Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G SEL1224G

 
Lens Reviews / Sony Lenses i Not yet tested
12-24mm $1,698
average price
image of Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G SEL1224G

Updates:
05/17/2017: Hands-on Preview posted
07/13/2017: Field Test & additional Gallery Images posted

Sony FE 12-24mm F4 G Field Test

by Brent Durand | Posted: 07/13/2017

Sony 12-24mm f/4 Review: Field Test -- Product Image
Sony FE 12-24mm F4 G on a Sony A9.

Sony continues to expand their lens lineup, this time filling a gap that has been owned by Canon, Nikon and Sigma: the full-frame ultra-wide zoom lens. The new Sony FE 12-24mm F4 G lens packs quick Direct Drive Super Sonic Wave Motor (DDSSM) autofocus, four aspherical elements, three ED elements and a Super ED glass element into a lens that is smaller and lighter than the competition. Roughly half the weight, in fact.

The wide field of view, f/4 constant aperture, light weight, and Direct Drive SSM (DDSSM) autofocus made the 12-24mm a great lens to pair with the full-frame Sony A9 on the trails leading to the summit of California's Mt. Whitney. The lens also has other important features that make it versatile in the field, including Sony's Nano AR coating to reduce lens flare, excellent resolution corner to corner throughout the zoom range, and a weather-resistant design.

So how did it perform in the sun, dust, snow, rain and cold of the Sierra Nevada Mountains? Let's find out.

Build Quality

The Sony FE 12-24mm F4 G is a solid lens. The barrel has a wide zoom ring that makes it easy to rotate even with a quick grab during fast action. Adjusting focal length is smooth and satisfying. The focus ring is also easy to rotate and simple to find, even in the dark, as it is slightly wider than the zoom ring.

In addition to an AF/MF switch, the 12-24mm also features the Sony G-series' focus hold button, useful in focus-and-recompose situations, especially when using continuous AF tracking. A built-in lens hood helps protect the curved front lens element from impacts and scratches while also keeping direct light off the lens, and protecting it from rain drops, etc.

Field of View

The Sony 12-24mm ultra-wide zoom delivers perspectives that really help create variety in a trip portfolio. At 12mm, the lens helps show the scale of the mountains and those who adventure within. This field of view helps show close-focus action that before could only really be captured by a fisheye lens. The benefit of the 12-24mm, aside from the zoom, is the rectilinear perspective, which looks much more natural than a fisheye.

Sony 12-24mm f/4 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
Sony A9: 12mm, f/11, 1/250s, ISO 100.
This image has been modified. Click for full-size image.

The images below show the change in field of view of a simple landscape scene, shot first at 24mm and then at 12mm.

Sony 12-24mm f/4 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
Sony A9: 24mm, f/8, 1/160s, ISO 80.
This image has been modified. Click for full-size image.
Sony 12-24mm f/4 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
Sony A9: 12mm, f/8, 1/320s, ISO 80.
This image has been modified. Click for full-size image.

The 12mm field of view also helps create immersive landscape images. I didn't get a chance to shoot landscapes in portrait orientation but can assure you that these too will deliver impactful feelings of depth.

Sony 12-24mm f/4 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
Sony A9: 12mm, f/11, 1/320s, ISO 320.
This image has been modified. Click for full-size image.

Distortion

Sony claims very high resolution and corner sharpness with the FE 12-24mm, and the lens delivers well considering the ultra-wide field of view. Edge and corner detail do get stretched, however the amount you notice will depend on what is actually near the edge of the frame. Note that these sample photos were shot with the following Lens Compensation properties registered in the Sony A9 menu: Shading Auto, Chromatic Aberration Auto, Distortion Off. The images here have no distortion correction applied during post-processing either.

The photo below shows some minor distortion in the extreme edges of both the foreground and background, and slightly more distortion in the corners. This is not bad at all considering the 12mm field of view on a full-frame sensor.

Sony 12-24mm f/4 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
Sony A9: 12mm, f/10, 1/320s, ISO 80.
This image has been modified. Click for full-size image.

In the image below, the subject matter is farther from the camera. We see some distortion and degradation of image quality in the corners, but again, this is very minor and isn't distracting in the image. Note that some flare did find its way around the hood and onto the lens.

Sony 12-24mm f/4 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
Sony A9: 12mm, f/11, 1/500s, ISO 320.
This image has been modified. Click for full-size image.

In the shot below, I've taken a 100% crop of a pot in the corner of the image. It definitely looks stretched, even being so far away from the camera.

Sony 12-24mm f/4 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
Sony A9: 24mm, f/13, 1/400s, ISO 320.
This image has been modified. Click for full-size image.
Sony 12-24mm f/4 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
100% crop of bottom left corner in above image.

To sum up this topic, yes the Sony 12-24mm will have stretching and distortion in the corners, but this is common in all wide and ultra-wide lenses. The trick to shooting these lenses is not to include important compositional details (especially people) near the edges or in the corners when shooting the lens at wide focal lengths.

