Reply
joakim poromaa February 20, 2015

I use the Tamron 24-70 2.8, and I also own the canon 24-105 4.0. I almost never use my 24-105 anymore, since the difference of 70 to a 105 is not very much. However, the difference of say 16 to 24 is huge.
If I ever zoom to 70 on my tamron, I find myself rather change to my 150-600 (tamron) and zoom to 400. An additional 35 (70 to 105) would not have helped me anywhere.

Sebastian Wöber Reply
Sebastian Wöber February 20, 2015

Ho Joakim, 135mm gives you a good long focal length, the 70mm is nowhere near that. 28-135mm is a typical basic focal length range. If you use the A7S’ crop mode it will even give you 200mm+

Kent Nichols Reply
Kent Nichols February 13, 2015

So weird that a lens designed for a camera and that retails at 3x the price is better than the Canon. I’m shocked! Shocked!

Dan Taylor Reply
Dan Taylor February 13, 2015

Why is price not mentioned in this comparison? The Canon is a fraction of the cost and nearly as good. Doesn’t make much sense to the frugal filmmaker at all!

Sebastian Wöber Reply
Sebastian Wöber February 13, 2015

I added the Canon price, just so used to seeing this lens.

Dave Wellner Reply
Dave Wellner February 13, 2015

I have this combo, got the lens yesterday — delighted —

Darren Lafreniere Reply
Darren Lafreniere February 13, 2015

You didn’t comment on the servo controlled focus. Were you able to get repeatable focus pulls?

Cinema5D Reply
Cinema5D February 13, 2015

Hi Darren, The Focus is not servo controlled as mentioned in the review. Focus pulls are absolutely repeatable.

Reply
Tyler February 13, 2015

For a proper cine style lens this is remarkably cheap. DSLR filmmakers (myself included) have gotten used to working with photo lenses and their inherent shortcomings when applied to video, so I can see why the immediate benefit doesn’t seem obvious. BUT, having a parfocal lens, with hard stops, with usable smooth zoom control, a nice long focus throw, a versatile focal range and constant f4 is amazing at this price point. I think this will be a huge winner in the full frame video world. The biggest concern to me is not the price (I think Sony has priced this very aggressively since there are virtually NO lenses that offer this feature set at this price), but is actually the form factor in tandem with the a7s. As a DSLR filmmaker, all my camera support gear fits a kind of mould that works with the relative size of photo lenses. This lens would necessitate changing a lot of my setup, including glidecam, shoulder rig, and straight up handheld with an a7s would be very clumsy. I actually got to play with one yesterday with an a7s and it’s very clumsy with any kind of rig. So these things need to be considered when thinking about purchasing this for the a7s. Don’t this would be an issue on the FS7.

Reply
Tyler February 13, 2015

I meant to say: “…it’s very clumsy withOUT any kind of rig.”

Good review and very helpful tests. One question that I’m hoping someone can answer is how does it perform as a stills lens? Is this AF very responsive in photo mode?

Sebastian Wöber Reply
Sebastian Wöber February 13, 2015

Hi Tyler,
I’ve used the Sony FE 70-200 lens for stills and from a quick test with the 28-135mm in photo mode I think it performs quite similarly in terms of auto-focus. It’s just that as a photo lens it’s really not ideal in terms of weight…

Chris Gibbs Reply
Chris Gibbs February 13, 2015

But as a photographer coming from a medium format background, this lens really isn’t that big! It’s all relative.

Sebastian Wöber Reply
Sebastian Wöber February 13, 2015

Thanks for the link Shawn. People there talk about the fact that the zoom is servo controlled and not ideal when crash zooming is need and it is in general too slow.
As mentioned in the review this is the case, and it takes some getting used to when you’re coming from manual zoom lenses. On the other hand the Canon 24-105 has to be refocused after zooming as it is not parfocal, so this makes crash zooming not an option anyway.

One must remember this is not an ENG lens, but at this priecepoint what it offers I think is amazing and the zoom is for most applications fast enough. Check out the video in the article. At the end of it I’m quickly zooming in and out. I think it really is not that bad.

Reply
Anonymous February 13, 2015

You made a couple of excellent points here, Sebastian. Is the zoom speed of FE70200 much faster than that of the FE28135?

