Written review (basically script from video)
This lens is small, really small and light too at only 120g. When combined with the A7RII it has a total weight of only 760 grams.
This makes it super portable. It won't take up too much room in your bag and you'll happily be able to carry this around all day without it causing you too many issues.
The size also makes it incredibly unobtrusive which i think is actually a massive pro for this lens that is often overlooked.
Overall, It fits and balances really well on all of the Sony A7 AND A6000 range of cameras.
While small and light, the lens does have a reassuring density to it and it should, as it's the exterior and the lens mount are all made from metal. The Filter Thread is also metal and is 49mm.
The lens itself is pretty scarce. There's some branding like the rather fetching blue zeiss badge but there's no switches or focus hold buttons to be seen.
The only control on the lens is the focus ring which nicely weighted and rather smooth. Obviously being a Sony lens there are no dead stops and it is a fly by wire system.
The is no rubber gasket on this lens but it is advertised as being dust and moisture resistant. I have used it in some light drizzle and never encountered any issues so take that as you will.
This lens does not have any form of Image Stabilisation. At 35mm it's not as essential as a longer focal length however, it can be very useful to have around. Obviously if you're shooting with a Sony A7ii or newer (or A6500) then you will have the in camera IS which will counter this point.
Overall, build quality is excellent and it handles very well on all the Sony E-mount cameras.
Image Quality is fantastic. Wide open, the centre sharpness is excellent while the corners are a little softer but still very good.
Stopping down to F4 increases sharpness every so slightly but it's not particularly significant. Honestly, it's not just usable at F2.8 but it's good at F2.8. Mine usually gets set to F2.8 and stays there.
Bokeh is another strongpoint as it's buttery smooth. Obviously you don't get quite as much bokeh as you would on an F1.4 or F2 lens but what bokeh you do get, is very nice indeed.
Colour and contrast are both excellent as you would hope for in a Zeiss branded lens. I personally love contrast which this lens delivers in spades but if you prefer a slightly less contrasty look then you need to knock it down in post slightly.
Flare is handled reasonably well but it does occur when shooting directly into the sun etc.
I've never spotted any noticeable chromatic aberration or purple fringing.
Vignetting is probably the lenses biggest weakness. You will get significant vignetting when shooting at f2.8 but it will improve as you stop down. However, i like many shoot with Lightroom so Vignetting really isn't much of an issue as it's so easily fixed.
Auto focus is fast, quiet and accurate. Even on the original A7 i never really encountered any issues with the auto focus of this lens and on a A7Rii or A6500 it's remarkably speedy.
Eye Autofocus also works a treat on this lens.
It focuses well in low light and doesn't seem to hunt too much. Occasionally it will focus past the subject before hitting focus on the way back but that's only ever in very poor light.
The lens will work well for video work as it's near silent when focusing.
The minimum focus distance to me, feels frustratingly long at 35cm (1.15 feet). Maybe it's just me, but I feel that it wouldn't be frustrating if it were just that 5-10 cm shorter. It often looks as though it's just about to hit the focus only to keep hunting because you're too close to the subject.
The manual focus ring is smooth and well weighted but it's a fly by wire system so you'll either love it or hate it regardless.
Price/Value for Money
This price is the lenses weakest point. It's very expensive for what it is and although it's a very good lens, the price is going to scare away many and with good reason.
The lens' RRP from Sony is a staggering £859 however, it can be picked up on Amazon currently for £679.
Nikon Nikkor 35mm F1.8 = £518
Sigma ART 35mm F1.4 = £649
Canon 35mm F2 with IS = £519
Samyang 35mm F1.4 = £599
Samyang 35mm F2.8 = £249
The only 35mm that's more expensive than this lens for the Sony mount is the Zeiss 35mm F1.4.
The two biggest complaints about this lens are aperture and price. Now I can understand the aperture, they kept it 'slow' so that they could keep the lens small and light but i personally don't see how they can justify the cost. It's simply too expensive for what it is.
If you do fancy one, do as i did and keep your eye on the used market. I picked mine up for £300 and it's done me very well indeed.
Overall I really like the Sony 35mm F2.8. It's small size make it a brilliant walk around these that's both sharp and fast.
It's unassuming size and design make it an excellent street or event photography lens.
Yes the aperture could be faster but generally speaking F2.8 is fast enough for most situations. Remember, F2.8 is as fast as the most expensive zoom lenses.
Can I recommend it? Yes and No. If you absolutely need/want a small, light sharp lens for the Sony A7 series and you can afford the cost of entry then i'd gladly recommend this lens . However, you must take into account the other options out there. If size isn't that important to you then there are bigger but ultimately considerably faster and cheaper lenses out there.
If this lens fits your niche then you'll adore it but if speed is the most important factor, there are better alternatives out there.