Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM Review

May 26, 2016 | Mark Goldstein | |

Introduction

The Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM is a professional standard zoom lens for the Sony A7-series full-frame E-mount compact system cameras. It features 18 elements in 13 groups including a newly developed, extremely precise XA (extreme aspherical) element that reduces aberration and increases resolution, as well as three aspherical elements and two extra-low dispersion elements. It has a near-circular 9 blade diaphragm which creates an attractive blur to the out-of-focus areas of the image, Sony’s Nano AR Coating to reduce flare and ghosting, and it’s also dust and moisture resistant. The Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM lens is available for £1800 / $2199 in the UK and the US, respectively.

Ease of Use

Weighing in at 886g and measuring over 13cm in length, the aluminium alloy bodied Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM is certainly a substantial lens, dwarfing the A7R II camera that we tested it on (especially with the supplied lens hood fitted), as shown in the photos below. The lens extends further by almost 3cms when it's set to the 70mm focal length.

Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GMThe Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM lens mounted on a Sony A7R II

Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GMThe Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM lens mounted on a Sony A7R II

Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GMThe Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM lens mounted on a Sony A7R II

Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GMThe Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM lens mounted on a Sony A7R II

Build quality is excellent, a relief given the price-tag. The Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM has a sealed dust and moisture resistant design which makes it well-suited to life in both the field and the studio.

The Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM lens has a metal lens mount. It accepts 82mm filters via metal threads.

Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GMThe Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM lens mounted on a Sony A7R II

Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GMThe Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM lens alongside a Sony A7R II

The Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM has a round Focus Hold Button which keeps the lens locked to the current focusing distance, useful if you're auto-focusing and don't want the lens to try and find focus again. The preview function can also be assigned to this button through the camera's custom settings.

Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GMSide of the Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM lens

Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GMSide of the Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM lens, extended to 70mm

The Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM has a fairly wide and ridged focus ring. Manual focusing is possible by using the dedicated AF/MF switch to toggle between AF and MF.

The lens utilizes a linear SSM (Super Sonic wave Motor) for smooth auto-focusing, and it's very quiet in operation making it less well-suited to shooting video. The overall lens length remains constant during focusing. There's a Lock switch which can be activated at 24mm to prevent zoom creep.

Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GMFront of the Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM lens

Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GMRear of the Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM lens

The Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM does not feature optical image stabilisation, so it relies on the camera body's own built-in stabilisation.

Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GMSide of the Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM lens

Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GMSide of the Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM lens

Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GMThe Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM lens in-hand

Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GMThe Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM lens with the supplied lens hood fitted

The Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM lens is commendably supplied with both a soft case and a good quality plastic round lens hood (ALC-SH141) which has a button to lock/unlock it.

Focal Range

At the 24mm focal length the angle of view is 84 degrees.

 Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GMField of view at 24mm

At the 70mm focal length the angle of view is 34 degrees.

 Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GMField of view at 70mm

Focusing

The Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM 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. Polariser users should be pleased that the 82mm filter thread doesn't rotate on focus.

When it comes to auto-focusing, the Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM zoom is a quick performer on the Sony A7R II that we tested it with, taking about 0.2 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. It is also a very quiet lens when auto-focusing, making it ideal for movie shooting or for candid use.

Chromatic Aberrations

Chromatic aberrations, typically seen as blue or purple fringes along contrasty edges, were not very apparent in our test shots, only appearing in very high contrast areas.

Light Fall-off and Distortion

With the lens set to its maximum aperture of f/2.8, there is some obvious light fall-off in the corners, requiring you to stop down by at least 2 f-stops to prevent it.

There's very little barrel distortion and virtually no pin-cushion distortion evident.

Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM24mm

Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM85mm

Macro

The Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM offers a minimum focusing distance of 38cm, with a maximum magnification of 0.24x. The following example demonstrates how close you can get to your subject, in this case a Compact Flash memory card.

Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GMClose-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 Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM lens, Sony employed an iris diaphragm with 9 rounded blades, which has resulted in appealing bokeh. We do realise, however, that bokeh evaluation is subjective, so we've included several 100% crops for your perusal.

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

Sharpness

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

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