 Simpson Sean Reply
Simpson Sean February 13, 2015

Yes. I agree it is a good leap up to a more cine style zoom from the stills lenses available. Just don’t expect it to be the answer to every situation. I am definitely interested in testing it out and hoping they are able to improve the zoom speed issues as the product manager has mentioned they are looking into any optimizations. Picking out details from that forum thread, it appears as if the lens itself is not terribly slow on the crash zooms, but something in the addition of FS7 body through to the hand grip which causes even more delay and lag.

Chris Gibbs Reply
Chris Gibbs February 13, 2015

Aren’t some of the FE zooms parfocal too? The FE 4/24-70 I use looks like its parfocal.

Sebastian Wöber Reply
Sebastian Wöber February 16, 2015

The Sony FE 24-70mm is the worst lens for video I have ever used. Total not recommendation. Be it parfocal or not. Stay away from this lens if you do video.

Jeff Kwok Reply
Jeff Kwok March 6, 2015

was considering the FE 24-70, can you briefly explain why?

Sebastian Wöber Reply
Sebastian Wöber March 6, 2015

Because the focus throw is variable and uncontrollable. Focus is controlled via a motor. Furthermore the focus ring does not have hard stops and controls the motor relative to your focussing speed. This makes it almost impossible to focus manually. Twist the focus ring too slowly and you’ll never get to your focus point, but when you speed up you usually go beyond. It’s like playing a very hard skill game. I used this lens on a shoot for 3 days and this is not something you can learn by practice. Just stay away from this lens for video.

Clemens Milan Polywka Reply
Clemens Milan Polywka February 13, 2015

Wow, this is really a decent lens!

Sven Henig Reply
Sven Henig February 13, 2015

Thank you for the interesting review. But if you look at a normal EB-Zoom Lens with the powerful motor in the grip, you can image why internal zooming with that lens is much slower and crash zooms are impossible.

Sebastian Wöber Reply
Sebastian Wöber February 13, 2015

Hi Sven! Long time no see, it was last Photokina wasn’t it?
I agree, normal ENG lenses just have a lot more horsepower to control zoom and the Sony lens is just positioned at a fraction of the price. For that I think it offers superb and essential stuff and the zoomspeed is something to work with. It is mainly irritating because it is controlled via a manual gear ring. I hope Sony improves external control via Firmware soon.

Reply
Shaun Walker February 13, 2015

Don’t forget about the supposedly much sharper Sigma ART 24-105mm F4, if you’re taling about new lenses and not the fairly soft, old Canon 24-105.

Sebastian Wöber Reply
Sebastian Wöber February 16, 2015

I want to review this 24-105 clone lens. It may be a bit better than the Canon, but I doubt it will compete with the Sony though. It still lacks all the things mentioned in this review.
Also: The Canon while it is not perfect is really not a “soft, old” lens.

Rick Sullivan Reply
Rick Sullivan February 13, 2015

I’ve just received my Sony 28-135 and am still trying to understand how to utilize the auto iris. I’ve only been able to work iris manually so far. Any early out of the box tips?

Thanks!

Rick

Sebastian Wöber Reply
Sebastian Wöber February 16, 2015

Yes.
This is how it should work: Switch your iris button to “release”. Move the iris to “A”. You can then set the iris in-camera. Set it to automatic there.

Reply
Palmer February 14, 2015

“There is no focal length indicator on the lens or in camera”

WTF? That’s unacceptable. And power zoom? How lazy can we get? The added bulk of a motor to drive zoom, plus the speed limitation, makes this a major detraction and not a benefit.

Also: Does this Sony lens have an EF mount? If not, why are we comparing it to one that does?

Reply
Johnnie Behiri February 14, 2015

Hi Palmer.

The Sony lens has no EF mount but the Canon 24-105mm together with the Metabones Canon EF to Sony NEX adapter will nicely work on the Sony camera.

Thank you

Johnnie

Sebastian Wöber Reply
Sebastian Wöber February 16, 2015

At first it may be “unacceptable”, but then it’s actually also a great benefit, as the power zoom makes your zooms a lot smoother than you could ever get them on a manual lens, and crash zooming is something DSLR shooters haven’t been doing for a long time as most lenses aren’t parfocal. Considering the cost this lens is everything else but “unacceptable” in my observation.

