Note: this is NOT a technical lens review, and most images are processed in some way. Don’t expect pictures of brick walls 🙂
I recently took a trip to Paris, and while there decided to put the 28mm F2.0 lens to work. A common complaint of the Sony A7 line of cameras is that the native lenses are rather expensive. Part of this is because the cameras are full-frame, but there’s also the Zeiss factor of many of the lenses too. The SEL28FE20 lens is probably the cheapest native lens you can currently pick up, so is an ideal addition to your kit.
Why this and not the 35mm f/2.8? Well, it depends on your needs. I’m likely at some point to get the super-sharp 55 f/1.8 and 35mm is a bit close to that. 28 is a bit further, and the wider f/2 aperture was appealing. In addition, the 28mm is noticeably cheaper, not being Zeiss branded!
Mounted onto the A7, the 28mm lens is small and light, even with the included petal hood. Not quite as tiny as the 35mm, but still small enough to not stand out, making it useful for carrying around on city streets without drawing unwanted attention.
On the first morning, we exited the metro close to the Arc de Triomph to find some breakfast. I ran out to the middle of the street (standing on a convenient traffic island) to grab a shot of the famous arch. The 28mm was ideal here letting the road and sky fall off to the corners of the image thanks to the wide angle, while the sharpness of the lens proved itself on the stonework of the arch. Vehicles blurred in post.
After breakfast we ventured to Notre Dame. Here, the wide aperture of the lens helped with the indoor shot, enabling the ISO to stay nice and low for reduced noise.
The low-light usefulness of that wide aperture came into use again in the Arts et Metier metro station. One of the more distinctive stations, the platform walls and ceiling are lined with copper coloured sheets, and there are large mechanical wheels in the ceiling. It’s got a great steampunk vibe to it, and is well worth a stop (note that you need to visit the station on Line 11, the other line platforms are standard white-tile)
In the evening, we ventured up the Tour Montparnasse. This pretty ugly skyscraper sits in the middle of the southern half of the city, and after it was built, everyone realised it wasn’t really in keeping. As a result, tall buildings haven’t popped up anywhere else in the historic centre. Going up Montparnasse has several benefits- a) you get a rather excellent view of the Eiffel Tower (which you wouldn’t if you were stood on top of that instead). b) the queues were non-existent when we visited, unlike the long lines at the Eiffel Tower no matter what time of day it is. c) you can’t see the Montparnasse tower!
I did use a gorillapod to hold the camera steady, and this was taken through a window. The lighting is dim enough so that annoying reflections aren’t too bad. On the roof, you can poke the camera through a gap in the glass, but it was so windy that I couldn’t get a usable shot.
We were staying out at La Defense (the business district, where big skyscrapers are allowed!) and I spotted this fun graffiti at the metro station.
Later on, we visited the Cat-Cafe. The wide aperture again came in useful not only because of the low light indoors, but also to throw the background out of focus. For a wide lens, the 28mm F/2 can do bokeh too, with a pretty pleasing soft rendering of the out of focus areas.
We also visited a large cemetery, Pere Lachaise. There’s a huge variety of tombs here, in various states of age and condition. The light here challenged the lens a little more, with low afternoon sun hidden behind a veil of thin cloud. In some shots a little CA was visible where bare tree branches contrasted against the bright sky- especially in wider aperture shots where the branches were a little out of focus – but it was all easily removable with a tick of a box in Lightroom.
Overall the lens performed well. It focussed quickly, proved to be usefully sharp (even wide open in the centre of the frame) and is small and light.
Negatives of the lens? As you’ve probably read elsewhere, it exhibits quite a lot of distortion and vignetting. Is this a problem? Nope, not for me. I never even see it. If you only shoot in JPG, the camera will already have corrected for it. If you shoot in RAW like me, then Lightroom auto-applies the correct profile. You can uncheck the box if you want to see what the “original” picture looked like of course 🙂
A quick comparison is below, if you’re curious.
If you want to buy the lens, you can do so from Amazon by clicking below. It won’t cost you any more, but I’ll get a small cut, helping towards the cost of this blog 🙂Sony FE 28 mm F2 Lens