Geometric distortion (ie., barrel or pincushion) looks to be well-controlled for an ultra-wide zoom, though we'll have to wait for lab results to be sure as I wasn't able to look into that type of distortion in detail during my brief time with the lens.

Sharpness

The Sony FE 12-24mm lens delivers sharp, crisp images throughout the zoom range. My wide-open shooting was limited to high ISOs, but even those f/4 images are extremely sharp considering the noise.

Sony 12-24mm f/4 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
Sony A9: 13mm, f/8, 1/640s, ISO 80. Note that some flare did find its way over the hood and onto the lens. This image has been modified. Click for full-size image.

Again, we'll have to wait for our full lab test results to see how the corners compare to the center at different apertures and focal lengths using a flat test target, but the Sony FE 12-24mm seemed to perform very well across the frame for a lens of its type.

Diffraction at Small Apertures

Like all lenses, the Sony FE 12-24mm suffers from some diffraction at smaller apertures (higher f-stops). However, I would certainly not penalize the lens for this.

Sony 12-24mm f/4 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
Sony A9: 12mm, f/22, 1/50s, ISO 100, Handheld.
This image has been modified. Click for full-size image.
Sony 12-24mm f/4 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
100% crop of center in above image. Example of softness due to diffraction at f/22.

Chromatic Aberration

I set the Sony A9 camera to compensate for chromatic aberration, and as a result, did not notice any color fringing in JPEGs. The RAW files have an embedded lens profile that specifies CA correction, so they have practically no chromatic aberration as well when converted in Lightroom or Adobe Camera Raw. If you open them with a converter than doesn't apply corrections you will see some lateral chromatic aberration in the corners and along edges, however it appears to be fairly low and well-corrected for a full-frame ultra-wide zoom.

Autofocus Speed

The 12-24mm's autofocus is crisp, smooth and fast. I shot using the Sony A9's Expand Flexible Spot Focus Area and the lens was able to focus using the center box virtually of the time. Naturally, the camera/lens had trouble finding focus when testing it indoors in low light against walls and cabinets, but no problem (using the outer Flexible Spot box) against indoor pictures and subjects with more contrast than the plain wall.

Sony 12-24mm f/4 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
Sony A9: 12mm, f/14, 1/100s, ISO 100.
This image has been modified. Click for full-size image.

Field Test Summary

The Sony FE 12-24mm is a fantastic lens! Since it's the only ultra-wide full frame lens made by Sony, it's the obvious choice for those that need this field of view (e.g. interiors). Full-frame landscape shooters may be more inclined to look at the Sony 16-35mm, but keep in mind that you could pack your bag with the 12-24mm and 24-70mm to cover the full focal range.

Image quality when shooting outdoors on the A9 was superb and I wouldn't hesitate to add the 12-24mm ultra-wide zoom lens to my bag!

Stay tuned for our full technical review still to come, complete with lab test results, alternatives and conclusions!

 

Sony FE 12-24mm F4 G Review -- Hands-On

by Jaron Schneider | 05/17/2017

The Sony 12-24mm f/4 may not carry the G-Master moniker, but that doesn't mean it isn't Sony's best effort or worthy of professional use. It's light, compact, durable, and has some impressive performance in less-than-ideal environments. In speaking with Sony representatives, they seem confident pitting this lens against Canon's 11-24mm f/4L, which is notable given that it is not a G-Master-series optic. In a limited time with the lens, I don't see any evidence to dispute their confidence.

Autofocus

Though it's pretty expected for lenses this wide to land focus (a benefit of the angle), the 12-24mm does so quickly, silently, and from what I could tell, reliably on both the A7R II and the new A9. What's more, the autofocus is incredibly quiet; it is basically near-silent.

Sony 12-24mm f/4 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
Sony A7R Mark II: 12mm, f/5.6, 1/2000s, ISO 400.
Click for full-size image.

Image Quality

The Sony FE 12-24mm produces what I would consider more than adequate sharpness, especially considering its focal length. At its widest, I was very happy with how crisp and clean images were. At 24mm, from what I can see in my images, I felt like this was just a bit sharper and cleaner than what you see at the wider end. I don't think this is unexpected, and the amount of difference is very slight.

Sony claims the lens to have excellent corner to corner sharpness, and in limited testing I haven't found anything that would lead me to disagree. In a few images where the entire frame is in focus, from one corner to the next the quality of that sharpness appears relatively consistent.

Sony 12-24mm f/4 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
Sony A9: 12mm, f/6.3, 1/1000s, ISO 100.
Click for full-size image.

Though not quite zero distortion, from what I can tell it does an outstanding job keeping any under control. In sample architecture images Sony provides (as I had no opportunity to test this myself with my few hours with the lens), there is next to no distortion visible.

I found flare control on the lens to be decent, though flare can be visible in shots, and even reflected flare can show itself in some angles. It's not perfect, but it's admirable.

Overall

The Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 appears to be a very capable lens, and may even rival the quality of the Canon L series glass that many adore. It was certainly a joy with which to shoot, and I'm more than satisfied with the results I obtained.

 

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