Announced alongside the Sony Alpha A7RIII mirrorless camera body last year, the Sony FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS is a significant addition to Sony’s standard zoom lens lineup for their FE mount. Before its release, Sony users had a bit of a tricky choice when it came to selecting a standard zoom lens for their kit. At the top of the lineup was and remains the fantastic Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM lens. It’s an outstanding performer but an expensive one at $2,198, and it’s not exactly a light lens at 886 grams. The older Zeiss branded FE 24-70mm f/4 ZA lens introduced alongside the original A7 series is another option, but its performance leaves a lot to be desired. The third option is the Sony FE 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS kit zoom whose performance just doesn’t cut it on today’s megapixel dense full frame sensors.
With the introduction of the FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS, Sony has finally released a lens that can fill the gap in the mid-range of the lineup. The 24-105mm focal range is ideal for a variety of photographic disciplines including landscape, photojournalism, portraiture, fashion, documentary, architectural and travel photography.
As part of the Sony G lens lineup (Pro grade but below their top tier G-Master lineup), the FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS is built to a professional standard and features a weather-sealed construction. The optical design contains 17 elements in 14 groups, with 4 of these elements being aspherical and 3 being ED glass elements. This, along with Sony’s choice to restrict the maximum focal length to 105mm vs. 120mm (like the Nikon 24-120mm) hints at Sony’s aim for a high image quality performance.
The lens relies on Sony’s sonic-type (Direct Drive SSM) motor for fast and silent autofocus and has a minimum focus distance of just 0.38m. It also features optical image stabilization which compliments Sony’s IBIS (In-Body Image Stabilization) to effectively give 5-axis image stabilization. The FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS’s specifications indeed promise to make it a professional-grade alternative to the company’s previous offerings and it comes with a matching price tag of $1,298.
1) Lens Specifications
- Versatile 24-105mm focal length range with f/4 maximum aperture is ideal for landscapes, travel, portraits, and photojournalism
- Sony’s OSS Image Stabilization works alongside their mirrorless cameras bodies IBIS to 5-axis image stabilization.
- Sony’s fast Direct Drive SSM Focusing motor ensures fast and accurate focusing performance when paired with the A7III and Sony A9
- Mount Type: Sony FE
- Focal Length Range: 24-105mm
- Maximum Aperture: f/4
- Minimum Aperture: f/22
- Lens (Elements): 17
- Lens (Groups): 14
- Compatible Format(s): Full Frame, APS-C
- VR (Vibration Reduction) Image Stabilization: Yes
- Diaphragm Blades: 9
- ED Glass Elements: 3
- Autofocus: Yes
- Direct Drive SSM motor: Yes
- Internal Focusing: Yes
- Minimum Focus Distance: 14.96 inches (0.38 m)
- Focus Mode: Manual, Manual / Auto
- Filter Size: 77 mm front filter
- Dimensions: 3.28 in. (83.4mm) x 4.46 in. (113.3 mm) (Diameter x Length)
- Weight (Approx.): 23.4 oz (663g)
2) Build Quality
The Sony FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS is part of Sony’s “G” series lineup, so it’s no surprise that the lens is built to a professional standard. While the quality of the build is not quite up there with the G-Master series of lenses, the fully engineered plastic outer barrel and metal mount feel decidedly reassuring in use. The FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS also features weather sealing, and a quick look at the back of the lens shows a rubber gasket around the bayonet mount. I wasn’t able to test the lens under severe weather conditions, but I can say that I didn’t experience any problems when I used it during a light rain shower.
Measuring 83.4mm in diameter and 113.3mm in length at the 24mm setting makes the FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS relatively compact for a full frame zoom lens, and it balances very well when used on Sony’s latest mirrorless camera bodies. The lens extends quite a bit when it’s zoomed out to the 105mm setting where it’s 163mm in length. At 663 grams in weight, the EF 24-105mm f/4 G OSS isn’t exactly lightweight, but it doesn’t weigh you down during extended shootings sessions.
