The FE 28-60mm F4-5.6 is a brand new standard kit lens for the equally new Sony A7C full-frame mirrorless camera.
It is the world’s smallest and lightest full-frame E-mount standard zoom lens, and the world’s smallest and lightest full-frame camera and lens system.
Compared to the Sony FE 28-70mm F3.5-5.6 zoom, the Sony 28-60mm is 43% lighter and 38mm shorter.
The combination of the Sony 28-60mm on the A7C camera is 28% lighter and 33% smaller in volume than the Sony A7 III and the FE 28-70mm F3.5-5.6.
The Sony FE 28-60mm F4-5.6 features a button-free retractable design that is extended simply by rotating the zoom ring.
Optically the lens employs 3 aspherical elements, and it has 7 rounded diaphragm blades.
A linera AF motor provides quick, reliable and quiet auto-focus, and it has a minimum focus distance of 30cm (at 28mm).
The Sony FE 28-60mm F4-5.6 lens is available in a kit with the A7C camera. It will be available to buy separately in January 2021 priced at £450.
Ease of Use
Tipping the scales at exactly 167g / 5.9oz, the FE 28-60mm F4-5.6 is the lightest 35mm full-frame zoom lens that Sony produces, and also one of the lightest lenses for the Alpha series of mirrorless cameras.
It’s also lighter than the very similar Nikon Z 24-50mm f/4-6.3 that we recently reviewed, by 28g / 15%.
Coupled with the brand new Sony A7C camera, as seen in the photos below, the lens feels very well-balanced when set to its fully retracted position.
The build quality of the Sony FE 28-60mm F4-5.6 is acceptable rather than great.
The lens feels solid enough in your hand, even though the outer barrel and the 40.5mm filter thread are all made of plastic.
Thankfully the lens mount is made of metal rather than plastic.
On the plus side it boasts a dust and moisture resistant design.
The zoom ring is just about wide enough, ridged and rubberised, whilst the focusing ring is slightly narrower again.
The FE 28-60mm F4-5.6 is the first full-frame retractable lens from Sony, which makes it easier to store and carry than standard lenses.
When set to the fully retracted position, the lens measures a mere 4.5cms in length, 0.5mm shorter than the Nikon Z 24-50mm f/4-6.3.
When unlocked and set to the 28mm position, the lens measures about 7cms.
The internal barrel extends when zoomed out to 28mm, before retracting to its shortest position at 40mm, then extending again when zoomed to 60mm.
If the lens is locked when you turn on the camera, a message is displayed – “Please extend the lens by rotating the zoom ring to take photos or video.” (on the A7C camera that we tested the lens with).
The front of the lens does not rotate on focus, which is good news for those who use polarisers or ND grads on a regular basis.
The Sony FE 28-60mm F4-5.6 lens features a linear motor that allows near-silent auto-focusing.
In use, we found the focusing to be very quiet and also very quick when mounted on a Sony A7C body.
At the 28mm focal length the angle of view is 75°4′
At the 60mm focal length the angle of view is 39°7′.
Chromatic aberrations, typically seen as blue or purple fringes along contrasty edges, were not very apparent in our test shots, only in high contrast areas. The example below shows the worst-case scenario.
Light Fall-off and Distortion
With the Sony FE 28-60mm F4-5.6 lens set to its maximum aperture of F4 at 28mm, there is obvious light fall-off in the corners, requiring you to stop down by at least 2 f-stops to prevent it.
There’s some barrel distortion evident at 28mm in the RAW files. The Sony A7C automatically and successfully applies corrections to the JPG files. At 60mm there’s some pin-cushioning in the RAW files, which is again corrected when shooting JPGs.
Sunstars and Flare
The Sony FE 28-60mm F4-5.6 lens has fairly good control over lens flare and ghosting when shooting towards the sun. Lens flare and ghosting can cause unwanted reduction in contrast when not controlled well.
Sunstars are reasonably lengthy, although there is at times a ‘doubling’ effect in some of those individual sunlight rays.
The Sony FE 28-60mm F4-5.6 isn’t claimed to be a macro lens, offering a minimum focusing distance of 30cm at 28mm and 45cm at 60mm. The following examples demonstrate how close you can get to your subject.
Bokeh is a word used for the out-of-focus areas of a photograph, and is usually described in qualitative terms, such as smooth / creamy / harsh etc.
In the FE 28-60mm F4-5.6 lens, Sony have employed an iris diaphragm with seven circular blades, which has resulted in quite appealing bokeh in our view.
We do realise, however, that bokeh evaluation is subjective, so we’ve included several examples for your perusal.
In order to show you how sharp the Sony FE 28-60mm F4-5.6 lens is, we are providing 100% crops on the following pages.