Sony FE 24mm F1.4 GM Review

Sony FE 24mm F1.4 GM Review

The Sony FE 24mm F1.4 GM is everything a modern wide-angle lens should be. It’s notably smaller and lighter than alternatives for SLR systems, exceptionally sharp, and opens up to f/1.4 to snap images with defocused backgrounds. If it’s within your budget, it should be your first choice in this focal length for your Sony a7 or a9 series camera, and earns our Editors’ Choice recommendation.

Compact, Wide, and Bright

The FE 24mm F1.4 GM is a little bit smaller and lighter than similar lenses for SLR systems. It comes in at 91,44mm by 76,20mm (HD) and just under a pound, with support for 67mm front filters. Compare that with the the Sigma 24mm F1.4 DG HSM Art, which costs less, but is a bit bigger all around and a half-pound heavier.

Sony FE 24mm F1.4 GM : Sample Image

The lens is part of Sony’s top-tier G Master series, and includes the expected design touches. The barrel is rugged polycarbonate, with dust and splash protection, and anti-smudge fluorine coating on its front element. Sony includes a reversible lens hood, front and rear caps, and a soft carrying case.

There’s an aperture control ring, adjustable from f/1.4 through f/16 in third-stop increments. There’s a switch on the right side to disable the aperture clicks, allowing smooth, silent adjustment for video use.

Sony FE 24mm F1.4 GM : Sample Image

On the left side you’ll find an AF/MF toggle and a function button. By default it’s used to lock autofocus, but you can reconfigure its function in your camera’s menu. There’s also a manual focus ring.

The FE 24mm can focus fairly close, to about 241mm , but its wide angle of view limits macro magnification to 1:5.9 life-size. The focus distance is measured from the sensor, giving the lens a working distance closer to 152mm.

Sony FE 24mm F1.4 GM : Sample Image

One thing missing is optical stabilization. It’s not a feature we expect in a lens of this type, and all but the earliest full-frame models include in-body stabilization, which is very effective at a wide angle for both images and handheld video.

Exceptional Resolution

Sony promises that its G Master series is intended not only for use on the sensors of today, but for those yet to come. The 60.2MP a7R IV didn’t exist outside of a laboratory when the FE 24mm was announced last year, but the lens delivers ample resolution to feeds its demanding image sensor.

Sony FE 24mm F1.4 GM : Sample Image


At f/1.4, an Imatest evaluation shows about 4,300 lines when the lens is paired with the a7R IV. We consider that to be a very good result for a 60MP camera. It crosses into excellent territory at f/2 (4,525 lines) and f/2.8 (4,700 lines). Edge resolution lags behind the center slightly at these wide settings, but it’s still very good even at its worst.

The lens cross the 5,000-line mark at f/4, an outstanding result that nearly maximizes the potential of the a7R IV’s image sensor, and delivers dead even performance from center to edge. The lens is at its absolute best at f/5.6 (5,070 lines), and continues to shine at f/8 (4,933 lines). There’s a bit of a drop at f/11 (4,447 lines) and f/16 (3,710 lines).

Sony FE 24mm F1.4 GM : Sample Image

I don’t have much bad to say about other aspects of optical performance. There’s essentially no visible distortion, and while we can see a slight vignette at f/1.4 when photographing a flat gray field, the -2.2EV drop at the corners is modest and won’t show up in most shots. At f/2 and beyond, the effect is entirely negligible.

A Benchmark for Wide Primes

Sony uses some exotic lens elements, including what it calls Extreme Aspherical (XA), to squeeze this much image quality into a compact f/1.4 lens. It also pays attention to the details, including nice touches like an 11-blade aperture, so defocused areas show circular highlights, even at smaller f-stops, and a Direct Drive SSM focus system for quick, silent autofocus.

Sony FE 24mm F1.4 GM : Sample Image

At R22 199, it may give some photographers slight sticker shock, especially if you’ve bought into the full-frame system with a lower-cost model. It’s less than Canon and Nikon SLRs pay for first-party alternatives, but Sony owners do have some budget options.

Sony FE 24mm F1.4 GM : Sample Image

The Sigma 24mm F1.4 DG HSM Art is a compelling option for value shoppers. You’ll pay a bit less—it’s priced at R12099—but the lens was originally designed for SLRs, so there’s some extra bulk that comes with it. We haven’t tested it on a high-resolution system, but I don’t hesitate to recommend it to 24MP users, as long as you’re not turned off by its size.

But for the best, go with the FE 24mm F1.4 GM. It’s the top wide prime you can get for an a7 or a9 series body, and a clear pick as Editors’ Choice.

Blog credit to PCmag ( Jim Fisher)