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
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
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”.
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.
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).
From the picture above you can see the 24mm is significantly smaller in every dimenstion compared to the 85mm.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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):
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.
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.
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:
- Astrophotography (if Coma correction is really good)
- Environmental portraits (watch the distance to the subject)
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.
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- Review: Sony FE 85mm 1.4 GM
- Guide: Sony FE lenses
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