31 May 2017
Sony recently launched two wide-angle zoom lens, the 12-24mm f/4 G lens, and the 16-35mm f/2.8 G Master lens. Coming not too long after the launch of the new professional level Sony A9 full-frame mirrorless camera, the wide-angle lenses are likely to appeal to landscape and architectural photographers who want to get as much of the scene in as possible.
The 12-24mm f/4 lens is a more specialised lens, being the widest currently available for Sony full-frame cameras. It gives a super wide angle of view that doesn’t necessarily look natural, but with an effect that will be appreciated by some.
Sony has designed the lens to be surprisingly small and light, and it works well with a camera such as the Sony A9 or the older Sony models, such as the A7R II. The lens design is also simple, with a two ring design - one for adjusting the zoom length, and another for manual focusing. Both of the lenses feature a textured, rubberised grip which, along with a smooth mechanism, helps it to feel solid and smooth in use. There’s no aperture ring here, which is a common trait for most Sony lenses - instead aperture is controlled via body controls.
Dust and moisture resistance is provided, which is particularly useful for landscape photographers. Another element of the lens design is a customisable focus hold button, found on the side of the lens. There’s also an AF/MF switch for quick switching between focusing methods.
I had the opportunity to use the 12-24mm f/4 lens on a short trip to the Italian lakes recently. The ultra wide angle was ideal for capturing super wide waterscapes and beautiful scenery. Focusing, which is powered by an inner-focus mechanism driven by Sony’s Direct Drive SSM (DDSSM) is quick and accurate, locking onto the subject with ease.
Although this is not a G Master lens, it still produces excellent images with a high level of sharpness. You can see some lens flare in certain conditions, particularly if shooting at narrow apertures. An integrated lens hood helps to reduce the effect, but there will be times it will be difficult to avoid. A star-shaped burst can be exaggerated when shooting directly into lights by shooting at super narrow apertures, such as f/22.
It’s possible to see a slight amount of purple fringing in very high contrast areas of some images, but only if you zoom in at 100% and really look for it - generally speaking the overall impression is fantastic.
So far we’ve only had the chance to use the 12-24mm lens in relatively restricted conditions, but we're looking forward to testing it more thoroughly when we get them in stock sometimes towards the end of July. We'll keep you updated!
Sample images (taken with Sony A9)