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FM Review: Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM

  
 
Fred Miranda
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · FM Review: Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM


FM Review: Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM


Sony just started shipping their new FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM, securing top spot for the fastest ultra wide zoom in the world!

It's also a GM lens so imagine my expectations when it came to testing and comparing it to the Sigma 14-24/2.8 DG DN Art - which is my current benchmark lens in terms of resolution and contrast for landscapes.


Now in stock:
  1. Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM at B&H Photo

  2. Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG DN at B&H Photo
Help support FM by using our links for your purchase! - Thank you!

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Quick Links to the tests and sample images:
  1. Infinity Resolution/contrast comparison between Sony 12-24/2.8 GM vs Sigma 14-24/2.8 DG DN Art
  2. Infinity Resolution/contrast comparison between Sony 12-24/2.8 GM @12mm vs Voigtlander 12mm f/5.6 III
  3. Infinity Resolution/contrast comparison between Sony 12-24/2.8 GM @21mm vs Loxia 21/2.8 Distagon
  4. Infinity Resolution/contrast comparison between Sony 12-24/2.8 GM @21mm vs Voigtlander 21mm f/3.5 Color-Skopar
  5. Infinity Resolution/contrast comparison between Sony 12-24/2.8 GM @15mm vs Voigtlander 15mm f/4.5 III
  6. Infinity Resolution/contrast comparison between Sony 12-24/2.8 GM @24mm vs Sony FE 24mm f/1.4 GM
  7. Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG DN vs Sony 12-24mm f/2.8 GM size and barrel design differences
  8. Field Curvature
  9. Distortion at 12mm, 14mm and 24mm
  10. Color Aberration correction
  11. Sunstar Rendering 1: Sony 12-24/2.8 GM, Sigma 14-24/2.8 DG DN and Voigtlander 12mm f/5.6 III comparison
  12. Sunstar Rendering 2: Sony FE 12-24/2.8 GM's Sunstar shape and definition from f/2.8 to f/22
  13. Minimal Focus Distance performance
  14. Out of focus Rendering comparison
  15. Sagittal Flare (Coma) performance
  16. Flare Resistance compared to other lenses
  17. Final Thoughts
  18. Sample images

FM member's sample images:
  1. @sismailian: Sample 1, 2
  2. @rvh23: Sample 1
  3. @rji2goleez: Sample 1, 2, 3, 4


First Impressions:

When my copy arrived yesterday - the first thing I noticed was how compact and light it was for a lens with a fast 12-24mm range while the build and operation felt similar to my other GM lenses. The zoom ring rotates smoothly and the focusing ring has a linear response with the perfect amount of resistance. Focus throw from MDF to infinity is ~140 degrees and focusing is snappy even in low light.

The lens' front element is guarded by a large 'pinch' type cap. It's sturdy and well designed but it's also heavy weighing 70 grams. In comparison the Sigma 14-24/2.8 Art's 'push-in' front cap weighs 30 grams and also gets the job done.

Here is a side-by-side comparison showing the FE 12-24/2.8 GM vs Sigma 14-24/2.8 DG DN with front caps:










The large extreme aspherical front elements surprisingly do not make the lens front heavy when mounted on the Sony A7R IV and the AF/MF and custom button are always very handy.











Optical design:

The Sony FE 12-24mm F2.8 GM has a complex optical design featuring 17 Elements in 14 Groups. It includes three Extreme Aspherical (XA) elements, one Aspherical, two Super ED, and three ED elements. An updated Nano AR Coating (version II) has also been applied, which from my initial flare tests is capable of suppressing flare for greater contrast in bright and backlit conditions.











Autofocus

Sony FE 12-24mm F2.8 GM features Dual XD Linear Floating Focus actuators just like those found in Sony FE 135mm F1.8 GM for extremely fast and precise focus tracking and responsive Eye AF. When not powered by a Sony camera body, one can hear the disengaged linear motor moving inside the lens. This is not a defect and in fact it's characteristic of the linear focus design.











