Is the Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM the standard zoom lens Alpha 7-series users have been waiting for? Michael Topham finds out
Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM – Build and handling
There’s no getting away from the fact that the Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM is a brute of a lens. It’s a monster when you compare it to the older Sony FE 24-70mm f/4 ZA OSS and to offer an impression of size, it’s larger and heavier than Canon’s EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM and is only fractionally lighter than Nikon’s AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR lens. It weighs a hefty 886g on the scales and you’d assume it’s a lens designed for a DSLR, not a compact system camera if you were to glance at it from afar.
I was sceptical about how such a large and heavy standard zoom would handle on a Sony Alpha 7-series camera. It did make the A7R II feel very front heavy and in an effort to offset this imbalance I found myself supporting the full length of the barrel of the lens in the palm of my left hand for every shot other than those that were taken using a tripod.
The barrel of the lens strays away from the smooth finish of old and is now textured to complement the body finish of the A7 II, A7R II and A7S II. From the rear of the lens looking forwards, the diameter increases towards the front, with the manual focus ring ever so slightly larger than that of the zoom ring. Unlike many lenses that engrave or print focal length markings flat onto the barrel, the engraved markings are added where the zoom ring steps up. This allows the user to use their non-viewfinder eye to refer to the focal length of the lens directly from behind the camera – something I found to be quite beneficial.
The zoom and manual focus rings use similar ribbed rubber grips, but there’s enough distance between the two to decipher which is which without having to look. The zoom ring offers sufficient resistance to prevent the lens creeping under its own weight with the camera pointing downwards, and it requires less than a quarter of a rotation to shift the focal length from 24mm to 70mm or vice versa. The large MF/AF switch is well positioned and quick to locate, and directly ahead of it, beyond the focus ring and below the ‘G’ branding, you’ll find a focus lock button. This can be used to lock the focus at a moment’s notice and prevent the lens refocusing in any AF mode for as long as it’s continually depressed. The manual focus ring operates incredibly smoothly and the overall quality of the fit and finish must be commended for being made to an exemplary standard.