The Sony 24 1.4 G Master FE Lens IN HAND first look!
By Steve Huff
Sony has just announced a new G Master lens and I was able to check it out for a few hours just a few days ago while in San Francisco! This will be a quick first look at the new lens and in my opinion it is a welcome addition to the FE lineup which now includes 30 full frame lenses. Here I will speak of my first impressions, as well as show just a few sample shots from the lens to demonstrate color, sharpness and bokeh qualities. I did not have much time at all with this lens, so I tried to get what I could in the time I had with it. I also made a video where you can see what the lens looks like, on and off of an A7RIII and you can see that below:
Check out the lens in this video below. See an AF demo and hear all about the specs of this new G Master Lens from Sony.
With hood attached the 24 is still quite small for what it is. It is very light feeling as well as FAST to AF.
To those who are bummed this is not a post about the rumored and supposedly upcoming A7SIII or A9R, well, maybe those will be coming soon but I feel Sony are doing this right. They already have three KILLER bodies that have converted many over from Nikon and Canon. The A7III is still sold out everywhere months after release. The A7RIII is the camera of choice for many pros and the A9 is being used by sports pros, White House photographers and news journalists. They have the bodies that beat the new offerings from N&C already, so they are steadily building up their lens offerings and one of those lenses that were missing from the Sony lineup? A 24 1.4 Lens and Sony just so happened to make this one a G Master.
A flare test. It did flare some but mostly all lenses do when pointed at the sun ; ) Click it for larger.
Well, not only is this lens small, fast and light. IT IS MUCH less in cost than you would expect. $1399, shipping in October. (pre order here).
Hanging with the man, the myth, the legend… Ken Rockwell shooting the new Sony 24 1.4 G Master. Shot wide open on the Sony A7RIII. He is shooting with the lens here as well. Ken is a super nice guy and it’s always a pleasure to chat with him when I get to see him. Click the image to see the 100% crop, which shows how sharp this lens is wide open.
A new era is upon us with digital imaging, and with Nikon and Canon now in the mirrorless game, things seem to be just getting started. Choice is plentiful but the one thing Sony has going for them is the five year head start in developing full frame mirrorless cameras. Longer battery life, dual card slots, full frame 4K video, 120FPS options for video, no blackout shutters, crazy frame rates and superb auto focus all equal or mostly surpass these new kids on the mirrorless block. Not hype, but truth.
Sony has battled with all of these things over the years and has now arrived at a place where they can be proud of what they have accomplished within this space in digital imaging. For example, the latest generations of Sony cameras all have superb battery life, they all have fast AF for photo and video, they all have dual card slots, they all have awesome low light capabilities, and they offer us sensitivity in the A7s line, resolution in the R line, general use in the standard A7III and all out speed and features in the A9. There is not much Sony doesn’t give its customers today which is good for them as Nikon and Canon will take a few years to catch up. Only problem is, when they catch up, Sony will still be a few steps ahead if they keep going at this pace, and I can tell you all that I see now signs of a slowdown from Sony.
Wide open and taking advantage of the huge dynamic range of the A7RIII camera. This image was originally massively underexposed. I was able to bring out the shadows no problem. See this image and then look at the one under it to see how badly it was underexposed. The only problem when doing this is the image will then have a slight “HDR” look to it. But when you need to save an image, the Dynamic Range on these Sony cameras is fantastic.
The Sony G Master lenses are just getting better, smaller and even faster.
The new 24 1.4 GM is not the only 24mm fast prime that has been unleashed to us over the years. It does have some competition as other brands have already had this focal length and aperture for some time. The Canon 24 1.4L II for example, which I own, the Nikon 24 1.4 and the Sigma Art 24 1.4. All readily available and have been for some time.
So Sony already has some stiff competition with this lens (though two are for different systems) and I will let all of you Sony shooters know, and this is a fact, that this 24 1.4 G Master lens is smaller, lighter and faster than the competition. In the case of Canon and Nikon, also CHEAPER. Oh, it’s also technically BETTER in IQ if you go by the charts and graphs (which to be honest I never have or do). To me it ‘s all about three things:
- The Experience (size, weight, handling)
- The Image Quality (without this, we have nothing)
- The Auto Focus (fast for photo and video, oh and silent is a plus)
I go by and have always gone by using a camera or lens in real life to evaluate it and I prefer things such as “character” and lenses that give a unique look that may differ from what we may expect. I have always had a love for fast prime lenses so when I found out that this was Sony’s announcement, I was pleased (though I thought they were going to announce the A7SIII) and a little excited simply because I just bought, and brought with me, my Canon 24 1.4 MKII. So I was dying to see how these two lenses compared, as I love my Canon 24.
