Sony E 10-20mm f4 G PZ review
Written by Gordon Laing
The Sony E 10-20mm f4 G PZ is an ultra-wide zoom designed for Sony mirrorless cameras with cropped APSC sensors. Mount it on models like the ZV-E10 or A6000 series and it’ll deliver coverage equivalent to 15-30mm on full-frame making it ideal for any wide-angle lover.
Announced in June 2022, it launched alongside two other new wide options: the E 11mm f1.8 and the E 15mm f1.4 G. Sony loaned me all three to test, and while this review concentrates on the 10-20, I also have separate reviews of the other two here. As always my main review is in the video below, but keep scrolling if you’d prefer to read the written highlights!
The 10-20 f4 goes up against one obvious rival from the earliest days of Sony’s APSC catalogue: the 10-18mm f4 OSS, launched ten years previously. Both share the same f4 aperture, a similar range and a similar price too, not to mention a similar diameter and the same 62mm filter thread.
The main differences are the newer 10-20 swaps the optical stabilisation of the old model for a slightly longer reach and a motorised Power Zoom, while also sporting considerably newer G-series optics, a shorter barrel and a slightly lighter weight.
In terms of third parties, the closest model is Tamron’s 11-20mm f2.8 at a similar price, not quite as wide nor anywhere near as compact, but a stop brighter.
I keep coming back to size. The 10-20mm is certainly very compact, measuring 55x69mm and weighing just 179g; you’ll barely notice it mounted on one of Sony’s APSC bodies, making it ideal for travel and vlogging. There’s a 62mm filter thread and it’s sealed against dust and moisture including a rubber grommet at the mount. Sony also includes a petal hood with the lens.
In terms of controls, there’s a pair of narrow but smooth, free-spinning rings with no hard stops – the first for manual focusing with linear response, and the second as one of the many ways to adjust the motorised Power Zoom. Notice how the zooming takes place internally, so the barrel doesn’t extend, making it more convenient for gimbal users who won’t need to rebalance.
On the side are a spring-loaded lever offering an alternative means to adjust the zoom with two speeds depending on how far you push it, alongside a customisable focus hold button and a switch for auto and manual focus.
Ok, so let’s see that range in action, starting at 15mm equivalent for an ultra-wide field of view before reaching 30mm equivalent for a milder wide angle. And now for some quick crash zooms back and forth to prove Sony’s latest Power Zoom lenses are a lot more responsive than previous motorised models. With a variety of different speeds and controls, it’s also easy to switch between random quick adjustments to slow and consistent zooms, making it practical for both stills and video. And if you have a ZV-E10, you’ll also be able to operate the zoom using the rocker control on the body itself. I’ve discussed the pros and cons in my earlier review of the 16-35mm f4 Power Zoom for full-frame systems.
But now let’s move onto focusing, starting with the lens mounted on a ZV-E10 and set to 10mm f4, using AFS and a single area in the middle. It’s pretty swift here with a quick wobble at each end to confirm, and also essentially silent in operation. Note you can feel the internal focusing group move a little on all three of Sony’s new wide lenses if you shake them when the camera’s powered down, but they become locked in place when switched-on.
Next with the lens zoomed to 20mm f4, again showing the lens refocusing pretty quickly and confidently, albeit again with a little wobble to confirm in AFS mode.
Let’s now return to 10mm but switch to movie autofocus in Continuous AFC mode, filming 4k on the ZV-E10 body where you can see the transitions are smooth and confident, although again it’s not particularly demanding here.
And again zoomed to 20mm, where the camera refocuses pretty confidently. This also works as a preview for the kind of depth-of-field and breathing you can expect in practice.
Next for face tracking, starting this time at 20mm f4 which at 30mm equivalent is a reasonable focal length for presenting a piece to camera, so long as the camera’s on a tripod. When I get closer to the lens, you can see some potential for blurring behind me, but at more normal shooting distances, there’s not going to be much separation at a maximum of f4. If you’d like more blurring, consider the 15mm f1.4.
And now at 10mm f4 where, like all ultra-wide lenses, it’s best to position yourself near to the middle of the frame and avoid getting too close to minimise distortion, unless of course that’s the effect you’re after. The huge field of view is perfect for environmental presentations like vlogs, so let’s switch to a handheld stroll in Brighton.
To save weight, Sony’s not included optical stabilisation in this lens, nor the 11 or 15 launched alongside it. So to start with, here’s how the 10-20 looks at 10mm f4, completely unstabilised for those not lucky enough to have either IBIS or Active SteadyShot in their Sony body. That said, it’s sufficiently wide you might get away without stabilisation if you’re steadier than I am, or of course using a gimbal.
