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A few weeks ago I went to Acadia National Park with 9 other photographers apart of Sony’s Alpha Imaging Collective, to explore the fall foliage of the Northeast with the Sony team. This wasn’t my first time using this lens, as I also first tried it upon it’s release back in May, during Sony Kando 1.0 in California.
Thanks to Sony I was sent the Sony FE 4/12-24mm G and Sony a9 to use for this trip. My frequent readers know that I currently only use ZEISS lenses with my Alpha Mirrorless system. For this trip our focus was to be on that lens and the new Sony FE 2.8/16-35mm G Master, so I decided to switch my primary wide angle, Carl ZEISS FE 4/16-35mm Vario-TESSAR for this lens.
My experience with this lens was leaving quite impressed! It’s the wide angle lens that many landscape Sony photographers have been wanting since 2006 and finally have a native lens wider than 16mm from them. It may not have been a ZEISS, but in all honesty this is a VERY solid and great quality lens!
Sony FE 12-24mm G Specs & Images
Nano AR Coating
Aperture Range: f/4-f/22
122 - 84 degrees - Angle of View
11.02′ inches (28cm) Minimum Focus Distance
1:7.14 - Max Reproduction Ratio
7 Diaphragm Blades, Rounded
This is a wide angle FE lens for Sony E-Mount, suited for the Sony Full Frame Mirrorless line of Alpha cameras. This lens can be used on the APS-C (crop body cameras), to give you an effective viewing angle of 18-36mm.
I used this lens during the trip for my landscape images, which I love to go ultra wide with. What else would I use this lens for? My epic architecture images of buildings, where I love to get the widest possible angle of a skyline with the sky in the images.
What I think about the 12-24mm
An ultra wide lens has been one I’ve long awaited for from Sony and this is a well welcomed addition!
Off the bat when you first hold the lens you notice the amazing build quality of this lens. It’s all metal and has a petal lens hood that’s built onto the lens, which means you can’t attach a traditional lens filter to this lens. You have the G series and Sony logos on the sides of the lens, a focus hold button and an AF/MF toggle switch.
What I love is that it’s not a very huge lens for a lens of this range, like the larger wide angle offered by Nikon (2.8/14-24mm) and Canon (4/11-24mm). For the Full Frame Mirrorless Alpha cameras it balances nicely and you don’t feel there being a top heavy feel when using it.
Quality wise is what you’d expect from a lens of this caliber, it’s sharp, fast at focusing and offers some very great color reproduction. My love for ZEISS is one that can’t be denied, but I was quite impressed with this lenses reproduction and it shows how far Sony has come in their lens development. This lens is really sweet! Sweet enough to replace my ZEISS 4/16-35mm perhaps? I think theirs room for both of these actually, vs one over the other. I love them both for different reasons, such as the range advantages both offer.
What makes the 12-24mm great?
Image Quality/Distortion - For a lens with the G series badge you’re expecting top quality and this lens does just that. From it’s sharpness to colors it’s optically sound throughout it’s entire lens range, even wide open. This lens handles distortion relatively well also. For a lens offering 12mm you may be surprised at how well it does at that focal length.
Focal Range - Long time Sony photographers have really wanted a lens capable of wider than the 16mm native we’ve had for the past 11 years. Finally it’s here for the E-Mount (sorry, still not one for A-Mount) and it’s a winning lens. Going from my 16-35mm ZEISS to this may not have seemed like much on paper but visually this is a massive difference from 16mm to 12mm. It’s ultra wide and still gives you a nice range up to 24mm. Pair this with the ZEISS 24-70mm, Sony 24-70mm or the new Sony 24-105mm lenses and you’re capable of keeping to just two lenses for most things you may be photographing.
Dust & Moisture Resistant/Build - Having a lens that can withstand heavy usage is important and that’s obvious for landscape photographers who are among the elements and those unseen moments of sudden wind can knock over your tripod. This lens is dust and moisture resistant and has a hefty metal build that should hold up well with that unexpected fall, should it happen! With the built on lens hood you obtain a little extra protection for the glass element at the front. Being that you can’t place a UV filter on this lens your lens is quite vulnerable but the lens hood gives a bit of a buffer from the lens element to the end of the lens hood.
Vignetting - This lens has quite a bit of light fall off in the corners (apparent once importing to Lightroom and applying lens correction), but considering I add vignettes to just about all of my images I appreciate the natural vignette.
Conclusion: Who is/isn’t this for?
Landscape and architecture photographers will appreciate this lens being in the Alpha lineup. It’s a first for us having a zoom lens of this range and one many would get a lot of use from.
At around $1,700 USD it’s certainly not the cheapest wide angle lens on the block. That may set many people back or eliminate this lens as a choice for them.
If you’re wanting a solid alternative then look into the ZEISS FE 4/16-35mm Vario-TESSAR. The drawback is that you do lose that wide angle viewpoint of the 12-24, but you’re spending $500 less on a lens. Which will be most important to you, $500 or 12-16mm? Both are f/4 lenses, metal builds with great image quality and color so roughly those two things will be the deciding factor for most.
All images featured in this review were photographed with the Sony a9. All images have also been post processed from their RAW files, using Adobe Lightroom.