Standard zooms are the swiss knifes for photographers who need flexibility, can’t change lenses or prefer exact framing over prime qualities.
The Sony FE standard zoom palette has grown in the past years. In the beginning, we were cought between a rock (Sony FE 3.5-5.6/28-70) and a hard place (Sony FE 4/24-70 ZA OSS). We were trying to get around this lens type as good as we could.
In 2019, three great options are available and the situation is the other way around. Not only I have a hard time to decide which of the three highly regarded lenses suits me best, so let’s find out together which lens is the best choice for whom.
This article will be split into three seperate posts due to the sheer amount of information. I will start with a sharpness shootout (infinity) between the Sony 2.8/24-70 GM, the Tamron 2.8/28-75 Di III RXD and the Sony 4/24-105 G OSS.
First of all, let me quote Roger Cicala from Lensrentals.com who said this in the fredmiranda.com forum. He probably tested more lenses for sample variation than all readers of this post together:
“I’ve only tested 5,000 zooms so far so all I can say is the frequency of a zoom perfect at all focal lengths is lower than 1 in 5,000.”
So after all, you see just the performance of my copies of these lenses. Those who know me will agree that I am very picky about my lenses so expect my copies to be rather better than worse. Nevertheless, there will be samples that could perform differently. This also applies for every other review on the web but is especially true for a comparison of three zoom lenses.
This article is obviously very geeky as it compares the sharpness around the infinity mark in detail at different focal lengths and areas of the frame. That’s why I will start with the..
For those who don’t want to look at all images in detail, I’ve created this table. I’ve rated the lenses in all analyzed categories. 1 stands for the best performer, 3 for the weakest.
|Focal Length / Area||Sony 2.8/24-70 GM||Tamron 2.8/28-75 DiIII RXD||Sony 4/24-105 G OSS|
|24/28mm / center||1||2||3|
|24/28mm / midframe||3||1||2|
|24/28mm / corner||1||3||2|
|35mm / center||3||1||2|
|35mm / midframe||1||2||3|
|35mm / corner||2||3||1|
|50mm / center||1||2||3|
|50mm / midframe||1||3||2|
|50mm / corner||1||3||2|
|70/75mm / center||1||2||3|
|70/75mm / midframe||1||2||3|
|70/75mm / corner||1||3||2|
It’s easily visible that my copy of the 2.8/24-70 GM lens stands out of the crowd in terms of sharpness. Especially at the long end, it resolves generally a bit more detail than the rest. The weaknesses of the GM are a mid zone dip at 24mm and a slightly worse performance at 35mm. This behavior also matches with another copy of this lens that I have tested a while ago.
This said, the other lenses are no slouches at all. Generally, the Tamron 2.8/28-75 is a bit sharper than the Sony 4/24-105 in the center while the latter is more constant across the frame which fits also well to their applications.
Interestingly, the Tamron renders a bit warmer than both Sony lenses which have roughly the same color/contrast footprint.
In my opinion, we see three very good performances and none of these lenses should be ruled out just by this shootout. The other categories of performance (especially bokeh) and the general specs of the lenses can be very important for a buying decision and will be discussed in the next articles.
The Tamron 2.8/28-75 Di III RXD can be purchased for $899 at Amazon.com (affiliate link) or 829€ at Amazon.de (affiliate link). Sometimes you can get a used lens or a good deal at Ebay.de or Ebay.com (affiliate links).
Aperture Series (infinity sharpness)
- Center: Sony 2.8/24-70 GM has a small advantage over the Tamron 2.8/28-75 in terms of contrast and sharpness. Both lenses are excellent and a bit better than the 4/24-105G
- Midframe: The Tamron 2.8/28-75 and the Sony 4/24-105 are very good at apertures below f/8, the GM lacks in contrast at these apertures. At f/8, all lenses are almost equal.
- Corner: The Sony 2.8/24-70 GM resolves more details than the other two lenses at all apertures. The other two lenses are very close and also not bad at all.
- Center:The Sony 2.8/24-70 GM looks less crispy at wide apertures, the Tamron 2.8/28-75 really shines there and is also a tad better than the very good Sony 4/24-105 G
- Midframe: The Sony 2.8/24-70 GM is visibly better than the other two lenses, the Tamron follows and the Sony 4/24-105 G resolves less fine detail
- Corner: The Sony 2.8/24-70 GM and the Sony 4/24-105 G are very good at f/8, the latter is a bit better wide open and is the best lens here. The Tamron 2.8/28-75 is quite a bit worse here and needs f/8 for good corners
- Center: The Sony 2.8/24-70 GM is razor sharp here, there is even a tad of diffraction visible at f/5.6. The Tamron 2.8/28-75 is also very good in the center, the biggest difference to the GM is visible at f/2.8. The Sony 4/24-105 is also very good but lacks a bit in edge acuity compared to the other two.
- Midframe: The GM clearly wins by a bit and offers great sharpness, the Sony 4/24-105 follows and the 2.8/28-75 is the weakest but improves until f/11
- Corner: The Tamrom 2.8/28-75 shows high astigmatism wide open but resolves more detail at smaller apertures while the Sony 4/24-105 is much better at larger apertures. The Sony 2.8/24-70 GM is once more clearly the best and excellent at f/8.
- Center: Once more, the Sony 2.8/24-70 is visibly better than the other two lenses, followed by the Tamron and the Sony 4/24-105 G
- Midframe: In this area, all lenses are very good. The Sony 2.8/24-70 GM has a small advantage, followed by the Tamron 2.8/28-75 and the Sony 4/24-105 G
- Corner: Surprisingly, all lenses are better than their reputation at the long end. They can use two or three stops down for best corner sharpness, the GM is a bit better than the other two lenses stopped down
Bonus: 105mm: This is what makes the Sony 4/24-105 G stand out of the crowd. The central performance is already good wide open and best at f/5.6. Midframe and corner are sharpest at f/8, the image is good across the frame there.
Part 2 (bokeh) will follow!
Obviously, this shootout is quite a bit of work. You can valuate that if you buy your gear using one of these affiliate links:
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