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Sony 16-35mm F2.8 Vs F4 Lens Comparison

Our Sony 16-35mm F2.8 Vs F4 Lens Comparison will help you choose between the newer Sony FE PZ 16-35mm f/4 G lens and the legendary G Master Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM lens. We also have a hands-on video review of the 16-35mm f/4 G Power Zoom, so you can gauge which is the right choice for your style of shooting.

Sony 16-35mm F2.8 Vs F4 Lens Comparison

What is a 16-35mm lens good for?

Every manufacturer makes a 16-35mm lens (or equivalent), including Sony. This focal width is good for a range of subjects, from environmental portraits, landscapes, group shots and cityscapes, to interiors, astro photography and architecture. It’s this versatility for capturing diverse subjects, which makes the 16-35mm f/2.8 one of the Holy Trinity of essential wide aperture zooms, with a 24-70mm and 70-200mm completing the trio.

At this ultra wide to wide angle you won’t need lens-based stabilisation, (both Sony lenses harness in-body stabilisation) and you also get excellent low light gathering with a suitably fast f/2.8 constant aperture for extreme low light.

Mounted on the Cine FX3 camera

Why did Sony design a new 16-35mm lens?

A lot has changed since the original G Master was released back in 2017, which accompanied the impressive first generation a9 body and previous gen Sony a7R Mark III. Today, many enthusiast and professional movie makers, vloggers and content creators are the driving force behind new Sony cameras and E mount lenses. Enter the latest Sony FE PZ 16-35mm f/4 G, arriving with a host of features to answer some of the needs of video creators.

The two lenses are very different, not least the price tag, with the FE PZ 16-35mm f/4 G lens arriving at around half the price of the G master, which is a nice surprise.

What features does the Sony FE PZ 16-35mm f/4 G lens offer?

What does the FE PZ 16-35mm f/4 G lens offer users at this lower price point, and will it tempt f/2.8 users to trade-in their lens?

The latest F/4 model is definitely geared towards video creators, although it is perfectly competent at capturing stills images too. The denomination of PZ is the first clear difference, with a Power Zoom system harnessing Sony’s 'Smooth Motion Optics' design. This has been developed specifically for film makers using either mirrorless Alphas cameras including the video-centric a7S III or pro Sony video cameras like the FX6, FX3 and similar cinema models.

Smooth Motion Optics (SMO) reduces lens breathing, axial shift and focus shift, while delivering smooth, quiet operation which is ideal for video capture. At the same time, the design allows for an extremely compact form, which is particularly apparent on the 16-35mm f/4. It is substantially smaller and lighter than the G Master, weighing almost half at 353g vs 680g.

Movie shooting with the A7 S III and 16-35mm f4 lens

SMO is joined by a series of features aimed at streamlining video workflows, which includes the following:

  • Four XD Linear Motors
  • Linear Response MF
  • AF/MF switch
  • Aperture Ring with de-click feature
  • Zoom rotation reversing
  • Zoom lever
  • Compatibility with focus breathing feature found in the a7 IV and FX6 cameras

This level of features and advanced control is typically found on serious Cine lenses such as the FE PZ 28-135mm F/4 G OSS Cine Lens, which is squarely aimed at videographers. Of course, you can also opt for the full frame FE C 16-35mm T3.1 G Cinema Lens, however the price tends to leave that option in the hands of full time professional cinematographers.

New Sony FE PZ 16-35mm f/4 G lens controls

Sony 16-35mm F2.8 Vs F4 Lenses Specs Comparison

 

Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM

Sony FE PZ 16-35mm f/4 G

Price at time of publishing

£1,999

£1299

Mount

Sony E-mount

Format

35mm full frame

Focal-Length (mm)

16-35mm

35mm equivalent focal-length (APS-C)

24-52.5

Lens Groups / Elements

13-16

12-13

Angle of view (APS-C)

83°-44°

Angle of View (35mm)

107゚-63゚

Aperture

f/2.8 - f/22

f/4 - f/22

Aperture Blades

11

7

Circular Aperture

Yes

Yes

Minimum Focus Distance

0.28m (W)

0.28 (W)-0.24(T)

Maximum Magnification ratio (x)

0.19

0.23

Filter Diameter (mm)

82mm

72

Image stabilisation (SteadyShot)

body-integrated

body-integrated

Zoom system

Manual

Powered

Dimensions (Diameter x Length)

88.5 x 121.6mm

80.5×88.1

Weight

680g

353g

Zoom actuator

Piezoelectric motors

XD Linear Motor

Linear Response MF

NA

Yes

Focus hold button

1

1

Aperture Ring

NA

Yes

Click for aperture ring

NA

Yes

Zoom rotation reversing

NA

Yes

AF/MF switch

Yes

Yes

Moisture-proof, dust-proof

Yes

Yes

SMO (Smooth Motion Optics)

NA

Yes

Sony 16-35mm f/4 G Power Zoom Lens Video Review

Where does this leave the Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM lens?

Nothing has changed with the results you can achieve with the 16-35mm G Master. Whilst it isn’t intended as a video-centric lens as it demonstrates some focus breathing, it excels for stills photography. You get more lens elements, including renowned G Master definition from two extreme aspherical elements. A wider f/2.8 aperture with an 11-bladed design renders unparalleled defocus effects with gorgeous background bokeh. It’s an all round class-leading optical design as we have come to expect from high-end Sony glass.

Summary

Creators have a new ultra wide to wide zoom lens to tempt them. The ultra wide angle 16mm end is perfect for a piece to camera, for vlogging, or to capture the whole scene when shooting epic landscapes, interiors, as well as close-up drama.

We have a constant f/4 aperture, which is plenty for the majority of users in most lighting situations, and numerous features aimed squarely at videography. A de-clickable aperture ring is a very nice addition, along with blazingly quick AF from four of the latest XD Linear Motors in Sony’s repertoire. Couple this with Sony’s subject detection and you will gain extremely quick AF for all sorts of subjects, including most importantly for this lens – human Eye and Face recognition.

All of these features add up to create a compelling option for anyone who shoots video regularly, hybrid shooters, or simply as a budget-minded alternative to the G Master for their photography. We don’t think many will be swapping their 16-35mm F2.8 GM for the newcomer, but you may just be tempted to add both to your collection, if you are a hybrid shooter.

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By Nick Dautlich on 22/03/2022

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