The rotating zoom and focus rings feel very smooth while offering the right amount of resistance so that nothing feels loose. Unlike the Sony FE 24-70 f/2.8 GM, there is no zoom lock switch, but I didn’t find a need for one in the field as there was no unwanted gravity-induced extension while using the lens. A clockwise zoom ring rotation selects the focal length. Those familiar with Canon lenses could require some mental retraining as the zoom ring rotates in the reverse direction while Nikon and Sony users should be comfortable with this design. The zoom ring is smartly located towards the rear of the lens, behind the focus ring, which is ideal as it’s located exactly where the left-hand balances the lens.
The front element features a fluorine coating to help prevent dirt and fingerprints from sticking along with making it easier to wipe off dirt and fingerprints from the front element. These coatings work very well in use and make the lens cleaning process a simple one. At the front of the lens is a non-rotating 77mm filter thread, surrounded by a bayonet mount for the Sony ALC-SH152 lens hood supplied with the lens. The hood is made of plastic and remains compact when reversed for storage.
The FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS has two switches which adorn the side of the lens barrel. The first switch is a simple AF/MF switch while the second is an On/Off switch of the Optical Steady Shot system. There is also one AF-stop button situated further up and lens barrel between the zoom and focus rings where your left thumb would naturally be. This can be set by the user to operate an array of different functions via the camera menu.
3) Focus Performance and Accuracy
Having fast and accurate autofocus is an essential feature of a standard zoom lens. These days even the most basic lenses offer a solid focusing performance, but where the top of the line lenses come into their own (along with the better camera bodies) is in being able to focus accurately under challenging conditions. Conditions such as low light, fast-moving subjects, and complex backgrounds require lenses that make the most of the cameras tracking capabilities, and thankfully the Sony EF 24-105mm f/4 G OSS does an excellent job in this regard.
The focusing system relies on Sony’s Direct Drive SSM which is both fast and silent. I did notice some hunting with the lens in low light situations (around ISO 12,800), but in such scenarios the limitations of an f/4 max aperture become apparent. An important aspect to remember when judging a lens focusing ability is that the camera body plays an integral role in the quality of the autofocus and because of this, it is essential to match your lenses with high-quality bodies that can deliver an excellent focusing performance. I was able to test the FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS alongside the very good Sony Alpha A7III body whose focusing capabilities make the most of the lens. The combination focuses accurately with very high consistency, while also remaining very quiet.
When shooting in AF-S single shot mode, the camera needs to de-focus the lens before focusing on the subject which leads to noticeably slower performance than using Continuous Autofocus. Still, overall focus speed is good enough for most uses, and the accuracy is very high even in relatively low light.
Some users of this lens have experienced issues of focus shift as you stop down when using it in AF-S mode. In AF-S mode, Sony cameras focus with the aperture wide open (to enable more light to reach the sensor), and some samples of the lens showed a significant focus shift due to this. I couldn’t replicate this result with my copy of the lens, and the problem seems to be serial number dependent.
Switching to AF-C continuous focus mode significantly speeds up focus acquisition but at the cost of a lower consistency in accuracy as the camera now uses the shooting aperture (This allows the camera to instantly respond if you press the shutter release, with no delay waiting for the aperture to stop down). While overall accuracy is certainly reduced while using AF-C compared to AF-S, I found the overall performance to be on a high level.
Sony’s unique inclusion of an AF-hold button in a lens of this type, which can be pressed to lock focus at the current focus distance, enables you to use the focus and recompose technique while the camera is in AF-C continuous focus. This is highly beneficial if the cameras focus coverage does not extend out to the corners of the frame to cover your subject (a rarity with the most recent Sony mirrorless camera bodies). The button also acts as a custom button (C5) and can be programmed to do a number of different functions using the camera’s menu.
The manual focus ring is located forward of the zoom ring which is my preferred position. The ring is well dampened and offers a 193° rotation amount which allows for precise manual focusing. Manual focus works by focus-by-wire which is implemented quite well in this lens, but it can be an acquired taste for someone used to mechanical manual focus implementations.
4) Image Quality
The versatility of the 24-105mm focal length makes it highly popular with a range of photographers but designing a lens with such a wide focal range that offers stellar image quality is a genuine challenge. Naturally, I was keen to find out if the new Sony 24-105mm f/4 lens would meet my high expectations and the good news is that it’s wonderfully sharp.
