Sony FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM II Review

August 29, 2023 | Mark Goldstein | Rating star Rating star Rating star Rating star Rating star


Sony continue to improve and refine their lens range with the launch of the Mark II version of the FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM ultra-wide-angle lens, bringing it up to speed for 2023.

It is even more expensive than its already pricey predecessor, though, so if you don't need the F2.8 maximum aperture or all the latest bells and whistles, there are better-priced alternatives on the market that still deliver great image quality.

As Sony's flagship wide-angle zoom, the new FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM II has a lot to live up to, and thankfully it doesn't disappoint. If you're looking for the "best" ultra-wide-angle lens for your Sony A7R V, equally new A7C R or similar high-res body, this is the lens to go for.

It delivers outstanding sharpness in the centre of the frame throughout the full aperture and zoom range, and also performs brilliantly at the edges of the frame too, outperforming even its already excellent predecessor.

It does suffer from some quite obvious distortion and vignetting in the Raw files or if you turn distortion correction off in-camera, but vignetting and chromatic aberrations are very well-controlled and it can even create some very nice bokeh effects when shooting wide-open at f/2.8 thanks to the rounded 11-blade aperture and the much-improved macro capabilities.

The Sony FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM II offered very fast, very quiet and very reliable auto-focusing on the A7C R camera that we tested it with, thanks to the four XD linear motors that have replaced the old DDSSMs (Direct Drive Super Sonic Wave Motors) system employed in the original version.

It's shorter and substantially lighter than the original, too, with the build quality remaining high despite the move to a hybrid metal and engineered plastic construction.

The addition of an aperture ring complete with Iris Lock and Click switches makes a lot of sense on this kind of lens, although we would have liked the weather-proofing to have been further improved beyond just being dust and moisture resistant, given that it will spend the majority of its life outdoors in all kinds of weather.

Some users may also bemoan the continued absence of optical image stabilisation, although with the latest Sony bodies now boasting 7 and even 8-stops of in-camera stabilisation, that's less crucial than before, especially on a such a fast, wide-angle lens.

Overall, if money really is no object, then the much improved Sony FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM II will meet the needs of even the most demanding of photographers and videographers alike.

5 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 5
Features 5
Ease-of-use 4.5
Image quality 5
Value for money 4