Lens Specifications:

  1. Focal Length 12 to 24mm (full frame)
  2. Aperture range: f/2.8 to f/22 in third stops
  3. Angle of View: 122 to 84
  4. Minimum Focus Distance: 11.02" / 28 cm
  5. Maximum Magnification: 0.14x
  6. Optical Design: 17 Elements in 14 Groups
  7. Special Elements: 3 XA, 2 Super ED, 3 ED and 1 Aspherical
  8. Diaphragm Blades: 9, Rounded
  9. Focus Type: Dual XD Linear Floating Focus
  10. Filter Size: Gel Filter (Rear)
  11. Dimensions ( x L): 3.84 x 5.39" / 97.6 x 137 mm
  12. Weight: 848 grams (measured), 916 grams with caps



Aug 17, 2020 at 10:13 PM
Fred Miranda
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · FM Review: Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM


















  1. Distance: Infinity
  2. Focus: Center - Best of three @ 12.4x magnification
  3. WB: Daylight for both lenses
  4. Both Lenses perfectly centered using my decentering test
  5. Software: Lightroom with FM Default Landscape Sharpening. All other settings set to default
PS: Vignetting and distortion were NOT corrected



12mm
CENTER resolution/contrast comparison between Sony 12-24/2.8 GM @12mm vs Voigtlander 12mm f/5.6 III

Note: Both Voigtlander 12mm f/5.6 III M-mount and E-mount version have identical performance on the A7R IV





Center wide open: Here both lenses are wide open (Sony @2.8 and Voigtlander @5.6). The Sony GM is slightly ahead but the Voigtlander puts up a good fight at center.







Center both @f/5.6: Just like in the crop above, the Voigtlander is still wide open while the Sony performs slightly better







Center both @f/8:Both lenses diffract at f/8




Aug 18, 2020 at 01:01 PM
Fred Miranda
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · FM Review: Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM


12mm
MID-FIELD resolution/contrast comparison between Sony 12-24/2.8 GM @12mm vs Voigtlander 12mm f/5.6 III





Mid-field wide open: Here both lenses are wide open (Sony @2.8 and Voigtlander @5.6). The Sony GM perform very good wide open at mid-field at 12mm. The voigtlander lags a bit but it's not bad in comparison







Mid-field both @f/5.6: Just like in the crop above, the Voigtlander is wide open at f/5.6 and the Sony GM is optimal at f/5.6. There is a noticeable difference in resolution and contrast when both are set at f/5.6







Mid-field both @f/8: There is no improvement for the Sony and the Voigtlander improves very slightly




Aug 18, 2020 at 01:05 PM
Fred Miranda
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · FM Review: Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM


12mm
EXTREME CORNER resolution/contrast comparison between Sony 12-24/2.8 GM @12mm vs Voigtlander 12mm f/5.6 III





Extreme corner wide open: Here both lenses are wide open (Sony @2.8 and Voigtlander @5.6). The Sony GM has decent resolution and contrast while the Voigtlander is just OK







Extreme corner both @f/5.6: Just like in the crop above, the Voigtlander is wide open at f/5.6 and the Sony GM is optimal at f/5.6. Here we can see a huge difference in resolution contrast and astigmatism between these lenses







Extreme corner both @f/8: There is no improvement for the Sony but the Voigtlander improves at f/8 (one stop down). The Sony still takes the cake at the corners but the Voigtlander is still good. it's not easy task for this tiny lens to compete.




