Knowing that it is my favorite focal length, I was super excited about the release of the Sony 16-35mm f/4 PZ lens.
The Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 GM (review) is my go-to for a variety of situations and I am very excited to have a smaller and more compact offering in the same focal length!
A good wide-angle zoom lens is super versatile and I find myself reaching for it on almost every shoot.
As a photographer who loves big landscape images, this is the perfect focal length.
I have owned a Sony camera with a 16-35mm lens since I switched from Canon in 2015.
This is by far one of the best Sony lenses in terms of balancing quality, size, and price.
Read on below to learn more about this awesome lens from Sony!
Table of Contents
Sony FE PZ 16-35mm f/4 G F Review | Intro
- Super Compact
- High Quality
- Electronic Zoom Ring
- Sub-par low light performance (due to f/4 max aperture)
The Sony FE PZ 16-35mm f/4 G is the world’s lightest full-frame f/4 wide angle power zoom lens.
It features beautiful G-Master lens rendering, amazing AF performance, and a new power zoom system using four XD Linear Motors in a compact lens.
- Stabilized: No
- Weight: 353 g (12.5 oz.)
- Size (Diameter x Length): 3.2 x 3.5″ / 81 x 88 mm
- Filter Diameter: 82mm
- Minimum Focus Distance: 0.24m (9.4 in)
Build & Ergonomics
Having used a variety of wide-angle lenses over my 12 years as a professional photographer, I’ve narrowed in on what I like. The focal length of the Sony FE PZ 16-35mm f/4 G lens is excellent.
You quickly notice how compact and lightweight this lens is. It is significantly lighter than the Sony 16-35 f/2.8 GM and lighter still than the recently introduced Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 GM Version II.
Despite its slender weight, the build quality is solid! It feels much better than the previous version which was released in 2014 when Sony was first building out its lineup of lenses.
The rubber rings and grippy exterior of this lens make it easy to hold. I also appreciate that the barrel does not extend, unlike the Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 GM lens.
Although the barrel does not extend, the zoom ring on this lens is not directly connected. Instead, it is a Power Zoom (PZ) lens that zooms internally. The zoom ring is just an electronic switch that powers the internal motors.
Although somewhat unintuitive, the power zoom design is compact. It also offers smoother zooming than I can do manually which is nice for the rare video zoom.
My only complaint about the PZ design was that it was slower than a manual zoom lens. If you want to grab a photo a 16mm then quickly zoom to 35mm and grab another image, it will be slower because the power zoom mechanism doesn’t move as quickly as a manual zoom lens.
A benefit of the power zoom lens design on the Sony PZ 16-35mm is less opportunity to bring dust into the lens. It has a weather-sealed design that keeps dust out and the internal zoom means one less area to accumulate dust.
It balances well on Sony full frame cameras and even fits nicely on their APS-C-sized cameras like the a6700.
Another unique feature of this lens not often seen on the less expensive lenses from Sony is the manual aperture ring. When you don’t want to control your aperture from the camera body, you can turn the aperture ring for a classic feeling design.
Although with such a wide lens, camera shake is not much of a concern, this lens doesn’t have stabilization. Full-frame mirrorless cameras have become so good at internal image stabilization that many wider lenses don’t have this feature.
Overall, the Build Quality of the Sony FE PZ 16-35mm f/4 G is great. This was to be expected as it is a G lens, one level below their highest designation GM.
The Sony FE PZ 16-35mm f/4 G focuses very well. It keeps up with the impressive autofocus on many of the newer Sony cameras.
I expected not to have any issues with focusing on this lens since it is a wide-angle f/4 lens. These two characteristics combined give it a very broad range of focus and I rarely have issues with sharpness.
The f/4 minimum aperture does cause this lens to suffer in low light performance. In the darkest environments, I seek out lenses with at least an f/2 aperture.
At f/4, this lens is more than 2 stops darker than many of my prime lenses. However, this lens wasn’t designed to be a low-light master. It was designed to be a high-quality wide-angle alternative to the much more expensive Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 GM II lens.
While I wouldn’t expect great performance in low light, this lens never struggled no matter the lighting conditions I put it through. Sony’s autofocus has gotten so effective that it can lock on a subject in almost any lighting situation.
Another time that I’ve had trouble with focus in the past is when shooting into direct bright sunlight. This lens handled backlight very well and I am pleased to say that I had no issues with focus.
With a minimum focusing distance of 9.4in (0.24m), you will be able to get some bokeh although don’t expect it to be exceptional.
