Rolling-Review: Sony FE 24mm 1.4 GM

sony gm 24mm 1.4 fe wide angle review sharpness bokeh astro coma astrophotography sony a7rii a7riii 42mp
Sony FE 24mm 1.4 GM on Sony A7rII

The FE 24mm 1.4 GM – also known as the first Sony lens I ever preordered. At Photokina we could have a look at this lens and Jannik and Bastian decided to buy it. As they have now received it we are starting our rolling-review that will be steadily updated as we get to know the lens better.
Last Update: Rolling-Review started 10/17/18

Specifications

The Sony FE 24mm 1.4 GM has the following specifications

    • Diameter: 75 mm
    • Field of view: 84° (diagonally)
    • Length: 92 mm
    • Weight: 445g
    • Filter Diameter: 67 mm
    • Number of Aperture Blades: 11 (rounded)
    • Elements/Groups: 13/10
    • Close Focusing Distance: 0.25 m
    • Maximum Magnification: 1:5.9
    • Mount: Sony-E

For $1399/1599€ you can order this lens e.g. from amazon.com or B&H (affiliate links).

Build quality/Handling

sony gm 24mm 1.4 fe wide angle review sharpness bokeh astro coma astrophotography sony a7rii a7riii 42mp
Sony FE 24mm 1.4 GM

The rubberized focus ring has okay damping and as the Sony FE 85mm 1.4 GM it also has a linear coupling which means it always takes 180° from the minimum focus distance (0.25 m) to infinity no matter how fast you turn the focus ring.
When you turn your camera off the lens will remember the last focus position and will still be there when you turn the camera on again.

The aperture ring has 1/3 of a stop click stops (which you can declick by using a lever on the lens) but those feel a bit different (less dampened) compared to the 85mm 1.4 GM.
You can also set the ring to “A”(utomatic) and let the camera choose the aperture value or use the camera dial to change the aperture value when it is set to “A”.

sony gm 24mm 1.4 fe wide angle review sharpness bokeh astro coma astrophotography sony a7rii a7riii 42mp
Sony FE 24mm 1.4 GM programmable button, AF – MF switch

On the left side of the lens there is a programmable button (which I think is a great choice to map with Eye-AF) and an AF-MF switch.

The outer casing seems to be made from a high quality polycarbonate and all markings are engraved and filled with paint.

The hood also features higher than usual build quality with felt on the inside to counteract stray light. Furthermore there is also a button which you have to press to remove the hood, which is usually only found on higher grade tele lenses.
The rubber front bumper seen on the FE 85mm 1.4 GM or the FE 35mm 1.4 ZA is missing here though.

sony gm 24mm 1.4 fe wide angle review sharpness bokeh astro coma astrophotography sony a7rii a7riii 42mp

All in all I am quite happy with the build quality of this lens, only the absence of a distance scale bothers me quite a bit.
Nevertheless I highly value many of the design choices Sony made with the GM series (programmable button, aperture ring with actual aperture values instead of that “control ring” on the Eos R series).

sony gm 24mm 1.4 fe wide angle review sharpness bokeh astro coma astrophotography sony a7rii a7riii 42mp
Sony FE 24mm 1.4 GM and Sony FE 85mm 1.4 GM

From the picture above you can see the 24mm is significantly smaller in every dimenstion compared to the 85mm.

Mechanical Vignetting

The Sony FE 85mm 1.4 GM had very low mechanical vignetting compared to the competition and I was hoping the FE 24mm 1.4 GM will be the same.
So in the following comparison we move from the center (left) to the extreme corner (right) and see how the shape of the light circle changes.

Already wide open the GM shows only very moderate mechanical vignetting. Because of the wide field of view the light circle when placed in the corner appears slightly bigger compared to the center. Interestingly this makes the light circles at f/1.4 look like they have pretty much the same size across the whole frame which I think gives a very natural rendition.

This comparison was done at 0.3 m focus distance, you may get slightly different results at other distances.

Sharpness

infinity

So far the weather did not allow for a decent sharpness series. From what I have seen so far the center resolution looks really really good (which means pretty much on par with the 21mm 2.8 Loxia). The corners on the other hand lag a bit behind, even at f/8.0. I also got the impression the lens exhibits a slight field curvature, this will be further investigated in the near future.

