Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master – Lens Review

The Sony 24-70 f/2.8 G Master lens is Sony’s premium 24-70mm f/2.8 zoom lens. It has a gasket towards the lens mount and a “sealed” body. It feels more solid than the Canon 70-200 f/2.8 lens I had (if you gripped the barrel slightly the focus ring would become harder to move, suggesting the barrel wasn’t a very strong plastic), and it’s quite heavy.

I’ve used it in varying conditions and the focal length is extremely versatile. This isn’t a lens I ever imagined owning a few years ago. After my US Visa was denied a second time, I bought a few things impulsively and this was one of them. The Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 G Master was questionably a better lens for my usage but I loved having the extra reach. The Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 G Master lens itself is lighter and I had to bring a second lens for wider shots in Canada (the Zeiss Loxia 21mm f/2.8). In total, it was a lot of weight to hike with for close to 20 miles a day. It’s considerably lighter than an equivalent DSLR setup but it’s not lightweight by any means. I feel the Zeiss Loxia 21mm f/2.8 lens supplements it beautifully, and the extra reach was useful for wildlife. I have since bought the Sony 12-24mm f/4.0 lens, and this also pairs with the Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 G master lens incredibly well.

I planned to use the ultrawide prime during lunch breaks and at night around camp, and the Sony 24-70 f/2.8 G Master lens during the day. In practise, this kind of held true but at night I was pretty exhausted from the hiking. For sunrise and sunset shots, the Zeiss Loxia 21mm f/2.8 is much better than owning any zoom because it handles flaring so well.

The reality is, hikers will always have to make compromises. If too many lenses are in your backpack, you won’t use them very often. I found myself rarely switching lenses, and that’s just with a two lens setup. So a three prime setup equates to two primes not really being used much and one getting a lot of use. This completely depends on your usage of course, but I feel 24-70mm is perhaps the most versatile focal length there is. If you’re ever not sure what to bring, you cannot go wrong with the Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 G master lens. If you go for short hikes or you use your lenses for work, switching lenses is common practise so perhaps discard some of this :).

If I have one complaint, it’s that I believe the grip of the camera body gets very close to the lens body. It doesn’t pinch my finger, and I have really long (but slim) fingers. I think if you were overweight, it might be a problem but I don’t know for sure. When I hold the camera naturally, it’s never been a problem. It’s only when I try make it a problem that it becomes one. If you’re trying out this camera in a store, try not look at your hand but instead just use the camera like you normally would. I know it sounds bizarre but I was paranoid about this being a problem and it hasn’t been one in practical use. That said, I do think Sony cameras should be about 5mm wider.

Image quality

The out of focus areas have been advertised more so with these G Master lenses than I have ever seen before, and rightfully so in my opinion.

The bokeh is incredibly round and smooth at all apertures and it never looks displeasing (I guess it’s subjective, but hopefully these examples give you an idea). Above is a knife handle I was working on. I made a mistake at the top (a good workman shouldn’t blame his tools, but…) I have since fixed. I digress. This was held a short distance away from me and it’s quite interesting how well the lens works as a pseudo macro lens. It’s not going to be 1:1 by any stretch, but it was good enough for the wildflowers I encountered in Canada :).

At the wide end the lens is very, very sharp. At 70mm it’s sharper than I imagined it to be (Sony lenses are criticised for their sharpness at this focal length) but if I have a complaint with the image quality, it’s not with the sharpness. I find something about the flaring or contrast simply isn’t as good as the Zeiss Loxia 21mm f/2.8 lens. I guess that’s what you get with a prime. In normal lighting conditions, it’s not noticeable and I don’t notice any troubles with micro-contrast either. The lens renders nicely and I like it. In fact, the more I used this lens in Canada, the more I grew to love it. It’s so convenient and of course that’s largely due to the focal length.

The first of these two photographs was taken at 24mm, the second at 30mm.

Other complaints

When I first bought this, it didn’t excite me like the Zeiss Loxia 21mm f/2.8 lens, but I’ve grown to love it. I don’t have many complaints. I don’t like lenses that extend as much as internally focusing lenses but this is due to my fear of dust getting inside. I have the mindset that if you’ve spent a lot on something, you shouldn’t blindly defend it. In fact, you should hold it to a greater standard than if it was cheap. However, I can’t really criticise it too much. It might be worth buying a lens cover to protect against dust but I’m ultra fussy :).



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