Small Lens, Big, Beautiful Colors. Sony 14mm F1.8 G Master Review

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I’d like to say that astrophotographers should be excited about the Sony 14mm f1.8 G Master. But, during my short time testing the lens, I wasn’t able to do any serious astrophotography. (It’s totally possible here in NYC though.) I’d actually look at different systems to do astrophotography, but I also know not everyone will use the Sony 14mm f1.8 G Master for that. So, you’ll be delighted to know how nice the colors from this lens are. And if you’re ready to go about exploring the post-pandemic world, then you’ll like this lens. You have to pay quite a price for it, though.

Too Long, Didn’t Read

The Sony 14mm f1.8 G Master is an incredibly lightweight, weather-sealed, vibrant lens. It controls distortion very well. And it also lets you have bokeh if you want it But at this point, it feels like standard fare from Sony. They need something with a soul.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Weather sealed
  • Great colors
  • You can focus really close and get nice bokeh
  • Autofocus is fast
  • Small
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • It’s almost $1,600
  • Shooting with this lens really did feel soulless. 

Gear Used with the Sony 14mm f1.8 G Master

We tested the Sony 14mm f1.8 G Master on the Sony a1.

Sony 14mm f1.8 G Master Tech Specs

These specs were taken from our original news post.

  • 99.8mm tall x 83mm wide
  • 16.3 oz
  • Rear filter slot
  • Aperture control, De-click for aperture, AF/MF on the lens
  • Dust and moisture resistant
  • Not 11 aperture blades. It’s 9 aperture blades.
  • 11 groups 14 elements
  • Minimum focusing of 9.8 inches
  • Fluorine-coated front lens element. Nano AR coating II. This is probably why it’s 9 aperture blades.
  • 2 XA elements
  • 1 aspherical lens element
  • 2 ELD lenses
  • Super ELD
  • $1,599.99

Innovations of the Sony 14mm f1.8 G Master

The Sony 14mm f1.8 G Master isn’t innovative in that it’s a fast wide-angle. Sigma has done this kind of lens for a long time now. Instead, it’s innovative in how lightweight and small Sony made it. Plus, it focuses incredibly fast. More importantly, this lens was made from the ground up for mirrorless cameras.

Ergonomics

The Sony 14mm f1.8 G Master is a pretty standard prime lens from Sony. When you look at it, you’ll see lots of the things that make it what it is. There’s plastic in the exterior construction, but the lens doesn’t feel cheap. Part of this is because of the nice feel the grooved rings have. 

Towards the front is the focusing ring. Towards the rear is the aperture ring.

On the side of the lens is where you’ll spot a few controls. Here you can see the AF/MF switch on the bottom. On top of that is a custom function button.

Here’s the front of the lens. Unfortunately, you can’t mount a filter to it. When we asked about this, Sony said that there are no lenses like that around. They weren’t aware of what Nikon has done with lens hoods and filters. By the way, the lens hood is permanently fixed.

On the other side of the lens is the click/declick switch. You’ll want to use the latter if you’re shooting video.

Build Quality

The Sony 14mm f1.8 G Master is built very well. We took it out into the rain during our testing, and it survived quite a heavy downpour. While doing that, it kept working. I can’t complain about the durability here. Combined with the Sony a1, the build quality is top-notch. 

In the hands, the Sony 14mm f1.8 G Master feels almost like an apple if the wax had hardened and became ergonomically like a lens. It’s very light, and your hands naturally conform to using the lens. If you’ve got bigger paws, you might not like this, but my modest-sized paws were quite happy.

Ease of Use

This lens is easy to use. At the core, you just slap it onto a camera, point, focus, and shoot. But it has some extras to it. For example, there’s an aperture ring. And if you shy away from old-school ergonomics, you’ll hate it. So just set it to A-mode so you can operate that setting from the camera. Otherwise, it’s a straightforward lens.

Sony 14mm f1.8 G Master Autofocus

The Sony 14mm f1.8 G Master has a lot going for it here. First off, it’s a wide-angle lens. Next, it was used on one of the fastest-focusing cameras on the market. The autofocus is speedy; not once did I feel I missed a shot, or feel it was slow. Where I’d see someone possibly missing a shot is with action. I wanted to use this lens to shoot skaters, but I didn’t get the time to do so. I’m sure the combo would’ve kept up easily.

Sony 14mm f1.8 G Master Image Quality

This is a very typical Sony lens. All Sony lenses have basically had the character and “flaws” engineered out of them. So they’re a clinically clean, blank slate. That’s the case with the Sony 14mm f1.8 G Master. However, what I’m truly liking are the colors. Plus, it can give you bokeh in the scene if you really want it.

Bokeh

Who would’ve thought that a wide-angle lens could deliver bokeh? Let alone really nice bokeh. For a lens this wide, we’re pretty shocked. At this time, I’m still not going to use a wide-angle lens primarily for the bokeh. (This is especially true as it doesn’t even have a medium-format look to it.) But it’s nice to know that you can have bokeh if you wish.

Color Rendition

My favorite thing about this lens is the color rendition. The colors are incredibly vivid. So if you’re going to shoot landscapes, it will be perfect for this. But if you’re walking around a city, the colors will be great. For reference, we typically white balance to 3200K tungsten or 5500K daylight. That’s how we got these colors. 

Lens Character

Sony has engineered the character out of this lens. There is no flare or any other cool anomaly.

Sharpness

Being a G Master Lens, you can pretty much guarantee this will be a sharp lens. And that’s indeed what we found. Stopped down to f5.6, the Sony 14mm f1.8 G Master becomes noticeably sharper. In fact, it would make us almost not want to shoot at f1.8. Wide-open, the lens still isn’t terribly soft, but the difference dramatically increases.

Extra Image Samples with the Sony 14mm f1.8 G Master

From day one, The Phoblographer has been huge on transparency. Nothing from this review is sponsored. Further, lots of folks will post reviews and show lots of editing in the photos. The problem then becomes that anyone and everyone can do the same thing. They’re not showing what the lens can do. So we have a whole section in our Extra Image Samples area to show edited and unedited photos. From this, you can make a decision for yourself.

Edited

Unedited

Sony 14mm f1.8 G Master Review Conclusions

Likes

  • Small size
  • Weight
  • Nice colors
  • Build Quality

Dislikes

  • Honestly, I’m really starting to miss the fisheye effect. And I think we’re never going to get it back because many brands look for clinical perfection.
  • Kind of pricey

In many ways, the Sony 14mm f1.8 G Master lens is turning what Sigma can do upside-down. Sigma used to be one of the more innovative lens companies around. But in recent years, they’ve shot themselves in the foot a lot. The new Sony 14mm f1.8 G Master shows that. Sony was able to get fast autofocus performance, light weight, a small size, and more into this lens. They should be commended for it. In the grand scheme of things, though, they’re not doing anything to push the envelope except for the size and weight. We all could’ve easily predicted everything about this lens and what Sony would’ve done.

With that said, the Sony 14mm f1.8 G Master is an excellent lens.

But personally speaking, I’m getting tired of these kinds of lenses. This lens is just good. It’s not exceptional or revolutionary–or even exciting. If Sony made an f1.7 or an f1.4, I would’ve been more intrigued. If Sony brought back the fisheye, I would’ve thrown my credit card at them. Or, if Sony made a lens hood for this that let you use filters easily, I would’ve been sold. But, Sony is at a point where they’re doing the bare minimum. And very slowly, I see them turning into a version of Canon that wasn’t very welcome to the photo market. I hope I’m wrong.

The Sony 14mm f1.8 G Master receives five out of five stars. Want one? Check out Amazon for the latest prices.

Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.