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Sony FE 35mm f1.4 GM Lens Review

The Sony FE 35mm f/1.4 GM Lens has been released as the 12th option in the formidable G Master lineage and 59th Sony lens for the popular mirrorless E-mount. Our review scrutinises the lens, with Gareth providing an in-depth hands-on video, we provide 35mm f1.4 GM image samples and a specifications comparison with other Sony 35mm options. Read on to find out more.

Sony FE 35mm f/1.4 GM lens review banner

Table of contents

Introduction

Video set up on 35mm GM lens

Sony continues to steadily develop new high quality lenses for their E-mount system, with the FE 35mm f1.4 GM being the 59th E-mount option now available. This lens arrives with formidable quality as the 12th G Master model in their professional lineage. 35mm is an interesting focal width as it provides a slightly wider view than our eyes see naturally, with the ‘standard’ width being favoured by a slew of renowned photographers pretty much since photography began. These include renowned photographers Homer Sykes, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Bill Cunningham (NY Times link).

These and 1000’s of other photographers favour 35mm as a notoriously versatile width, which is ideal for capturing subjects within their environment, for documenting our surroundings and for slightly wider angle portraits. Sony’s 35mm f/1.4 lens enables today’s full frame mirrorless photographers and videographers to capitalise on this classic focal width, whilst benefitting from the very latest optical technologies. Read on for nitty gritty specs and more.

Lens overview

Sample image

Sample image - Camera: Sony a7R IV. Focal length: 35mm. Exposure: 1/8000. f/1.4. ISO 100

Overall the new 35mm f/1.4 GM continues with Sony’s more recent prime lens designs, being very similar to the 24mm f/1.4 G Master. The newer full frame design is more compact than previous iterations with a similar fast aperture and features a number of adjustments to allow videographers to make the most of the lens together with their photographer counterparts. Video-centric features include an aperture ring with F-stop engravings, on/off switch for 1/3 click stops with de-click option and a linear response manual focus ring. All of these are aimed at enabling video to be smoothly captured whilst silent adjustments are made, as is required by Vloggers and other content creators.  That’s not to say stills photographers won’t benefit from these features, as silent shooting has always been a benefit where we don’t want to disturb the subject, such as during weddings, street photography or portraits. The inclusion of dual XD Linear Motors continues with the ultra-quiet theme for photographers or videographers who employ AF when shooting.

The lens works incredibly efficiently when paired with Sony cameras latest AF capabilities, hitting focus near instantly and tracking subjects tenaciously. This is another benefit of having two focus motors within such a compact lens, it is simply quick, very quick indeed. Whilst not the lightest 35mm available it is certainly the most advanced from Sony, which always carries a weight penalty, yet remains just 524g. feeling hefty rather than bulky. 14 lens elements are arranged into 10 groups, which includes two XA and one AS glass element. These contribute to the solid, professional feel of the lens and help it to achieve the kind of resolution, sharpness and detail which cameras such as the Sony a7R IV are capable, delivering over 60MP of resolution. (Read more about the a7R IV in our blog post here).

Sample image

Sample image: Camera: Sony a7R IV. Focal length: 35mm. Exposure: 1/1000. f/1.4. ISO 100

Whilst aimed at full frame camera users, the lens can also be used in crop mode or on a crop sensor body. There’s no vignetting and subjects remain as sharp as when shooting on a full frame body, but the angle of view changes from 63° to a tighter 44°. Unsurprisingly the lens is not compatible with either of Sony’s teleconverters, which won’t be a disappointment to anyone, but is worth noting. Close focus is another area where this G master lens excels, providing close-up shots at either 27cm in AF or 25cm in MF. This allows photographers and videographers to get exceedingly close to their subject, stop down and provide beautiful, large images of their subjects. Once again this feature allows wedding photographers and other working pros to make the most of the lenses versatility. In comparison the ZEISS Sony FE 35mm f/2.8 ZA loses out on 10cm with a 35cm close-focus. With magnification ratios of 0.23 (AF) or 0.26 (MF) we enter macro territory, ideal for those detailed floral shots and other popular close-up styles.

Let’s talk about the aperture next, as this is another area where the new 35mm GM lens excels. Typically a lens will have 7 or 9 aperture blades, whereas top end models are designed with 11-blades. This is the case with this 35mm which does boast 11 rounded aperture blades with a bright f/1.4. This delivers exceptionally smooth out of focus areas when stopped down, referred to as defocus or bokeh. This renders the lens absolutely perfect for thin depth of field portraits and other subjects where we want to isolate the subject and throw the background as far out of focus as possible.

