Last Updated on 12/06/2018 by Mark Beckenbach
The Sony 24mm f1.4 G Master combines affordability with versatility in a lightweight, compact package
Announced back in September of this year, the Sony 24mm f1.4 G Master is the latest entry joining Sony’s premium G Master lens lineup. At press time, it also happens to be the lightest and most compact G Master lens as well, barely tipping the scales at a mere 15.7 oz (445 g). Exceptionally sharp from corner to corner even when shooting wide open thanks to a pair of extreme aspherical glass elements, the Sony 24mm f1.4 G Master is also capable of producing some truly dreamy bokeh courtesy of its circular aperture design that incorporates 11 blades. This combination makes this lens one of the most versatile, wide angle, native lenses available for Sony E mount, with lots to love for landscape shooters, astrophotographers, street shooters, and environmental portraitists alike. Since we only got to spend a few hours with the 24mm G Master in San Francisco back when it was first unveiled during a behind closed doors media briefing, we were excited to finally get our review unit in so that we can put the lens through more exhaustive testing on our own terms.
Pros and Cons
- Compact and lightweight
- Weather sealed
- Superb image quality
- Outstanding edge to edge sharpness, even when shooting wide open
- Dreamy, circular bokeh
- Impressive minimal focus distance of 0.79 feet (0.24 meters)
- Slight color fringing (easily mitigated in post processing)
The specifications for the Sony 24mm f1.4 G Master were taken from the official Sony product page.
|35 mm full frame
|FOCAL LENGTH (MM)
|35 MM EQUIVALENT FOCAL LENGTH (APS-C)
|LENS GROUPS / ELEMENTS
|ANGLE OF VIEW (35 MM)
|ANGLE OF VIEW (APS-C)
|MAXIMUM APERTURE (F)
|MINIMUM APERTURE (F)
|MINIMUM FOCUS DISTANCE
|0.79 ft (0.24 m)
|MAXIMUM MAGNIFICATION RATIO (X)
|FILTER DIAMETER (MM)
|IMAGE STABILIZATION (STEADYSHOT)
|Petal shape, bayonet type
|SIZE & WEIGHT
|DIMENSIONS (DIAMETER X LENGTH)
|3″ x 3 3/4″ (75.4 x 92.4 mm)
|15.7 oz (445 g)
Ergonomics section taken from our First Impressions article.
At roughly the same size as a cup of coffee, the Sony 24mm f1.4 G Master is the lightest and most compact lens in Sony’s G Master lineup. Weighing in at just 445 grams (15.7 ounces), it is also lighter than equivalent 24mm f1.4 lenses currently on the market from Canon, Nikon, and Sigma.
At the front of the lens, you’ll find the drive-by-wire focus ring which felt very smooth when turning. With the limited amount of time we had with the lens during the press event, we kept the lens in Autofocus mode and didn’t use the focus ring much.
Moving closer towards the middle of the lens below the orange G Master logo is the focus hold button, whose functionality can be customized within the menus. Below the focus hold button is where you’ll find the Autofocus/Manual Focus toggle switch.
On the opposite side of the lens, below the Sony logo, is where you’ll find the toggle switch to adjust the aperture control ring between clicked and de-clicked mode. This is particularly handy for anyone aiming to use this lens for video in addition to stills. At the very rear of the lens is the perture control ring that goes from f1.4 to f16. You can also put the aperture control ring into A mode and adjust your aperture using one of the mode dials on the front or rear of the camera grip instead.
Despite its diminutive size and lightweight construction, the Sony 24mm f1.4 G Master is one heck of an engineering marvel, and really showcases the advancements Sony has achieved when it comes to optics design. The 24mm f1.4 G Master features a dustproof and moisture resistant design like the rest of the lenses from Sony’s premium G Master lineup, immediately identifiable by their distinctive orange G badge. We tested our review unit in a particularly frigid New York City winter, subjecting the lens to freezing temperatures as well as a combination of rain and snowfall. The weather sealing on the Sony 24mm f1.4 G Master held up without incident, and the fluorine coating on the lens’ front element made it very easy to clean up any raindrops or snowflakes that made contact with the front element, with no streaking left behind.
