Review Sony FE 28mm f/2 Lens Review

Amin Sabet

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The Sony FE 28mm f/2 Lens is a relatively new addition to the Sony E-Mount lineup. The "FE" designation means that this lens works well with both full frame and APS-C Sony E-Mount cameras.

Unlike the 90mm macro and 35mm f/1.4 lenses I reviewed recently, the Sony FE 28/2 is relatively affordable, selling for $448 (USD) at the time of this review. It also differs in terms of size and weight, being much smaller and lighter than those other two lenses. Finally, I should note that Sony sells two conversion lenses for the 28/2, one of which turns it into a 21mm ultra-wide, and the other which converts it to a 16mm fisheye.

Key specifications:
Focal Length: 28mm
Equivalent on APS-C Format: 42 mm
Aperture Maximum: f/2
Minimum: f/22
Camera Mount Type: Sony E (Full-Frame)
Minimum Focus Distance: 11.42" (29 cm)
Magnification: 0.13x
Elements/Groups: 9/8
Diaphragm Blades: 9, Rounded
Image Stabilization: No
Autofocus: Yes
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)

Current pricing/availability: Sony FE 28mm f/2 Lens SEL28F20 B&H Photo Video

See the brief video below for my impressions of lens build quality, features, and performance:



You can click through any of the images in this review to see full-resolution captures from my A7II.


28mm is a great focal length for indoor people photography, and f/2 is more than fast enough to get the job done in natural light with the latest sensors. Fortunately, this lens has plenty of center sharpness to be usable at that aperture.

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ƒ/2.0 28.0 mm 1/60 500


28mm is also great for tight framing with a bit of close up distortion but still a natural look. No problems quickly locking focus at tight range to get this shot:

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ƒ/2.0 28.0 mm 1/60 320


Of course, many will want to use 28mm for landscape and architecture. One small weakness of this lens is that it has moderate (average) barrel distortion. Fortunately this gets automatically corrected by in-camera JPEG as well as most major RAW converters (including Lightroom and Capture One). Unfortunatly this distortion correction comes at this cost of a tiny bit of edge / corner sharpness. Still there is lots of detail throughout the frame from f/4 onwards.

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ƒ/9.0 28.0 mm 1/160 100


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ƒ/4.0 28.0 mm 1/60 100


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ƒ/7.1 28.0 mm 1/100 100


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ƒ/7.1 28.0 mm 1/100 100


You can see some color fringing from lateral (red/blue) and longitudinal (green/purple) chromatic aberration in this next image. Nothing too serious and easily correctable in post when using any of the popular image processing programs.

Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


ƒ/5.6 28.0 mm 1/200 100


28mm is a natural focal length for street / documentary photography. I'd love to have seen a clutch for manual focus mode with a distance scale for zone focus with this lens. That said, the size is discreet, and autofocus is fast, sure, and quiet.

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ƒ/8.0 28.0 mm 1/125 100


The FE 28/2 offers plenty of pop at moderate apertures:

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ƒ/4.0 28.0 mm 1/800 100


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ƒ/2.8 28.0 mm 1/500 100


For my tastes, bokeh is pleasing if occasionally edgy at f/2 and always well behaved by f/2.8.

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ƒ/2.8 28.0 mm 1/1000 100


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ƒ/2.8 28.0 mm 1/2000 100


To wrap up the pics, I'll make another plug here for family photography. A 28mm lens with good speed and close up range (12" minimum focus distance for this lens) can find a lot of use in and around the kids.

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ƒ/2.0 28.0 mm 1/60 100


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ƒ/2.2 28.0 mm 1/500 100


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ƒ/2.5 28.0 mm 1/200 100


So am I going to pick this lens up? The answer is no, but that's only a function of focal length. My basic needs are met by a 35mm lens and an 85mm lens. There was a time when I was more of a 28/50/100 guy, and if that were still the case, this is the second lens I'd buy after the incredible FE55.

The FE 28/2 has a lot to offer. It's very sharp, bright, has pleasing character, small size, light weight, quick and quiet autofocus, excellent close-range ability, and comes with a very reasonable price tag. Minor cons include an average amount of barrel distortion, some edge softness at apertures larger than f/4, and an average amount of color fringing. If you like the 28mm focal length, it's really a bit of a no-brainer.