Sony supplied landscape image

Sony FE 35mm f/1.4 GM lens specifications

Type

Interchangeable lens SEL35F14GM

Lens mount

Sony E-mount

Format

35mm full frame

Focal-length

35mm

35mm equivalent focal-length (APS-C)

52.5mm

Lens construction (groups-elements)

10-14

Angle of view (APS-C)

44°

Angle of view (35mm)

63°

Maximum aperture

f/1.4

Minimum aperture

f/16

Number of aperture blade

11

Circular aperture

Yes

Minimum focus distance (m)

0.27m (AF)

0.25m (MF)

Maximum magnification ratio (x)

x 0.23 (AF)

x 0.26 (MF)

Filter diameter

67mm

Image stabilisation (SteadyShot)

body-integrated

Hood type

Round shape, bayonet type

Dimensions dia. x length (mm)

76 x 96

Weight (approx.) (g)

524

Fluorine coating

Yes

Mount rubber ring

Yes

35mm f/1.4 GM lens review video

Watch Gareth Evans review and hands-on experience below to see for yourself just how adept this lens is.

Image quality

Employing 14 optical elements (in 10 groups), of which three are special glass ensures that the new 35mm G Master lens delivers exceptional image quality. Sharpness and detail is visibly obvious throughout the frame, particularly evident when pixel-peeping as we secretly love to do. Using Capture One for Sony in particular shows incredible detail due to excellent rendering of Sony RAW files, with default sharpness set perfectly. (Read all of Capture One Pro 21 new features here in our blog if you are tempted to upgrade). Colours rendered by the lens follow Sony’s natural style with true to life results and provide an excellent base to adjust when editing if desired.

Video captures are similarly impressive as demonstrated with Gareth’s video shot on the high resolution a7R IV sensor. Likewise lower resolution video-oriented cameras like the Sony a7S III and Sony a7 III can go to town when paired with this lens, with every pixel rendering sharp video footage in 4K, Full HD or whichever resolution users care to take it.

Portrait with the 35mm GM lens

Sony 35mm lens options compared with 35mm Other Sony Lenses

We’ve provided this handy real world specifications comparison of the current full-frame 35mm lens options available from Sony. Whilst the new FE 35mm f/1.4 GM is a prime lens, we included the ultra-wide 16-35 telephoto as it also covers this focal width and provides a different element of versatility along with GM quality.

 

New FE 35mm f/1.4 GM

Sony FE 35mm f/2.8 ZA

Sony FE 35mm f/1.8 Lens

FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM

Focal length

35mm

35mm

35mm

16-35mm

Aperture blades

11

7

9

11

Lens groups / elements

10/14

5/7

9/11

13/16

Aperture range

f/1.4 - f/16

f/2.8 - f/22

f/1.8 - f/23

f/2.8 - f/22

Min. focus distance

25cm

35cm

22cm

28cm

Weight

524g

120g

280g

680g

Filter thread

67mm

49mm

55mm

82mm

Dimensions

76 x 96mm

61.5 x 36.5mm

65.6 x 73 mm

88.5 x 121.6mm

Weather sealed

YES

YES

YES

YES

Lens in use at sunset

Summary

With a number of options to choose from in the 35mm focal range, Sony had to make something special to entice serious enthusiasts and professional content creators. The new 35mm f/1.4 GM lens is just that something special. Without a doubt it is not the lightest, not the smallest and definitely not the cheapest of the options available, but it is an incredible optic which oozes quality on all fronts. It is fast, really fast with two focus motors. It features the brightest available aperture at this length and aside from the more expensive zoom, provides the most complex optical design. Image quality is second to none and allows photographers to choose a lens which will stay contemporary for many years to come on any resolution camera they will likely see.

A number of features will appeal directly to video-makers ensuring Sony is keeping up with changes in their user-base as they produce more diverse media content. But Sony has also stayed faithful to stills photographers with the high level of detail achievable with this lens.

If you are a professional or enthusiast who loves a versatile prime which you can use all day for photography and videography, look no further than this excellent option. Check the latest price in our store here: Sony FE 35mm f/1.4 GM.

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By Nick Dautlich on 13/01/2021

Events at Park Cameras

Throughout the year, Park Cameras hold and attend a range of events. For photographers currently stuck indoors, as opposed to our events that are traditionally held in store or on the road, we are currently working on a range of events that can be held in the comfort and safety of your own home. In these uncertain times, there’s never been a better time to get to grips with your camera, and hopefully we can help achieve this. Find out more