SONY ANNOUNCES TINY FE 28-60MM ƒ4-5.6 FULL-FRAME ZOOM
A couple of months ago, we briefly mentioned this lightweight kit-like lens announced by Sony followed after the new ɑ7C camera came alive. At that moment, it was only available with the ɑ7C camera, but later on it became an independent optic solution. Just by the FE 28-60mm ƒ/4.0~5.6 tag, it doesn't seem like much, so why bother to make a review on a lens that seems to be a kit one? Well, simply because it isn't one. This lens is a true full-frame 28-60mm 35mm equivalent, which makes it perfect for a broad arrange of photographic purposes; especially for shooting on the streets, which is one of our favorite things to do since we became closely related with photography.
Now, this new lens seems to be a sort-of regression or even involution from the previous FE 28- 70mm ƒ/3.5-5.6 OSS kit lens from Sony, but there has to be something going on behind that extra $100 on the price tag of the new one. From our aforementioned encounter with this lens, we concluded that the three aspherical optical elements found inside this tiny lens, effectively suppress chromatic aberrations from 28 to 60mm and from corner to corner without a hinge of a problem. And with its small size (2.6" x 1.8"/66.6mm x 45mm) and its light weight (5.9oz/167g), it is the perfect companion for compact full-frame setups. So let's dig deeper, and find what's this lens all about!
According to Sony, this is the world's smallest and lightest full-frame compatible zoom lens ever to be made. Although, that lightest has a disclaimer, which is among interchangeable zoom lenses for 35mm full-frame format digital camera bodies as September 2020. Same which is based on a survey conducted by Sony during that period of time. And despite its kit-lens-like appearance, it is built with high-quality materials ensuring sharp and high resolution images with every shot. And by that, they mean that you can crop resulting images without losing detail, making almost every moment worth the shot.
The new FE 28–60mm ƒ/4~5.6 combines full-frame image quality and state of the art compactness & lightness through a clean and elegant mechanical & optical design. Same which includes its retracting structure and three aspherical lens elements. For everyday snaps, travel, and vlogging, this is the ideal lens for compact E-mount full-frame cameras—delivering ease, portability, and high image quality. It is a true standard zoom lens with corner-to-corner full-frame resolution that enables it to deliver the optical needed performance for high-quality imaging, the FE 28–60 mm ƒ/ 4~5.6 features three aspherical lens elements, the precise shape of these elements suppresses odd and undesired image distortions as well as unflattering chromatic and optical aberrations.
Side note for the techies: The FE 28–60mm ƒ/4~5.6's MTF Chart reveals how well this lens reproduces fine details. The results according to Sony are the following:  Contrast (%)  Distance from optical center of lens (mm)  At 28 mm/Max. aperture  At 28 mm/F8 aperture  At 60 mm/Max. aperture  At 60 mm/F8 aperture  Spatial frequency  10 line pairs/mm  30 line pairs/mm.
If you have further inquiries about the lens, you can check all the technical specifications here. But for us, the essentials are the following. It is a full-frame standard zoom lens with high image quality with a minimum focus distance of 0.99 ft (0.3 m) when used at 28mm, and 1.48 ft (0.45 m)nwhen used at 60mm. The maximum magnification ratio is 0.16, and the filter diameter is ø 40.5mm. It is incredibly lightweight (5.9 oz or 167 grams), and it has a dust and moisture resistant design. And last but not least, it features a seven-blade aperture for a natural and creamy looking bokeh.
And remember, Sony is committed not only to offering amazing products, services and content that deliver exciting experiences, but also to working towards the huge goal of a zero environmental footprint throughout their business activities. What a nice group of fellows these are huh?
So, all we have to say about this lens is that it is an impressively compact optical solution that delivers a versatile imaging experience. From wide-angle to long-normal zoom, it brings á lot of Sony's expected high quality products in a retractable and sleek design. This last part is not a superficial finding, it makes the lens ideal for walk around, everyday shooting, and the flexible focal length range benefits a wide range of subject types.
Also, it's optical construction helps reduce distortion and spherical aberrations, promoting greater sharpness and accurate rendering of life. Complementing the aforementioned optics, is a linear motor and internal focusing design which will cover in a bit. Same which achieves a quick and stealthy autofocus performance for both photo and video needs, and thanks to being weather- sealed, it allows one to work in challenging environmental and weather conditions.
The true power of this lens resides on the aforementioned linear motor, which along an internal focusing mechanism, promotes a fast, precise, and even quiet focusing performance which is perfect for shooting photographs and video. Same which combined with the latest α series full- frame cameras from Sony, one can confidently lock onto even fast-moving subjects using AF functions like Real-time Tracking and Real-time Eye AF.