Link to download all RAW files from this review: 28mm-RAW.zip


Sony FE 28mm f/2 Lens pricing / availability: Sony FE 28mm f/2 Lens SEL28F20 B&H Photo Video


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serhan

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You are on a roll:) Thanks for the another great review. It is a good lens for the price, but a little high on the distortion for me esp after using similarly priced Sony nex 35/50mm 1.8 OSS lenses with min distortion. Yes, it needs stopping down to f8 for max corner sharpness. Your 35mm 1.4 photos have more pop compared to this.
 

quezra

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Thanks for this. You know, what I really like about your reviews is that you seem to use your camera the way I use mine: Family 80-90% and the rest is on a "if I get a chance" basis. So given that distribution of usage, dreaming about what I "might" do with the lens is less important than what I know I'm actually going to end up spending all my time using the lens for.

Anyway, good review. As a budget option for FE and APS-C it seems to be a really great choice (I would assume the barrel distortion is non-existent in APS-C crop?).
 

WestOkid

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Another great review. I heard nothing but good things about this lens and you seem to continue the trend. I hope Sony makes more small inexpensive lenses.
 

Amin Sabet

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As a budget option for FE and APS-C it seems to be a really great choice (I would assume the barrel distortion is non-existent in APS-C crop?).
Barrel distortion would be less on APS-C, to the point where for me it's a non-factor, but even there it is a touch more than the Sigma 30/2.8, which for all purposes is distortion-free. The Sony 35/1.8 has a touch of pincushion distortion.
 
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Amin Sabet

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Thanks for this review, I feel it's an excellent set of pictures to judge on this lens for myself.
Many thanks, Ad. That's my primary objective with these reviews and the reason I don't crop or straighten any of the samples.
 

metalmania

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Maybe I should update my Capture One 8.0 to 8.3, I couldn't find the FE 28/2.0 profile in Capture One 8.0. Here is a sample I shot:

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I like this lens wide open. Consider the price from abroad is less than $400.

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Amin Sabet

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Maybe I should update my Capture One 8.0 to 8.3, I couldn't find the FE 28/2.0 profile in Capture One 8.0. Here is a sample I shot:

Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
I used C1 version 8.1 to process the images in this review, and it automatically addressed the distortion. Have just now updated to 8.3.
 

slothead

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Amin, Good review (it motivated me to buy one - but unfortunately I forgot about ordering via a link from the forum). If you mentioned detail about the converters in your review I missed it. I am curious how the 21mm and 16mm converting lenses convey EXIF data to the camera. I would expect that it would require some electronic interface to convey that data, but I don't see any contacts on the front of the 28mm lens (the converters certainly look like they attach to the front of the 28mm lens). Can you comment on that?
 

Amin Sabet

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Hi Tom, sorry I don't know the answer to that question. I know that EXIF is conveyed but not how.

Unrelated: I added a link to the end of the review for those who would like to download all the RAW files from the review.
 

WTran

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I'd love to know how this lens does for astrophotography.
 

slothead

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Generally speaking wide lenses are good for wife field AP, such capturing the Milky Way (if you have dark enough skies) and star trails (which I have only minimally done in the past). I don't doubt that it will be a very good AP lens if you have good exposure control over your camera.
 

michelb

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Amin, Good review (it motivated me to buy one - but unfortunately I forgot about ordering via a link from the forum). If you mentioned detail about the converters in your review I missed it. I am curious how the 21mm and 16mm converting lenses convey EXIF data to the camera. I would expect that it would require some electronic interface to convey that data, but I don't see any contacts on the front of the 28mm lens (the converters certainly look like they attach to the front of the 28mm lens). Can you comment on that?
I have this set (28 +UWA) and it conveys the EXIF data through some magnets that make magnetic contact when the converter is mounted on the lens.
 

michelb

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@michelb - How do you like the UWA converter?
A lot sharper than i expected from F4 to F11
Quite heavy and i find the front cap to be too easy to un-clip when handling/storing it.
I have seen some weird internal reflections when shooting with my face towards the sun. I expected a lot of flare but this lens has very little except when it does, it burns a small white/green hole in your picture (more than one as you close down the aperture..
 

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