Tony Robinson Reply
Tony Robinson February 14, 2015

For clarity’s sake, you can NOT turn the servo zoom off at all? So no matter the situation, a crash zoom is simply NOT possible? If so, this seems like a HUGE oversight!

Reply
Johnnie Behiri February 14, 2015

Hi Tony.

It is a “fly by wire” lens. You can not turn the servo zoom off.

Thank you

Johnnie

Tony Robinson Reply
Tony Robinson February 14, 2015

Thanks Johnnie.

Sebastian Wöber Reply
Sebastian Wöber February 16, 2015

I understand the concern and at first it was also very irritating for me. Ideally the lens should have manual zoom control, but they decided to go without it and I think the lens still makes a lot of sense like that. It could have been even better, but at the price it’s still pretty amazing.

David Peterson Reply
David Peterson February 16, 2015

Sounds like if this this had built in ND filters it would be radically better (or perhaps the A7s mk2 body could get that)

Gianfranco Guccione Reply
Gianfranco Guccione February 17, 2015

Noooooooooo, well done

 Andrea Daviddi Reply
Andrea Daviddi February 17, 2015

Thanks for the nice review wöber! Being used to shoot with eng sony cameras I can totally see the benefits of this lens (finally a parfocal lens with servo zoom!).
Too bad for the slow servo though.
Tomorrow I’ll definetly pay a visit to the sony center to check it out :-)

Michael Dubrow Reply
Michael Dubrow March 22, 2015

The Formatt-Hitech variable ND filter is a signficnatly higher quality filter than the mediocre Bower mentioned in your review.

https://www.formatt-hitech.com/en/product/30-98~105mm-Multistop-Fader

Leo Murphy Reply
Leo Murphy April 4, 2015

The Sigma 17-50 f/2.8 is still THE zoom lens for event/documentary work for me, as I’m on APS-C and M43: has a decent image quality across the board, even wide open, and is (by incident of its design) PARFOCAL! Still, this looks like a fantastic upgrade for me if I move up to an A7s/FS7 setup.

Kent Pope Reply
Kent Pope May 15, 2015

Leo,
I picked up the Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 EX DC OS HSM lens this week for a shoot with my PXW-FS7. I did some dolly shots in a clinic patient room. I heard great things about this very affordable lens. The Canon 24-105mm and 24-70mm just don’t make sense for me with this camera or any 1.5 crop camera. 24mm isn’t nearly wide enough and f/4 isn’t fast enough. I was very impressed with the sharpness of the sigma and while I didn’t get a chance to put it on a chart before I had to shoot with it, it did appear to hold focus (parfocal) while zooming (peaking color held). The 4K image with about 3 inches of DOF on the doctor’s eyes looks GREAT!

Now the down side… the iris, whoops I come from the video realm, the aperture adjusts very, very slowly via the Metabones MK IV with the Feb 2015 firmware in Advanced Mode. When I made any change in aperture on the FS7 with firmware 2.0 it took from 3 to 5 seconds for the blades in the lens to respond. Ugh! I hope this can be fixed with a firmware update because I really like the look this lens provides. If not, It will be up on ebay.

James Cottingham Reply
James Cottingham April 17, 2015

Great review. This is without a doubt one of the best lens pairs with an A7S. Grab a VCT-VPR1 remote control (and throw out the crappy tripod it comes with) as the zoom speed is increased. not sure why but it works great. Atomos Shogun, A7S and the 28-135mm lens = Killer Combo. fair enough it’s not cheap, but try and find something else that comes even close in that price bracket with so many features. you won’t regret the purchase :)

Reply
Alexander Tardif May 18, 2015

Hi folks, I just got this glass few days ago and only had a few short hours to play with it. Some initial feedback for those who care is below. Take this with a huge grain of salt as I’m a photographer, and just now getting into video, so my initial take is based on the things I’m comfortable with (stills, not video).

1) Optical quality is good, but definitely not amazing. I’ve done side-by-side controlled comparisons with Sony’s only mid-telephoto zoom, the FE 70-200 (which is quite an amazing lens). When you look at the 28-135 on it’s own, the sharpness is very good, more than acceptable. But, you quickly notice that it’s a step behind, even at f8 (which I found to be a sweet spot) when you compare side-by-side.

