Sony FE 12-24mm F4 G Review

September 4, 2017 | Mark Goldstein | |

Introduction

The Sony FE 12-24mm F4 G is a new ultra-wide-angle zoom lens for Sony full-frame FE-mount cameras (A9/A7/A7R II/A7S). It has four aspherical elements, including one Super ED and three ED elements. The lens is dust- and moisture-resistant and has a minimum focusing distance of 28cm with a maximum magnification of 0.14x. It has a 7 blade diaphragm which creates an attractive blur to the out-of-focus areas of the image, an internal focusing mechanism means the lens barrel doesn’t move, and there's a Nano AR coating to help minimise flare. The Sony FE 12-24mm F4 G lens is available for around £1700 / $1700 in the UK and the US, respectively.

Ease of Use

Weighing in at 560 grams and measuring 87 x 117.4 mm, the metal-bodied Sony FE 12-24mm F4 G feels very well-constructed. It's overall size and weight makes it feel well-balanced on the Sony A7R II body that we tested it with, as shown in the photos below.

Sony FE 12-24mm F4 GThe Sony FE 12-24mm F4 G lens mounted on a Sony A7R II

Sony FE 12-24mm F4 GThe Sony FE 12-24mm F4 G lens mounted on a Sony A7R II

Sony FE 12-24mm F4 GThe Sony FE 12-24mm F4 G lens mounted on a Sony A7R II

Sony FE 12-24mm F4 GThe Sony FE 12-24mm F4 G lens alongside a Sony A7R II

The Sony FE 12-24mm F4 G has a sealed dust and moisture resistant design. It does not feature built-in Optical SteadyShot image stabilisation.

The wide and ridged zoom ring and the narrower manual focus ring are the main external controls of note. Manual focusing is possible via the textured focus ring when set on the specific camera body. The lens utilizes one DDSSM (Direct Drive Super Sonic Wave Motor) to produce quiet and smooth focusing, making it well-suited to shooting both stills and video.

There is also a customisable focus hold button and a lens hood release button.

Sony FE 12-24mm F4 GSide of the Sony FE 12-24mm F4 G lens

Sony FE 12-24mm F4 GFront of the Sony FE 12-24mm F4 G lens

Sony FE 12-24mm F4 GRear of the Sony FE 12-24mm F4 G lens

The Sony FE 12-24mm F4 G lens has quite a wide focus ring. There are no hard stops at either end of the range, making it a little more difficult to set focus at infinity.

When it comes to auto-focusing, the Sony FE 12-24mm F4 G zoom is a quiet and quick performer on the Sony A7R II that we tested it with, taking about 0.15 seconds to lock onto the subject.

We didn't experience much "hunting", either in good or bad light, with the lens accurately focusing almost all of the time, and it's also a quiet performer making it ideal for movie shooting.

Sony FE 12-24mm F4 GSide of the Sony FE 12-24mm F4 G lens

Sony FE 12-24mm F4 GSide of the Sony FE 12-24mm F4 G lens

Sony FE 12-24mm F4 GThe Sony FE 12-24mm F4 G lens in-hand

The Sony FE 12-24mm F4 G lens has a metal lens mount. It does not accept filters because of the integrated plastic petal-shaped lens hood which cannot be detached. It is supplied with a soft case and a large lens cap which slips over the hood.

Focal Range

At the 12mm focal length the angle of view is 99 degrees.

 Sony FE 12-24mm F4 GField of view at 12mm

At the 24mm focal length the angle of view is 61 degrees.

 Sony FE 12-24mm F4 GField of view at 24mm

Chromatic Aberrations

Chromatic aberrations, typically seen as blue or purple fringes along contrasty edges, were almost completely absent from our test shots. The examples below show the worst-case scenario.

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G ED Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G ED

Light Fall-off and Distortion

With the Sony FE 12-24mm F4 G lens set to its maximum aperture of f/4, there is some obvious light fall-off in the corners, requiring you to stop down by at least 3 f-stops to completely prevent it. There's some barrel distortion evident at 12mm, and at 24mm there's just a little pin-cushioning too.

Sony FE 12-24mm F4 GLight fall-off at 12mm

Sony FE 12-24mm F4 GLight fall-off at 24mm

Macro

The Sony FE 12-24mm F4 G isn't claimed to be a macro lens, offering a minimum focusing distance of 28cm at 12mm, with a maximum magnification of 0.14x. The following example demonstrates how close you can get to your subject.

Sony FE 12-24mm F4 GClose-up performance

Bokeh

Bokeh is a word used for the out-of-focus areas of a photograph, and is usually described in qualitative terms, such as smooth / creamy / harsh etc. In the FE 12-24mm F4 G lens, Sony employed an iris diaphragm with 7 rounded aperture blades, which has resulted in fairly appealing bokeh in our view. We do realise, however, that bokeh evaluation is subjective, so we've included several 100% crops for your perusal.

Sony FE 12-24mm F4 G Sony FE 12-24mm F4 G
   
Sony FE 12-24mm F4 G Sony FE 12-24mm F4 G

Sharpness

In order to show you how sharp this lens is, we are providing 100% crops on the following pages.