The FE Sony FE 24-105mm f/4 G is impressively sharp throughout the entirety of its focal range. At 24mm at f/4, the sharpness characteristics are nothing short of outstanding and are only let down by the extreme amount of vignetting at this setting. The center of the frame is tack sharp, and the quality in the periphery is also very good. You gain a little extra sharpness in the center of the frame when stopping down, but the already good corners noticeably improve from f/4 to f/5.6 and again down to f/8. The reality is that at 24mm and f/5.6, the sharpness of this lens is genuinely optimal and impossible to fault for a standard zoom lens of this type.
Zooming to 35mm does impact the performance a bit. At f/4, the lens isn’t quite as good as before in the center of the frame, but overall sharpness is still very high. The periphery of the frame takes a big step back at this setting, but just one stop down at f/5.6 the corners are again on a very good level.
A similar performance is found at the 70mm setting. At f/4, the center of the frame remains at a very high level with the corners of the frame catching up by f/5.6. Frequently, 24-105mm lens designs falter at the 105mm setting, but the Sony FE 24-105mm does not.
At 105mm and f/4, the center of the frame is still on a high level if a tad weaker than at all the other focal lengths with good to very good levels of sharpness. The periphery of the frame is quite weak at this setting but stopping down to f/5.6 again alleviates this problem, and here the corners are very good indeed.
Overall, the sharpness of the FE Sony FE 24-105mm f/4 G is excellent in the center of the frame at all focal lengths, with the 105mm setting lagging behind a little. Sharpness in the periphery of the frame is also very good at all focal lengths just one stop down. Sharpness wise, the Sony FE 24-105mm f/4 G is the best 24-105mm full-frame lens I have tested, and the surprisingly consistent performance at all focal lengths truly stands out.
5) Vibration Reduction
A unique element of Sony’s Mirrorless systems is that even though the cameras have IBIS (In-Body Image Stabilization), many of their lenses also feature OSS (Optical SteadyShot). These two stabilization systems are complementary to one another and both work to give you 5-axis stabilization. Camera manufacturers usually provide the number of stops of assistance, but Sony does not specify one. Shooting handheld on the Sony A7III I managed to get quite sharp shots at the 24mm setting down to 1/8 of a second. Using a longer focal length magnifies motion and the keeper rate drops at the 105mm setting. Still, I managed to get consistently sharp shots at 1/20 of a second at this focal length. The below shot at 41mm and 1/10th of a second shows how you can achieve very sharp handheld shots at very low shutter speeds.
Lenses of this type are not usually known for the quality of their bokeh but the Sony FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS is quite solid in this regard. Out-of-focus highlights are rendered circular in shape, but the discs are relatively busy with a quite noticeable “onion ring” effect. This is not a portrait lens and the maximum aperture of f/4 is very limiting when it comes to subject isolation, but overall, the smoothness of the bokeh is quite decent.
The most noticeable optical flaw of the Sony FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS is in its handling of vignetting at the 24mm focal length setting where it is exorbitantly high. At this focal length and a wide-open aperture, the amount of far-corner darkening exceeds 5-stops. This is quite extraordinary and almost seems like an oversight on Sony’s part and a genuine design flaw. Stopping down to F/5.6 improves things but the darkening is still at around 4-stops of light. Sony bakes their auto-correction settings into their RAW files and when Sony’s profile is applied to the RAW file the amount of darkening at the 24mm setting lowers to a much more manageable one and a half stops of light. Thankfully, the excessive amount of vignetting displayed at the 24mm setting is virtually gone by 35mm when there is just over one stop of corner darkening. At 70mm and f/4, there is about 2 stops of darkening which lowers to less than one stop by f/5.6. A similar performance is seen at the 105mm setting.
With so many glass elements (17 in 14 groups) it isn’t surprising that the FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS shows quite noticeable flaring with a bright light source in the frame. Sony’s Nano AR Coating does help things somewhat, but the flaring effect is significant. This performance is quite typical for a lens of this type and the effect is quite simple and predictable which makes it easier to find ways to work around it. This lens has 9 aperture blades, and thus, distant light sources captured with a narrow aperture show an 18-point star-like effect.