Flare resistance

sony gm 24mm 1.4 fe wide angle review sharpness bokeh astro coma astrophotography sony a7rii a7riii 42mp
Sony A7rII | Sony FE 24mm 1.4 GM | f/8.0

I was moving the camera around with this very bright sun and the small rainbow flare above was the worst I managed to get.
So far the flare resistance looks pretty good to me, yet this is one of the aspects hardest to evaluate, so time will tell.

Sony A7rII | Sony FE 24mm 1.4 GM | f/11

Coma

Milky way season is pretty much over now, which is a bit unforunate. An aperture series will follow, but first I was interested what the GM looks like compared to other wide angle lenses I have at hand. Obviously the comparison isn’t really fair as maxmium aperture and focal length vary quite a bit.


100% crops from extreme corner, A7rII

The Zeiss Loxia 21mm 2.8 is known for having a pretty good coma correction yet the GM looks pretty comparable despite being 2 stops faster.
This topic needs some further investigation though, as field curvature and vignetting figures should also be taken into account, so check back later.

Distortion

sony gm 24mm 1.4 fe wide angle review sharpness bokeh astro coma astrophotography sony a7rii a7riii 42mp
Sony A7rII | Sony FE 24mm 1.4 GM | f/8.0

Most wide angle lenses show barrel distortion, but this lens shows a mild pincushion distortion. I am pretty sure correction profiles will be available soon.

Bokeh

The 24mm 1.4 lenses that I tried so far (Nikon and Sigma Art) struggle quite a bit with double edged structures towards the corners, so I was looking for some foliage and taking pictures at different focus distances. First we have a look at the whole images:

And now we have a look at 100% crops from the upper right corner:

At about 1.0 m focus distance the transition zone overlaps with the background. This is where most fast wide angle lenses struggle and the GM holds up pretty well. Of all the 24mm f/1.4 lenses this looks like the smoothest bokeh rendering to me.

What really surprised me about the FE 85mm 1.4 GM is the lack of spherical aberration in the focal plane but the significant amount behind the focal plane which is what makes the bokeh looks so smooth. In this crop we can see that this is also true for the 24mm lens (slight glow on the red/white signs):

sony gm 24mm 1.4 fe wide angle review sharpness bokeh astro coma astrophotography sony a7rii a7riii 42mp
Sony A7rII | Sony FE 24mm 1.4 GM | f/1.4 | 50% crop

To me this is seriously good news, as the bokeh of the FE 85mm 1.4 GM was unlike (better than) anything I have seen before. Now I am pretty confident this is actually part of Sony’s design criteria, so that rumored GM 135mm lens will probably have amazing bokeh rendering as well.

Alternatives

In this focal length range we already have the Zeiss Batis 25mm 2.0, the Zeiss Loxia 25mm 2.4 and the “native” Sigma Art 24mm 1.4.
The two Zeiss lenses spot a similar price and while I see that the Loxia still appeals to the MF enthusiast, I am not so sure in the future many will pick the Batis over the GM, as the GM is only 100g heavier, yet a full stop faster and equipped with more controls.
The Sigma will be a good budget option, for those that care less about size and weight.

First impressions

If you follow my reviews or my flickr account you might have noticed I really like the GM 85mm 1.4. When Sony announced the GM 24mm 1.4 I was happy, but in a way I was also scared:
Did the Sony guys actually know what they got right with the GM 85mm 1.4 or was it just a one hit wonder?
The most important things I like about the 85mm: gorgeously smooth bokeh rendering including best in class (meaning lowest) mechanical vignetting and the great build quality with focus hold eye-AF button and aperture ring and linear manual focus. After spending some time with the lens I can tell you it seems they indeed got all this right again.

Before you please your G.A.S. though (as David, Jannik and I already did by preordering): make sure you actually have use for a 1.4/24mm lens.

I have been a long time user of the Nikon AF-S 24mm 1.4G back when I was shooting Nikon DSLRs. I doubt many people have use for a 24mm lens this fast, as for me it only makes sense for the following applications:

I have seen some cool samples from the Sony events, but I have also seen some beautiful models with distorted faces, so don’t just follow the hype.

But if you are in the market for a 24mm f/1.4 this really seems to be one of the lenses showcasing the benefit of a narrow flange focal distance, offering a real benefit over the comparable DSLR lenses. To be more specific: compared to the Nikon AF-S 24mm 1.4G – with that I have quite some experience – the GM is smaller, lighter and has smoother bokeh rendering and better coma correction.

