Review: Sony 28mm f2 (Full Frame E Mount)

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Sony 28mm f2 lens review product photos (2 of 7)ISO 4001-125 sec at f - 2.8

Besides the 55mm f1.8 and 35mm f2.8, the only other compact autofocus prime lens that we have for the full frame E-mount is the Sony 28mm f2. It was recently introduced as part of the growing line of full frame E mount lenses. Targeted at street photographers, architecture shooters, candid shooters, and many more this lens is one of the few primes that also isn’t Zeiss branded.

With nine aperture blades, nine elements in eight groups, no image stabilization, and weighing in at 7.05 oz this lens has the potential to become a very standard lens for many.

Pros and Cons

Chris Gampat the Phoblographer Sony 28mm f2 review images (7 of 8)ISO 4001-1250 sec at f - 2.0

Pros

– Very sharp at any aperture

– Beautiful bokeh

– Nice, small size

– Lightweight

Pretty affordable

Cons

– No weather sealing

– Metal build on the exterior, though almost hollow feeling because ti’s so light weight.

Gear Used

We tested the Sony 28mm f2 with the Sony A7.

Tech Specs

Specs taken from the B&H Photo listing of the product

Performance
Focal Length 28mm
Comparable 35mm Equivalent on APS-C Format Focal Length: 42 mm
Aperture Maximum: f/2
Minimum: f/22
Camera Mount Type Sony E (Full-Frame)
Format Compatibility 35mm Film / Full-Frame Digital Sensor
Angle of View 75°
APS-C Picture Angle: 54°
Minimum Focus Distance 11.42″ (29 cm)
Magnification 0.13x
Elements/Groups 9/8
Diaphragm Blades 9, Rounded
Features
Image Stabilization No
Autofocus Yes
Tripod Collar No
Physical
Filter Thread Front:49 mm
Dimensions (DxL) Approx. 2.52 x 2.36″ (64.01 x 59.94 mm)
Weight 7.05 oz (200 g)
Packaging Info
Package Weight 0.8 lb
Box Dimensions (LxWxH) 4.8 x 4.4 x 3.2″

Ergonomics

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Sony 28mm f2 lens review product photos (5 of 7)ISO 4001-125 sec at f - 2.8

The Sony 28mm f2 is quite compact for what it is–a wide angle lens with a moderately fast aperture. We start our ergonomic tour with the top of the lens. Here you’ll see that the only real control is the manual focusing ring around it. The body is otherwise comprised of metal on he outside.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Sony 28mm f2 lens review product photos (4 of 7)ISO 4001-125 sec at f - 2.8

The focusing ring is very well textured; and although this seems like a minor detail it is a big detail when the lens is held. The exterior is otherwise very smooth but this ring gives you lots of grip.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Sony 28mm f2 lens review product photos (1 of 7)ISO 4001-30 sec at f - 2.5

The front of the lens sports a 49mm filter thread for landscape photographers. Sony doesn’t provide a hood with the lens.

Build Quality

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Sony 28mm f2 lens review product photos (6 of 7)ISO 4001-125 sec at f - 2.8

Though it isn’t terrible feeling, the Sony 28mm f2 isn’t one of the company’s most solid lenses. It’s made of metal on the outside, but part of what’s making us think this could also be its very light weight. This lens isn’t dust or splash resistant, so you can’t really take it out in the rain and expect it to handle the abuse.

In our journeys all around NYC, this lens bumped into people while mounted on the camera and even hit a subway turnstile at another point. It kept shooting, though I wonder why Sony didn’t include a lens hood for it.

The lens has a nice, smallish feel to it that you can surely wrap your head and fingers around. In fact, it’s almost as small as the 35mm f2.8 Zeiss lens.

Ease of Use

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Sony 28mm f2 lens review product photos (7 of 7)ISO 4001-125 sec at f - 2.8

Mounting this lens onto the camera is where you’ll start with this lens. After that, you’ll just be straightforward shooting, focusing, shooting again and repeating. When it comes to manual focus, you’ll need to rely on the focus peaking in the Sony cameras since this lens doesn’t have an effective depth of field scale or even a distance scale on it.

To get into manual focus, you’ll need to switch the camera into that mode instead of the lens.

Autofocus

Believe it or not, Sony’s 35mm f1.4 Zeiss lens can focus faster than this lens. In fact, the original 25mm f2.8 Zeiss lens is faster. That’s not to say that the focusing of the 28mm f2 is bad at all though. It isn’t bad or slow for street photography, but it isn’t exactly Four Thirds speed either and you should fully accept that you’ll miss a few shots here and there more so than with other Sony lenses. The best results are had when the camera is set to center focusing or choosing a specific focusing area.

