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Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master Lens Review

Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master Lens Review - John Riley reviews the Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master lens for Sony E mount cameras.

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Category : Interchangeable Lenses
Product : Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM
Price : BUY NOW£1,799
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Handling and Features
Performance
Verdict
Specification

Sony Fe 24 70mm F2,8 On A7r Set At 24mm

The Sony G Master range is described as a “supreme blend of high resolution and beautiful bokeh” which will match current and even future trends with high resolution sensors. This is a very desirable combination of properties if it can be achieved, especially with such a useful, bright f/2.8 aperture, mid range zoom. We put it to the test using the 42MP Sony Alpha A7R II body to see if the lens does indeed live up to its billing.

Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM Handling and Features

Sony Fe 24 70mm F2,8 On A7r Set At 24mm With Hood

The lens is big and heavy, weighing a fairly substantial 886g. It is clearly very well made, all controls are smooth and without excess play. If we start at the front of the lens, the petal lens hood provided bayonets securely into place and has a release catch to ensure it does not work loose. There is an 82mm filter thread taking standard screw-in filters.

Behind this we find the manual focus ring, which is electronic in operation. This is very smooth and placed so that it is unlikely to be moved accidentally. Just behind this, conveniently placed, is a single focus lock button. This allows the focus point in AF to be locked prior to recomposing and shooting.

The zoom ring is slightly broader and quite firm, presumably because it is moving a lot of glass. There is a lock switch that can be employed at 24mm, to ensure the lens does not extend under its own weight whilst carrying. Finally, the AF/MF switch is close to the camera body. The metal bayonet mount looks solid and should carry the weight of some quite heavy optics without concern. A mask over the rear element helps ensure that flare is kept to a minimum.

Sony Fe 24 70mm F2,8 On A7r Set At 70mm

The optical formula comprises 18 elements in 13 groups. There is one XA (extreme aspherical) element, with a quoted surface precision of 0.01 microns. There are two aspherical elements, plus one ED (extra low dispersion) and one Super ED element completing the line-up of special glass. The whole lens is dust and moisture resistant. Sony Nano AR coatings reduce flare and improve contrast and colour. Bokeh is enhanced by the use of a nine blade circular diaphragm.

AF is driven by a Direct Drive SSM motor of high precision, offering speed, accuracy and virtual silence in operation. Focusing is down to 0.38m (1.25 feet), a maximum magnification of 0.24x.

The 24-70mm zoom is a mid-range standard optic and as such very versatile, usable from landscapes to portraits, street photography to sport. Coupled with the fast f/2.8 aperture this makes for a very practical lens indeed.

Sony Fe 24 70mm F2,8 Rear Oblique View

Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM Performance

Resistance to flare is exceptional, it is just not a problem. The bokeh is highlighted by Sony themselves and I agree with them, it is beautiful. Combining the smoothness of the bokeh with the high resolution is a nice trick and they have carried it off with assured confidence.

At 24mm we have -3.01% barrel distortion, obvious in architectural images, but correctable in software. This becomes a negligible +0.827% pincushion at 35mm. 50mm sees +2.33% pincushion and 70mm +2.21% pincushion distortion. This is a good level of control for a 24-70mm zoom lens.

24mm central sharpness is simply outstanding at f/2.8 and f/4. Diffraction slowly reduces this, but image sharpness remains excellent through to f/16. It is still very good at f/22. At the edges, sharpness is excellent from open aperture through to f/11, remains very good at f/16 and still good at f/22.

24mm CA is an insignificant amount at the centre, slightly less than one quarter of a pixel. The edges are not so well controlled, but this is correctable in software.

MTF@24mm
MTF@24mm
 
MTF@50mm
MTF@50mm
 
MTF@70mm
MTF@70mm
 

How to read our charts

The blue column represents readings from the centre of the picture frame at the various apertures and the green is from the edges. 

The scale on the left side is an indication of actual image resolution as LW/PH and is described in detail above. The taller the column, the better the lens performance. 

For this review, the lens was tested on a Sony Alpha A7R II using Imatest.

35mm sharpness is excellent centrally from f/2.8 to f/11, remaining very good at f/16 and f/22. The edges start off very good at f/2.8, have an excellent standard from f/4 to f/11. Diffraction takes its toll thereafter, sharpness being very good at f/16 but the edges becoming soft at f/22. Nonetheless, there can be value in having that f/22 setting where circumstances dictate that depth of field is the priority.

35mm CA is again very low centrally and control also improves at the edges.

50mm sharpness shows exactly the same pattern as at 35mm. Centrally excellent down to f/11, very good at f/16 and f/22. Edges start off very good at f/2.8, become excellent from f/4 to f/11, very good at f/16 and fair at f/22.

50mm CA shows that the control peaks at this focal length, and values both centre and edge are commendably low.

 

CA@24mm
CA@24mm
 
CA@50mm
CA@50mm
 
CA@70mm
CA@70mm

How to read our charts

Chromatic aberration is the lens' inability to focus on the sensor or film all colours of visible light at the same point. Severe chromatic aberration gives a noticeable fringing or a halo effect around sharp edges within the picture. It can be cured in software.

Apochromatic lenses have special lens elements (aspheric, extra-low dispersion etc) to minimize the problem, hence they usually cost more.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Sony Alpha A7R II using Imatest.

 

70mm does see a slight fall in performance, but central sharpness is maintained very well. It starts off at a very good level at f/2.8, becomes excellent from f/4 to f/11, remaining very good at f/16 and f/22. The edges fare less well, but are good from f/2.8 to f/5.6, very good from f/8 to f/16 and still good at f/22.

