Sony FE 12-24mm F2.8 GM Review

July 7, 2020 | Mark Goldstein |

Introduction

The brand new FE 12-24mm F2.8 GM ultra-wide-angle lens completes Sony’s G Master “holy trinity” of f/2.8 zooms for Sony Alpha full-frame mirrorless cameras, joining the 24-70mm F2.8 GM and 70-200mm F2.8 GM. It also holds the snappy title of being the World's widest constant F2.8 12-24mm zoom lens.

Optically it is comprised of 17 elements in 14 groups, including three XA (extreme aspherical) elements and one aspherical element, plus two Super ED and three ED elements to suppress chromatic aberrations. It has the largest XA element of any of Sony's four GM lenses that incoporate them.

It features 4 XD linear motors with a floating focus mechanism for more responsive AF speed and tracking and an internal focusing mechanism means the lens barrel doesn’t move.

It has a 9 blade diaphragm which creates an attractive blur to the out-of-focus areas of the image and there's a brand new, improved Nano AR II coating which can be applied to highly curved elements to help minimise flare.

The lens is dust- and moisture-resistant and has a minimum focusing distance of 28cm with a maximum magnification of 0.14x.

There's a rear filter holder into which standard sheet-type filters can be inserted, with a cutting template supplied in the box.

The Sony FE 12-24mm F2.8 GM lens will be available in August 2020 priced at £2900 / 3300 Euros.

Ease of Use

Sony FE 12-24mm F2.8 GM

Weighing in at 847grams / 29.9oz and measuring 97.6 x 137 mm, the metal-bodied Sony FE 12-24mm F2.8 GM feels very well-constructed indeed. 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.

The Sony FE 12-24mm F2.8 GM has a sealed dust and moisture resistant design. It does not feature built-in Optical SteadyShot image stabilisation.

Sony FE 12-24mm F2.8 GM
Sony FE 12-24mm F2.8 GM
Sony FE 12-24mm F2.8 GM

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 via the AF/MF switch and it utilises a Linear Response system that's almost equivalent to mechanical manual focusing.

The lens utilizes 4 XD linear motors, two for each of the lens' focus groups, to produce very quick, quiet and precise focusing, making it well-suited to shooting both stills and video.

Sony FE 12-24mm F2.8 GM
Sony FE 12-24mm F2.8 GM
Sony FE 12-24mm F2.8 GM

The Sony FE 12-24mm F2.8 GM zoom proved to be a great performer on the Sony A7R IV camera that we tested it with, taking about 0.10 seconds to lock onto the subject.

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

Sony FE 12-24mm F2.8 GM
Sony FE 12-24mm F2.8 GM
Sony FE 12-24mm F2.8 GM

There is also a customisable focus hold button on the side of the lens barrel which can be configured via the camera's menu system, as with all the other Sony GM lenses.

The Sony FE 12-24mm F2.8 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.

Sony FE 12-24mm F2.8 GM
Sony FE 12-24mm F2.8 GM

The Sony FE 12-24mm F2.8 GM lens has a metal lens mount. It does not accept filters because of the bulbous front element and the integrated plastic petal-shaped lens hood which cannot be detached. Instead there is a rear filter holder into which sheet-type colour correction, ND and other filters can be inserted. A cutting template for sheet filters is supplied with the lens.

It is also supplied with a soft case and a large lens cap with a lock/release mechanism which slips over the hood. Given the cost of the lens, we'd have liked to have seen a hard case included.

Sony FE 12-24mm F2.8 GM
Sony FE 12-24mm F2.8 GM
Sony FE 12-24mm F2.8 GM
Sony FE 12-24mm F2.8 GM
Sony FE 12-24mm F2.8 GM

Focal Range

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

Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM

12mm

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

Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM

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 scenarios.

Sony FE 12-24mm F2.8 GM

12mm

Sony FE 12-24mm F2.8 GM

24mm

Light Fall-off and Distortion

With the Sony FE 12-24mm F2.8GM 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 3 f-stops to completely prevent it. There's also some fairly obvious barrel distortion evident at 12mm.

Sony FE 12-24mm F2.8 GM

12mm

Sony FE 12-24mm F2.8 GM

24mm

Sony FE 12-24mm F2.8 GM

12mm

Sony FE 12-24mm F2.8 GM

24mm

Sunstars and Flare

The Sony FE 12-24mm F2.8 GM is capable of producing very nice sunstars when stopped-down to f/16 or f/22, as shown below,and the built-in lens-hood prevents too much flare from occurring even when shooting directly into the sun.

Sony FE 12-24mm F2.8 GM

12mm

Sony FE 12-24mm F2.8 GM

24mm

Macro

The Sony FE 12-24mm F2.8 GM isn't claimed to be a macro lens, but it usefully offers a minimum focusing distance of 28cm throughout the zoom range with a maximum magnification of 0.14x. The following example demonstrates just how close you can get to your subject.

Sony FE 12-24mm F2.8 GM

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 F2.8 GM lens, Sony have employed an iris diaphragm with nine rounded blades, which has resulted in pretty appealing bokeh for such an ultra-wide-angle lens.

We do realise, however, that bokeh evaluation is subjective, so we've included several examples below for your perusal.

Sony FE 12-24mm F2.8 GM
Sony FE 12-24mm F2.8 GM
Sony FE 12-24mm F2.8 GM
Sony FE 12-24mm F2.8 GM
Sony FE 12-24mm F2.8 GM
Sony FE 12-24mm F2.8 GM
Sony FE 12-24mm F2.8 GM
Sony FE 12-24mm F2.8 GM

Sharpness

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