Aug 18, 2020 at 01:06 PM
Fred Miranda
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · FM Review: Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM


















  1. Distance: Infinity
  2. Focus: Center - Best of three @ 12.4x magnification
  3. WB: Daylight for both lenses
  4. Both Lenses perfectly centered using my decentering test
  5. Software: Lightroom with FM Default Landscape Sharpening. All other settings set to default
PS: Vignetting and distortion were NOT corrected



At 14mm
CENTER resolution/contrast comparison between Sony 12-24/2.8 GM vs Sigma 14-24/2.8 DG DN Art





(14mm) Mid-field at f/2.8: Similar performance wide open but the GM is slightly ahead







(14mm) Mid-field at f/4: Both lenses improve but they GM is still captured slightly more detail







(14mm) Mid-field at f/5.6: Not much changes







(14mm) Mid-field at f/8: Both crops start showing signs of diffraction




Aug 18, 2020 at 02:12 PM
Fred Miranda
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · FM Review: Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM


At 14mm
MID-FIELD resolution/contrast comparison between Sony 12-24/2.8 GM vs Sigma 14-24/2.8 DG DN Art





(14mm) Mid-field at f/2.8: The Sony GM slightly ahead wide open







(14mm) Mid-field at f/4: Noticeable improvement for both lenses but the GM is still very slightly ahead







(14mm) Mid-field at f/5.6: Not much changes







(14mm) Mid-field at f/8: Both lenses diffract




Aug 18, 2020 at 02:13 PM
Fred Miranda
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · FM Review: Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM


At 14mm
EXTREME CORNER resolution/contrast comparison between Sony 12-24/2.8 GM vs Sigma 14-24/2.8 DG DN Art





(14mm) Extreme Corner at f/2.8: Aside from a different color palette and higher vignetting for the Sigma, the Sony shows slightly more astigmatism wide open







(14mm) Extreme Corner at f/4: The Sony GM improves and now catches up to the Sigma







(14mm) Extreme Corner at f/5.6: Very small improvement for both lenses and they are not optimal







(14mm) Extreme Corner at f/8: Minor diffraction effect noticeable for both lenses




Aug 18, 2020 at 02:14 PM
Douglas L
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · FM Review: Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM


To my untrained eyes, the Sigma looks mighty good, especially for $1200 used!


Aug 18, 2020 at 02:26 PM
Fred Miranda
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · FM Review: Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM


At 18mm
CENTER resolution/contrast comparison between Sony 12-24/2.8 GM vs Sigma 14-24/2.8 DG DN Art





(18mm) Center at f/2.8: Stronger performance for the GM wide open







(18mm) Center at f/4: Both lenses improve but GM is still slightly ahead







(18mm) Center at f/5.6: The Sigma never quite catches up to the GM even at f/5.6







(18mm) Center at f/8: Both crops show sign of diffraction




Aug 18, 2020 at 02:51 PM
Fred Miranda
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · FM Review: Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM


At 18mm
MID-FIELD resolution/contrast comparison between Sony 12-24/2.8 GM vs Sigma 14-24/2.8 DG DN Art





(18mm) Mid-field at f/2.8: Much performance for the GM wide open







(18mm) Mid-field at f/4: Big jump in resolution and contrast for the Sigma. It almost matches the GM now







(18mm) Mid-field at f/4: They look similar now







(18mm) Mid-field at f/8: Both diffract




Aug 18, 2020 at 02:52 PM
 


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Fred Miranda
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · FM Review: Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM


At 18mm
EXTREME CORNER resolution/contrast comparison between Sony 12-24/2.8 GM vs Sigma 14-24/2.8 DG DN Art





(18mm) Extreme corner at f/2.8: Very similar performance for both lenses







(18mm) Extreme corner at f/4: Both improve but still similar. Perhaps the GM is slightly ahead







(18mm) Extreme corner at f/5.6: They are equal here







(18mm) Extreme corner at f/8: Diffraction takes hold




Aug 18, 2020 at 02:54 PM
Fred Miranda
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · FM Review: Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM


At 24mm
CENTER resolution/contrast comparison between Sony 12-24/2.8 GM vs Sigma 14-24/2.8 DG DN Art





(24mm) Center at f/2.8: Similar performance for both lenses. Perhaps the GM slightly ahead







