Is This Sony's Worst Lens?

Alongside the release of the diminutive a7C, Sony released a new kit lens: the surprisingly compact 28-60mm f/4-5.6, which keeps its size and weight down by trimming 10mm off the long end and being collapsible. However, is it worth $500?

This review from Arthur R argues that Sony’s new kit lens for its full frame cameras is significantly overpriced, arguing that it’s still not worthwhile even when you pick it up as a bundle with the a7C, which brings the price down to $300. It might be small, but as detailed by Arthur, the compromises are dramatic.

Arthur’s suggestion for an alternative is to grab a secondhand standard zoom, which will add some bulk to a lightweight setup, but you might want to consider one of the tiny primes offered by Samyang/Rokinon. The AF 35mm f/2.8 is all but a pancake and weighs half that of the 28-60mm — a mere 3.02 oz (85.6 g). This combination makes the a7C a bit more like a point-and-shoot than a full frame camera. Autofocus and sharpness are more than good enough for any enthusiast’s needs.

Would you recommend the 28-60mm f/4-.5.6 to someone pondering the purchase of an a7C? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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Jacques Cornell's picture

I hope that by "standard zoom" he doesn't mean the 28-70/3.5-5.6 kit zoom, because that one's pretty awful. Barely resolves 20MP outside the central 20% of the frame on my a7RIII. I know because I did an 80-person group shot with it, with flash and on a tripod, at 35mm and f8 alongside my GX8 and 12-35/2.8 at f5.6, and beyond the center there was little difference. I immediately replaced it with a Sony 24-105/4.
I sure wish someone would make a good 35-135/4. That'd be perfect for group and individual portraits, you know, event & corporate stuff.

Petr Klapper's picture

35-135 isn't realistic I think, but I'd checkout Tamron 28-200/2.8-5.6. It's quite good, f/5 at 135mm, but f/4 at 70mm (and less bellow) and still f/4.5 at 100mm - might strike a better aperture/reach balance. I'd also add any 85/1.8.

Christian Fiore's picture

Tamron does make this:

Haven't heard much about it since it launched.

Jacques Cornell's picture

Nice! Hope they'll make an FE version.

Michael Aubrey's picture

Readers should probably go look at Fred Miranda's review of this lens. Fred's standards are higher than most of us and his conclusions are, well, not at all this.

Matt Williams's picture

This lens is very very good. Alongside Nikon's 24-50 Z lens in image quality, and both are almost identical in concept (collapsible pancake, limited zoom range, excellent quality). Both are "overpriced" as standalone lenses, but I'd happily buy one used or of course in a kit. In fact I intend to get the Nikon, since Z system is what I shoot primarily.

The Sony 28-70 kit lens, on the other hand, is god awful. Easily the worst basic level kit lens for modern mirrorless cameras:

Nikon: 16-50 DX (excellent), 24-50 (excellent)
Canon: 24-105/4-7.1 (very good, haven't used it, I like the sample files and concept)
Fuji: 16-50 (good), 15-45 (very good if power zoom doesn't bother you)
Panasonic M4/3: 12-32 (excellent)
Olympus: 14-42 (acceptable to good if you don't mind PZ, Panny 12-32 much better)
Panasonic FF: currently 20-60 is lowest end kit lens (excellent)

I wish camera companies would offer ALL their kit lenses to be paired with every model. You can get the "lowly" 24-50 or 24-200 with the Z5 but not Z6 or Z7 (and no 24-70 for the Z5). Same with Panny, can't get the 20-60 with the S1 or S1R. Won't find the a7RIV with this 28-60. I wish manufacturers would realize this actually causes me to consider lower end models sometimes, if it's a lens I REALLY want - the Z5 for example is perfectly acceptable as a backup camera instead of the Z6, BUT I can get the 24-200 or 24-50 at huge discount (unfortunately I bought the 24-200 by itself as soon as it came out...).

Do they not realize that pros/people with pro bodies still like to use compact walk-around lenses like a limited zoom pancake or a superzoom like a 24-200? I mean those lenses are both VERY VERY good, and Nikon knows that, so why make them good if not to sell to people who appreciate that?