One last thing to mention about this lens when it comes to focusing is that there is almost no focus breathing. It is compatible with the focus breathing compensation on modern Sony bodies but it isn’t much of an issue regardless.
The Image quality on the Sony FE PZ 16-35mm f/4 G lens is very good. I was impressed by the sharpness across the frame.
With a wide-angle zoom lens, sharpness is key and this lens delivers throughout the focal length range. Some other power zoom lenses I’ve worked with haven’t been as sharp but I was very pleased with this new lens.
The flare of the Sony FE PZ 16-35mm f/4 G is well controlled and it retains good contrast even when shooting backlit scenes.
The quality felt similar to its f/2.8 bigger brother while still retaining a very compact/lightweight design that doesn’t extend at different focal lengths.
The manual aperture allows you to quickly slide all the way to f/22 in case you want to create some sun stars. The sunbursts are tasteful and well-controlled.
All other common concerns about this lens seem to be well-managed. For example: vignetting, color fringing, and abberation are all very well controlled at all focal lengths!
I am really impressed with the photo quality of this lens. In past experience, some of the older Sony lenses have a slight color cast and lack contrast when shooting backlit but this lens is much improved since the early days of Sony mirrorless full frame lenses.
Sony FE PZ 16-35mm f/4 G Sample Images
Here are some sample images I took with the Sony FE PZ 16-35mm f/4 G, using a Sony A7IV.
Alternatives to Sony FE PZ 16-35mm f/4
When it comes to the wide-angle zoom lens for Sony E-Mount, there are numerous options. I’d compare this lens to the following options:
- Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 GM II – Top of the line, you get what you pay for but costs almost $1000 more.
- Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 – Less expensive but narrows your focal range and has lower quality.
- Sigma 16-28mm f/2.8 – Less expensive but also narrows the focal range. Similar to the Tamron.
- Sony 16-35mm f/4 OSS – A little less expensive but lower image quality. Does have a manual zoom ring.
When compared with the above alternatives, the Sony FE PZ 16-35mm f/4 G is an excellent balance of features, quality, and price. More on value in the next section.
Value for Money
At around $1200, the Sony FE PZ 16-35mm f/4 G is a great value. It is much cheaper than some of the more expensive f/2.8 versions from Sony.
This power zoom lens does have some unique characteristics but it is also feature-rich. It has a manual aperture ring, a manual focus ring, an iris lock switch, a focus hold button, and a very compact design.
The only missing features are a traditional zoom ring and image stabilization. The stabilization isn’t necessary on such a wide lens but it is nice to have for shooting video.
For a newer Sony Lens, it is priced very competitively. It has minimal competition when you compare the limited focal range of some of the alternatives.
If you want a very high-quality wide-angle zoom lens and you aren’t planning to shoot in extremely low light, this lens is a great choice!
It’s definitely one of the best Sony zoom lenses for the money.
Sony FE PZ 16-35mm f/4 FAQ’s
What is a PZ on Sony lenses?
The PZ designation stands for Power Zoom. This lens doesn’t have a mechanical zoom ring and can only be zoomed with the power zoom switch or the electronic zoom ring. It is sort of like having an old camcorder with a digital zoom switch to move through the zoom range.
Is Sony 16 35 F/4 PZ weather-sealed?
Yes, this lens has a sealed rear element. It also has a completely enclosed design with no barrel extension.
What is the weight difference between Sony 16-35 f/4 and f/2.8?
This lens is 353grams vs 680 grams making the Sony FE PZ 16-35mm f/4 G 285g less than the Sony 15-35mm f/2.8 GM
What is the difference between F/2 8 and F/4?
The main difference between an f/4 lens and an f/2.8 lens is the amount of light it will let in. The Sony FE PZ 16-35mm f/4 G will require an additional stop of light to make the same exposure at f/4 as an f/2.8 lens. This means that it might use ISO 200 instead of ISO 100 or use 1/100 as a shutter speed as compared with 1/200 on an f/2.8 lens. Fast lenses with minimum apertures of f/2.8 or less are much better in low-light situations.
Sony FE PZ 16-35mm f/4 G Review | Conclusion
Overall, I am very happy with the release of the Sony FE PZ 16-35mm f/4 G. It is an excellent lens for people wanting good quality at a lower price. It also offers some of the best image quality of its similarly priced competitors.
I would highly recommend this lens to landscape photographers and creators who work with plenty of light. It is not ideal for dark scenes that require a faster capture.
This lens will be used in my kit when I want a super compact option that won’t force me to sacrifice image quality.
If you are looking for a wide-angle zoom lens, I highly recommend the Sony FE PZ 16-35mm f/4 G!