Sony 35 1.4 ZA Long Term Review



As a wedding and commercial photographer, I’ve been using this lens in a professional setting for a couple years now and I’ve taken tens of thousands of photos with it, in all situations. Now it’s time to hear my take.

For higher res sample images, head on over to my website here:

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Shot on the Sony a9 with the Sony/Zeiss 55 1.8
a9 Amazon US:
a9 Amazon CA:
a9 Adorama:
55 1.8 Amazon US:
55 1.8 Amazon CA:
55 1.8 Adorama:

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Never Gonna Fail – Killrude
Surrounded by Nature – Sebastian Forslund
(From Epidemicsound)

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48 thoughts on “Sony 35 1.4 ZA Long Term Review

  1. Recent Subscriber and love all your videos! I've been looking fo a really good lens for food photography and in my research I've seen a lot of people using 50mm (nifty fifty) and and 24-70mm lens for Sony A7R III. However I already own both of those lens's but I feel like I'd really like a really good prime 35mm or a really good prime 24mm and in the 1.4 area even though I''d probably shoot around f5 to 58 area. Any suggestions? At t the moment I'm leaning towards this Sony 35mm 1.4 that you reviewed but I'm open to suggestions. I guess I could go with maybe a 50mm macro or the Voigtlander 65mm macro and just move in really close… decisions, decisions… Thanks!

  2. Hello Wes, have yo tried the 24mm 1.4GM, will you do a comparison with this? 
    Just bought and send back to amazon as I noticed noisy on the aperture when focusing. I know there is a setting in the menu of the A9 that will set the aperture priority on silent when focusing but I don't think this noise can be within the tolerances.

  3. I had the same experience. Even when Sony used a third party to test the lens, they said the same thing "It is within tolerances. Sony and i went back and forth regarding it. I even had other professional photographers tested it and they even said it was soft in the areas where you mentioned. I loved the out of focus, it is creamy. For the price you pay, it should be sharp across the board.

    I was wondering if you can test this one compared to the new Sony 35mm f/1.8 full frame lens. I have heard the new one is sharp across the frame and the out of focus blur is pretty good.

  4. Hi Wes, I am thinking about selling my 35mm 2.8 Zeiss/Sony lens because i miss the wide aperture. The Sony 35mm 1.4 ZA I would like to buy instead of it. Do you think this is an better option than the new Sony 35mm 1.8? Thank you!

  5. Do you own or reviewed the planar 50 mm 1.4? I also like this 35 but I ordered the planar since I have already the new 35 1.8. Thanks

  6. Appreciate your candor and effort in putting together this long-term review. Well done! I've had mine for about 2 1/2 years and shoot mainly portraits, product and landscape images with it. My first copy was also woefully de-centered, very soft on the right portion of the frame through f/8, and I returned it and waited about six months before reluctantly trying another one. The second copy was spot on and I'm glad I gave this optic another chance. (Where was SONY QC?!@#)  

    For optimum sharpness in low-light environs and subject isolation I usually stop down to f/1.6, but have scored some stellar results at f/1.4 as well. CA still can be an issue in certain conditions, but easily corrected in LR, if not too extreme. I'm sitting on the fence regarding picking up the new Sony FE 35mm f/1.8 to reduce size and weight, but that would be the only reason. At $750, I can't justify the convenience just yet.

  7. Hi Wes. Thank you for creating great reviews and content. I'm in the market to get 35 focal lenght prime. I would love to hear your opinion on the Zeiss 35 1.4 since you have been using extensively for a long time. Would you still buy it now since there is the Sony 35 1.8 out there? The sony 35 1.8 seems to be sharper but too clinical to me and I love the creamy bokeh of the Zeiss 35 1.4. I would use it for both stills and video. Primarily shooting environmental portraits, street photography and filming interviews. I also own the Sony 16-35 GM. Thanks a lot and keep creating such an amazing content. ☺

  8. Hey Wes thanks for the great video! I am about to switch to sony and really like this lens but with the new sony 35 1.8 there is a little bit of a dilemma. What would you suggest if we got in mind the prize is not the most important here 🙂 Thanks in advance!

