Cosina AF 19-35mm F/3.5-4.5 MC is a very good fullframe wide-angle zoom lens. It exhibits excellent sharpness at the center of the frame at all focal lengths and very good at the edges of full frame with closing of the aperture by several stops. The corners of full frame are soft at most combinations of focal length and aperture though.
The lens exhibits noticeable distortion at focal length of 19 mm with full frame sensor but this is a typical disadvantage of wide-angle lenses. The distortion reduces with zooming to focal length of 35 mm.
Vignetting is insidious with full frame sensor — it does not disappear at focal length of 19 mm at any given aperture, but at least it remains weak at focal length of 35 mm.
Lateral chromatic aberrations are weak in general, except that at the corners of full frame they can reach moderate values (2-3 pixels with Canon 5D’s sensor) and cause the deterioration of the image resolution at this part of the frame.
It seems like the Cosina’s proprietary multi-layer coatings of this lens are optimized to provide the best light transmission and the resistance of the lens to flares leaves something to be desired even with the dedicated round lens hood and can be recognized as the main disadvantage of this lens.
There’s no problems with efficiency of the autofocus — it’s fast with Canon 5D (but of course lags behind the lenses equipped with ultrasonic motor), low noisy and precise. The autofocus hunts only when you start to shoot low contrast scenes but focuses confidently in low light conditions.
The build quality of the lens is good, the housing is made of polycarbonate and the mount is metallic. At the same time, the manual focusing ring rotates automatically during autofocus which looks pretty anachronistic by today’s standards. Moreover the front element and the filter thread also rotate during autofocus which does not allow to conveniently use gradient and/or polarizing filters and petal lens hood instead of supplied round lens hood of small depth.
The lens was designed for landscape, architecture and interiors shooting and it feels like it copes well with this kind of tasks. Moreover the lens can be used for street shooting in case when you work in good lighting conditions and don’t try to capture the dynamic subjects.
To the date, the lens is discontinued and can be purchased only in used condition. It should be noted that this is one of the most affordable wide-angle zooms for the full frame cameras.
As for the owners of APS-C digital SLR cameras (whether Canon, Nikon, Pentax or Sony), I really can’t recommend to purchase this lens. Your 18-55mm F/3.5-5.6 kit lens has more practical range of focal lengths, exhibits acceptable sharpness (especially newer models of kit lenses) and has much better resistance to flares even without the dedicated lens hood.
Author of the review and photos: Evgeny Artemov, email@example.com.
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