PortraitPro 23 Sale: 50% Off Downloads + Save 20% With Code: EZJS

Sony FE 20-70mm F/4 G Lens Review

John Riley has been putting the Sony FE 20-70mm F/4 G zoom lens through its paces, and capturing sample photos, to see if it's a good pairing for the Sony A7R III.

| Interchangeable Lenses

Sony FE 20-70mm F/4 G Lens Review: Sony FE 20 70mm F4G Front Oblique View | 1/4 sec | f/16.0 | 115.0 mm | ISO 100

With a range of some 70 or so lenses, quite a remarkable achievement in a relatively short time, Sony is now clearly pushing the boundaries to offer significantly new designs. The first standard zoom lenses arrived in the 1970s and were fairly modest affairs, perhaps 35-70mm f/4 being typical. Gradually with improved designs, this has been extended to 28-70mm, then 24-70mm and even 24-90mm and 24-120mm, with quality levels still reaching very high and satisfactory levels. The new Sony 20-70mm f/4 G lens stretches that ultra-wide even further and coincides with our ever-wider tastes in focal length. This is a powerful photographic tool indeed, offering a light and relatively compact lens that could be ideal for most general photography. Does it match up in terms of handling and performance? Let's find out, coupling the new lens up with the also recently reviewed 33MP Sony A7 IV body.



One image can change us.

A picture, a moment can change the way we feel. Change how we see ourselves. Change our understanding and change the rules. Provoke and change history.

MPB Gear

MPB puts photo and video kit into more hands, more sustainably. Every month, visual storytellers sell more than 20,000 cameras and lenses to MPB. Choose used and get affordable access to kit that doesnít cost the earth.

Sell the kit youíre not using to MPB. Trade in for the kit you need to create. Buy used, spend less and get more.

Buy. Sell. Trade. Create.

MPB Start Shopping

Sony FE 20-70mm F/4 G Handling and Features

Sony FE 20-70mm F/4 G Lens Review: Sony FE 20 70mm F4G On Sony A7IV With Hood | 0.3 sec | f/16.0 | 68.0 mm | ISO 100

The lens sits well on the A7 IV body, the package being well-balanced and relatively compact. It weighs in at a modest 488g and measures just 78.7mm in diameter and 99.0mm in length. There is a provided petal lens hood that bayonets crisply into position and shows no signs of being easily dislodged in use. Within the bayonet mount for the hood is a standard 72mm filter thread.

First up is the electronic focusing ring. This is ultra-smooth if perhaps a little too smooth for manual focusing as there is little feel or resistance to its operation. It is compatible with all the usual Sony options, such as AF-S, AF-A, AF-C, MF and DMF. These are selected from the camera menus. Just behind the ring are two focus hold buttons plus an AF/MF switch. Focusing is virtually silent and is affected using 2 XD Linear motors. IF (Internal Focusing) means that the length of the lens does not alter as we focus. The XD (Extreme Dynamic) motors are claimed to be 60% faster and 2x better at tracking than the 24-70mm lens. Focusing is virtually silent and certainly very fast and accurate. The closest focus is 0.3m (0.99 feet) to 0.25m (0.82 feet) for a maximum magnification of 0.39x. This is not quite down to macro distances, but is much closer than average for a standard zoom lens and increases the usefulness of the lens significantly.

The zoom ring has more resistance to it as it is physically moving the lens forwards as we zoom. However, it is also smooth in its operation. Focal lengths are clearly inscribed at 20mm, 24mm, 28mm, 35mm, 50mm and 70mm. The settings indicated are accurate. There is no zoom creep when the lens is pointed downwards or upwards. Focus breathing is minimised optically, plus some A series bodies also offer Focus Breathing Compensation.

Sony FE 20-70mm F/4 G Lens Review: Sony FE 20 70mm F4G On Sony A7IV Top View 70mm | 1/5 sec | f/16.0 | 28.0 mm | ISO 100

The aperture ring offers an A setting for when we wish to change the aperture using the camera body plus a conventional ring with click stops in one-third of a stop intervals. There is a small switch that enables us to switch off the click stops, something that videographers may well appreciate. There is also an iris lock switch. If engaged while A is set then it prevents the aperture ring from being accidentally moved from the A position. If engaged when using the aperture ring to change the aperture it prevents A from being accidentally selected.

Optical construction is 16 elements in 13 groups and includes 2 AA (Advanced Aspherical), 1 Aspherical, 3 ED (Extra Low Dispersion) and 1 ED Aspherical. The front element has a Fluorine coating to resist moisture, dirt and dust and the whole lens has dust and moisture resistance. Steady Shot image stabilisation is found within most Sony A series camera bodies and is therefore not a feature of this lens.

