There's a decent selection of lenses out there for users of Sony Alpha cameras who like to shoot wide-angle images – provided they like zooms. Primes, though, are a bit thin on the ground, with Sony not offering anything wider than the FE 28mm f/2.
That all changes with the arrival of the FE 24mm f/1.4 GM lens, an all-new wide-angle prime lens that sits at the top table of Sony's lens line-up on account of its G Master designation.
- Features two XA elements
- 11-blade circular aperture
- New linear AF motor
With the focus on optical quality throughout the aperture range, the Sony FE 24mm f/1.4 GM sports an optical design that features two of the company's XA (extreme aspherical) lens elements, as well as three ED glass elements.
The inclusion of the two XA elements is designed to control Sagittal flare. What's that you ask? It's a phenomenon that results in an unnatural spreading of point light sources, such as stars, that looks something like a bird spreading its wings, and it becomes more pronounced towards the image periphery.
Focal length: 24mm
Mount: Sony E
Filter size: 67mm
Max aperture: f/1.4
Maximum magnification: 0.17x
It's more common with large-aperture lenses, and it's something that can be a plague to astrophotographers, with clusters of stars often looking like flocks of birds in images captured at wide apertures.
The FE 24mm f/1.4 GM also features Sony's Nano AR coating to suppress reflections that can lead to flare and ghosting, while it should be possible to shoot images with creamy-smooth bokeh thanks to the 11-blade circular aperture.
The FE 24mm f/1.4 GM is also the first Sony lens to feature a Direct Drive SSM (DDSSM) linear motor, which is designed to offer a combination of fast response, high positioning accuracy and quiet operation.
Build quality and handling
- Weighs just 445g / 15.7oz
- Dust and moisture resistant
- Aperture ring
Considering the clever optical design, Sony's engineers have managed to make the FE 24mm f/1.4 GM weigh in at just 445g (15.7oz). That's quite a bit lighter than its main rivals, and the lens balances really nicely on the Alpha A7R III we tested it with.
The lens is also nicely made, and features a fluorine coating to help prevent finger prints, dust, water and oil marking the lens, while it's also dust and moisture resistant.
There's a decent-sized manual focusing ring at the front of the lens that enables a good degree of control, while towards the rear is an aperture ring. While you can set the aperture manually, if you prefer to adjust this via the camera's command dial you can select the 'A' position on the ring, and this shouldn't be easily knocked out of place, with enough friction to prevent any unwanted movement. You can also choose whether to enable or disable the aperture ring click stops – handy if you're shooting video.
On the side of the lens is a useful customizable focus hold button, which can be customized in the camera's menu, while there's also a dedicated AF/MF switch.
Focusing was very swift in our tests, and incredibly quiet – we were really impressed with the FE 24mm f/1.4 GM's precision and performance, especially when used in conjunction with the brilliant EyeAF mode on the A7R III.
- Excellent resolution
- Smooth bokeh wide open
- Vignetting appears well controlled
We'll have to test the Sony FE 24mm f/1.4 GM for a longer period before we can fully evaluate it, but first impressions are very good.
The lens delivers excellent image quality, with impressive levels of sharpness out to the corners of the frame and good levels of contrast; even wide open at f/1.4 the lens is lovely and sharp. We'll venture out under a clear night sky to see how it handles Sagittal flare once we have a sample for a longer period.
The FE 24mm f/1.4 GM also delivers some beautiful bokeh, with a pleasingly smooth transition from in-focus to defocused areas. Vignetting in also well controlled, and while there's a hint of it at f/1.4, it's handled pretty well, and doesn't detract from the image. This really is a lens that's just at home shooting wide open as it is stopped down.
If you've been holding out for Sony to launch a wide-angle prime lens, you won't be disappointed with the FE 24mm f/1.4 GM. It's a lovely lens that's been engineered to such a level that it should still deliver the goods on future generations of Alpha full-frame cameras.
Lightweight and well-made, it captures stunning detail and beautiful bokeh, backed up by fast focusing and polished handling.
This all comes at a price though ($1,400 / £1,450), with the FE 24mm f/1.4 GM costing more than twice as much as Sigma's very capable 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM | Art lens.