The autofocus system in the Sony 24mm f1.4 G Master consistently acquired focus quickly, and while we did experience some hunting when using the lens in extreme low light and low contrast scenarios while we were evaluating it, pretty much any autofocus lens will exhibit that behavior to some degree. Instead of conventional rotational actuators used in most of the other lenses in this segment currently on the market, the Sony 24mm f1.4 G Master features a linear actuator that helps to ensure swift focus acquisition under most conditions. While the Sony 24mm f1.4 G Master is primarily marketed towards photographers specializing in landscape photography and astrophography, Eye Autofocus works flawlessly with this lens, making it perfectly suitable for environmental portraiture and street photography as well.
Ease of Use
The Sony 24mm f1.4 G Master is pretty straightforward to operate. It was pretty damn cold in New York City during the time that we were evaluating this lens, but we never ran into issues using the lens, even when operating it with gloves on. The large rubber focus ring allowed for precise manual adjustments despite the gloves having turned our digits into plum sausages. Like the rest of the G Master lenses, the 24mm f1.4 G Master features a customizable focus hold button which you can reconfigure to activate one of the many functions of your Sony camera (such as Eye Autofocus or changing color temperature) on the fly. Video shooters will be happy to know that the aperture ring can be de-clicked easily using the physical slider on the outside of the lens barrel.
The Sony 24mm f1.4 G Master features two XA (extreme aspherical) glass elements which help to maintain superb corner to corner sharpness, even when shooting wide open at f1.4. The 24mm G Master also has three ED (extra-low dispersion) glass elements which work to minimize axial and lateral chromatic aberrations. The glass elements are coated in Sony’s Nano AR coating to help minimize internal reflections within the lens, effectively suppressing flares and ghosting to produce clear, contrasty images.
Photographers on a bokeh-rich diet will be delighted to learn that the Sony 24mm f1.4 G Master features a circular aperture design consisting of 11 blades, which helps to produce beautifully creamy and circular bokeh, even when the lens is stopped down a few stops.
The Sony 24mm f1.4 G Master does a very good job at minimizing the occurrence of chromatic aberrations. Even when you do detect it in an image, it’s usually because you’re photographing something directly in front of a light source, and even then, any color fringing that occurs is minimal and can easily be remedied in post production.
The colors from the Sony 24mm f1.4 G Master are pretty accurate and true to life, with a good amount of contrast.
In terms of sharpness, Sony knocked it out of the park when designing the 24mm f1.4 G Master. Areas in focus are consistently tack sharp, with no discernible degradation in sharpness when moving towards the corners of the image.
Additional Image Samples
- Diminutive size and lightweight construction
- Robust weather sealing
- Beautifully rendered bokeh
- Remarkable image quality
- Seriously, that bokeh is gorgeous
- Tack sharp from corner to corner, even when the lens is wide open
- Have we mentioned that bokeh?
- Honestly none
Marrying a petite footprint with a feather-like body, the Sony 24mm f1.4 G Master is capable of creating stunning images with razor sharp detail and dreamlike bokeh. A marvelous union of technological advancement and optics engineering, as far as 24mm f1.4 lenses goes, Sony simply did it better, smaller, and lighter than the competition.
The Sony 24mm f1.4 G Master is a lens many photographers will want to add to their shopping list, regardless of their photographic specialty. Whether you’re a landscape photographer, an astrophotographer, a street photographer, or even a portrait photographer, there will be situations where the 24mm f1.4 G Master will shine. Paired with the excellent autofocus systems found on the latest Sony camera bodies, the 24mm f1.4 G Master will allow you to reliably create images as you had envisioned them in your mind’s eye.
The Sony 24mm f1.4 G Master earns five out of five stars, earning it The Phoblographer’s Editor’s Choice Award. Want to add one to your kit? The Sony 24mm f1.4 G Master is available now from Amazon for US $1,399.99 / Canada $1,899.99.