When I bought my Sony A7III in early 2020 I received the kit lens 28mm-70mm f/3.5-5.6 oss with it. That lens did the trick, but like with most kit lenses you quickly start noticing some of it’s flaws. The 28-70 is by all means an acceptable performer but by no means perfect. In reality no lens is perfect, yet in the case of 28-70mm a few things I didn’t like about started to get to me:
- 28mm is simple not wide enough, I prefer to shoot at 24mm when it comes to landscape. 4mm doesn’t sound like much but once you are out there it does matter.
- The max aperture of f/3.5 sounds and looks good, but that is wide-open @28mm once you shoot at a focal length of 35mm max aperture is f/4.0, at 50mm f/4.5, at 70mm f/5.6. Which means the more you narrow you field of view the less light you allow into your camera.
- Shooting at max aperture doesn’t get the best quality in image sharpness. I am not a pixel peaker but I could see the that I had to at least shoot 1 or 2 stops down.
- Overall quality of the images is acceptable yet I could clearly see the results, regardless of my camera settings wasn’t that good especially at 28mm and 70mm (minimal and maximum focal lengths)
- One practical objection. I have big hands and the position of the zoom ring often annoyed me. So basically I need a lens where the lens rings are bit further removed from the camera body.
So I started looking for a 24-70mm which pairs nicely with my 70-350mm (f/4.5-6.3 g oss review) basically two lenses providing the full coverage from wide angle to tele zoom for the full frame Sony A7III.
I found out the following:
Sony offers basically three lenses in the focal range 24-70mm for Full Frame (recognizable by the FE prefix)
- Sony FE 28-70mm f/3.5-f/5.6 OSS (55mm lens diameter) which I have an retails new for $ 250-$300 and second for half of the price. If you are on a budget it is good value for money, but you probably will want to upgrade sooner of later
- Sony FE 24-70mm f/4.0 ZEISS OSS (67mm lens diameter) which has the ability to keep a fixed aperture of f/4.0 across all focal lengths, is whether sealed and covers the 24mm focal range. More importantly the form factor of the lens plays into the size of my hands. The lens retails around $700 in the US and Canada and around €800 in the EU.
- Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 G OSS (82mm lens diameter) which has the ability to keep a fixed aperture of f/2.8 (!!!!) across all focal lengths, is whether sealed and covers the 24mm focal range. More importantly the form factor of the lens plays into the size of my hands. The lens retails around $2000 in the US and Canada and around €2000 range in the EU.
Wow! as you can see we jump from $200-300 (f/3.5-5.6) into $700 (f/4 fixed) to $2000 (f/2.8 fixed). Let’s be honest, coin or budget matters.
Aren’t there any alternatives? well yes there are. If you are a Sony shooter already your first non-native option, in my opinion, will always be Sigma.
Sigma provides an alternative to Sony FE 24-70mm
- Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 Art pretty much covers the same ground at the expensive 24-70mm f/2.8 but at half the price retailing in the US/Canada for roughly $1000 and in the EU for €1100. Read the full review here
So I had 3 options here. I looked at the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 but I really looking for the 24mm to start with. It doesn’t mean it is a bad lens, no it doesn’t! not according to this review. So if you are looking for a good lens in a similar focal length be sure to review and consider the Tamron for your Sony Full Frame Camera (FE)
I was doubting for a long time between the Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 and the Sony 24-70mm f/4.0 but decided to go for the Sony 24-70mm f/4.0 for two reasons: Budget and my own belief that f/4.0 suits my style of photography better. I don’t often shoot in low-light which is where the continuous f/2.8 really becomes important. In addition I normally shoot outdoors during the day, so the f/2.8 isn’t a necessity for me. However if you are shooting in low-light conditions, indoors or in a studio (think portrait or product photography) that f/2.8 can become critical. Keep it in mind if you are considering buying a 24-70mm lens for your full frame.
How does the Sony FE 24-70mm f/4.0 ZEISS OSS Perform?
Let’s have a closer look at the lens:
Build & Design:
The lens body is made of metal and is dust and water resistant. Both the focus rings are very smooth to use. I would have love to see a lock button on the lens so you can lock it, even nicer would have been if you could lock at the four focal lengths (24, 35, 50, 70).
My initial experience with the lens wasn’t good at all. For the life of it I couldn’t get a sharp image, especially in the centre. What ever I tried, regardless focal length the centre would really miss sharpness. It did frustrate me until I realised I had been shooting with the Sigma 170-500mm zoom beast the days before. So my camera settings were as follows:
- Focus Mode: AF-S (Single)
- Focus Area: Flexible Spot (L)
Believe me I got frustrated until I suddenly realised that my settings were off (yeah I know beginner mistake). So I changed to
- Focus Mode: AF-C
- Focus Area: Centre, Zone and Wide
All of a sudden the picture quality increased incredibly. Point being. Know Your Camera in order to make the lens work for you.
One thing I did notice is that both on 24mm (and I mean exactly) and 70mm the images at time can suffer from some fringing and the sharpness around the edges is not top but still acceptable.
Below is a little gallery to provide you with various different examples (nature, cityscape, zoom-in etc) to provide you a bit of a flavour. All the samples below come straight out of camera. Follow me on YouTube (click here) or Instagram (Paul_Takes_Photos) or Facebook Page (Paul_Takes_Photos)