May 17, 2017

First Look: Sony Announces Two New E-Mount Lenses: the 12-24mm F/4 and 16-35mm F/2.8

Sony E-mount lenses
Here's our first look at Sony's two competitive native E-mount lenses for stills and video: the 12-24mm F/4 and 16-35mm F/2.8.

Starting with just one percent of the full frame market share at the time of the A7 announcement three years ago, Sony has now has close to 30% of the full frame market (according to Sony's product presentation this week). As Sony's E-mount becomes more and more popular amongst emerging filmmakers and pro photographers, the only thing slowing the pace of adoption has been a lack of lens choices. Adapting to E-mount can be difficult because of the flange distance, and other manufacturers are slow to make native E-mount lenses.

However, as other manufacturers are catching on to the advent of the E-mount market (including release of the recent Fuji MK zooms), Sony dropped two of their own new wide angle lenses today: an ultra-wide zoom and a wide-medium zoom.

The FE 16-35mm F/2.8 GM zoom:

  • Covers 35mm full frame
  • Aperture from f/2.8 to f/22
  • Aperture blades: 11
  • Minimum focus 0.28 m (0.92 ft)
  • 82mm filter thread
  • Weight: 24oz
  • Corner-to-corner sharpness (not just sharp in the center)
  • $2,200
  • Shipping in August

Sony FE 16-35mm F/2.8 Full Frame Zoom Lens
Sony FE 16-35mm F/2.8 Coating

I was able to do a very very quick & dirty test of this lens, below:

First Impressions:

Filling out Sony's trinity of G Master lenses, the 16-35mm is really nice and it feels like something that filmmakers who are already using Sony cameras will love. It covers a utilitarian range, yet I wouldn't exactly call the image character utilitarian. It's sharp and clinical, yet the out-of -focus elements are pleasing and organic, especially at F/2.8 through F/3.5—not something I expected from this lens. The distortion is definitely present but minimal even at 16mm, and even then I would characterize the distortion as relatively “pleasing". Zooming feels solid and responsive, and I found myself able to do decent slow, paced zooms mid-shot even operating handheld with no support.

Though the lens isn't technically parfocal, it maintains a reasonable focus while zooming, less drastic than expected. Breathing is also present, but minimal. Like the 12-24mm, the insanely close minimum focus is probably my favorite feature and allows for a wide variety of foreground/background staging. Each of these lenses also has incredible flare reduction; even when pointing the lens directly at the sun, I barely got any flaring.

The FE 12-24mm F/4.0 G zoom:

  • Covers 35mm full frame
  • Aperture from f/4 to f/22
  • Aperture blades: 7
  • Minimum focus 0.28 m (0.92 ft)
  • Weight: 20oz
  • Corner-to-corner sharpness (not just sharp in the center)
  • $1,700
  • Shipping in July

Sony FE 12-24mm F/4.0 G Full Frame Zoom Lens
Sony FE 12-24mm F/4.0

First Impressions:

I got a chance to play with the lens at a Sony event in Southern California this week, and I think this one will be really popular for photographers. It's incredibly sharp, has pleasing distortion, insane flare reduction and works very well with super fast autofocus on the Sony A9. I wasn’t able to test it for video properly as I didn’t have the correct ND with me (aka Mattebox) to expose the 12-24mm for motion, but I still get the impression it’s mostly going to serve still photographers for landscape and other ultra-wide applications. The minimum focus on this lens is quite impressive—the specs say close to 1ft but in my brief time with it, it felt even closer to me. The photos I took with this lens turned out really nicely and I look forward to testing it in a more ideal setup for video.

12-24mm FE Sony Lens at 12mm
At 12mm on the Sony A9 (Full Frame mode).Credit: Micah Van Hove
12-24mm FE G Sony Lens at 12mm
At 12mm on the Sony A9 (Full Frame)Credit: Micah Van Hove

More lens options for the burgeoning E-mount format can't be a bad thing, and these two new wide angle lenses from Sony are a welcome addition to the current lineups. Stay tuned for the first footage from these lenses as they trickle out on the internet.      

Your Comment

8 Comments

Maybe I misinterpreted but I thought Sony's full frame sales grew by almost 30%. Is that the same as owning 30% of the entire market? I've read other sources where the entire market has only grown by 5%. I honestly don't really care one way or the other, so take this comment with a grain of salt:)

May 17, 2017 at 1:19PM, Edited May 17, 1:21PM

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Looking into this, maybe I misinterpreted. Getting back ASAP

May 17, 2017 at 7:09PM

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Micah Van Hove
Writer
director, producer, dp

So I doubled checked on this and according to Sony this is accurate.

May 18, 2017 at 12:57AM

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Micah Van Hove
Writer
director, producer, dp

Ok, hang on a second... How did you take that picture of the horse jumping over you and not die??

May 17, 2017 at 1:19PM

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Remote control :)

May 17, 2017 at 2:53PM

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Micah Van Hove
Writer
director, producer, dp

Kudos on the censoring of the horse's genitalia with the flower.

May 17, 2017 at 3:30PM

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"continues to take over the full frame market" ....lol....ya ok...who writes this crap

May 17, 2017 at 5:04PM, Edited May 17, 5:04PM

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Thanks for the article. How about the focus? Is it linear, or that crap that I have on my 55mm and 24-70mm e mount lenses, where by it accelerates depending on how fast I turn the focus lense? The same feature that led me to get an adapter and spend thousands of dollarydoos on Canon lenses.

May 17, 2017 at 7:50PM

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