Check back later for more information.

Further Reading

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My name is Bastian and for many years I have been mostly shooting Nikon DSLRs. As of today I have made my transition from Nikon to Sony and I am mainly using small but capable manual lenses. My passion is landscape photography but I also like to delve into other subjects from time to time.

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24 thoughts on “Rolling-Review: Sony FE 24mm 1.4 GM”

  1. I am really looking forward for the review of this one as I am still looking for a super fast wide angle for astro photography. I really hope coma correction and flare resistance are good.

    1. I heard that the coma is great and Sony made ads about its coma correction alot
      “A new optical design incorporating two precision XA elements suppresses sagittal flare, a common aberration in large-aperture lenses. Sagittal flare can cause an unnatural spreading of point light sources that becomes more pronounced towards the image periphery.”

  2. Looking forward to your fine review, and samples of its application. I have never shit using a 24mm and not too sure if I might need it ever, but I can always be tempted…

  3. THank you very much for your work Bastian, I’ve been taking pictures with the Nikon 24mm f1.8 in sony a7ii for a year
    I’m really looking forward to this Sony lens surpassing the Nikon, because I have not found anything better, in my opinion of biginner photography Nikon 24mm f1.8 is better than f1.4 and better than 20mm f1.8
    I know you do not have time, but I would like you to review Nikon 24mm f1.8 some day

    1. I have to agree that the Nikon 24mm 1.8G might be the best balanced lens in this range (yet).
      When I was shooting Nikon it was not available though, I used the 1.4 and traded it in for the 20mm 1.8G which I sold when I got the Loxia 21mm 2.8.

      1. Thank you very much your answer, we expect a year 2019 of news in photography that my opinion has driven Sony by clicking Canon Nikon Panasonic, missing Olympus, I’m looking forward to see your review of the Sony 24mm f1.4
        Thanks you very much

  4. “In this focal length range we already have the Zeiss Batis 25mm 2.0, the Zeiss Loxia 25mm 2.4 and the “native” Sigma Art 24mm 1.4.”

    What about the Rokinon 24mm f1.4 lens? If your primary reason for buying the Sony is for astrophotography, I would recommend the Rokinon which is much cheaper.

  5. My current ownership of the 28mm F2 is so far keeping me off the pre-order list for this lens…I’m trying to justify it to myself, but not sure the added cost is worth the width and stop of light.

    That 28 has its quirks, but boy is it great value for money.

  6. Great take on what looks to be a promising lens! I dont have much experience with wider lenses in general so I would like to ask your take on using a 24mm as a “walking around” lens. I know people typically opt for 35mm in conjunction with a normal lens for general use, but would 24mm be a good alternative if I use it in conjunction with something like a CV 65? Thanks!

    1. That is something, I am also curious to find out.
      If you are using one of the higher MP count cameras you can also crop to a 28mm f/1.6 or a 35mm f/2.0, both lenses currently not existing with Autofocus for E-mount cameras anyway.

      1. Hi B
        Its easy to crop to 35/2 due to camera crop mode. But how do you crop to 28/1.6 during post processing? Is there a software which lets crop to different exact focal lengths later?
        Thanks,
        Anurag

        1. You could use Photoshop and dial in the exact pixels of the 28mm crop, but I rather plan on cropping what I think will yield the best image.
          Just need to keep in mind to leave some room when taking the shot.

  7. Have you thought about doing a writeup on “environmental portraits”? I assume that is how you handle “I have seen some cool samples from the Sony events, but I have also seen some beautiful models with distorted faces, so don’t just follow the hype.” I for one would be interested in hearing tips. Love your other articles.

  8. “Corners lag a bit behind even at F8”
    Means they are sharp (for landscapes) but not as sharp as the center.
    Right?

    1. Yes…but by the sounds of it the corner sharpness may been effected by field curvature. Best to wait for the final tests

  9. Oh boy, that initial coma test has me licking my chops. The Laowa is too special outside of astro to get rid of, but this would be so fun to have, especially if it can pull off corner sharpness like the 16-35/4, which I find is more than adequate for my needs. The Laowa 15/2 / 24/1.4 GM / 55/1.8 is a killer trio for astrophotography.

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