(24mm) Center at f/4: Both improve and are now optimal







(24mm) Center at f/5.6: Not much changes







(24mm) Center at f/8: Diffraction is noticeable now




Aug 18, 2020 at 02:55 PM
Fred Miranda
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · FM Review: Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM


At 24mm
MID-FIELD resolution/contrast comparison between Sony 12-24/2.8 GM vs Sigma 14-24/2.8 DG DN Art





(24mm) Mid-field at f/2.8: The Sony is noticeably ahead here







(24mm) Mid-field at f/4: Both improve (Sigma more than Sony but the GM is still slightly ahead







(24mm) Mid-field at f/5.6: Both are pretty equal now







(24mm) Mid-field at f/8: Both still great at f/8




Aug 18, 2020 at 02:58 PM
Fred Miranda
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · FM Review: Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM


At 24mm
EXTREME CORNER resolution/contrast comparison between Sony 12-24/2.8 GM vs Sigma 14-24/2.8 DG DN Art





(24mm) Extreme corner at f/2.8: Here the Sigma is ahead with less astigmatism







(24mm) Extreme corner at f/4: The GM improves but the Sigma is still better







(24mm) Extreme corner at f/5.6: Perhaps optimal for both lenses but the Sigma is still slightly ahead







(24mm) Extreme corner at f/8: Not much changes




Aug 18, 2020 at 02:59 PM
j4nu
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · FM Review: Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM


Thanks, Fred! This is truly the only place on the internet, where you can see such detailed real-life comparisons between lenses .
As for the test itself, it seems Sigma is particularly strong @14mm where it trades blows with the GM. Also the extreme corners look slightly better on Sigma (maybe except @18mm where Sony shines).
However, the midfield looks like an advantage to the GM, Sigma catches up only after closing down to @f5.6. Also center seems to be very slightly sharper on the GM in some cases.
To me, this tests confirms that the GM is really something unique, that other brands can only envy for now . Once I learn how to take good pictures with such ultrawides (if that ever happens), I'll reconsider getting the GM, as for me it's another system seller for Sony (but the price and performance of Sigma, makes it a difficult choice, similar to 135mm) .

Edited on Aug 18, 2020 at 04:27 PM · View previous versions



Aug 18, 2020 at 03:55 PM
AGeoJO
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · FM Review: Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM


Thank for the comparison, Fred! It looks like the Sigma is holding up just fine; but yes, it is not 12mm on the short end but still, 14mm is plenty wide. It looks like I am keeping my Sigma 14-24mm for the time being. I will revisit this after a year or so. I am sure you can get the GM on the used market for around $2K or so, then I may consider getting the GM.


Aug 18, 2020 at 04:07 PM
psharvic
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · FM Review: Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM


Thanks for the tests, Fred.


Aug 18, 2020 at 04:16 PM
FJR1
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · FM Review: Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM


Outstanding work, as always, Fred. Thank you!


Aug 18, 2020 at 04:29 PM
rvh23
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · FM Review: Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM


Thanks very much Fred. I think these results are in good agreement with the reviews referred to on this page, which suggested that wide open, the corners are a little better for the Sigma below 18mm but for the Sony at longer focal lengths, and also that the Sony is a bit better midfield across the whole range.

Stopped down to 5.6, I see no reason to choose one over the other for IQ. At 12mm the Sony does look excellent though across the whole frame at 5.6. Very much looking forward to your flare tests.

Edited on Aug 18, 2020 at 04:47 PM · View previous versions



Aug 18, 2020 at 04:45 PM
Schlotkins
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · FM Review: Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM


Thanks for the tests! Looks like the GM and Sigma are close with the GM beating it wide open mid frame but losing a bit at the extremes. Both close though. Less vignetting on the GM.... now about the coma. I doubt the GM will win there over the sigma!


Aug 18, 2020 at 04:47 PM
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