But hey, a 24 1.4 is a 24 1.4 right? Not really. In my time evaluating gear I have tested exotic 24’s like the Leica 24 1.4 Summilux lens. This lens is heavy (for an M lens), large and offers up some very Ince imaging on a Leica M body. It’s comes in at a cool $7495.
Tip: See Ken Hansen if you want a great buy on a 24 Leica Summulix. His Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
I did review that Leica long ago on my original website about 10 years ago, but it’s long gone now. So I can not link to it. I remember it well though but it is the most costly 24mm 1.4 lens you can buy. In comparison, this Sony is a bargain at $1399 and it delivers in the IQ department.
Click for larger and better and sharper! Shot at 1.4 on the Sony A7RIII with the new 24 GM
This new Sony is amazingly light. 200 grams lighter than the Canon and also lighter than the Sigma and Nikon. It comes in at 445 Grams or 15.7 ounces. The Canon, by comparison is 650 grams, the Nikon comes in at 620 grams and the Sigma Art comes in at a whopping 665 grams. Funny as the Leica is about 500 grams and I used to think it was heavy! This Sony is the lightest of them all yet it is at the same time, built very well. It is a G Master and these are Sony’s top end Pro lenses. I would have expected this lens to be huge but Sony surprised me and others when they dropped this little beauty of a lens.
But this Sony 24 is not only the lightest 24 1.4 for full frame cameras, it’s also the smallest. See my video on this page to see the size. On the A7RIII or any A7 body it will feel balanced without any front heaviness, and it will be SUPER FAST to auto focus. In fact, I have not seen a full frame 24 1.4 focus anywhere near this fast and there is a reason for this. You can see a sample of this AF in my video above.
A walk in the woods…all with the new 24 1.4 GM – click for larger and better!
Sony has created a high power direct drive SSM motor that brings 3X greater thrust for super fast auto focus. The same type of motor that exists in their ultra premium 400mm G master! It is also silent as mouse, unlike my Canon. When shooting video the canon creeks and cricks while the Sony is dead quiet.
This lens is very very nice and if I did not buy the Canon 24 1.4 II just 6 weeks ago, I would have bough this for my Sony without hesitation. My Ultimate Sony setup would be something like this: A7RIII with The Sony 16-35 GM, the 24 1.4 GM, 50 1.4 Zeiss and 85 GM along with the 70-200 GM would be one hell of a setup for anyone looking to get into Sony. All of these lenses are superb, top notch, and some of the best in Sony’s lineup.
I used to not be a huge fan of the 24mm focal length but when you give it an f/1.4 aperture, it changes things up and makes it more beautiful. Getting shallow depth of field and Bokeh from a 24mm lens is quite nice. A few random samples below to showcase what to expect from the lens in the way of rendering and color. I now use a 24mm 1.4 almost daily so love seeing this Sony being released.
Click them for larger
Not everyone who takes photos is a 24mm kind of shooter. It’s wide but not ultra wide. It’s kind of one of those weirdo focal length in between a 21 and 28 and for some it’s unnatural. I feel it has its place and takes time to really master it (which I still have yet to do) as most wider lenses do. I have always been a 35 and 50 guy mostly but have warmed up to this focal length for some video projects I do outside of this website.
As for the Sony, Its aperture is fast enough to blow out the backgrounds and the AG is so accurate and quick that focus is not a worry here when used on the V3 Sony bodies or the A9.
For ASTRO shooters, THIS IS YOUR 24mm. In fact it puts ANY other current 24 1.4 to shame for shooting the night skies, and here is why…This Lens is Sagittal Flare suppressed. This means that point light sources are rendered correctly. The stars will look like they look to the eye, sharp and with shape. The examples shown to me from Sony were remarkable as they shot the stars with all 24mm lenses available and the Sony was the only one that rendered them correctly. I am not an astro guy but I am sure many out there will be testing this lens for it.
Sadly on this 1st image I missed focus as I was in a rush. I asked if I could take his portrait and he said no at first and then said yes, so I did not want to sit there for long and I buckled under pressure! I used AF but forgot to use the amazing EYE AF of this Sony camera. So it focused on his nose more so than his eyes. MY FAULT but even so I still enjoy the image. The 2nd two are just shots taken in dramatic lighting.
