When I wrote about the Sony a7RII, I included a section on lenses. The takeaway:
Sony has nearly won me over with their full-frame camera bodies. It’s the lenses that I haven’t fallen in love with yet.
Well, that just changed.
Sony, with their Zeiss FE lens line, has an abundance of clinically-sharp, technically unimpeachable, and ultimately rather boring lenses. Until now, the exception to that was the FE 35mm F1.4, which I bought for myself after borrowing one from Sony.
Then, just last month, Sony announced the G Master line of lenses. With the stated purpose of providing enough sharpness to match the ultra-high resolution sensors of the future, these lenses seem to represent typical Sony: an emphasis on tech specs, rather than sex appeal.
But the G Master lenses are sexy — if conservatively so. They’re not quirky or unpredictable, and they don’t exactly have character, but they are fast, sharp, and great to shoot with. And they make beautiful pictures that live up to the promise of fast glass on a full-frame body.
There are three lenses in this initial G Master (GM) lineup. The FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM is the fast zoom you’ve always wanted for Sony full-frame mirrorless. The FE 85mm f/1.4 GM is the portrait lens, Sony’s answer to the famously magic-yet-infuritaing Canon 85mm F1.2 L “canonball.” The FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS is another fast zoom, the only optically-stabilized lens in the lineup so far, and will be joined by new 1.4x and 2x teleconverters specifically designed to work with it.
Three Days in the 305
Sony kindly invited me to join a group of photographers in testing the G Master lenses in Miami last week. The 24–70 and 85 were loaned to us for the event, along with an a7RII body. The 70–200 ships later and was not available. If you follow me on Instagram, you already know all this.
We also got to test the new a6300, a $1,000 APS-C camera with impressive specs for video, including 4K XAVC S video, 120 fps 1080p overcranking, and sLog-3. More on that later — but I did post one sample already.
The FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM
I basically treated this lens as a 24mm prime, but from end to end this zoom meets all of Sony’s stated criteria for the G Master line. It’s sharp, it’s sharp wide-open, and it has only minor longitudinal chromatic aberration (UPDATE: see comments below). It does distort (barrel at the wide and, pincushion at the long), so we Lightroom users should look forward to Adobe profiling the lens for a future ACR update.
A 24–70 F2.8 zoom has long been an essential part of just about every full-frame kit, including mine. This lens will be deservedly popular as the “if you only bring one lens with you” option for full-frame Sony Alpha cameras.
The FE 85mm f/1.4 GM
Yeah. This is a lens.
My review: I will be buying one.