In some respects, the outstanding performance at some settings does mean that it sets the stage for a very demanding expectation of performance overall. It's fair to say that compared to other 24-70mm full frame lenses the Sony does indeed deliver a stellar performance. “Supreme blend of high resolution and beautiful bokeh” does seem to be a description that can be totally justified.

 

Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM Sample Photos

Value For Money

Value For Money can be looked at in various ways. Firstly, taken in isolation, the Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master lens is priced at a hefty £1799. It is only available in E mount, so the pinnacle of performance will be one of the A7R camera bodies, as used in this review. To get something similar we would look to the admittedly bulkier DSLRs. In this case, Canon produce the EF 24-70mm f/2.8 L II USM (£1459), Nikon the 24-70mm f/2.8 G AF-S ED VR (£1849) and Pentax the HD Pentax-D FA 24-70mm f/2.8 (£1149). All of these are great lenses for their respective marques, but the Sony does seem to out-perform them all.

The Sony lens can also be used on E mount APS-C cameras, although to do so may seem to waste some of its potential and it could be argued that it deserves full frame use and would not represent the best VFM on a smaller format.

The Sony lens represents a level of performance that can only be found in the most expensive lenses. It is itself quite expensive, but given that prices may yet ease over time it is within the realms of being a realistic price.

 

Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM Verdict

Zoom lenses do have strengths and weaknesses in their performance, but there is little to complain about with this Sony G Master. Any sacrifice in the bald figures is more than made up for with the convenience and versatility a zoom lens represents, and there are precious few sacrifices.

Sharpness at its best is excellent to outstanding, CA and distortion can be addressed in software, although centrally CA is very well controlled anyway. Flare is non-existent. And the bokeh is indeed beautiful, quite sublime. So visually the overall “look” of the images from this lens is highly impressive.

Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM  Pros

Outstanding sharpness centrally
No flare
Low central CA
Beautiful bokeh
High manufacturing quality
Silent AF

Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM Cons

Price
Some edge CA
Heavy
Bulky

 

FEATURES  
HANDLING  
PERFORMANCE  
VALUE FOR MONEY  
VERDICT  

The Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master is a superb standard zoom with high resolution and sublime bokeh.

 

Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM Specifications

ManufacturerSony
General
Lens Mounts
  • Sony FE Mount
Lens
Focal Length24mm - 70mm
Angle of View34 - 84
Max Aperturef/2.8
Min Aperturef/22
Filter Size82mm
StabilisedNo
35mm equivalentNo Data
Internal focusingYes
Maximum magnification0.24x
Focusing
Min Focus38cm
Construction
Blades9
Elements18
Groups13
Box Contents
Box ContentsHood, front cap, rear cap, case
Dimensions
Weight886g
Height136mm

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Comments


ChrisV Plus
10 1.7k 26 United Kingdom
22 Jun 2016 12:22PM
Looks like a cracker. But decent value? If you look at its peers among the big marques, they're stabilised lenses. The Sony may not need that optical stabilisation [although it is only present on some of the 7 bodies], but it does mean less complexity and cost in the lens design. They've stuck with the low volume/high margin model when they could have really shaken up the market by pitching it within reach of a greater proportion of their customer base and made their system even more attractive as an alternative to the CaNikon standard.

I suppose they have marketeers and accountants to work out where they should pitch these things - from my armchair they're wrong.

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22 Jun 2016 1:21PM
I feel Sony have introduced the GMaster range, with the future in mind. Before long a full frame camera to challenge the 1DX MK 2 and the D5S will hit the market.
Sony dominate the sensor market, and now, with the addition of Carl Zeiss, are making inroads into the high end lens production. We know the 70-200 from all manufacturers have been head and shoulders above most zoom lenses ( thus proving quality zooms are possible ). Sony have upped the game by producing some outstanding zooms, capable of working with the high mega pixel cameras of today. The 28-135 F4 dual still and video lens has become my workhorse, The new FE 70-300 is a huge improvement from the previous, from all manufacturers. The 24-70 reviewed is just awesome, and the 70-200 GMaster F2.8, when available will I'm sure blow the mind.
Chris_L 3 3.8k United Kingdom
22 Jun 2016 2:29PM
I feel Sony have introduced it with the present in mind, not just the future.The current bodies are outstanding; native glass choice is poorer than the competition but getting better all of the time. The fact that this lens seems to beat Canikon offerings (bar the IS) but will have a smaller market does somewhat excuse the high price. They can't really do it any other way I suppose.
ChrisV Plus
10 1.7k 26 United Kingdom
23 Jun 2016 2:58PM
I suppose the third party manufacturers have a potentially larger market because they'll make them in several mounts. I don't think any of the popular ones are any where near as well regarded as the major brands at present, but they come in at 800 for the Tokina, 650 for the Tamron and 550 for the Sigma [the latter doesn't seem to sport IS]. They're now relatively old designs, but I suppose it gives some indication of cost of manufacture. The major brands in particular seem to push to recover development costs early on, but then do seem to deliberately keep the price relatively high [I don't imagine the volumes of Canon L glass for example would be that much lower than third party equivalents - even across various mounts].

I'd expect the price of this Sony lens to fall considerably within a couple of years - it will be interesting to see how low it will go.
23 Jun 2016 4:36PM
Sony will have target sales for this lens in the UK.
IT is very unlikely this lens would not make it's target, so I would expect the price to remain high.
The two lenses, that spring to mind where they reduced the UK price were specialist ones, from Sony point of view. the 500MM and the PZ 28-135.
Different lenses sell well in some countries, but not others. In my opinion the 24-70 G Master will sell well in all regions.
Time will tell.

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