Christian Fiore's picture

Arthur might need glasses. Even DPR, who's usually anti-Sony, praised this lens for how good it is, considering Sony's past history of kit lenses.

Wes Perry's picture

Sony’s worst lens is easily the 16mm 2.8. Doesn’t even support all the autofocus modes, with appallingly bad image quality.
And I still have one 😂

Matt Williams's picture

That lens is epically bad. The 20/2.8 isn't much better. And I hate the 16-50 APS-C kit lens, mostly because it's not good but also power zoom sucks.

Wes Perry's picture

Yeah those two are a pair cut from the same cloth for sure.

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

I'd have to disagree. Back in the day, I was using it for people shoots. It's not as bad as people make it out to be. AF and IQ was more than good enough.

Robert Roma's picture

The Sony 28-70mm f3.5-5.6 OSS I found was very unsharp, and very difficult to get sharpness to even close to quality in my professional opinion. The lens performed more like an economy lens rather than a quality lens from Sony, and particularly for the price asked by Sony. You expect creative aberration from the lower quality economy lenses? The 28-60/3.5-5.6 OSS sounds like another Sony pan off over priced really poor quality glass?...

Matt Williams's picture

The 28-70 is awful. Just one of the worst, if not the worst, Sony FE lens.

This is not at all the same. Manufacturers all around have shaped up with kit lenses and come to produce some truly fantastic little pieces of glass - examples: Nikon's 16-50 and 24-50 Z lenses, Panasonic's L-mount 20-60. All very very affordable, especially in a kit, and outstanding image quality (and utterly tiny in the case of the Nikons, just like this Sony).

I used one on an a7R IV and it's a FANTASTIC walk-around lens. No better option, IMO. Especially with an a7RII or III or IV and the ability to crop, the 60mm isn't as limiting (crop to 90mm on the a7R4 and still have 26MP).

Lee Huberts's picture

The lens is pretty allright, but the price is to high. A collegue got it very chap, he is working in the photography sales industry. Sharpness is surprisingly good but the biggest downside is the chromatic abberation in heavy counterlight situations. Autofocus is fast and precise, if you want a smooth zoom while video use a followfocus or focusmotor on a gimbal :D

Patrick CLIGNY's picture

I've got it with the A7c and it's nice to go with the camera in the pocket. If you want to see more details images, look at this Dpreview test

Jacques Cornell's picture

If you're going to use a small camera with a cheap lens that only resolves 20MP of detail, you might as well go with a Panasonic GX9 and 12-32 pancake for WAY less money.

Patrick CLIGNY's picture

You are right. In fact I use the A7c with f/1.7 lens (mostly with the FE 20mm) to take pictures in low light. The full frame on 24MP give good results. I will test a Panasonic Lumix GX80H this week and will compare to the two Sony I have.

Jacques Cornell's picture

Agreed. I shoot MFT and Sony 35mm, the former mainly with zooms in good light and the latter mainly with primes in low light. My GX9 with 12-32 or 20/1.7 is my go-to for a lightweight walkabout kit. I slap on the 14-140 for hiking. This gets me crisp 18"x24" prints. Sony 35mm is my "pro" kit for difficult light and no-compromise projects. Owning both, I see no reason to get an a7C. Other folks may face different priorities and compromises.

Matt Williams's picture

The Panasonic 12-32 is the OG collapsible pancake with *excellent* IQ, but obviously no sensor it uses goes above 20MP.

Ironically, though, it's actually resolving detail on the same level of a theoretical 80MP full frame or 36MP APS-C camera.

The 28-60 is FAR FAR better than "only resolves 20MP of detail."

I tested that lens on an a7RIV and was blown away, just as I was with the Nikon Z 24-50 on a Z7.

Jacques Cornell's picture

That's good news. I'd hoped Sony wouldn't repeat the ugly compromises it made with the 28-70, which I found to be essentially a waste of a 42MP sensor.

As for resolution, yeah, I think people don't appreciate the amazing design and production engineering PanOly brought to new lenses to deliver essentially DOUBLE the resolution per square millimeter of sensor area. The precision involved was groundbreaking at the launch of the MFT system. Other makers have caught up now with larger-format lenses, but they've had to completely redesign their lens catalogs over the past 10 years, and as a result their new lenses are MUCH larger, heavier and more expensive than they were in the 21MP DSLR era.