Newer bodies like the ZV-E10 offer Sony’s Active SteadyShot which applies digital stabilisation, albeit at the cost of a crop to the field of view. As you can see here, it can be surprisingly effective considering this is digital compensation alone, and the lens was wide enough to start with that a mild crop still leaves a big view. If you like this coverage but want more blurring in the background, consider the 11mm f1.8.
Next for focus breathing, with the 10-20 at 10mm and manually focusing from infinity to the closest distance and back again. As the lens focuses closer, you might see the slightest change in magnification, but it’s so mild I’d say it’s as good as non-existent.
Meanwhile when zoomed to 20mm, there’s a slightly more visible change in magnification, but it’s still very little to worry about.
Ok, now for distortion and like most new mirrorless lenses, especially wide ones, the 10-20 employs software profiles to correct geometric distortion. Enter the lens Compensation menu on the ZV-E10 here and you’ll see Distortion Compensation is not just set to Auto on all three of Sony’s new lenses by default, but it’s also greyed-out, meaning you can’t turn it off. This means it’s automatically applied to JPEGs in-camera whether you like it or not, and generally applied by default when converting RAW files. But as a brand new lens, the profile wasn’t yet available in Adobe Camera RAW, allowing me to take a peek behind the curtain.
So here’s a photo I took at 10mm in RAW+JPEG mode, starting with the RAW version without the profile and as I toggle between it and the out-of-camera JPEG version, you’ll see the latter correcting for some barrel distortion with a mild crop to the field of view as a result. And now for the same test at 20mm, showing a milder transformation. Since the lens was designed to be used with profiles, I’ll be showing you corrected images from this point on.
And the first comparison I’d like to make is between the 10-20 at 10mm and the 11mm 1.8 prime launched alongside it. As I toggle between their images, both with their profiles applied of course, you’ll see how the 10-20 at 10mm really can capture a wider field of view than the 11mm prime, making it the preferred choice if the broadest coverage is your goal.
Now let’s angle the view from the 10-20 so that fine details run into the corners. This is at 10mm wide-open at f4. Taking a closer look in the middle of the frame shows a good degree of fine detail, with only a minor boost in contrast if you stop down a little.
Heading into the far corner shows the sharpness is mostly maintained, with only some darkening due to vignetting at the largest aperture. As the aperture is gradually closed, the vignetting lifts to reveal a decent amount of detail underneath, so a great start for the zoom at 10mm.
Next with the lens halfway through its range at 15mm, again starting wide-open at f4 where the story’s much the same as before. Pixel-peeping reveals a decent amount of detail from the get-go with only a mild boost in contrast available if you begin to stop-down.
Heading into the far corners again shows that detail maintained with a great looking result even at f4. Sure there’s the inevitable darkening due to vignetting, but the detail’s all there and as you stop-down, the corner darkness reduces. So far so good.
And finally with the lens at the long 20mm end where I’d say the result in the middle of the frame looks great from the outset with little to no benefit to stopping down any further, at least in terms of sharpness.
Heading into the corner again shows the detail maintained with only some darkening due to vignetting to mention. Gradually close the aperture and this lifts. So a great set of results from the new little Power Zoom.
Moving onto a portrait distance, here I am with the 10-20mm at 20mm f4 on the ZV-E10 again, using face and eye detection to focus. Taking a closer look shows a respectable amount of detail around my eyes and stubble, although at f4, unsurprisingly little opportunity for much of a blurred background at this kind of focal length and subject distance.
Just for comparison, here’s the 10-20 at 20mm f4 on the left with the 15mm f1.4G on the right. Sure the 15 is wider, but the aperture is three stops faster, allowing not just a shallower depth of field, but also faster shutters or lower ISOs under the same light. Choose your lens carefully.
Next-up a closer look at rendering of bokeh balls here with the 10-20 at 20mm f4 and near to the minimum focusing distance of 20cm; note you may get a tad closer if you manually focus. At the close focusing distances, you will be able to enjoy a little blurring in the background, but like many zooms, the actual rendering of bokeh blobs isn’t anything to write home about. There’s some elongation here, but also outlining and textures on the blobs.
If you prefer bigger and better-looking bokeh blobs, go for a brighter prime lens. Here’s the 10-20 at 20mm f4 on the left with the 15mm f1.4G on the right, both from near to their minimum focusing distances, and showing the kind of differences between them for close-ups and bokeh balls.
And at the other end of the scale, here’s an example of diffraction spikes with the aperture closed to the minimum f16. Due to a hazy sky on the day, I had to minimise the Sun’s size by obscuring it a little behind a branch.Check prices on the Sony E 10-20mm f4 G at B&H, Adorama, WEX UK or Calumet.de. Alternatively get yourself a copy of my In Camera book, an official Cameralabs T-shirt or mug, or treat me to a coffee! Thanks!