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Sony Fe 24-70mm f2.8 GM Lens (SEL2470GM) – Review

Introduction

I am in the midst of making my full switch to Sony Mirrorless for all my professional work. The key thing holding me back is the dual card slot! I have had SD Cards fail on me and I can’t risk running a professional shoot without the instant back-up. There are other reasons why I prefer DSLR at the moment, however the biggest is this SD Card slot issue.

With that being said, the reason why I have not yet purchased this Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 GM is simply due to the fact I’m not ready to use the Sony system for professional use.

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The 24-70mm f/2.8 from any manufacturer is generally considered a workhorse lens. You can cover wide angle through until short-telephoto. Therefore enabling you to quickly capture the environment to a more intimate close-up. It’s definitely a versatile lens.

However, I have used and owned the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 for 5yrs now and it has never excited me. All the shots I got from this lens have always been more functional than stunning. Simply used to ‘get the shot’, rather than to ‘get a great shot’.

So whilst I’ve owned the Sony system for over 2yrs now, i’ve opted to use the wider aperture primes for better low-light and bokeh.

The Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 GM has not been on my radar at the moment and hasn’t really excited me in anyway.

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I managed to get my hands on one for a few days and at the time of writing this introduction, I have only take a few shots at a family dinner on my Sony A6500 and I have to say, the lens has surprised me somewhat!

Build Quality

The lens is pretty beefy! I’ve heard from other reviews the lens is large and you don’t quite appreciate it until you hold it in your own hands. Especially when you mount it on such a small body such as the Sony A6500.

Weighing in at 886g with a large 82mm filter thread size, this lens is certainly not the most convenient to carry around casually.

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With the lens being dust and moisture resistant, it should be able to withstand light rain and windy environments. However in 2017 at the time of me writing this, I don’t have full confidence in the Sony system with regards to their weather resistance. I’ve not had any bad experiences, just a simple feeling that it won’t hold-up like a DSLR.

Features

The lens also features a ‘lock’ switch to prevent any lens creep, however the zoom ring feels relatively stiff and I can’t imagine the lens creeping at all. With me testing via a little shake, no creep whatsoever, but maybe with time the zoom ring will loosen up.

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There’s a focus hold button on the lens, which can be customised for other features such as Eye-AF which is pretty handy. Much more convenient to press this button rather than the “C3” button for which I currently have it customised too.

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The GMaster branding promises high quality images with excellent sharpness and beautiful smooth bokeh.

Bokeh is somewhat subjective and Kai reviewed this lens on DigitalRev and described the lens as having bad bokeh. Not the worst, but definitely on the bad end of the spectrum. However, in other reviews such as The Camera Store TV, they have described the lens as having great bokeh. I will discuss this more later in the review…

MOUNT – E-mount Lenses br/A full range

FORMAT – 35mm full frame

FOCAL-LENGTH (MM) – 24-70 mm

35MM EQUIVALENT FOCAL-LENGTH (APS-C) – 36-105 mm

LENS GROUPS / ELEMENTS – 13 / 18

ANGLE OF VIEW (35MM) – 84°-34°

ANGLE OF VIEW (APS-C) – 61°-23° 2

MAXIMUM APERTURE (F) – 2.8

MINIMUM APERTURE (F) – 22

APERTURE BLADES – 9

CIRCULAR APERTURE – Yes

MINIMUM FOCUS DISTANCE – 0.38 m

MAXIMUM MAGNIFICATION RATIO (X) – 0.24 x

FILTER DIAMETER (MM) – 82 mm

Image Quality

The lens sharpness upon the first few shots and looking at the back of my LCD looked stunning. I was immediately impressed. When reviewing the images on laptop also, I was stunned at the centre sharpness.

The colour rendition looks to have a good amount of contrast and this judgement was just my initial impressions when looking on the back of the screen on my Sony A6500.

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I ran a few tests comparing the Sony A7R II with Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 GM vs. Nikon D800 with Nikon AF-S 24-70mm/2.8G.

I decided to mount the comparing lenses to their native camera bodies to maximise on sharpness and accuracy which adapaters unfortunately do not provide. 

The Fotodiox and Commlite AF Adapter both suffer from light leak, so I didn’t want any contrast issues playing into this test. 

I did find that the Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 GM to be very sharp indeed. I brought my Nikon kit into this mix not as a direct competition, but more just so I can have a bench mark for comparison and from what I can see, the Sony did out perform the sharpness corner to corner.

Rather than me discussing this in detail, check out the 1:1 comparisons for yourself!

1:1 Center (Sony left, Nikon Right)

1:1 Left (Sony left, Nikon Right)

1:1 Right (Sony left, Nikon Right)

These test shots were performed at f/8, the typical aperture for a landscape shot and at 48mm. The images are not identical when swiping between Sony and Nikon due to the file size difference.

However, it is clear to see that the Sony is much sharper. Or is it……….

dxo-sony-24-70mm-f2-8DXO have rated this lens as having 17mp of perceptual resolution. This is on the older Sony A7R.

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DXO have also rated the Nikon D800 with Nikon AF-S 24-70mm/2.8G as having 15 perceptual megapixels. So yes, I would probably base the Nikon 24-70mm as being softer. However, when you change the camera body to a Nikon D810 which is actually a closer match to Sony A7R in terms of sensor as both would have no Anti-Aliasing filter, the scores are slightly different and that now the Nikon outperforms the Sony with 21 perceptual megapixels.

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Bokeh

Bokeh is not something that I seek a 24-70mm f/2.8 lens for. This standard zoom lens with constant f/2.8 aperture is focused around versatility and where you are able to get Bokeh, this lens is not my first choice.

But I did see YouTube reviews with conflicting opinions so I did want to explore this further.

I did a brief YouTube video myself discussing the differences, so if you would prefer, check out the video for my thoughts.

In short, I found both lenses exhibited the onioning effect where rings are visible within the Bokeh balls. However the Nikon AF-S 24-70mm/2.8G was noticeably worse. Likewise the shape of the Bokeh balls were much more consistently round with the Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 GM.

Nikon left, Sony Right

Nikon left, Sony Right

Conclusion

To be clear, I should state one more time that this was not a comparison of lenses to see which you should buy, the Nikon 24-70mm/2.8G was purely thrown into the mix as a bench mark for comparison as I had used the Nikon 24-70mm for 5yrs with no complaints.

The Nikon 24-70mm currently retails for around £900 used and £1269 new. Considering this lens is pretty old and cheaper, I do expect the Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 GM to smoke the competition.

My personal opinion, it didn’t perform as great as I had hoped. However I did have very high expectations.

The lens as a whole performed well with decent AF, good build quality and sharp images with decent bokeh. So you can’t really fault it.

However, at £1,800 I do expect it to be way better than the competition and comparing against a very old and cheaper Nikon 24-70mm it didn’t excite me or make me want to buy this lens.

In the near future, I do plan to make a full switch to Sony and when I do, I will purchase this Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 GM for my event work. Right now, it’s not a desirable lens for me, but definitely one that is functional and will do the job.

So if you need this zoom range, you unfortunately don’t have much option.

The new Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 does come in a Canon mount which you can mount via Sigma MC-11 however I would not recommend any adapted lenses for event work.

So therefore, as a Sony shooter… you don’t have much choice but to get this Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 GM. Rest assured, it is a good lens, but not without its flaws…

Let me know your thoughts below…

YouTube Reviews

 

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