The Sony FE 12-24mm f2.8 G Master delivers wide to ultra-wide coverage with the distinctive advantage of going down to 12mm which gives an extremely wide view on a full-frame sensor delivering 8 degrees more coverage than lenses starting at 14mm. Combined with a constant bright focal ratio of f2.8, a professional build, and a full feature set including thorough weather sealing and a focus-lock button the lens defines Sony’s top-of-the-line ultra-wide zoom.
Optically the lens shows very good resolution in the APS-C image-circle and performed well regarding contrast, colour aberrations, and coma, producing very good image quality on a demanding 42MP Sony A7 R II body. Focus is quiet and reliable, and does not shift while zooming. The lens also copes well against strong contra-light, an important aspect of ultra-wide angle lenses.
What’s not to like? Well, the combination of bright f2.8 focal ratio and the 12-24mm zoom range obviously makes for a large and pretty (front-)heavy lens and probably is also the reason for the very high price of 3300 EUR / 3000 USD / 2900 GBP. I also wish resolution at the FF-corner at 12mm and 24mm were as good as at 18mm focal length.
Let’s have a closer look at how the Sony FE 12-24mm f2.8 GM compares to some alternatives.
Compared to Sigma 14-24mm f2.8 DG DN Art
The Sigma 14-24mm f2.8 DG DN Art is an excellent lens and optically comparable to (and in the FF-corner even sharper than) the Sony FE 12-24mm f2.8 GM – at less than half the price. The feature set of both lenses is the same except for the Sony f2.8 GM reaching 12mm on the wide end offering an 8 degree wider angle of view. But the Sigma DN is slimmer, shorter, and a bit lighter than the Sony f2.8 GM. The decisive question in the end is: Are you prepared to pay twice the price over the Sigma 14-24mm f2.8 DG DN Art to get the 2mm shorter focal length on the wide end of the Sony FE 12-24mm f2.8 GM?
For more details see my Sigma 14-24mm f2.8 DG DN Art review where it got Highly Recommended.
Compared to Sony FE 12-24mm f4.0 G
Sony’s FE 12-24mm f2.8 GM is twice as expensive as their FE 12-24mm f4.0 G. For that it offers a one stop brighter focal ratio and the option to use gels in a rear filter holder. But the lens is also bigger and 50% heavier than its smaller sibling. Optically Sony’s f2.8 GM is superior to its smaller sibling rendering images that are often sharper at f2.8 than from the Sony FE 12-24mm f4.0 G at f4.0. And with its brighter focal ratio it also produces a stronger background blur.
For more details see my Sony FE 12-24mm f4.0 G review where it got a Recommended.
Sony FE 12-24mm f2.8 GM final verdict
The FE 12-24mm f2.8 becomes another worthy member of Sony’s premium G Master series, delivering excellent quality results. The coverage takes you from wide to extremely wide with a bright constant f2.8 aperture. It’s a 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 at half the price. Or if you can sacrifice the widest coverage then Sigma’s 14-24mm f2.8 DG DN has the same bright f2.8 focal ratio and delivers excellent quality at just under half the price.
I personally hope Sony also develops some fast wide prime lenses that are either more affordable and or brighter than f2.8, but in the meantime the FE 12-24mm f2.8 G Master becomes the highest quality ultra-wide zoom starting at 12mm without slowing the aperture. Recommended for those who demand and can afford the best.
- Extreme wide angle-of-view at 12mm focal length.
- Very good resolution and contrast in the APS-C image-circle.
- Almost no longitudinal colour aberrations or coma.
- Good resistance against flare, glare, and ghosting.
- Constant f2.8 focal ratio.
- Extensive weather sealing plus fluorine coating against moist and dust.
- Zooming does not change focus.
- Can use gel filters.
- Very expensive.
- Large and relatively heavy.
- Cannot use standard filters.