9) Chromatic Aberration
Modern lenses have become increasingly good at mitigating chromatic aberration and the Sony FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS shows very little lateral chromatic aberration. Longitudinal chromatic aberration or bokeh fringing is also relatively well controlled. This is especially noticeable at the wide end of the focal range where bokeh fringing is quite low. Things become more noticeable at 50mm and more so at 105mm but overall the FE 25-105mm f/4 G OSS does a lovely job of handling chromatic aberrations.
Given the popularity of this focal range, it is a bit surprising that until recently there were only three lens options in this range available for the FE mount.
Introduced alongside the original Sony A7 models, is the Sony FE 28-70mm F/3.5-5.6 OSS lens served as the kit-lens for the FE mount for many years. At only $499, the FE 28-70mm F/3.5-5.6 OSS is a relatively inexpensive option that offers solid sharpness in the center of the frame, weak corner performance alongside acceptable handling of vignetting and chromatic aberration in a small and lightweight plastic body. Compared to the FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS, the Sony FE 28-70mm F/3.5-5.6 OSS is noticeably inferior in almost every department except for having significantly less vignetting at the wide end of its focal range. If you can’t afford the FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS, the new Tamron FE 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III RXD is a much better option compared to the Sony FE 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS.
A more sensible competitor to the FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS is the Zeiss branded FE 24-70mm f/4 ZA lens. The FE 24-70mm f/4 OSS ZA lens was the first professional grade standard zoom lens available for Sony’s mirrorless cameras and remains a solid if a flawed option. It’s less expensive, lighter in weight and plenty sharp in the center of the frame but isn’t nearly as sharp in the corners at wider angles compared to the Sony 24-105mm lens. It’s also not very good at the 70mm setting when used wide open and has a relatively busy bokeh even by zoom lens standards. I would pass on the Zeiss branded offering as the Sony 24-105mm f/4 G OSS is a much better lens.
The Sony 24-70mm F/2.8 GM lens is also worthy of consideration even though its price tag is not in the same league as the Sony 24-105mm f/4 G lens. The FE 24-70mm F/2.8 GM is much bigger and heavier (224 g, though in hand it feels nearly twice as heavy), lacks image stabilization, and benefits from a one-stop aperture advantage. Optically, the two lenses are surprisingly similar with the G-Master lens offering better sharpness in the center of the frame. If you need the extra stop of light and don’t mind lugging it around your neck all day, the FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM lens is an excellent option. Nonetheless, I find the FE 24-105mm f/4 G lens to be the better buy given how well it competes with the more expensive GM lens in almost every facet while offering a more useful zoom range and lighter weight.
The recently released Tamron FE 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III RXD looks to be an exciting alternative to the Sony FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS. The new Tamron lens’s focal range is indeed more limited, but it does have a one-stop aperture advantage and a weather-sealed body at 2/3 of the price. We have yet to test the new Tamron lens but based on specifications alone; it promises to be a genuine alternative to the Sony offerings.
The release of the FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS gives users of Sony’s full-frame mirrorless camera bodies an excellent, sub $2,000 midrange full-frame zoom lens capable of fully exploiting megapixel rich camera bodies like the A7RIII. At $1299, the Sony FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS isn’t inexpensive, and it currently ranks as the priciest lens covering the 24-105mm focal length range at f/4 on the market. Nonetheless, it’s a pro-level lens that offers an outstanding optical performance that’s consistent throughout the entirety of its focal range and very few 24-105mm f/4 lenses can truly claim this. Aside from the harsh corner vignetting at the 24mm setting, noticeable distortion and weakness against bright light, the lens delivers impressive image quality that is only rivaled by the much heavier and more expensive Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 GM lens. The FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS is a lot easier to carry around all day compared to its f/2.8 brethren while also offering a more extended focal range and image stabilization. From a usefulness perspective, the focal range of the Sony FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS is hard to beat and when combined with its high image quality, fast and accurate focusing alongside a reassuringly built weather-sealed body you have yourself a lens that could have easily been part of Sony’s G-Master lens lineup. If you haven’t guessed already, the Sony FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS receives our highest recommendation.
Sony FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS
- Optical Performance
- Bokeh Quality
- Build Quality
- Focus Speed and Accuracy
- Image Stabilization
- Size and Weight
Photography Life Overall Rating