The new Sony 24mm f / 2.8, 40mm f / 2.5, and 50mm f / 2.5 are three new compact prime lenses that cost $ 599.99 each and will be released in mid-May. While they uphold the reputation for quality Sony has built with the G Master series, it’s their uniformity and small size that come as a welcome surprise.
Uniformity and size are so rarely a topic of discussion with regard to lenses. As the first videographer, 67mm, 77mm and 82mm are common thread sizes in my gearbag. But it feels like with every new lens I buy, I have to factor in the cost of a new ND filter or an up or down ring. These three new lenses all have the same 49mm filter thread.
Then there is weight and size. It’s no secret that bags with full-frame camera gear are heavy, and lenses don’t play a small part in that. Sony’s range of G Master lenses is notoriously guilty of being a range of large, heavy lenses with a very high price tag. But this new trio of lenses is small and light enough to fit in a compact bag or even your jacket pocket.
Each of these lenses has an aperture click switch, an auto focus switch, a programmable button, and an aperture and focus ring. All are weather resistant and measure 2.5 inches (64mm) in diameter while being only 45mm long. This uniformity is especially useful when balancing a camera on a gimbal, where the gimbal often has to be rebalanced with each lens change. I was able to balance my A7C on a Zhiyun Crane M2 with the 24mm attached, then easily switch to the 50mm for tighter shots without having to rebalance.
Weight also plays an important role here. The Zhiyun crane M2 is a $ 200 handheld gimbal designed for phones, action cameras, and point-and-shoot cameras. The 24mm f / 2.8 weighs 162g (5.71oz), the 40mm f / 2.5 is 173g (6.10oz), and the 50mm f / 2.5 is 174g (6.13oz). Add the 50mm, the heaviest of the three lenses, to the 509g A7C, and at 683g I was still under the 720g (1.58lb) weight limit of the Crane M2. That gave me enough headroom to place my Rode VideoMicro microphone on the camera.
A full-frame camera with a G Master lens on a gimbal that is small is truly remarkable, and my arms are eternally grateful to you.
Because there are usually fewer lens elements in a prime lens than in a zoom lens, they are often sharper and have less chromatic aberration. Primes also usually have a wider aperture that can let in more light or provide more creative control over the depth of field in an image. At a maximum aperture of f / 2.8 and f / 2.5, none of these three lenses will win any competition for the most blurred bokeh or the most light-gathering power. But on a full-frame Sony camera, they offer enough separation between subjects and pleasantly blurred backgrounds. Overall, they all capture sharp images with a soft, scenic focus decay. While I didn’t have any other primes in the $ 600 price range to compare them to, I was impressed with the sharpness across the aperture range and lack of chromatic aberration.
Photos taken with the Sony 50 mm f / 2.5 G
Watch the great video for a head-to-head comparison between these new Sony prime lenses and other lenses in this price range Gerald undone composed. It covers everything from chromatic aberration to minimum focus distance with a fair amount of pixel beep for the nitpick among us. While I agree that the bokeh of the Sony prime lenses shows a little too much of their blades at wider apertures, I don’t find the chromatic aberration on the Sony 40mm and 50mm noticeable enough in real-world shots to to be a problem.
Photos taken with the Sony 40 mm f / 2.5 G
During my time with these three lenses, I photographed the most with the 24 mm. When shooting in RAW, this 24mm has just the right amount of warp at the edges that both empowers the subject and draws the viewer’s eye to the center of the frame. This is exactly the effect I’m looking for from a wide angle lens, but for people who prefer a more linear image, this can be unpleasant. It’s a great lens for selfies and architecture. I could also see myself using this lens for vlogging, when I need to capture both myself and my surroundings.
Photos taken with the Sony 24 mm f / 2.8 G
The 40mm and 50mm focus dropout is even and quite amazing. When opened to f / 2.5, the maximum aperture, the background is blurry to the point of stickiness. And while the 40mm is suitable for portraits, it’s also just wide enough to work for certain landscape shots too.
Each lens has dual linear motors for fast and quiet autofocus, which is perfect for video recording. There’s a little focused breathing, but it’s not regular enough to be a problem. I wish the minimum focus distance was a bit closer, especially on the 24mm, where the closest focus is 9.4 inches (24cm). The $ 550 Sigma 24mm f / 3.5 has a minimum focusing distance of 4.25 inches (10.8cm), and when taking photos of flowers, this close focus can put a viewer in the limelight, a place where we rarely to be. It’s hard to take that photo with the Sony lens.
While these prime lenses are far from the cheapest in their category, I’ve grown fond of shooting with them, their uniform size is without compromising on controls available at the click of a button, quality or weather seal . I can switch between the two without rebalancing my gimbal or even really adjusting to different controls – they all feel the same on the front of my camera.
Sony has finally given me an experience I have yet to have with a G Master lens: portability. Taking three prime lenses on a hike is something I never do, as a single zoom lens saves space and weight. But with these three lenses, I could carry one fanny pack and didn’t feel burdened by its weight.
As for the video, I welcome three lenses that all share the same filter thread so that I don’t have to deal with multiple sets of step-up or down rings for my ND filters. I also appreciate the near-silent autofocus and the ability to toggle the aperture ring click on and off.
The new Sony 24 mm f / 2.8, 40 mm f / 2.5 and 50 mm f / 2.5 are all compact without compromise and at a price that is high but not unattainable. You can get faster lenses, you can get cheaper lenses, and you can get even smaller lenses. But you’ll have a hard time finding this combination of portability and performance in everything else in Sony’s range.
I am absolutely delighted with Sony’s commitment to quality cameras and lenses that won’t break my back. Next stop: compact zoom lenses with faster, constant apertures, please.