2) Tripod collar… faulty design (poor size tolerances), doesn’t lock in place tight enough and is quite useless, as mentioned in the above review. I’ve reported this to Sony Pro support, which I’m a member off – they’ve been able to replicate the issue, but have no solution – said they’ve sent it over to their engineer for review (you can see my test here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/7icxnhwcd9cu13o/Sony%20SELP28135G%20faulty%20tripod%20collar.mov?dl=0). In the meantime, I’ve temporarily fixed it myself by running one layer of black electric tape right under the collar.

3) The distortion is really bad with RAW stills at every focal length, one of the worst I’ve ever seen in a zoom, actually. Sony continues the disappointing trend of relying heavily on software corrections with their FE glass. Frankly I don’t mind, as it works really really well, but it’s still something to be aware of. In video, of course, distortion is absent due to baked in corrections. What’s peculiar, though, is that I can’t seem to turn off the distortion auto-correction at all – other auto-corrections can be disabled, but not distortion which is greyed out on A7x bodies. Hmm…

4) BIG. I thought this would be a good run-n-gun glass as I’m learning video, but it’s so darn big and heavy that it’ll take some time to get used to. There are a few new 95mm Variable NDs available now, but holly smokes… a good B&W one is $500, ouch.

5) My first servo zoom and I hate it. I doubt I’ll use the actual zoom while life video much, but lack of control and speed is super annoying. Not having ANY indication of FL when in manual servo zoom is quite absurd IMO. I hope it’s a simple oversight that can/will be fixed via firmware – it’s all electronic, why in the world isn’t it showing while in manual servo?

6) Cine lens with half-baked “geared” soft rubber ring..? No idea what they were thinking here as I’m sure they expected people to use this glass with follow focus? Standard gear adapters work, but gears on this rubber piece are spread x2, so it’s not super smooth and I’m looking to add a gear ring – this is one of those WTF “features” :) The long throw servo controlled “manual” focus works well, better than any other FE fly-by-wire focus, and I’ve tried them all.

Anyway, this glass is like nothing I’ve owned/used before and will require some learning and re-learning of things, but I still see the benefits and usefulness of this as a whole. Building my first serious video rig is not easy, but I think having a purpose-built zoom like this simplifies the process and will allow me to focus more on the subject matter than the gear.

If anyone has any questions or suggestions about this (especially pared to A7x body) please chime in :)

P.S. I’m a dedicated Sony A and E mount photographer, and so my opinions are mostly based in context of the Sony systems.

Sebastian Wöber Reply
Sebastian Wöber May 18, 2015

Hi Alexander,
Great comments there. Thanks for sharing your experience with the lens. I agree to all your points even though I’ve tried to present them a little more mildly in my review.
I suppose the idea behind the unusable rubber gear is to make it “look like” cine. I think it was merely a design choice with no functional intent besides the good grip you get.
Cheers

Reply
Alexander Tardif May 18, 2015

Sebastian – speaking of the rubber ring… I tinkered with it more, and for those who aren’t afraid to get really close and comfortable with their gear: it can easily be removed. I simply pulled it off and it slides right off towards the mount. Under the rubber ring is a simple plastic ring (duh!), nothing exciting.

The point was to see if there’s a more sturdy surface to attach a FF gear to as the rubber ring might be too soft. Anyway, I’m not sure how I’ll be arranging things yet, but if you wonder about this yourself, there’s not much to it.

Lastly, if you’re afraid to damage the rubber ring somehow (unlikely), it’s a $13 part to reorder directly from Sony if you ever need to. Just an FYI.

Sebastian Wöber Reply
Sebastian Wöber June 7, 2015

Hi Alexander,
Thanks for the info, that’s helpful for anyone who intends to do that.

Jesse Lim Jia Nian Reply
Jesse Lim Jia Nian June 6, 2015

Seems like a good range for portrait shots! Almost cover both my Zeiss 24-70 and the 70-200G~

Mark Weiss Reply
Mark Weiss June 13, 2015

I use this lens with my FS7. Aside from being too narrow and light hungry, it produces the closest to perfect images I’ve EVER seen.

I wish Sony would release a wider version of this lens. Even at 5 grand, it would still be a bargain.

 Mur Dzhi Reply
Mur Dzhi March 21, 2016

Of course you can do crash zooms! All you need to do is switch from servo to manual mode!

