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Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Lens Review

John Riley has been out capturing photos with the Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II lens which updates the original Sony FE 24-700mm f/2.8 G Master lens first released 6 years ago.

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Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Lens Review: Sony Fe 24 70mm F2,8 GmII On A7RIII Top View | 1/5 sec | f/16.0 | 40.0 mm | ISO 100

Incredibly, it is six years since we reviewed the original version of this lens, giving it the accolade of Highly Recommended. Now we have the MK II version – smaller, lighter and potentially better. Better is of course a loaded word in relation to a lens, as there are many ways in which it may be better, perhaps sharpness, perhaps bokeh, perhaps chromatic aberration, or perhaps just ease of use and general handling. The 24-70mm full frame lens is of course a workhorse, with a huge repertoire of possible uses, so it is extremely important in any range. Let's put it together now with the 42MP Sony A7R III and see just how it does deliver on the promise of being a lens that can surpass its predecessor, excellent as that has already been.



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Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM IIHandling and Features

Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Lens Review: Sony Fe 24 70mm F2,8 GmII Front Oblique View | 1/5 sec | f/16.0 | 100.0 mm | ISO 100

The lens matches well with the A7R III body, the balance being very comfortable in the hand. Weighing in at 695g it is significantly lighter than the 886g of the previous version. It is also relatively compact, measuring just 119.9mm long and 87.8mm in diameter.

There is a provided petal lens hood that has a locking catch that is probably over-kill, but it does keep the hood securely in place. The hood has an extra feature – a sliding filter access panel that can be removed to allow the rotation of polarising or graduated filters whilst the hood remains in place. Sony is not the first to do this, but the idea is sound and it is good to see its inclusion. Within the bayonet mount for the hood is a standard 82mm filter thread.

The electronic focusing ring is first in line and it is, as expected, totally smooth in operation. The usual Sony focusing features (AF-A, AF-S, AF-C, DMF and MF) are accessed via the camera menu. Just behind the focusing ring, an AF/MF switch is also included. There are also two focus lock buttons, on the side and on the top of the lens, catering for landscape and portrait holding. Focusing is down to 0.21m (0.69 feet) at 24mm and 0.30m (0.99 feet) at 70mm. Maximum magnification is 0.32x, which is usefully close. AF is driven by 4 Sony XD (Extreme Dynamic) motors and is certainly fast as well as virtually silent.

Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Lens Review: Sony Fe 24 70mm F2,8 GmII Rear Oblique View | 1/4 sec | f/16.0 | 100.0 mm | ISO 100

A new addition is a Smooth/Tight slider switch and this applies to the amount of resistance in the zoom control ring. With a new lens the smooth setting shows no lens creep, but maybe some years down the line the tight setting might be appreciated. It could also be useful now to hold a setting when the lens is pointed down, perhaps for document copying, although there is no sign of creep when new.

The zoom ring is broad and has a good grip. It is clearly marked in accurate focal lengths of 24mm, 35mm, 50mm and 70mm. Finally, just behind the zoom ring, is the aperture ring. This is ribbed, has well-defined click stops in one-third of a stop intervals and an A setting for when we prefer to operate the aperture from the camera body. There are two small switches that offer further refinement. The Iris Lock can either lock the ring into the A setting or out of it, so there is no chance of accidentally moving from one style of working into another. There is also a click-on/off switch, which will be appreciated by videographers in particular. Also with videographers in mind, some camera bodies support Focus Breathing Compensation with this lens.

Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Lens Review: Sony Fe 24 70mm F2,8 GmII Rear Element View | 1/4 sec | f/16.0 | 78.0 mm | ISO 100

Optical construction is 20 elements in 15 groups, including 2 XA (Extreme Aspherical), 2 ED (Extra Low Dispersion), 2 Super ED and a floating focusing group. Floating focusing helps maintain sharpness at all distances. The lens has Nano AR coatings and a fluorine-coated front element to help repel dust, grease and moisture. The whole lens is sealed and offers dust and moisture resistance. The diaphragm comprises 11 blades, aiming to improve the bokeh.

There is no vibration reduction incorporated in the lens itself as Steady Shot is integrated into the camera body. As the Sony bodies have continued to become more sophisticated it is probably inevitable that lenses will be renewed and upgraded as well, to cater for much higher resolutions of sensor. In terms of general handling, Sony has reached a point where it all works well and we have a very refined and efficient photographic tool.


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