If you’ve just taken your first steps in your Sony E-mount journey, and are looking for a relatively wide, fast prime lens, you have a few options. If you add the word “cheap” to that list however, you pretty much have exactly one first party option. That would be the lens in this review, the Sony 28mm f/2 prime.
The SEL20F2 was sorely needed. The E-mount system launched with the Sony/Zeiss 35mm f/2.8 and 55mm f/1.8 lenses, both of which were excellent, but fairly expensive, and in the case of the
35mm, just a 2.8 lens. That would mean a limited ability to control depth of field, which is a shame, because that lens has beautiful bokeh, as well as “The Zeiss Look” (sharpness + contrast).
We saw release after release of lenses that were either always too expensive, but also usually big and heavy… really nothing that strikes the balance this lens does of price, size, weight and fast wide angle optics.
So does the lens hold up to expectations? Considering the price, it absolutely does. It’s very light,
making it very easy to carry around. The size is
small enough too. Construction is mostly plastic, but it’s metal and glass wherever it counts. 28mm is very close to what people are used to shooting with on their phones, so it’s almost a no-brainer to use in everyday situations, for almost any purpose.
Personally, I’m not a big fan of the 35mm focal length. It’s a bit too long to get in enough of the environment, but it’s not long enough for good compression and isolation. The 28mm to me, as a one-lens, everyday, walkaround solution
is nearly ideal. This is just my opinion, but I think a 24-28mm type lens is a must-have for general use.
I love that we have an f/2 aperture in this lens. This allows you to keep your ISO lower in low light situations, and it even allows for a decent amount of background blur, depending on the distance to your subject. Even for subjects that are farther away, it gives the image a certain depth which I enjoy. Even the bokeh is of surprisingly good quality, eons beyond some of the third party competition.
The SEL28F2 isn’t the sharpest lens wide open, which perhaps should be expected given its design
and price. It’s by no means mushy, blurry or unusable, even in the corners, but it’s also a fair ways off from its closest competitor, the Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2. However, sharpness is downright excellent from f/4 onwards, and very suitable for landscapes.
I find that this lens lacks the colours and contrast of the Batis, which is my primary issue with the lens. I found myself having to process my images just a bit further to reach the desired result in Lightroom
So how does it compare to that Batis? Well, the Batis 25mm is actually closer in focal length than you might think. This 28mm lens is actually clos
er to a 26mm, and relies on in-camera lens correction to fix fairly
strong distortion. It doesn’t matter in the end, but in the RAW files, the field of view is quite similar. The aperture is the same. The Zeiss is far, far sharper, and has so much more contrast (micro contrast is drastically different, something Zeiss is known for), and colour is much better as
weather sealed, and has an OLED display, but costs $851 (USD) more than the Sony. Actually, close to 3x the price.
Would I choose the Sony over the Batis then? Well, I had the 28mm, and I upgraded to the Batis and enjoyed it a lot more (I’m now moving to the Sony 24mm f/1.4 G Master). But for most people, I don’t think the Batis is worth nearly triple the cost. In today’s market, I would recommend considering the Sony 24mm f/1.4 G Master as a lens to move up to instead of the Batis.
All in all, the Sony 28mm f/2 is a very good lens, at a very good
price, and comes with my stamp