Sony 24mm Astrophotography Review and Comparison

The Sony 24mm f/1.4 GM promises high resolution and sharpness as well as low spherical and chromatic aberration. At nearly $1,400, the lens is quite a bit more expensive than similar focal length offerings from Sigma and Samyang. Is it worth the premium?

Alyn Wallace field tested the Sony lens, comparing it against his existing Samyang 24mm f/1.4. Wide open, the Sony lens delivered impressive results, with excellent sharpness through most of the frame. There was a strong vignette to the corners, which is almost inherent to all fast and wide lenses, particularly ones with smaller front elements. Aberrations, which can dramatically impair the quality of astro images, were decently well controlled. Stopped down to f/2.8, the lens improved even more. Vignetting decreased and the far corner's aberrations improved. Overall, the lens performed drastically better than the Samyang when wide open.

The Samyang improved dramatically when stopped down, and surprisingly gave the Sony lens a run for its money at f/2.8. I found this surprising given the over $800 price difference between the lenses. While the corners are still not as well corrected as the Sony, I was surprised just how close it was throughout most of the frame.

Wallace, based on the results he observed, called the Sony potentially one of the best astrophotography landscape lenses around. I think that is definitely a fair assumption based on the strong showing in the tests.

Unless you are a dedicated astrophotographer, or would have other uses for a fast 24mm lens, I think the Samyang is definitely worth considering. At only $550, it is a much cheaper option to get started in astrophotography.

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EL PIC's picture

The Problem with Lens Reviews are ..

1. Some of the most important specifics are never qualified by the manufacture.
Auto Focus Speed and True Resolution are most important.

Promises like high resolution and sharpness as well as low spherical and chromatic aberration are like political promises that should not be stated unless backed by measurable data.
Without qualifying how fast a lens focuses at a true resolution its simply a non value added statement.

Scott Steinson's picture

Astro-photographers always focus at infinity. Auto focus speed is irrelevant.

EL PIC's picture

Put a tree or person in front Knucklehead ! That is what a 24 mm is for.

Dave F's picture

I'll never understand why people speak so highly of the Samyang/Rokinon lenses, especially for astrophotography. If you're just starting out and need a cheap wide angle lens to play with, sure, I get it. But they're garbage when you compare them to anything more expensive. It's right there in the comparison: unusable at f/1.4 and f/2.0. The whole reason to get a f/1.4 lens is to shoot it wide open, otherwise why bother? There are cheaper f/1.8 lenses that do just fine at their widest apertures.

I was unfortunate enough to buy into the hype of the Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 (original manual focus version, adapted for Sony), and I've reached for it maybe 1 time in the last couple of years after seeing what it looks like compared to the FE 16-35 f/4 and Batis 18mm f/2.8. Unusable wide open (which, at f/2.8, pretty much nixes it for astrophotography), and only starts to get sharp around f/14. Wider than f/11, everything not dead center is horribly soft; the corners are practically like abstract paintings at wider apertures. And of course diffraction is noticeable at anything smaller than about f/14. It might as well be a fixed aperture lens because shooting it at anything other than f/14 yields poor results. Not that it's amazing at f/14, just not quite terrible.

I know a lot of people complained about poor QC with these lenses but the majority of the issues were decentering. That's not the case with my copy. I think it's just a crappy lens, period. Yes, it's a lot cheaper than other lenses, but a lot of times cheaper just means crappier build quality (plastic vs metal), not unusable image quality.

This isn't even about pixel peeping either; I regularly shoot with my zooms (16-35 and 70-200, both f/4) even though I have sharper primes on my shelf. The Rokinon lenses are basically good enough to shoot for Instagram, where you can unsharp mask the heck out of the image in Photoshop as you scale it down to a couple pixels in size and you're cropping off the sides to post a vertical shot anyway. For anything else they just don't hold up, in my opinion.

Deleted Account's picture

I can't question your experience but a LOT of people get great images from the Rokinon 14 f/2.8, including me. I think it's just one of those hit or miss lenses. In defense of your point of view, though, had I gotten a bad copy, I wouldn't have switched it out until finding a good one.

Dave F's picture

I guess, but at this point I feel like the number of people who either report that they got a bad copy or said that they switched out like 2 or 3 before they got a good one indicates that there aren't occasional bad copies, there are just occasional good ones. I'm not sure I have anything good to say about a company who's ok with that success rate.

Maybe you should have played the lottery the day you got that lens instead. Sounds like the odds are about the same and apparently that was your time to shine.

Deleted Account's picture

Damn! I could have won the lottery but got a stupid $300 lens instead!! ;-)

Paolo Bugnone's picture

Well, because those lenses have been out on the market for quite a while, especially they existed before the storm of new lenses we got since about 2012/2014 where Sigma came out with the Art series (which btw is actually not that great for astro, apart from the 14mm) and before 3rd party manufacturers came out with new wide angle lenses for mirrorless systems.

Before you basically had only 2 choices for astro, either Canon or Nikon, and even their top wide angle lenses were (and still are!) terrible because the coma is simply unacceptable.

This is why people bought Samyang

Also, if you got such poor results with your 14mm you probably had a faulted copy, which is pheraps the biggest problem with old Samyang wide angle, you either got an excellent lens for the price (and definitely useable wide open, just take a look at work from people like Yuri Beletsky...) or you got an expansive paperweight.

S M's picture

I actually didn’t love the 14mm Sigma and sold mine. The sigma 35 & 50 are my favorite Astro lenses. The again, I prefer stacking and pano work to achieve a wider perspective.

That sad for time lapse work the sigma 14 was a far superior lens to the Rokinon.

Dave F's picture

I guess my problem is that it seems like they make more paperweights than they make good lenses, which is especially annoying if they've been on the market for as long as you say. That means they've had plenty of time to get their *expletive* together, yet they're still shipping large quantities of bad lenses.

I get what you're saying about the lack of options 5 years ago, so if the only way to get a good astro lens was to buy one, send it back, buy one, send it back, buy one, then keep it.... so be it. It just seems that one doesn't have to go through that process anymore since there are many better options out there.

james c's picture

Pretty happy with my Samyang 14mm f/2.8 e-mount for £200...