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
One area of the lens line-up that we’ve been patiently waiting for the manufacturer to address is the absence of zoom lenses capable of shooting faster than f/4, and up until recently, photographers wishing to couple faster zooms to an Alpha 7-series body have needed an adapter to use either Sony’s own A-mount lenses or those from manufacturers such as Canon or Nikon. It has been a long time coming, but it’s encouraging to see Sony launch a series of faster full-frame FE mount lenses labelled ‘G-Master’ (GM) lenses, which are designed to sit above the current ‘G-series’ range. Currently, there are three lenses that make up the GM line-up. The first of these under the spotlight is the Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM and we’ll be following up with reviews of the new Sony FE 85mm f/1.4 GM and Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS as they arrive in the coming weeks.
Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM – Features
Compared to the smaller and lighter Sony Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar T* FE 24-70mm f/4 ZA OSS – a lens with an optical construction of 12 elements in 10 groups – this new optic sports a more complex design comprising 18 elements in 13 groups with nine aperture blades. When you consider how many additional internal elements it has over the older model, it’ll come as no surprise that what we’re looking at is a significantly larger and heavier lens.
Towards the front of its internal construction is a newly developed extreme aspherical (XA) lens element, which is joined by one extra-low-dispersion (ED) and one super extra-low-dispersion element. The new XA lens element is said to deliver exquisite corner-to-corner sharpness, with the ED and Super ED elements keeping axial and lateral chromatic aberration in check. In addition, Sony has used its Nano AR coating on the front and rear elements to suppress spurious reflections that can cause ghosting and flare when shooting towards the light.
Like Sony’s FE 35mm f/1.4 lens, this zoom uses a direct drive supersonic motor (SSM) to provide smooth and quiet autofocus. It’s claimed that the focus motor offers a 0.01mm precision of focus group placement and if it performs as silently as the FE 35mm f/1.4, it’ll have great appeal with those who’d like to shoot movies as well as stills. As is expected from a premium optic with a premium price, it’s resistant to dust and moisture, offering users peace of mind in poor weather conditions.
Improving on the design of the 24-70mm f/4 ZA OSS, an AF/MF switch is found on the side of barrel, the hood features a release button to prevent it being inadvertently released in its forward facing or reversed position, and there’s a zoom lock that can be engaged at 24mm to prevent the zoom extending. The lens accepts filters and adapters via an 82mm thread and to tie in with the release of the lens, Sony has also produced two new screw-in filters – the VF-82MP MC protector and VF-82CPAM Circular PL filter. These aren’t cheap, however, and at the time of writing were available for £160 and £280 respectively.