Today Sony unveiled its high-end ultra-wide angle zoom lens, the Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 G-Master. Featuring a complex optical design comprised of 17 total elements in 14 groups (three of which are extreme aspherical, one regular aspherical, two super extra-low dispersion and three extra-low-dispersion elements), as well as Sony’s most advanced XD linear motor, fluorine + Nano AR Coating II and a fully weather-sealed design, the FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM is one of the most advanced lenses made by Sony so far. At $3,000, this lens is clearly aimed at professionals who want something better than the existing FE 12-24mm f/4 G lens.
Sharpness-wise, the Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM looks exceptionally good based on Sony-provided MTF chart at both ends of the zoom range, especially when stopped down to f/8:
Heavy optical corrections through lens elements normally negatively impact the weight of a lens – not so in the case of the FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM, as it only weighs 847 grams. For comparison, the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G weighs 969 grams, while being 2mm longer on the wide end.
Another surprising, and unique feature of the Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM is its ability to rear-mount filters. Sony provides a cut-out template with the lens, but there are no filters the lens ships with.
Personally, I am not a big fan of this approach, as I cannot imagine myself trying to cut a piece of glass to fit this lens. Sony should have provided a few filters with the lens at this price.
In addition, aside from a very particular filter like neutral density, there are no other filters that would work in such a setup, since the filter cannot be rotated or moved up / down.
Overall, the Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM looks really good. I am looking forward to testing it later this year, once it becomes available.
Official Press Release
Below is the official press release from Sony:
SAN DIEGO – July 7, 2020 – Sony Electronics Inc. today announced an exciting new addition to its full-frame lens line-up with the introduction of the FE 12-24mm F2.8 GM (model SEL1224GM) Large-aperture Ultra-wide Zoom lens. This compact and versatile lens is ideal for shooting landscapes, astrophotography and architecture while providing extra mobility for active sports shooters who want to capture ultra-wide perspectives. As part of Sony’s flagship G Master series lenses, users can be completely confident that it delivers outstanding image quality up to an ultra-wide 12mm angle of view with F2.8 constant aperture and beautiful bokeh effects.
The introduction of the FE 12-24mm F2.8 GM now extends the F2.8 range of Sony’s G Master series zoom lenses all the way from 12mm to 200mm[ii] and at 12mm, offers the world’s widest range of zoom at F2.8. At this focal length, it is possible to emphasize distance and create dynamic perspectives that are beyond the scope of the human eye, opening the door to new avenues of creative expression.
“We are excited to introduce the new FE 12-24mm F2.8 GM as the 57th lens in Sony’s E-mount line-up”, said Neal Manowitz, deputy president of Imaging Products and Solutions Americas, Sony Electronics. “It is important for us to continue to push boundaries in the industry to develop the best tools for our customers. By extending our range of G Master constant F2.8 zoom lenses out to 12mm, we are excited to see how these new innovations will help our customers create like never before.”
The FE 12-24mm F2.8 GM benefits from innovative construction that delivers outstanding corner-to-corner image quality throughout the entire zoom range. It features three precise XA (extreme aspherical) elements including the largest XA element ever made for an α – Alpha brand lens. These XA elements, with an additional aspherical element, effectively suppress astigmatism, coma and field curvature right out to the image edges. Furthermore, three ED (Extra-low Dispersion) glass elements plus two Super ED glass elements, powerfully control chromatic aberration and combine to deliver corner-to-corner clarity while minimizing color fringing.
An extremely effective floating focus mechanism divides the lens’s focus group into two independently controllable groups, ensuring both outstanding close-up performance and maximum sharpness at any distance. The two independently controlled groups help realize a constant 11” (28 cm) minimum focusing distance throughout the zoom range, and because it is an internal focus lens, its length remains constant, so its center of gravity varies very little and is always optimally balanced in the hand.
The signature bokeh effects of Sony’s G Master series lens are achieved through the fine-tuning of the lens’s spherical aberration characteristics during both the design and manufacturing process. At the same time, the extremely high surface precision of the lens’s XA elements effectively suppresses spherical aberration and, in combination with a 9-blade circular aperture, further enhances its exquisite bokeh.
The FE 12-24mm F2.8 GM employs four original high-speed, high-thrust XD (extreme dynamic) Linear Motors to ensure that it is compatible with the speed performance of both current and future camera bodies. With two XD Linear Motors for each of the lens’s focus groups, autofocus is fast and precise. New control algorithms maximize the response of the system while achieving flawless synchronization between the two focus groups. Further benefits include extremely quiet operation with minimal vibration and lower power consumption.
A brand-new Nano AR Coating II that can be evenly applied to large lens elements or highly curved element surfaces has been used for the first time on the FE 12-24mm F2.8 GM. It suppresses internal reflections, minimizes flare and ghosting for clear, crisp imagery and despite the lens’s wide-angle of view, Nano AR Coating II maintains high clarity and contrast throughout the entire image, even in difficult light.
The constant F2.8 maximum aperture at all focal lengths ensures that exposure is stable when zooming. As a result, this means that shutter speed and ISO sensitivity can remain constant while shooting movies. The creative opportunities afforded by shooting movies at a 12mm angle of view with F2.8 constant aperture in full-frame are boundless, and when used on an APS-C or Super 35 camera, the wide end of the zoom range becomes equivalent to 18mm, providing a useful zoom range for moviemaking.
Weighing only 1.87 lbs (847 g), the FE 12-24mm F2.8 GM offers numerous features for full professional control of shots. These include a customizable focus-hold button, focus-mode switch, zooming ring and focusing ring that are positioned for easy operation while shooting. The Linear Response MF ensures that the focus ring responds directly to the most subtle adjustments when focusing manually so control feels immediate and precise. It is dust and moisture resistant[iii] and the front lens element features a fluorine coating that repels water, oil, and other contaminants, making it easier to wipe off any fingerprints from the lens surface. The rear filter holder accommodates standard sheet-type ND, color correction and other filters for expanded expressive capability. A cutting template for sheet filters is supplied.
Pricing and Availability
The FE 12-24mm F2.8 GM is available in August 2020 for a suggested retail price of $2,999.99 USD and $3,999.99 CAD.
If you would like to pre-order the Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM and you would like to support our efforts, please use the following link from our trusted partner, B&H Photo Video: