I wanted to see how my new FE 2/28 compares against my older manual lenses, so I ran a comparison between four lenses:
- The Minolta MD 2.8/28 is very small, light and affordable
- The Carl Zeiss Distagon 2.8/28 T* enjoys a very good reputation and it is a bit more expensive at around 250€.
- The Minolta MC 2/28 is the oldest and fastest of the bunch, it was introduced in 1975. My copy has some fungus in it and other copies might be better.
- The Sony FE 2/28 is brand new and the most expensive one at 450€.
A note on the test
All the images are processed raws with my usualy settings, for every scene all lenses received identical processing.
All images were taken from a tripod. All images are taken at f/2.8, the only exception is the infinity test.
All images can be found in full resolution on flickr in this set.
- The FE 2/28 and the Zeiss fare best here
- Both Minoltas are a little less sharp
All lenses perform very similar, I think I like the Minolta 2/28 the best but only by a small margin
- The Sony has the smoothest bokeh but also the most obvious LoCA
- The Minolta MC 2/28 has very large blur disks with very little contrast.
- Both 2.8/28 lenses have very hard edges
- Sony FE and Zeiss Distagon lead the bunch with very nice micro contrast
- The MD 2.8/28 is a little less sharp but still good enough
- The MC 2/28 makes a clear last place, the fungus in the lens might play a role here
- The Sony is again a clear winner
- the other lenses perform very similar – not very good
All lenses are not very good here.
lets have a look at distortion the three manual 28’s performed quite simliar and showed a little barrel distortion
The Sony on the other hand shows impressive distortion. Not impressive in a positive way though. Another aspect is that it shows a wider field of view, so the corrected images has a field of view of a 28mm. This costs some resolution though.
I think this is an acceptable tradeoff, you can correct distortion easily but it costs some resolution. So far I haven’t had to correct a single landscape image for distortion but if you are a demanding architecture photographer you might have a different opinion.
- Sony FE 2/28 – by f/8 it is the only lens with very good across the frame sharpness. At faster apertures very have a very sharp center, the rest of the image is noticeably less sharp but it does not really deteriorate towards the corners
- Zeiss Distagon 2.8/28 – At f/2.8 and f/4 it has a better midframe performance than the Sony FE lens but the corners are worse. At f/8 the Minoltas are clearly inferior and 98% of the image is very sharp. The last few pixels in the corners deteriorate quite a bit.
- Both Minoltas require f/11 for good across the frame sharpness and the Zeiss is much better at faster apertures.
The Sony FE 2/28 performed remarkably well in this test, it has by some margin the best bokeh and it is as sharp as the Zeiss 2.8/28 with even better corners. It also is the most flare resistant and it is one stop faster than the Zeiss with very similar results at f/2 than at f/2.8.
For that you trade very high distortion and and higher LoCA. Ithink this is a good trade.
It is also nearly as good at f/2 as at f/2.8 and it is the smallest and lightest lens in the test.
The Zeiss Distagon 2.8/28 managed to outperform the Sony in some aspects (CA control, midzone sharpness at f/2.8) and it has of course much less Distortion. I think this is a remarkable performance for a 30-years-old lens.
With the Distagon the tradeoff is quite nervous bokeh.
The Minolta MC 2/28 is faster than the other two manual lenses and it has nicer bokeh but it is not super sharp. I still think it is an interesting lens.
The Minolta MD 2.8/28 showed an unremarkable performance but it is very cheap and quite small.
So all in all I think the Sony FE 2/28 is the winner of this comparison, check out my review for more samples images and some more information.