Image Quality

ALL IMAGES HAVE EXIF DATA IN PLACE. PLEASE CLICK THE IMAGES AND THE SETTINGS WILL COME UP IN THE URL.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Sony 28mm f2 review extra image samples (5 of 17)ISO 4001-500 sec at f - 2.8

The Sony 28mm f2 has incredible image quality, and it goes to show that folks that tend to snub their noses at Sony lenses should give them another look. The Sony 28mm f2 is not only sharp, but offers very good color, beautiful bokeh for a lens this wide, and very little in the way of image quality issues. Wide open, it will vignette a bit, but you can creatively embrace this. You’ll also face some distortion which will need to be eliminated in post-production or through camera settings. But that’s what you need to expect with a lens like this.

Sharpness

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Sony 28mm f2 review extra image samples (2 of 17)ISO 3201-3200 sec at f - 2.8

We were quite pleased with how sharp the Sony 28mm f2 lens fairs. This has to be one of Sony’s sharper lenses and the company’s primes are what impress us the most. It’s about on par with the 35mm f2.8 if not a tad better, but both the 55mm f1.8 and 35mm f1.4 are sharper. This lens also seems sharper than the Zeiss 35mm f2, though not at all sharper than the Zeiss 50mm f2 Loxia lens.

The best sharpness comes at f5.6 with the best balance of both bokeh and sharpness coming in at f3.5 on a full frame sensor.

Bokeh

Chris Gampat the Phoblographer X3 ND filter six stop review sample photos (7 of 8)ISO 4001-1250 sec at f - 2.0

In the right situations, the bokeh really shines here. For what it’s worth though it still seems like every other Sony FE prime lens outshines this one and for good reason–they’re all longer focal lengths. However, we really do like the bokeh for a 28mm lens as those nine aperture blades really do help a lot.

Then again, you’re not really buying a lens like this typically for the bokeh. You buy a 28mm for street or architecture work.

Here are other example images with lots of bokeh:

Chris Gampat the Phoblographer X3 ND filter six stop review sample photos (8 of 8)ISO 4001-160 sec at f - 2.0

Chris Gampat the Phoblographer Sony 28mm f2 first impressions image samples (9 of 20)ISO 2001-160 sec at f - 2.0

Chris Gampat the Phoblographer X3 ND filter six stop review sample photos (2 of 8)ISO 4001-5000 sec at f - 2.0

 

Chris Gampat the Phoblographer Sony 28mm f2 first impressions image samples (2 of 20)ISO 2001-1250 sec at f - 2.0

Chris Gampat the Phoblographer X3 ND filter six stop review sample photos (5 of 8)ISO 4001-2500 sec at f - 2.0

Color Rendition

Chris Gampat the Phoblographer Sony 28mm f2 first impressions image samples (8 of 20)ISO 2001-200 sec at f - 2.0

The color rendition from this lens is very true to life with a bit of both extra contrast and saturation. It works out quite well, but don’t expect the same color rendition that you’ll get from the company’s 35mm f1.4 Zeiss lens or even the Zeiss Loxia lenses themselves. Indeed, this is a Sony G lens and it surely shows.

Color Fringing

Chris Gampat the Phoblographer Sony 28mm f2 review images (5 of 8)ISO 4001-8000 sec at f - 2.0

In our tests, we couldn’t find any major color fringing issues. Good for Sony in this case.

Extra Image Samples

Chris Gampat the Phoblographer Sony 28mm f2 review images (6 of 8)ISO 4001-5000 sec at f - 2.0

Chris Gampat the Phoblographer Sony 28mm f2 review images (4 of 8)ISO 4001-1000 sec at f - 2.0

Chris Gampat the Phoblographer Sony 28mm f2 review images (5 of 8)ISO 4001-8000 sec at f - 2.0

Chris Gampat the Phoblographer Sony 28mm f2 review images (3 of 8)ISO 4001-80 sec at f - 2.0

Chris Gampat the Phoblographer Sony 28mm f2 review images (1 of 8)ISO 4001-1000 sec at f - 2.0
Chris Gampat the Phoblographer Sony 28mm f2 first impressions image samples (20 of 20)ISO 32001-40 sec at f - 2.0

Chris Gampat the Phoblographer Sony 28mm f2 first impressions image samples (19 of 20)ISO 32001-20 sec at f - 3.2

Chris Gampat the Phoblographer Sony 28mm f2 first impressions image samples (18 of 20)ISO 32001-125 sec at f - 2.0

Chris Gampat the Phoblographer Sony 28mm f2 first impressions image samples (17 of 20)ISO 32001-30 sec at f - 2.0

Chris Gampat the Phoblographer Sony 28mm f2 first impressions image samples (12 of 20)ISO 32001-160 sec at f - 2.0

