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Summary

Highly Recommended awardThe FE 12-24mm f2.8 becomes another worthy member of Sony’s premium G Master series, delivering excellent quality results in every scenario I tried. The coverage takes you from wide to extremely wide with a constant f2.8 aperture, but the impressive part is how good the results look right into the corners whether focused near or far. It’s a high-performance aspirational lens for those who demand the best performance and have the budget to pay for it, but if your pockets aren’t as deep, consider Sony’s own FE 12-24mm f4G which matches the range but loses a stop of aperture and the ultimate sharpness to become just over half the price. If you absolutely need the f2.8 aperture but can sacrifice the widest coverage and ultimate sharpness, then Sigma’s 14-24mm f2.8 DG DN is also tempting at just under half the price. Ultimately the FE 12-24mm f2.8 G Master becomes the highest quality ultra-wide zoom for those who want to go wider than 14 or 16mm without slowing the aperture. Recommended for those who demand and can afford the best.

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Sony FE 12-24mm f2.8 GM review

Intro

The Sony FE 12-24mm f2.8 G Master is an ultra-wide zoom lens with a constant f2.8 aperture, designed for Alpha full-frame mirrorless cameras. Announced in July 2020, it’s Sony’s 37th full-frame mirrorless lens and becomes the widest full-frame f2.8 zoom; it also means Sony now offers focal lengths from 12 to 200mm with a constant f2.8 aperture.

The FE 12-24mm f2.8 GM shares the same focal range as the earlier FE 12-24mm f4G, but with an aperture that’s one stop brighter. As a member of the G Master series, Sony also claims the f2.8 model delivers higher resolution and contrast especially towards the corners, reduced flare and ghosting, and remains rectilinear out to the extremes too. Find out everything you need to know about the lens, including sample images and movies in my video review below, or keep scrolling for a written version!

The FE 12-24mm f2.8 GM shares the same focal range as the earlier FE 12-24mm f4G, but with an aperture that’s one stop brighter. As a member of the G Master series, Sony also claims the f2.8 model delivers higher resolution and contrast especially towards the corners, reduced flare and ghosting, and remains rectilinear out to the extremes too. It’s inevitably larger and heavier as a result, measuring 98x137mm and weighing 847g versus 87x117mm and 565g for the earlier f4G model, but these sizes do include built-in petal lens hoods. The new lens is of course dust and moisture-resistant.

The optics consist of 17 elements in 14 groups and it becomes Sony’s first lens to feature three Extreme Aspherical, or XA elements, one of which is the particularly complex bulbous front element; the curvature on it even demanded a new Nano AR II coating to be developed. Focusing is handled by four XD linear motors in dual focus groups, delivering sharp results at the minimum focusing distance of 28cm throughout the range.

There’s linear-response manual focusing, a focus hold button, and while the bulbous front element understandably rules-out front-mounted filters, Sony’s equipped the lens with a rear-mounted filter holder and supplied a template for you to cut your own.

Ok, so let’s see what it can do starting with coverage and pairs of images I took at 24mm then at 12mm for comparison. Like other ultra-wide zooms, it’s all about the drama of capturing an epic field-of-view. At 24mm, you’re already starting fairly wide, but as you reduce the focal length, you consume more and more of the scene before you until, at 12mm you’ve transformed it into an other-worldly image. Like other ultra-wide lenses, you do have to be careful with your compositions as anything in the distance becomes tiny, so be sure to include some close foreground interest too. Once you have your wide mojo though, you can enjoy some really exciting results.

It’s not just about big landscape or expansive interiors though, the 12-24mm can do a good job at close-ups thanks to its dual focusing group. Get close with the aperture wide open to f2.8 and there’s even some chance of blurring due to a shallow depth-of-field. Not huge by any means, but it’s there if you want it, and distant lights can also be rendered into attractive bokeh blobs.

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Above: For a more formal bokeh test, here’s the FE 12-24mm f2.8 GM at 24mm f2.8 and at its closest focusing distance, where you can achieve some nice blurring effects.

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Above: Closing the aperture right down to f22 will provide diffraction spikes from bright point sources of light. The skies were a little hazy when I tested the lens, so viewing the Sun directly didn’t deliver as sharp spikes as I’d have liked, but if you can reduce the size of the light source by partially obscuring it as I’ve done here using the leaves on a tree, you can enjoy crisper results.

Check prices on the Sony FE 12-24mm f2.8 GM at B&H, Adorama or WEX! Alternatively get yourself a copy of my In Camera book or treat me to a coffee! Thanks!
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