Sony 24 1.4 GM vs Canon 24 1.4 L II
I hate to say it as I own the Canon and paid $1500 for it just 6 weeks ago, bit the Sony is a bit better in real world use, and here is why with straight up facts:
The Sony focuses faster on a Sony body than the Canon can on something like a 6DII.
The Sony is silent with AF, so when shooting video, no noise will be present. The Canon is noisy, VERY noisy.
The Sony is smaller and lighter yet still made to pro G Master standards.
The Sony has a nice manual aperture ring that can be silenced.
The Sony has a programmable button on the lens.
The Sony is less expensive and uses XA elements.
The Sony is sharper wide open at f1.4 over the Canon.
Yes, I give the credit to Sony here as they developed a stellar lens for 24mm fans who shoot Sony cameras. Will this lens convert anyone to Sony? Doubt it but it is nice to have for those who love this focal length.
Here are a couple side by side shots taken with the A7RII with the new 24 and the Canon 6DII with their 24:
Top image in each series will be from the Sony 24 1.4 and A7RIII. The bottom from the 6DII and Canon 24L 1.4 II
Since I have had very limited time with this new lens, I can not write 3000 words about it but will say this to end this hands on report:
The Sony 24 G Master 1.4 Lens is indeed the best 24mm 1.4 made by any manufacturer to date if you value sharpness, color, AF speed, size and weight. The Bokeh IMO is nothing special though, as I sort of prefer the Canon’s SLIGHTLY, but they are so close to being the same in that area. The Sony does have an 11 blade aperture to help with smooth bokeh I do find this lens to be very sharp, and for some it may be too sharp. Even wide open it is sharp at the focus point, without any hint of softness. It is also high in contrast which some may like, and some may dislike. If you want near perfect corner sharpness even at f/1.4 and no softness in a 24mm lens this is your 24. In fact, this lens doesn’t know the meaning of “soft” so because of that I feel it has a little lack of character. Me, I prefer lenses with a little softness wide open as it helps to create a more artsy look at times. But many out there want and need perfection and if this is you, then this is a lens that you will surely enjoy.
If you want to add to your low light lens arsenal, then this one is a must try. If you want the fastest AF and quietest AF in any 24mm 1.4 lens, then you would be be a fool to not check out this Sony.
The Sony 24 1.4 GM lens looks fantastic, has a manual aperture dial that can be “de-clicked” and is pretty small for a lens of this type. At $1399 it is also cheaper than the Canon and Nikon though more pricey than the Sigma. It beats them all on paper, but IMO each of these lenses offer up a little bit different kind of style and character. The Sony has no real “character” to speak of and is a little bit “sterile” even but this lens is for the perfectionists. Even with only a couple hours of using this lens, I can easily recommend it. It is a G Master after all, Sony’s top of the line, so how can you go wrong?
More info on the 24 GM:
- As part of Sony’s esteemed G Master series, this lens is designed to achieve notably high resolution and sharpness through the correction of a wide variety of spherical and chromatic aberrations. Additionally, these lenses feature robust and intuitive-to-handle physical designs to benefit both photography and cine applications.
- Versatile wide-angle prime is designed for full-frame Sony E-mount mirrorless cameras, however can also be used on APS-C models where it provides a 36mm equivalent focal length.
- Notably fast f/1.4 maximum aperture benefits working in difficult lighting conditions and also affords increased control over depth of field.
- Two XA elements are incorporated into the optical design, which features superior surface precision for effective control over astigmatism, field curvature, coma, and other spherical aberrations.
- Three extra-low dispersion elements are featured in the lens design and help to reduce chromatic aberrations and color fringing for improved clarity and color neutrality.
- A Nano AR Coating has been applied to reduce surface reflections, flare, and ghosting for increased contrast and color rendering in strong lighting conditions.
- A Direct Drive Super Sonic wave Motor AF system and internal focus mechanism provides quick, quiet, and precise autofocus performance and also contributes to more natural, intuitive manual focus control.
- A focus hold button is present on the lens barrel for intuitive tactile control and rapid access to select settings.
- Physical aperture ring can be de-clicked for smooth, silent aperture switching to benefit video applications.
- Dust- and moisture-sealed design better permits working in inclement conditions and rubberized control rings benefit handling in colder temperatures.
- Fluorine-coated front element resists dust, moisture, and fingerprints and is easy to clean.
- Rounded 11-blade diaphragm contributes to a pleasing bokeh quality when employing selective focus techniques.
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