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Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 GM II Lens Review

Having successfully updated two of the three holy trinity lenses, Sony has turned its attention onto the final from the trio, and launched the next generation Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 GM II wide angle zoom.

Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 GM II Lens Review

Discover what’s new for this generation mirrorless E-mount lens, how it compares to the original, and whether you should be selling your lens to upgrade, in our comprehensive Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 GM II Lens Review.

We’ve got sample images, a hands-on video review and comprehensive specifications in order for you to make an informed decision as to whether this is the perfect ultra-wide to wide G Master zoom for your creative needs.

When did the Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM II lens launch?

On the 29 August 2023 Sony took the bold step of launching the second generation FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM II lens alongside the A7C II and A7CR cameras. There’s been no rush thanks to the excellent performance of the original 16-35mm f/2.8 GM lens, which was released back in 2017.

How much is the Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM II lens cost?

As a professional G Master series model, the next generation Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM II lens costs £2399.00, which puts it at the higher end of Sony’s range. By comparison, the updated Sony FE 70-200mm F/2.8 GM telephoto costs £2,599.00, and the FE 24-70mm F/2.8 GM II is £2,099.00.

Sample architecture at 1/800sec. f/8. ISO 100

Sample 1: Sony A7CR with Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM II @22mm. Exposure: 1/800sec. f/8. ISO 100

Where does the 16-35mm f/2.8 fit into the line-up?

The Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM II meets the demands of professionals and advanced hobbyists who capture suitable wide angle subjects, and need the versatility of a zoom lens vs primes, whilst still maintaining a bright aperture for low light situations.

Traditionally professional photographers would aim to have any combination of three bright aperture zoom lenses in their bag, which would cover wide, standard and telephoto focal widths. Although some consider the 12-24mm F/2.8 GM to be the more relevant ultra wide, it’s the 16-35mm f/2.8, which has typically rounded the trio off at the wide end.

What are the new 16-35mm f/2.8 GM mark 2 features?

Sony has completely overhauled this extremely popular G Master lens for the second generation, and updates include:

  • A new optical formula for evolved image quality with corner sharpness
  • Reduced chromatic aberration
  • Four XD Linear Focus Motors
  • 20% lighter and shorter design
  • Improved control and reliability
  • Reduced focus breathing
  • Reduced minimum focus distance of 0.22m across the whole zoom
  • Higher magnification at 0.32x
  • Even more comprehensive lens controls

Sample Exposure: 1/800sec. f/8. ISO 100

Sample 2: Sony A7CR with Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM II @23mm. Exposure: 1/800sec. f/8. ISO 100

What can you shoot with a 16-35mm zoom lens?

With an ultra wide to slightly wide full-frame image circle, the 16-35mm focal range is ideal for all sorts of subjects, on both full-frame and crop sensor cameras, where it offers an equivalent focal range of 24-52.5mm. In particular, this lens stands out for:

  • Landscape photography
  • Architecture
  • Street photography
  • Astro
  • Fine art
  • Events and weddings

Many would argue that this might perhaps be the best lens for landscape photography, allowing you to capture epic vistas and entire scenes without needing to create a panorama. It doesn’t stop there, as the new model is perfect for vlogging, video recording and environmental human and pet portraits amongst other genres, largely due to its fast focus and high magnification.

If you regularly capture group shots at weddings or events, this is an excellent option thanks to being a zoom with a bright f/2.8 aperture, rather than a prime at just one focal width.

Sample landscape Exposure: 1/500sec. f/8. ISO 320

Sample 3: Sony A7CR with Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM II @35mm. Exposure: 1/500sec. f/8. ISO 320

New 16-35mm f/2.8 GM II vs Original 16-35mm lens

The table below compares all of the key specifications in order to provide a specs comparison between these two generations of Sony G Master wide angle zoom lenses.


Original 16-35mm f/2.8 GM

New 16-35mm f/2.8 GM II


Sony E-mount

Sony E-mount


35mm full frame

35mm full frame

Equivalent focal-length (APS-C)



Lens Elements / Groups



Special elements

Aspherical x2

XA x1

ED x3

Aspherical x1

Super ED x1

XA x3

ED Aspherical x1

ED x2

Angle of view



Aperture range

f/2.8 - f/22

f/2.8 - f/22

Aperture Blades



Circular Aperture



Focus motor

Dual Direct Drive SSM

Four XD Linear

Minimum Focus Distance



Maximum Magnification ratio



Breathing compensation


Supported / Minimised

Aperture ring, lock and click switch



Filter Diameter



Image stabilisation (SteadyShot)

Camera body

Camera body

Zoom system



Hood Type

Petal shape, bayonet type

Petal shape, bayonet type with new smaller and lighter design

Lens coating

Nano AR Coating + Fluorine

Nano AR II Coating + Fluorine

Weather resiatance



Zoom length for gimbal balance



Dimensions (Diameter x Length)

88.5 x 121.6mm

87.8 x 111.5mm




The newer lens has been improved in virtually every respect, most notably through an updated optical formula, faster focusing, closer minimum focus distance and higher magnification.

It’s also significantly smaller and lighter than the original, maintains a more consistent centre of balance for mounting onto a gimbal stabiliser, and shows reduced focus breathing for video recording and focus stacking.

Is the 16-35mm GM II lens weather sealed?

Yes, with such a popular focal width for outdoor subjects, Sony has ensured the lens meets the demands of photographers and videographers who work in all sorts of conditions. They’ve done this through a dust and moisture resistant design with sealed seams, rubber gaskets on all buttons and switches, as well as lens mount seals.

As with the majority of G Master lenses, the 16-35mm GM II includes a Fluorine coat on the front element, reducing cleaning time and maintenance by repelling water, oil and contaminants. It’s essential to familiarise yourself on how to clean a camera lens for longevity, by using a simple air blower, lens wipes and lens cloth, depending on the situation.

Sample image landscape with Sony 16-35mm GM 2

Sample 4: Sony A7CR with Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM II @35mm. Exposure: 1/500sec. f/8. ISO 320

Best accessories for the Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 GM II

Aside from the cleaning accessories mentioned earlier, you can accessorise the Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 GM II lens with a host of 82mm lens filters, a gimbal and lens pouch or case. As a premium model it’s recommended to buy high-quality filters, such as the Hoya 82mm HD NANO II Circular Polarising Filter, or slightly less expensive Hoya 82mm Fusion One Next PL-CIR.

A variable ND filter is a great addition for long exposure photography and to control light when recording video. Once again Hoya offers a premium option, with the Hoya 82mm Variable Density II Filter, or you could opt for the equally premium PolarPro PMVND Signature Edition II - 82mm - 2/5 Stop.

Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 GM II Lens Video Review

There’s no question that the next generation of G Master lenses offer significant advantages to photographers who shoot with newer Sony mirrorless cameras. The 16-35mm f/2.8 GM II will even keep pace with the flagship Sony A1 at 30fps burst shooting, delivers incredible detail and high resolving power, as well as coming with updated ergonomics and controls. It’s better for video too, with reduced focus breathing, a de-clickable and lockable aperture ring, and even magnifies the subject within the frame considerably.

Reserve your Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM II Wide Angle Zoom Lens today and discover just how brilliant this new optic is, and what it can do for your content creation. If you’re upgrading from a previous model, or simply want to sell camera equipment that you no longer need, why not grab a free quote and use our easy service to offset the cost.

Whether you decide to upgrade today, or bide time with your current lens, try and head out to shoot as often as possible. Photography is an incredible hobby, which takes us away from everyday stress and invigorates the right hemisphere of the brain, and that's a very good thing.

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By Nick Dautlich on 29/08/2023

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