Sony FE 35mm F1.4 GM Review
The Sony FE 35mm F1.4 GM (SEL35F14GM) is a fast, moderate wide-angle prime lens for Sony Alpha full-frame and APS-C E-mount mirrorless cameras.
It can also be used on APS-C sensor Sony E-mount mirrorless cameras, where it provides a 52.5mm equivalent focal length.
It features two extreme aspherical (XA) elements which help to ensure that the image is sharp across the frame and an extra-low dispersion (ED) element to suppress chromatic aberrations and purple fringing.
There's a Nano Coating AR II to minimize internal reflections so that flare and ghosting do not occur and a flourine coating on the front element to prevent fingerprints, dust, oil and other contaminants.
The Sony 35mm 1.4 GM lens boasts a dust- and moisture-resistant design and has a minimum focusing distance of 27cm with a maximum magnification of 0.23x, increasing to 25cm and 0.26x when focusing manually.
It has a circular 11-blade diaphragm which creates a very attractive blur to out-of-focus areas of the image, a customizable focus hold button, and an internal focusing mechanism which means the lens barrel doesn't move.
There are two extreme dynamic (XD) linear motors for fast, quiet and precise auto-focusing, while the linear response focusing ring provides fine linear manual focus control.
A traditional aperture ring runs from f/1.4 to f/16 in third-stop increments with an Auto setting also available. The Click On/Off switch changes the aperture ring between 1/3 clicked steps and a smooth clickless movement.
The Sony FE 35mm F1.4 GM lens will be available at the end of January 2021 priced at £1500 in the UK, €1700 in Europe, $1399.99 in the USA, and $1899.99 in Canada.
Ease of Use
Weighing in at 524g, the hybrid metal and engineering plastic bodied Sony 35mm F1.4 GM is very light for such a fast, full-frame lens.
Compared to the Sigma 35mm F1.2 DG DN Art, which is one of the biggest and heaviest 35mm prime lenses that we've ever tested with a weight of 1,090 grams and measuring 13.6cm in length, the new Sony FE 35mm F1.4 GM is much easier to live with.
It's substantially heavier than the Sony FE 35mm F1.8, though, which at 281g is a whopping 143g lighter than this new F1.4 version.
It's also a lot more expensive too, to the tune of around £900 / €1000, so you really need to make sure that you'll benefit from the faster maximum aperture to justify the substantial extra cost.
Its overall size is fairly well-suited to a camera like the Sony A7 III that we tested it with, as shown in the photos below, although with the supplied hood attached it is quite imposing for a 35mm lens.
It measures 76 x 96mm, making it both smaller and lighter than the comparable Distagon T* FE 35mm f/1.4 ZA lens, which is 16mm longer and weighs 106g more.
Build quality is excellent, certainly up to the high standard of the other flagship G Master lenses in the range.
It has a sealed dust and moisture resistant design, although Sony stops short of saying that it's 100% weather-proof.
The Sony 35mm 1.4 GM lens has a metal lens mount and it accepts 67mm filters via metal threads on the front of the lens.
The lens has a customisable 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. It can also, amongst other things, be usefully set to Eye AF.
The lens doesn't feature built-in optical image stabilisation, relying instead on the camera body's stabilisation system.
The Sony 35mm 1.4 GM lens has a fairly wide, ridged focus ring. Manual focusing is possible by using the focus mode switch to toggle between AF and MF.
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 67mm filter thread doesn't rotate on focus.
The Sony FE 35mm F1.4 GM lens has not one but two XD linear motors which produce very quiet and smooth focusing, making it well-suited to shooting video, with the overall lens length remaining constant during focusing.
When it comes to auto-focusing, it proved to be an almost silent, very quick performer on the Sony A7R III camera that we tested it with. We didn't experience very much "hunting", either in good or bad light, with the lens accurately focusing almost all of the time.
Sony's near flawless Eye AF works perfectly with this lens, quickly locking onto and tracking the subject's eye despite the wide-angle view.
The Sony FE 35mm F1.4 GM lens features an aperture ring that has 1/3EV stops ranging from f/1.4 to f/16 and an Auto setting.
The Click switch on the bottom-right of the lens barrel lets you select whether the aperture ring clicks into place at each aperture stop or rotates smoothly for silent operation during movie recording.
The Sony 35mm F1.4 GM lens is commendably supplied with both a soft case and a very good quality, plastic, circular lens hood (ALC-SH164) with a locking button and a rubberized edge to help protect it.
The 35mm focal length provides an angle of view of 63 degrees on a full-frame camera.
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. The example below shows the worst-case scenario.
With the lens set to its maximum aperture of f/1.4, 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 just a little pincushion distortion evident in the RAW files - the Sony Alpha A7 III automatically and successfully applies corrections to the JPG files.
The Sony FE 35mm F1.4 GM is capable of producing quite nice sunstars when stopped-down to f/16, as shown below.
The lens is slightly susceptible to flare when shooting directly into the sun, though, even with the supplied lens hood fitted, but it's mostly well-controlled.
The Sony FE 35mm F1.4 GM isn't claimed to be a macro lens, but it does usefully offer a minimum focusing distance of 27cm with a maximum magnification of 0.23x, increasing to 25cm and 0.26x when focusing manually. The following example demonstrates how close you can get to your subject.
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 35mm F1.4 GM lens, Sony have employed an iris diaphragm with 11 circular blades, which has resulted in very appealing bokeh for a moderate-wide-angle lens.
We do realise, however, that bokeh evaluation is subjective, so we've included several examples below for your perusal.
In order to show you how sharp this lens is, we are providing 100% crops on the following page.