Chris Gampat the Phoblographer Sony 28mm f2 first impressions image samples (13 of 20)ISO 32001-200 sec at f - 2.0

Chris Gampat the Phoblographer Sony 28mm f2 first impressions image samples (14 of 20)ISO 32001-30 sec at f - 2.0

Chris Gampat the Phoblographer Sony 28mm f2 first impressions image samples (15 of 20)ISO 32001-100 sec at f - 2.0
Chris Gampat the Phoblographer Sony 28mm f2 first impressions image samples (11 of 20)ISO 8001-50 sec at f - 2.0

Chris Gampat the Phoblographer Sony 28mm f2 first impressions image samples (7 of 20)ISO 2001-640 sec at f - 2.0

Chris Gampat the Phoblographer Sony 28mm f2 first impressions image samples (3 of 20)ISO 2001-1250 sec at f - 2.0

Chris Gampat the Phoblographer Sony 28mm f2 first impressions image samples (4 of 20)ISO 2001-200 sec at f - 5.6

Chris Gampat the Phoblographer Sony 28mm f2 first impressions image samples (5 of 20)ISO 2001-1000 sec at f - 2.0

Chris Gampat the Phoblographer Sony 28mm f2 first impressions image samples (6 of 20)ISO 2001-500 sec at f - 2.0

Chris Gampat the Phoblographer Sony 28mm f2 first impressions image samples (1 of 20)ISO 2001-2500 sec at f - 2.0

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Sony 28mm f2 review extra image samples (1 of 17)ISO 3201-1600 sec at f - 2.8

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Sony 28mm f2 review extra image samples (7 of 17)ISO 4001-2000 sec at f - 2.8

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Sony 28mm f2 review extra image samples (6 of 17)ISO 4001-5000 sec at f - 2.8

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Sony 28mm f2 review extra image samples (4 of 17)ISO 4001-3200 sec at f - 2.8

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Sony 28mm f2 review extra image samples (3 of 17)ISO 4001-2000 sec at f - 2.8

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Sony 28mm f2 review extra image samples (8 of 17)ISO 4001-8000 sec at f - 2.8

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Sony 28mm f2 review extra image samples (9 of 17)ISO 4001-2000 sec at f - 4.5

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Sony 28mm f2 review extra image samples (10 of 17)ISO 4001-1600 sec at f - 4.5

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Sony 28mm f2 review extra image samples (11 of 17)ISO 4001-1600 sec at f - 4.5

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Sony 28mm f2 review extra image samples (12 of 17)ISO 4001-2000 sec at f - 5.0

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Sony 28mm f2 review extra image samples (17 of 17)ISO 4001-3200 sec at f - 2.8

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Sony 28mm f2 review extra image samples (16 of 17)ISO 4001-1600 sec at f - 5.6

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Sony 28mm f2 review extra image samples (15 of 17)ISO 4001-1000 sec at f - 5.6

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Sony 28mm f2 review extra image samples (14 of 17)ISO 4001-3200 sec at f - 2.8

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Sony 28mm f2 review extra image samples (13 of 17)ISO 4001-2000 sec at f - 2.8

Chris Gampat the Phoblographer Sony 28mm f2 review images (2 of 8)ISO 4001-160 sec at f - 3.5

Conclusions

Likes

– Nice small size

– Great image quality

Dislikes

– Focusing doesn’t make the best use of what Sony offers

Sony’s 28mm f2 is a fantastic lens. It offers great image quality in a small package, but we can’t get over the focusing performance. It isn’t terrible, but it could be better. We expected this lens to be the fastest focusing full frame E mount lens out there due to the wider focal length and light weight. However, it is a bit behind the rest–even the 35mm f1.4 Zeiss. Still though, you’re bound to be able to create incredible images with it no matter what Sony camera you mount it to. With beautiful bokeh, incredible sharpness, and great colors it’s very tough to beat.

Though if I had to choose this lens or the 35mm f2.8, I’d go with the latter because 35mm is my favorite focal length. However, this lens can outperform the 35mm in sharpness. The 28mm has better bokeh with its nine aperture blades though.

four-star-Phoblographer-Star-rating

We rate the 28mm f2 at four out of five stars. Want one? Check out Amazon’s listing for more.

Recommended Cameras

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Sony 28mm f2 lens review product photos (2 of 7)ISO 4001-125 sec at f - 2.8

Sony A7 Mk II: For the best balance of both image quality and focusing performance, the Mk II is where it’s at.

Sony A7s: Shooting street? Then this camera may be best for the focusing speeds and nuclear level high ISO ability.

Sony A7r: Want all the resolution you can get? Well, the A7r is tough to beat here.