Sony FE 20-70mm F/4 G Lens Review: Sony FE 20 70mm F4G Front Element View | 0.4 sec | f/16.0 | 60.0 mm | ISO 100

General handling of the lens is sweet, being straightforward, predictable and efficient in operation. Lenses should not intrude upon the photographic process, and this one just melds into the working practice that we have become familiar with using Sony cameras and lenses. Extending the wide angle to 20mm is a terrific advantage and this will minimise the need to constantly change lenses when working in cramped environments, or in any situation where both wide angle and longer shots are required. 20mm is significantly wider than 24mm.


Buy Now

We don't have the latest price however the link below will take you to the most relevant items.

Sony FE 20-70mm f/4 G SEARCH

We don't have the latest price however the link below will take you to the most relevant items.

Sony FE 20-70mm f/4 G SEARCH

We transform the way that people buy, sell and trade in photo and video kit.


Support this site by making a Donation, purchasing Plus Membership, or shopping with one of our affiliates: Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon CA, ebay UK, MPB. It doesn't cost you anything extra when you use these links, but it does support the site, helping keep ePHOTOzine free to use, thank you.


Other articles you might find interesting...

Fujifilm Fujinon GF 20-35mm F/4 R WR Lens Review
Fujifilm Fujinon XF 30mm F/2.8 R LM WR Macro Lens Review
Samyang AF 85mm F/1.4 FE II Lens Review
Nikon Z 17-28mm F/2.8 Lens Review
Best Nikon Z Lenses
Best Samyang Lenses
Best Fujifilm X-Mount Lenses
Sony Announces Development Of 300mm F/2.8 Telephoto Full-Fra...


19 Jan 2023 5:46PM
Hi - You say this lens is, "amazing and versatile option for Sony A series users". Not as far as I know as my info online says it is an E-Mount lens.

Anyhow, I'm a Sony mirrorless user and I shall not be thinking about the lens. The max F4 aperture is a serious limitation. The 24-70/2.8 washes this away. As ever there are often compromises in photography but this goes beyond compromise. In the UK and mainland Europe where bright natural lighting can often be in short supply the max aperture of F4 is a drawback in spite of the higher ISO levels that are now available. And if a shallow depth of field is desirable then it is tough luck. Its price tag suggests it is not for casual users. I think this lens is a mistake but for those who think differently, enjoy.
19 Jan 2023 10:40PM
Alpha series, A7, A7R etc, and indeed FE mount. It wasn't meant to indicate A mount, but indeed could have been clearer!
andygeol 10 6 United Kingdom
24 Jan 2023 10:07AM
I'm not sure where this lens is supposed to fit. As an owner of 24-105 and 16-35, this lens would not replace either of these 2. Nor does it offer f2.8. I would much rather see a Mark 2 24-105 as this is by far the most useful range for me.
3 Feb 2023 11:37PM
There are now three 20 to ďsomethingĒ zooms out there for FF mirrorless cameras. Panasonic 20 to 60, Tamron 20 to 40 and this 20-70. They all have compromises. Panasonic is F5.6, Tamron stops at 40mm (but is F2.8) so maybe the F4 Sony is a compromise between longer zoom range and faster but less zoom range.

I really like the idea of a standard zoom starting at 20mm and almost bought a Pansonic S5 because of their 20-60.

The unique selling point of these lenses is the 20mm wide end. It might be only 4mm more than a 24mm but the extra degrees of view are significant. All are therefore great lenses for taking photos in cityís and for landscapes.

24-70 F2.8ís? After 50mm primes they get my vote as the most over rated lenses going. F2.8 is not that fast but you pay a weight and price penalty for them so I donít think they are the competition.

So will I be buying a Sony 20-70? Not at £1400 I wonít. Itís USD $1000 and while I am used to seeing a one to one $ to £ ratio this is the first time I have seen the £ price be 40% more than the $ price.

There is however another reason I wonít buy it. This test shows it is weakest at 20mm, and the 20mm end is the reason Iíd want a lens like this in the first place. The fact itís great at 70mm is not a selling point to me.

Tamron 20-40? Not sure how it performs and would like to see a test on this web site but it lacks the aperture ring and function buttons on the Sony. Compromises eh?

Sign In

You must be a member to leave a comment.

ePHOTOzine, the web's friendliest photography community.

Join For Free

Upload photos, chat with photographers, win prizes and much more.