Lens review - we put the Sony 24mm G Master lens through its paces, how does this wide-angle lens perform?
The Sony 24mm f/1.4 is the eighth G Master lens in the series, fresh on the market and retailing at £1,449 (check the latest price here). The G Master series are respected for their sharp, high-resolution images and fast autofocus performance, so how does the 24mm handle?
As with any fast prime lens, this is a specialist lens that delivers exceptional quality, at a 24mm wide-angle.
The small size, fast aperture and wide angle will suit travel photographers, and we found it to be fantastic for shooting cityscapes, especially at night.
It really stood out when shooting ‘environmental’ portraits – when paired with the Sony a9 the focus was so incredibly quick that you’d struggle to miss your shot. The lack of barrel distortion allows for clean lines meaning you can get your subject nice and tight in the frame without distortion, perfect for off-centre portraits.
It handles street photography well, with the lightning-fast autofocus coming into its own for capturing those candid moments - though 24mm may be considered too wide for some, as it requires getting close to your subject. The high resolution output and XA elements that are designed to reduce ‘point source’ flare, making it a good candidate for astrophotography.
We were shooting using the Sony a9, and the lens was more than capable of offering incredible high resolution images. Being a native lens, you would of course expect that it is primed at optimum performance to work on the Sony alpha bodies.
Even when shooting wide open at f/1.4, we were impressed with the corner to corner sharpness offered, as shown in the image of the 'focus-locked' twigs (image further down in the blog).
As with any fast aperture lens, we can’t help but mention the bokeh – 11 aperture blades offer clean ‘circular’ highlights. The transition from the sharp foreground subject to the blurred background is smooth, with pleasing colour tones adding to the ‘drop-off’ effect.
This lens is noticeably different to many of the other G Master lenses in terms of size. It’s small and lightweight, and differentiates itself from the competition, the Sigma 24mm f/1.4 ART lens, on this front. There is, to be fair, a significant difference in price.
A 67mm filter size is an indicator of its size, and it felt nicely balanced on the a9. The size, weight and balance will also please those looking to shoot video using a gimbal. It’s dust and water resistant, although we did not test it in any particularly harsh conditions.
The aperture ring is instinctive to use and a feature we wish was on all lenses – it makes shooting in manual or aperture priority a breeze, perfect for event or street photography.
As alluded to, our first impression was how blown away we were with the speed of focus, even in awkwardly lit, indoor conditions. I had 15 pin-sharp portraits of my cat from my first touch of the shutter (High-speed drive), even though I had simply been working out exposure settings.
We should caveat that the Sony a9 is the best body on the market for this lens, but the good news is that if it performs well on the a9, you can expect this lens to match the performance of any other alpha body.
The lens has a minimum focus distance of 24cm, which when combined with a wide aperture offers great scope creative shots.
The focus lock is a great feature on the lens, using the button on the side of the lens to lock focus and recompose - this will be welcome news to those who are used to using this technique on their DSLR.
Sony have included three Extra-low Dispersion (ED) elements in the lens to minimise chromatic aberration (CA). We did find some evidence of purple/green fringing on leaves in some of our images, when shooting trees or leaves backlit against a bright sky. This is a classic test for chromatic aberration, and most wide angle lenses will show this to varying extents.
If this type of shot is one that you'll be doing a lot, the good news is that if you shoot in RAW, most CA can be removed quickly in Lightroom or Photoshop. We didn't find this to be an issue in other circumstances, as evidenced by the range of images in this blog.
We were impressed with the lack of barrel distortion, which often requires correcting in post-production when shooting at 24mm. This really does set the Sony 24mm apart from, and it means that this lens could be used as a professional ‘environmental portrait’ lens.
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By Park Cameras on 01/11/2018
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