Sony Discontinues the Zeiss 16-70mm f/4 APS-C Lens in Japan: Report

Sony 16-70mm f/4 Zeiss lens discontinued in Japan

Reports suggest that the Sony Vario-Tessar T* 16-70mm f/4 ZA OSS lens for APS-C Sony E-mount cameras has been discontinued.

At three major Japanese camera retailers, Kitamura Camera, Map Camera, and Yodobashi Camera, the Zeiss-branded Sony zoom lens is listed as out of production or discontinued, according to Asobinet. At Bic Camera, the lens is still listed as on sale.

In the United States, Adorama and B&H list the lens as in stock. At Sony’s online store, the company says only two copies of the lens are left in stock. However, somewhat interestingly, the lens is not always easy to find in Sony’s store. While it appears in search queries, if Sony’s lens catalog is filtered by “APS-C sensor size,” the 16-70mm does not show up in the results. That might be an odd quirk, though.

Sony Japan’s online store is a different story. The product listing for the Vario-Tessar T* 16-70mm f/4 lens says that the lens is “no longer sold at Sony Store.”

Although released in 2013, the 16-70mm f/4 lens remains a popular choice among photographers thanks to offering excellent optical performance at a reasonable $800 price. There is also no perfect alternative in Sony’s library, although the E PZ 18-105mm f/4 G OSS Power Zoom lens at least offers the same constant f/4 aperture and is currently on sale for $550. That lens is very old, hitting stores the same year as the 16-70mm f/4.

To a similar point, Sony has been pretty quiet with updating its APS-C E-mount offerings of late. Sony was exceptionally busy in the early 2010s, which makes perfect sense, launching 10 APS-C zoom lenses from 2010 to 2014. Sony has released just five since 2016, despite releasing some amazing APS-C cameras in the interim, including the superb a6700 this summer.

Of note, the 16-70mm f/4 is the only Sony APS-C zoom lens made in collaboration with Zeiss, joining 2011’s 24mm f/1.8 prime lens. Zeiss and Sony released two full-frame zooms, the 16-35mm f/4 and 24-70mm f/4, in 2014 and four full-frame primes, the last of which is the Sony Planar T* FE 50mm f/1.4 ZA in 2016.

Given how much most photographers love the Sony Zeiss lenses, it is surprising that there has yet to be a new one in nearly eight years. Or maybe not. Zeiss hasn’t announced much recently, and it has been a while since it released a new Batis or Otus series lens, which is a shame, given how spectacular they are and how many more focal lengths remain to be covered.

Given how Sony loves to tout how many E-mount lenses it has every time it announces a new lens, it will be interesting to see what the company says when it reveals its next lens. If Sony has discontinued the 16-70mm f/4 lens, as it seems it has, it would mark a significant departure for the company. Even as Sony launches Mark II versions of its G Master lenses, the originals have yet to be discontinued.

If a Sony shooter is keen to add the 16-70mm f/4 lens to their APS-C kit, now is likely the right time, provided they want a brand-new copy.