  9. Nice review, very informative and down to the point. One little note about the autofocus: it is not that the 85GM has an "old gen SSM" and this one has the "newest gen SSM" (note that the 35 ZA is older, so that would not make sense), but the 85 GM has a much harder job to move the elements, since they are muuuuch larger and heavier. They finally got it to work with direct drive SSM in the newer 135/1.8 and the super tele models, but that tech was not ready for the 85 GM. The motor of the 35 ZA would have been too weak.

  10. i've sold at least 50 of those lenses… and testet every single one of them… have never seen unsharp copies of this lens… strange…

  11. This lens is not sharp at all, has horrific CA, the worst onion ring bokeh ive ever seen, doesnt hold contrast in backlit situations. Fuck this lens. It's sad when Sony's entry level 35mm 1.8 destroys this lens in every category.

  12. I’m actually going to get mine serviced. I’ve never been happy with the sharpness when the subject is more than 10feet away.

  13. Really enjoy watching your videos Wes- straightforward information and a professional opinion delivered with a personable style. The odd appearance of a cat is always a bonus! I can feel your love- hate relationship with the 35 f1.4. Any thoughts on the newly released Sony 35 f1.8?

  14. Awesome informative video man! really enjoyed it !! been thinking of getting this lens for a while! just subscribed to you!

  15. great review! it is a shame that there is such a high sample variation, otherwise it would be much easier to recommend. mine is evenly sharp from 2.8, so works very well as a one-in-all lens solution when out and about. and that bokeh is pure magic : http://morsdorf.ch/gear/sony-35-mm-1-4-za/

  16. I’m so conflicted after the review. I can’t tolerate the inconsistency in the quality – reminds me of the Sigma Art lenses on my old Canon. If I bought the lens and it didn’t hold up, I can see myself in heated arguments with ,my local camera store if I asked for a replacement

  17. if you're going to expand into video, you have consider music and audio (two items that you never have to care about as a photog). BTW that music is so annoying and your audio sounds like it came out of a tin can microphone.

  18. Liking all your subjective reviews, yes they are your thoughts, but HEY, you are doing them, anyone whinges tell them to do their own review ! Let's see what comments they get… Keep it up…

  19. I don’t like the size, I have voigtlander ultron 35 1.7 with techart and is incredible. I’m saving for the distagin but on VM mount

  20. I'm considering between Sony GM 24mm F1.4 vs Sony Zeiss 35mm F1.4… Not sure which 1 should I get. What is your take on this?

  21. What framerate/shutter was this shot at? I usually don't have an eye for that, but it feels like it doesn't have enough motion blur.

  22. Would you ever consider buying the Sigma 35/1.4? I’m in a bit of a conundrum right now. I’ve been using the Tamron 28-75 for a lot of stuff, but I too prefer the IQ of prime lenses. I’m thinking of going to a 35 and 85 setup, but I’m not sure if I should get the Sony 35 or the Sigma 35.

  23. Man wow i watched 81274389421 videos but i never ever in my life watch a very clear sharp video like this video what is your gear ?? please let me know and what you use for editing ?? wowowowo really i'm amazed

  24. I feel like I've been torn on this lens since I started shooting with Sony. I went for the Sigma in the end and, while its sharpness and price are excellent, I really feel that the images lack something special. What I would ideally like is if Sony re-released this lens as a G Master lens with improved sharpness, no de-centering issues, no variation between copies and a focus hold button. And, of course, that sweet sweet Money G.

  25. Your videos are very interesting: honest opinion based on real use and work, I hate only spec list reviews. I'd like to ask you some question: do you think that sony will ever replace the current 35 f1.4 and the 85 f1.4 with a second version of them? And witch focal length between 24mm and 35mm do you prefer/advice for general photography (street, indoor, environmental portraits) and why? I cannot wait to see your review on the new 24 f1.4 gm, you have to take that lens!! XD

  26. Great review, I believe you made a fair and objective review with great pictures. I believe if some reviewers had not mentioned this issue 95 percent of the people wouldn't even notice. I had couple of copies of this lens and only found out about this from the buyer while trying to sell the first lens. And what do you think of Sony rx1? I love that lens especially for the size.

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