Matt Williams's picture

Yeah, people really don't appreciate Oly/Panny m4/3 lenses. Olympus especially made some all-time great lenses, like the 60/2.8 macro, 75/1.8, 12-40/2.8, and the 12-200/4.

Panasonic's 10-25/1.7 is perhaps THE best wide angle zoom lens I have ever used. It gives prime lens level image quality at every focal length, while being f/1.7.

The Oly 60 is one of the best macros I've used and the 12-200 is probably the best superzoom out there.

And most of those I mentioned are downright tiny. AND cheap, compared to their FF counterpart (the Panasonic 10-17 is very expensive, but I can't argue with it).

P.S. yes, the 28-70 was a dogsh*t lens from the beginning, even on the lower res a7. The Zeiss 24-70 was pretty bad too. Sony did not have a great start with their non-prime FE lenses.

Matt Williams's picture

I found the Nikkor 24-85/3.5-4.5G to be a very very excellent walk-around lens when I still shot Nikon DSLR. I also had a 24-120/4 VR which is pretty good with a nice range if you get a good copy.

Both can be found used very cheaply - the 24-85 especially. In case you want something with more range (and smaller/lighter, in the case of the 24-85) than your 28-70. Autofocusing will be far better with them too, since they're G lenses. The 28-70 is optically better than the 24-120 most of the time, but lack's 70-120, and worse than the 24-85 most of the time (at equivalent apertures, of course).

The 24-85G is a really stellar lens for the FX DSLRs if you buy used. I loved it.

PHIL RUDIN's picture

Currently underwater photography is one of the fastest growing areas of the market and water contact lenses are revolutionizing wide angle underwater. Historically U/W photographers have used wide angle land lenses in housings with dome ports. For full frame cameras the dome needs to be bigger than for sub FF cameras. I have used Sony FE 12-24, 16-35, Tamron 17-28 and more with a 230mm optical glass dome port. The new Sony FE 28-60 has helped to simplify this process by reducing the size of the overall system while upping image quality significantly. I have included images of two housing systems, the A7R IV on the left with a Nauticam WACP wet lens and the A7C housing on the right with the Nauticam WWL-1 wet lens. Both of these accessory optics widen the AOV to 130 degrees on the 28mm end and 68 degrees on the 60mm end of the lens. For non U/W photographers wide lenses rule because you can get very close to your subject while reducing the amount of water you shoot through.

The attached vertical is shot with the 28-60 at 28mm using WWL-1 while the landscape photo is taken with 28-60 at 28mm using WACP. Both shot at F/10.

My name is Phil Rudin and I am Senior Reviewer for Under Water Photography magazine which is a free PDF download. My 4000 word review of the Sony A7C with Nauticam housing using only the Sony FE 28-60mm lens is in the current issue #119.

Dave Palmer's picture

You can get a Sony 28-70mm kit lens from Ebay for less than $150. it is small and lightweight making for easy carry. The IQ isn't that great so I use it for casual snapshots and switch to a better lens for more serious work. It is a cheap way to get into the a7 family.

PHIL RUDIN's picture

Hello Dave, This becomes much more complicated when using water contact lenses I own the 28-70 and it works with the Nauticam WACP wet lens which costs $4700+ but not with the WWL-1 which cost 1400+ The new 28-60 allows either of the water contact lenses to be used. So different price points for say an A1 user verses an A7C user both using the 28-60.

chloe Abbott's picture

I think Monsieur 40mm f1.8 is a little too biased for any one to take this review seriously.
A kit lens that isn't all plastic? that some good shit! would you get that from Canon or Nikon? Hell NO!

It's not really a lens i would purchase for my self ( i'd prefer a bit more telephoto) but for a beginner purchasing their first full frame it would be perfect.
A lot of "professional" people cling to the old thinking of how photography should be not realizing that technology has improved to the point that there is no real thing as a bad camera or lens rather that there are now simply incompatible cameras/lenses for one's preferred shooting style