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The branches in the top-left comer of the wide view are impressively free of chromatic aberration tele wide

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CARL ZEISS 24-70MM F/2.8 ZA VARIO-SONNAR T* SSM

tele 70mm

Sony's top-rank standard zoom comes courtesy of Carl Zeiss. Its streamlined design features a constant diameter along the barrel's length (excluding the mounting flange itself) and a fairly modest length.

The manual-focusing ring is foremost and has a very good feel; the zoom ring is behind and, on my review sample, verges on being slightly too heavy to be truly comfortable. AF speed, provided by an aptly named Super-Sonic Wave Motor, is good and its accuracy is high. You switch between AF and manual-focusing using a rotating switch that falls right under your left thumb. Sadly, the rotating action is not as easy on the thumb as a simple slide-switch, which other manufacturers use.

Optically, the lens displays a well-matched set of MTF curves and it appears that Zeiss has gone more for consistency than for a pronounced sweet-spot in image quality. Wide-open and fully-closed resolutions are slightly lower than elsewhere but from f/4 to f/11 the lens stays in the 0.25-0.30 cycles per pixel range at all focal lengths There is slight chromatic aberration at the 24mm setting, but this is unlikely to be obtrusive.

Thanks to internal-focusing there is no movement of the front element, nor of the manual-focusing ring, and with only just over 30mm of extension during zooming (despite a continuous forward movement) this is a very compact lens. Even more impressive, given its well-contained proportions, is the fact that the Zeiss lens manages to focus slightly closer than Nikon's and Canon's equivalent zooms.

A classy protective pouch is provided, as is a petal-shaped lens hood. Overall this lens produces consistent results right across the range of commonly-used aperture settings, though at around £1300 it's also the dearest of the three ar " • -v £

wide 24mm

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