Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Review
Put simply, if cost isn't a factor, the new Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II is the best all-round standard zoom lens for Sony Alpha full-frame cameras.
It improves on the 6-year-old original version in virtually every way, from auto-focusing speed to feature-set, size and weight to close-up performance. The Mark II really is a very impressive update of what was already an excellent lens.
Compared to its main rivals, the Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 DG DN Art is now out-performed by this new Sony standard zoom, but the Sigma lens is so much cheaper that it's a more than worthy alternative.
Meanwhile, the new Samyang AF 24-70mm F2.8 FE that we recently reviewed is an even cheaper alternative, but can't quite match the other two in terms of image quality or features.
In terms of its optical performance, the Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II is bitingly sharp in the centre throughout all of the zoom and aperture range, with the edge performance not too far behind either.
It produces some very nice bokeh effects thanks to the 11-blade iris diaphragm, vignetting is not too evident, and chromatic aberrations are almost non-existent. Even the close-up performance is great, which adds a lot to the lens' versatility.
The only real optical negative that we encountered is obvious barrel distortion at 24mm and pincushioning at 70mm, in both the JPEG and Raw files. You'll either need to turn Distortion Compensation on in-camera (which we'd advise anyway), wait for the software manufacturers to release a lens profile ti support it, or remove the distortion in post-processing.
Auto-focusing proved to be very quick on the Sony Alpha A9 that we tested the lens with, and it offers a near silent experience that will suit movie shooters and candid street photographers alike.
Build quality is top-notch, in spite of the lightweight design, and Sony have included an excellent lens hood with a filter window and a quality soft case with strap in the overall package.
The Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II lens is also very usefully weather-proof thanks to seals around all the buttons and switches and a rubber gasket around the lens mount.
The new aperture ring is a very welcome addition, especially as it can be de-clicked for video and also locked into place. With two focus hold buttons and a brand new switch for changing the torque of the zoom ring, this is a very well featured lens indeed.
This lens still doesn't have a built-in optical image stabilisation system, though, instead relying on Sony's in-camera system, which will be fine for everyone except those who own a first generation Alpha camera (which don't have built-in OIS).
Finally, we come to the price of the Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II. Whilst £2099 / $2199 is certainly a lot to pay for a standard zoom, you do get a quite remarkable lens for your money, and credit is perhaps due to Sony for not actually putting the price up in these financially challenging times.
If cost is a big factor, then the excellent Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 DG DN Art is there for you (and even the Samyang AF 24-70mm F2.8 FE if money really is tight), but if you want the best standard zoom for your Sony Alpha camera and are prepared to pay whatever it takes, the new Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II is the one lens to rule them all.
|Ratings (out of 5)|
|Value for money||4.5|