Sebastian Wöber Reply
Sebastian Wöber March 22, 2016

A crash zoom would be much faster than the servo of the lens can zoom. When you switch to manual the lens still uses the servo. There is no direction connection between the lens gear and the lens elements.

Reply
Alexander Tardif March 22, 2016

Yup… it’s still servo controlled. Same with the “manual” focus. Even if you switch into that mode by physically moving the focus ring, it’s still using the servo motor to move focus elements. This is the same (at least in concept) mechanism as on Sony’s 90mm F2.8 G macro prime. Still very usable, but of course, not quite ideal.

Sebastian Wöber Reply
Sebastian Wöber March 22, 2016

Hi Alex,
Are you sure it’s the same as on the 90mm? I’ve used some of the Sony photo lenses and the focus works differently than on the 28-135mm. On the photo lens I found it almost impossible to focus quickly because there are no hard stops and very easy on the 28-135 (although it’s a servo this was never a problem so far).

Reply
Alexander Tardif March 22, 2016

Yup, it’s the same. I have both (have the complete FE system, actually). 90mm macro and 28-135 F4 are the only two lenses in Sony’s current lineup that feature these sliding focus rings that have hard stops. The 90mm F2.8 G happens to be one of the best macro lenses ever made, actually, from the IQ perspective, that is. The “manual” mechanism for stills work is actually as close as it gets to the true MF… I can’t fault it at all.

 Andrea Daviddi Reply
Andrea Daviddi March 22, 2016

I bought this lens meanwhile and I agree 100%.
Switching to manual helps speeding the zoom a bit (since the rocker limits the already limited servo) but still miles away from true manual zoom.
One thing missing from the review though.. it eats batteries :-D

Sebastian Wöber Reply
Sebastian Wöber March 22, 2016

Good point Andrea. I should add this, but then again any image stabilizer lens will also eat batteries. In your experience how many minutes do you get on one charge? The last time I measured it was about 1 hour or a little less with a Canon IS lens.

 Andrea Daviddi Reply
Andrea Daviddi March 22, 2016

Ok, had a new sony battery and some spare time so now numbers are in :-)
25min of constant recording dropped the battery to 75%. Steady shot on, handhelding without a rig (yup it hurts after a while), manually focusing almost constantly and deliberately zooming around.
This would give us 100min of recording time.
Seeing how the battery depletes faster though (100% lasted 7-8min) I think 50-60min of constant recording / 70-80min of actual usage are feaseable.
Not as bad as I thought :-)

Reply
Alexander Tardif March 22, 2016

Andrea – curious, since you’re hand holding the kit, are you noticing the mount flex? On either of my A7Rii or A7Sii I can see the tiny gap between the body mount and the lens if holding just by the body without supporting the lens. I never really shoot that way, but curious if you’ve noticed it flexing a little and if you find it to be a concern?

 Andrea Daviddi Reply
Andrea Daviddi March 22, 2016

Good evening Alexander,
I tried now to force the mount to flex, held the camera and pushed (not hard) the lens downwards to see if there was any flex involved… but no.
I’d be concerned by holding the kit by the camera alone anyway :-)
As with every heavy lens I find myself holding the lens instead of the camera since it is so light :-D

Reply
Javier Rey June 27, 2016

Thanks a lot Sebastian for a great review. I’m sure this is an spectacular cine lens for sony cameras. I’m wondering how this lens will do with the tiny a6300. Any thoughts? Yes, agree, it would be like breeding elefants and ants :-D, but still, beside the “steric” concerns, how it would do?

Sebastian Wöber Reply
Sebastian Wöber June 28, 2016

Hi Javier,
There is no reason why it would perform less well on the a6300. Best, Seb

Reply
Javier Rey June 29, 2016

Yes, you are right. I may give it a try.
Thanks Sebastian
Javier

Reply
simeone Ricci November 16, 2016

This’s a joke??!! You are making a comparision between a 2500 lens and a 600 one?!
One is a photo lens the other is a cine lens.
The canon is much wider so has more critical sharpeness wide open at the max zoom range.
And infact what really counts is that at 70 the canon is much better.
that the optimum focal lenght for both lenses
For the bucks and for the fact the canon is much wider is a much sharper lens…
you are not making a comparision between two fixed lens but between two zoom lenses and of course the manufacter corrects the lens at a particclar range of focal lenght.

Please make test that make sense! This is a real joke .surprise to see this on a web site like yours