Before Zeiss introduced the E-mount Zeiss Touit 32 mm, people always asked whether to choose the Sony SEL35F18 or the SEL24F18Z. Why? These were the only two lenses available for the E-mount NEX, which are not too wide or too narrow for the angle of view, and the main concern is their price difference which is almost 2.5 times (SGD 629 for the SEL35F18 and SGD1,699 for the SEL24F18Z). If the price difference is lesser, most of us will definitely go for the Zeiss.
However, we cannot do anything about their prices. Many websites have individual reviews for each of them but not the comparison between both of them. So I decided to make a simple comparison for both of them here since I have the chance to test out both lenses. I hope that this post can help those who are frustrated/annoyed/hesitant about which lens is the one for you, and anyone who owns any of these lenses is welcome to leave your comment too here to help out those potential owners.
You may also read my individual reviews about the Sony SEL35F18 and Sony SEL24F18Z for more information.
Below is the technical specification comparison.
35mm equivalent focal-length
Lens groups / elements
7 / 8 (2 aspherical, 1 ED)
6 / 8 (2 aspherical, 1 ED)
Angle of view (on APS-C)
Minimum aperture (F)
Number of aperture blade
Minimum focus distance
Maximum magnification ratio
Dimensions (Diameter x Length)
63 x 65.5mm
63 x 45mm
Look and Feel
Although the SEL35F18 has a longer focal length than the SEL24F18Z, it has a relatively smaller and compact size than the SEL24F18Z. It is also lighter in weight.
Both of them have the same designed shape in the lens hood. The SEL24F18Z’s lens hood is thicker and taller than the SEl35F18’s. It made the SEL24F18Z look even more prominent and longer than the SEL35F18.
The SEL24F18Z comes with a matte black surface, while the SEL35F18 has a more “shiny” black surface. The SEL24F18Z has a premium rock-solid metal feel when you hold them in your hands, while the SEL35F18 gives you a solid but plastic feel.
Despite that, the little blue Zeiss logo on the SEL24F18Z makes itself feel and look more premium.
The SEL35F18 wins in the more compact size and is lighter in weight, while the SEL24F18Z has a premium look and feel.
Difference of the Focal Length
The SEL24F18Z and the SEL3518 are two different focal length lenses. The SEL24F18Z can capture more things into the frame from the same distance, while the SEL35F18 can capture a closer look at the subject. I mounted the camera on the tripod and took the shots below using the SEL35F18 and the SEL24F18Z.
When I was shooting with SEL35F18, I found that I was always in an awkward or even impossible situation to move backward or away from my subject. However, it is always easier for me to move closer to my subject when shooting with the SEL24F18Z. I won’t announce the SEL24F18Z as a winner because it is all up to your shooting styles and preferences.
I framed the subject with the same composition instead of shooting at the same spot to have a fair comparison for the center and the corner sharpness performance.
The SEL24F18Z shines here. It outperformed the SEL35F18 from the wide-open till the end, and its sharpness is 1 stop better than the SEL35F18’s sharpness. The SEL24F18Z boosts its sharpness from the F2.8, which is as sharp or better than the SEL35F18’s F4 sharpness.
The SEL24F18Z’s corner sharpness performed slightly better than the SEL35F18, but the difference is less significant than its center sharpness. As a wide-angle lens, the SEL24F18Z corner does have some distortion compared to the SEL35F18 corner view.
The CA comparison also used the same shots above but cropped from a slightly off-center and the top right corner.
Both lenses have purple fringing at the center area at their wide open. Stopped down to F2 will remove the purple fringing, and it does not appear anymore.
The SEL24F18Z tends to have magenta fringing, while the SEL35F18 has purple fringing at their corner shots. There are still some minor fringing at the F5.6 for both lenses, but they disappeared when they stopped down to F8.
Both lenses have good CA control in their center area while having some issues handling the CA in their corner area. It is glad to see that the cheaper SEL35F18 has a similar CA control as the much expensive SEL24F18Z, or sad to say that the quality of the corner CA control of SEL24F18Z does not match its crazy price.
The SEL24F18Z has a shorter minimum focus distance of 16cm and a larger magnification ratio of 0.25 times than the SEL35F18 30cm minimum focus distance and 0.15 times magnification ratio. How do these figures differ in real-life shooting?
The NEX-6 was mounted on the tripod and set to manual focus. From the images, as shown above, the difference of minimum focus distance is significant. You should be aware of this if you like to shoot close-up shots.
Besides, the magnification ratio also plays an essential role in the close-up shot. You can see how much difference between the close-up shots of both of the lenses.
Both lenses have a pretty good sharpness for macro shots. But the SEL24F18Z’s larger maximum magnification ratio gives you a larger view of the subject so that you don’t need to crop your subject in post-processing.
Both lenses exhibit heavy vignetting at their wide open at F1.8 and F2. Stopping down to F2.8 will significantly reduce the vignetting.
Usually, the longer focal length is easier to produce a better bokeh effect. This behavior applies to the SEL35F18 as well. I prefer the smoother and more creamy bokeh effect produced by the SEL35F18. You can feel the difference of having the bokeh effect immediately when you are trying both lenses side-by-side.
Both of them are able to produce a beautiful circular bokeh effect even at F2.8 (they started to show some polygon shape too). The polygon shape of bokeh becomes more obvious afterward.
Ghosting and Flare
I used the spotlight to test the ghosting control here. Below are the 100% crops from both lenses.
