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 zoom. It has a gasket at the end 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 spent several weeks in Canada with the Sony 24-70 f/2.8 G Master lens, fallen over with it a few times, used it in the rainy mountains, used it in the extreme heat (yes, Canada had heat!) and it hasn’t disappointed me.

This isn’t a lens I ever imagined owning. After my US Visa was denied a second time, bought a few things impulsively. I have a few feelings about my purchase decision. The Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 G Master is arguably a better lens for my usage, and I’d have preferred it for a lot of shots in Canada. It covers a better range for landscape photography and more importantly, it’s a lot lighter. Not only is the lens itself lighter, to get a wider FOV, I had to bring another lens, the Zeiss Loxia 21mm f/2.8. In total, that’s a lot of weight to hike with 20 miles a day (yes, I did it). It’s still 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 will be useful for wildlife. I also considered buying a Zeiss Batis 135mm f/2.8 lens and then having a three prime setup. Again, for hiking, this isn’t pragmatic at all. If 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. I believe in reviewing things objectively, but if you go for short hikes or you use your lenses for work, switching lenses is common practise.

After careful consideration, I felt that I’d 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. For sunrise and sunset shots, the Zeiss Loxia 21mm f/2.8 is much better than owning any zoom because it handles light so well. The Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master lens was also a cheaper option for me compared to the Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 G Master lens because I already own the Zeiss Loxia 21mm f/2.8.

If I have one complaint, it’s that I believe the grip of the 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. I feel that 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.

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 out of focus areas are incredibly round 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 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 really noticeable and I don’t notice any troubles with micro-contrast or whatever people argue about on forums with :). 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 and applies to any lens of this focal length.

Other complaints

I feel this is the lens that I never imagined owning, 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’ve mentioned the possible issue with its size near the grip. I don’t like lenses very much that extend 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.

 

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