The Sony 16-35 f/2.8 G Master and Sony 12-24 f/4 G lens review


I’ve been invited last week to the European press event to see and test the newly announced Sony 16-35 f/2.8 G Master and Sony 12-24 f/4 G.  It’s difficult to review a lens after a day’s usage. Not to mention two of them :). So let’s not call this a real review, but a hands-on experience. A marvellous experience on the coast of Grand Lake (Lago Maggiore) as seen from Stresa, Italy.

So let’s take them one by one:

Sony 16-35 f/2.8 G Master

This new wide angle lens comes as the last one to full-fill the “holly” trinity of 2.8, all G Master lenses for the A7 and A9 series. There are now a total 44 E-mount lenses on the market (adapters included) so the system is developing extremely well. Of course there is always a need for more, especially now with the launch of the Sony A9 (check my review here) people are expecting the long focals to become available, but it takes some time so we’ll better be patient because by the looks of things Sony is not sleeping.

One of my favourite lenses since I’ve switched to full mirrorless was the Sony 16-35 F/4 lens and I used it on a day-to-day basis. It’s one of the most sharp 16-35 I’ve ever laid hands on. So, of course I was very curious about the new 16-35 f/2.8 which now is not made anymore in collaboration with Zeiss, but it’s a full Sony developed G Master series lens. Check this article for a better overview of G Master concept.

_DSC9844_Sony1635GM

Sometimes the sunset is more beautiful away from the sun – ISO 640 | 1/640s | F8 | 28mm | Sony 16-35 f/2.8 G Master

It’s bigger and heavier than the previous one, but being a 2.8 constant aperture it’s something you would expect. It is 162 grams heavier than the F4. Unfortunately there is no OSS in this new lens which for me is a bummer :(.

With my older lens, most of the time, I forget I have a zoom lens attached, images out of it coming similar to primes. So I wouldn’t expected less about this new one, especially it is a G Master with an advanced optical design that includes two Sony XA (extreme aspherical) elements. Sony says it achieves outstanding resolution, low distortion, and smooth, beautiful bokeh.

After watching a short technical presentation for both lenses (the shortest ever which everyone in the audience really appreciated, because that meant more time for shooting) we got to see an amazing display of Northern Lights timelapses and photos by Sony Image Ambassador Ole Salomonsen. Check his amazing imagery on his Arctic Light Photo website.

And then we took a boat to both Isola Bella and Fisherman’s Island to test the lenses (and for plenty of photographers it was also a first with the Sony A9).

Isola Bella as seen from Stresa – ISO 100 | 1/80s | F20 | 35 mm | Sony 16-35 f/2.8 G Master – Smooth Reflection Playmemories App – 32 frames

The lens is straightforward to use, with excellent handling and smooth zoom and focus ring movement. They’ve said the drive by wire was improved and I must agree.

How is Sony 16-35 f/2.8 G Master compared to Sony 16-35 f/4 ZA OSS?

My travel tripod somehow managed to break during this trip and I couldn’t take all the series of images I wanted to take but I’ve tried to improvise. So first thing I wanted to check was how both lenses compare so I’ve laid down the A7RII on a stair and took the same series of images at different apertures with both lenses.

The 16-35 f/2.8 being longer, the frame differs a little but here it is how it got out of the camera with both lenses. I hope you’ll still get an idea of how lenses perform, even if they are not perfectly aligned images 🙂

Aperture set to F4

left is the G Master, right is the Vario-Tessar

Center crop

Left crop

Aperture set to F5.6

left is the G Master, right is the Vario-Tessar

Center crop

Left crop

Aperture set to F6.3

left is the G Master, right is the Vario-Tessar

Center crop

Left crop

Aperture set to F8

left is the G Master, right is the Vario-Tessar

Center crop

Left crop

Aperture set to F11

left is the G Master, right is the Vario-Tessar

Center crop

Left crop

Aperture set to F16

left is the G Master, right is the Vario-Tessar

Center crop

Left crop

Aperture set to F22

left is the G Master, right is the Vario-Tessar

Center crop

Left crop

As you can see, both lenses perform very similar, with both being affected excessively by diffraction at F22. I might say that the Vario Tessar is a tad sharper at corners compared to the G Master and also the image looks more contrasty on the F4 lens.

Back to the G Master, the 16-35 f/2.8 is an amazing performer starting wide open:

ISO 100 | 1/1000s | F2.8 | 35mm | Sony 16-35 f/2.8 G Master

crop 100% from previous image

The lens is very resistant to flare and resolves all scenes with minimum Chromatic Aberration. This is the maximum “bad things” I could force out of it 🙂

 

400% crop to the top-right outermost leaves

And this is the “flare” I could force at max

I like this lens very much but I’m still thinking if I’ll make the switch from the Vario-Tessar to this G Master, because of the two factors I’ve already mentioned: heavier and bigger in size plus the lack of OSS (optical stabilisation). Price wise it’s also a factor to take into consideration (check prices here) because it’s almost double than the F4 version.

I’ll let you with more examples here taken with the Sony 16-35 f/2.8 G Master lens

Continue to the Sony 12-24 f/4 G lens hands on review

Author: Alin Popescu

Inginer ca formare, grafician ca meserie, fotograf ca mod de viata, Alin este pasionat de tot ce inseamna tehnologie si scrie articole detaliate pe intelesul tuturor.

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