Both lenses have excellent control for the ghosting and flare across the frame. However, the SEL35F18 has some noticeable light blobs near the light source from F4 onward, while the SEL24F18Z has none.
Handheld Low Light Shooting
Theoretically, the SEL35F18 needs a minimum of 1/50 second safe shutter speed, while the SEL24F18Z needs 1/40 second. However, the SEL35F18 comes with the Sony OSS image stabilizer, enabling you to have a 3 – 4 stops slower of safe shutter speed. So will it outperform the SEL24F18Z here?
By turning the OSS on, the SEL35F18 had clear and sharp shots from its safe shutter speed 1/50 second to 1/8 second. On the other hand, blurriness starts to appear on the SEL24F18Z shots when the shutter speed falls below the safe shutter speed of 1/40 second. The shot of SEL24F18Z is still usable at 1/20 or even at 1/10 second, which is quite good for a lens without an image stabilizer.
I did not perform the video recording comparison, but an image stabilizer always is an advantage for the video recording. By having a solid OSS image stabilizer, the winner for handheld low light shooting belongs to..
Both of the lenses produce an accurate and saturate colour. The shots were captured from the same spot.
In the 100% crops comparison above, the SEL24F18Z shows a deeper and more saturated color than the SEl35F18. However, they are insignificant and close to each other.
The SEL35F18 and the SEL24F18Z are definitely two of the best E-mount lenses. At the price of SGD 629, it is pleased to see that the SEL35F18 has a comparable performance with its more expensive brother SEL24F18Z which cost you SGD 1,699. Besides, it also has an effective built-in OSS where the SEL24F18Z does not own. If you are going to buy one of the lenses after reading this review, please remember the following two points:
Firstly, test out both of them yourself if possible. Compare and find out which focal length suits your shooting style better. If you prefer to shoot landscape, shoot at some limited space place like a restaurant, party, etc., then go ahead for the SEL24F18Z. If you do the video recording frequently, do not want to have any shape changed for your subject, like the smoother and more creamy bokeh, then go and grab the SEL35F18.
Secondly, forget about the sharpness, CA, performance difference and then return to the first point. Both of them are sharp lenses and have comparable performance in other fields. Unless you can get the SEL2418Z at a lower price, the performance difference between these two lenses is not enough to justify their price difference.
Before the end of the post today, I would like to share some shots taken with both of the lenses and hope you like them =)
If you want to find out more about the lenses or view more shots taken with these lenses, you may read the individual lens review at SEL35F18 review and SEL24F18Z review.
It is the end of the comparison between the SEL24F18Z and the SEL35F18. Hopefully, it can give a little help to clear your doubt about these two lenses. If you have a question about any of them or are the owner of any of them and would like to share your opinion, you are welcome to leave your comment here. Thanks for your reading, I hope you enjoyed it and like it =)
This Post Has 8 Comments
Art Michael31 Mar 2017
Well done, thank you. I always did wonder how these two lenses compare.
Odessa7 Jul 2015
Rattling interesting comparison, you contribute
up the fact so enlighten.
Joscha Bach (@Plinz)9 Aug 2014
Thank you for the wonderful and detailed comparison. Personally, I am using the 24mm and while I sometimes wish that it would be smaller, I am very pleased with the results. 50mm equiv. is not versatile enough for me; I feel better about cropping an image then about missing to many indoor or landscape shots. 35mm equiv. is the better compromise for an all-purpose walk-around lens. (For portraits, a use an old manual lens with larger aperture and focal length anyway.)
I also enjoy the short minimum focus distance of the 24mm; you get some very cool effects when going close to baby faces etc.
I am sure that the 35mm is the perfect lens if the standard focal length is what you seek. I would feel like Charlie Pinker, though. The 24mm is the best that the Nex system can offer me.
James Tan12 Aug 2014
Thanks Joscha Bach and sorry for my late reply. You are right, the 24mm is the best in the NEX system and it is the most expensive prime as well (more expensive than the E-mount full frame Zeiss). I love the 24mm very much and I always missed it when I switched to other lenses. It’s great that you like the 24 mm as well. Cheers!
val24 Jun 2014
Have you compared the Zeiss Touit 32/1.8 and Carl Zeiss 24/1.8 E-mount lenses?
James Tan27 Jun 2014
Hi val, I don’t have the Touit 32 long enough to make a formal comparison. However, my 15 mins of first impression about the Touit 32 is the color richness and image sharpness is on par with the Zeiss 24, but the Touit 32 does not use ultrasonic auto-focus motor as the Zeiss 24, so it is more noisy and noticeable when it is doing the auto-focusing. Hope these info give you some help.
Charlie Pinker (@cdpinker)27 Feb 2014
Thanks for an excellent comparison, I especially liked the photos that switched between the two lenses. I agree with your concluding point that a person’s preferred shooting style is what should ultimately decide which lens to choose.
I bought the 35mm initially because it was the most versatile focal length “in theory”, but in practice I found I always felt it was too zoomed in and I was always always trying to move backwards to fit in what I was shooting. This is because I chose the lens for its wide aperture so I could use it in low light like parties, indoors etc, but these scenarios require a wider FOV than the 35mm provides, so I have swapped to the 24mm which should arrive soon. Can’t wait to try it out!
James Tan27 Feb 2014
Yea, the sel24f18z is an amazing and excellent lens, hopefully it will fit your shooting style and you are enjoyed using it! Share with us about your opinion/impression when you get your sel24f18z, cheers.