What we Like the Most About It
We do thing that the price on this little fella is quite high, but there are some crucial points that speaks for it, and these are:
When mounted in the proper body, which is the ɑ7C camera, the lens is capable of focusing almost instantly and without any trouble or whatsoever. Seriously, the Sony FE 28-60mm ƒ/4.0~5.6 focuses immediately, and in an extremely quiet way! Having such power with such a small lens is quite a joy, especially when considering that its maximum aperture is ƒ/4.0. Street and documentary photographers will find that ƒ/4.0 at 28mm (true focal length, remember that this lens is full-frame designed) is a nice configuration, especially when shooting under average sunlight conditions.
It's corner-to-corner full-frame image resolution makes every photograph count, as long as you expose decently of course. By giving such a broad working space, you can crop virtually anything from any section of the frame and it will do the job. It is true that at the very edges of the frame, sharpness falls a bit, but if you need to save something from a shot that is placed there, you can be certain that you will get it done without sacrificing too much quality. After all, it is a ~$500.00 lens, so don't expect it to be all-mighty.
And speaking of sacrifices, Sony has sacrificed some robust feeling for high quality internals. The optics inside this lens are amazing, and the optical performance is truly surprising. Making that plastic feeling on the outside a secondary manner.
And even though it might sound like a funny paradox after mentioning the clingy feeling on this lens, it happens to be weather sealed! So you can be sure to shoot under any (well- not ANY, but you get the idea) environmental circumstance.
- Oh, and it has a minimum aperture value of ƒ/22~32, which is a nice feature for certain shooters out there.
What we Like the Least About It
That odd ø 40.5mm filtering thread size is a bit limited, so don't expect to find a plenty array of filter options for this lens. But, there are some options, like this one, but it might not be the best neutral density solution for a serious shooter.
In order to comply with the ɑ7C camera experience, the lens requires to retract considerably, taking it undoubtedly to the kit-lens feeling terrain. It reminded us a lot of the 18-55mm ƒ/3.5~5.6 kit lenses that came with Nikon entry level DSLR cameras. So, if you don't understand what we are trying to say, this lens comes with a popping action mechanism which positions the lens in a "ready to shoot mode" that unveils its true design, which is longer than the nicely packaged length of 45mm when closed.
There is a huge barrel distortion when used at its widest, so even if you simply load the lens profile, you'll have to perform some lens correction tweaks on the raw files coming out of the camera when using this lens. Some shooters find this to be a creative and even desired feeling, but for us is too much and has to be corrected.
- Some might see that the lack of image stabilization on a zoom lens would be a downside, but if you consider that the major amount of FE 28-60mm ƒ/4.0~5.6 users would be shooting with an ɑ7C camera (which features a state of the art IBIS), it's lackness is not something to worry about.
Who Should Buy This Lens?
In the hypothetical scenario that this lens would cost $100 less, it will be of huge interest to certain shooters though, especially street photographers who know the benefits of shooting with a small and fast inconspicuous lens. Also some vloggers and video content creators would see this is an interesting lens due to its amazing optical performance.
Said that, we think that this time the question is miss-addressed by us, and rather inquiring about who should buy this lens, we rather say, who should by the ɑ7C camera without the FE 28-60mm ƒ/4.0~5.6 lens? And there will be a reduced amount of photographers and videographers willing to buy the ɑ7C camera in the body only option.
We might be absolutely wrong about this prediction, but that's how we feel about it.
A Final Thought on Kit-Lenses
For some reason, kit-lenses have been vastly bashed by the general photographic public, and we are here to defend its nature and existence. Kit lenses are great for guiding entry-level photographers into the right path about two crucial decisions in their photographic story.
First, by having such a broad range of focal lengths (come on, 28mm is quite wide, and 60mm is an almost normal focal length*), entry level photographers can start to decode which focal length should be the next investment they should make. And it will be a wisely grounded decision! Because let's face it, that is a very complex decision to make with so many lenses out there for us.
* Even 18-55mm kit lenses offer an interesting optical range.
Next, it will also tell you more about the particular genres that you might be feeling more passionately drawn to when starting to unveil the sweet nectar of photography. If you find shooting a lot of wide shots, maybe you'll become a great architecture, landscape or street photographer some day. And if you find yourself always shooting at 55mm (in the case of the FE 28-60mm ƒ/4.0~5.6 it will be at 60mm), then you might become an incredible wild-life, portraiture or macro photographer in the future!
So let's stop bashing the kit-lenses once and for all, and let's use them strategically in order to decipher what our next lens should be the right one for us!