The lack of Sony lenses is quickly becoming an issue of the past, and now, with the addition of two new wide-angle lenses, owners of the brand's cameras are almost in danger of being spoilt for choice in some areas.
The FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM and FE 12-24mm f/4 G are a new pair of wide-angle lenses designed for sports, landscapes, architecture and just generally capturing broad scenes. Both offering slightly differing fields of view, but the real difference comes in the minute details of image quality and the large price gap between the two lenses.
We got a chance to take both of Sony’s latest lenses for a spin in the wilds of Santa Barbara so let’s take a look at how they perform.
The FE 16-35 f/2.8 GM is the latest lens in Sony’s G-Master lineup, the company’s series of pro lenses. It comes sporting two of Sony’s specially designed extreme aspherical elements for corner-to-corner sharpness. There’s also an 11-bladed aperture that helps it render creamy bokeh.
Externally, there might not seem like a whole lot different between it and Sony’s other GM offerings, however, the FE 16-35 f/2.8 GM is notably light for a wide-angle zoom, weighing in at only 680 grams. Sony’s main competitor, the Canon 16-35mm f2.8L USM III tips the scales at a more significant 1,157g.
Wide-angle lenses often come with a lot of detail fall off in the corners, but everything looks nice and crisp across the frame with the FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM. That said, you can also achieve some velvety smooth bokeh if you get up close and personal with your subject.
The FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM does a fairly good job of controlling barrel distortion – which you may see as rounding of the frame – and is only really present with the lens at its widest focal length.
Zoomed all the way in, the FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM is also completely usable as a general purpose lens if you wish. As with other images we shot, the pin-sharp point of focus falls off smoothly to creamy out of focus areas.
If you’re looking for an even wider perspective, Sony's other new wide-angle lens, the FE 12-24mm f/4 G, is for you.
It might not have nearly the same level of high-precision cut elements or rounded aperture as its G-Master cousin, but this lens holds its own with four aspherical elements and a seven bladed aperture. It’s also an even more compact and light, weighing in at only 565g.
With the Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G you can capture an even broader perspective of the scene to make you feel like you're in the middle of the action. This of course results in a slightly more distorted image, but Sony has done a good job of minimizing this with the lens’ 17 element construction.
The result of all these elements working together is a fairly perfect image. Four extra-low dispersion elements help keep chromatic aberrations from appearing in the frame. Flaring is also virtually non-existent thanks to the a nano-coating on the lens’ front element – though some shooters may actually want lens flare.
At its widest, the FE 12-24mm f/4 G displays some moderate barrel distortion - you might find you like this aesthetic, but this is a personal preference. No matter what though, this ultra-wide angle lens can help you capture some dramatic scenes and a different perspective than any other type of lens out there.