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Sony Announces the FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM Lens

Sony has announced its most expensive G Master zoom lens to date, the FE 12-24mm f/2.8.

For $3,000, the new 12-24mm f/2.8 GM surpasses the previous 12-24mm f/4 G in just about every way. This is now the widest full-frame f/2.8 zoom lens on the market, but it goes deeper than the field of view and aperture.

As an overview, the lens measures in at 3.84 x 5.39 inches (97.6 x 137 millimeters) and weighs 1 pound 14 ounces (847 grams). It has an 11-inch minimum focus distance (0.28 meters) and features a 9-bladed circular aperture. The lens has internal focusing and an internal zoom, and will be dust and moisture resistant.

Perhaps most interesting on the outside, the 12-24mm f/2.8 GM has a rear-mount filter holder that accepts standard gel sheets. Inside the box, Sony is adding a filter template to aid customers in cutting out their own to the right shape. It is a little worrisome what kind of image quality impact these cheaper DIY filters will have, but it’s more than likely a third party will fill the gap and begin producing ready-made higher quality filters that fits the specific holder shape.

The rear filtering is due to the extremely bulbous front element, of course, which grants an ultra-wide 12mm focal length. For reference, the field of view difference between 14mm and 12mm is almost 10 degrees. That’s not such an insignificant amount as 2mm would suggest and can alter the decisions for framing and composition of a shot.

In fact, the frontmost glass is the largest XA element Sony has made for a G Master lens and it’s followed up directly behind it with another XA element for minimizing aberrations. There is a third XA element in the lens, as well as two Super ED, three ED, and one aspherical element. In total there are 17 elements in 14 groups. According to Sony, the curvature of the elements pushed their glass molding production and Nano Coating to the limits. For the glass molding, all G Master lenses have 1/100 of a micron surface precision that this lens will also adhere to. For the Nano Coating, Sony had to develop their new “Nano Coating II” to deal with the extreme curvature and suppress flaring and ghosting.

Autofocus is also seeing a vast improvement by using four XD linear motors. Sony claims that in their testing, the FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM was 50 percent faster at autofocusing than a 14-24mm f/2.8 competitor. For those getting in very close to moving subjects, such as sports photographers or photojournalists, this will be most useful. According to Sony, focus breathing, focus shift, and axial shift while zooming have been minimized.

The Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM lens is Sony’s 35th full-frame E-mount lens in an expansive mirrorless lineup and will begin shipping on August 13, 2020.

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Gary Pardy's picture

That covers all the standard, fast zooms, right? What's left on the roadmap, other than the niches?

Deleted Account's picture

Nothing standard about this, though; 16-35/2.8 covered the standard ultrawide. Already well within niche - here's hoping Sony takes a look at tilt/shfits.

stuartcarver's picture

That could turn out to be the best wide angle lens on the market with those features. Not a Sony shooter but this is pretty incredible.

Reginald Walton's picture

Nah, it's not $1600 better than the Sigma version.

Bert Nase's picture

The Sigma is f4 and 300gr heavier. The Sigma f2.8 is only 14-24mm.

Gary Pardy's picture

It's a bit like the Tamron 28-75... is the extra room on the wide end worth the difference in price? For most, probably not.

Reginald Walton's picture

I was referring to the 1-24 2.8 and 2mm is still not worth $1600 (to me). :)

Edison Wrzosek's picture

Now Sony just needs to finally give us a native TS lens and the platform is golden :)

Ryan Mense's picture

I imagine what's holding it back at this point is waiting until the right time where they feel like they have something really unique about their own design. Otherwise I think we are starting to get into Mark II lens model territory and the niche markets about now.

Edison Wrzosek's picture

That's quite possible, however if you look at many of their GM lenses, not all of them offer something "unique" over the competition in many instances, and are just iterations of existing lens designs that have been ported over to the E-mount out of necessity to complete the ecosystem.

So while "something really unique" would be welcome if they come out with a TS, I still feel it's in their interest to come out with a TS even if it doesn't offer anything falling under said difference from the competition.

TS lenses are definitely more niche than most others, but they fill a need which right now the Sony ecosystem lacks, even with third-party options... Come to think of it, I don't think a third-party TS lens even exists for Sony, does it? I think right now if you want a TS on Sony, you have to adapt a Canon TS...

Ryan Mense's picture

All GM lenses offer something unique over the competition. With the TS lenses being manual focus, that puts more pressure on Sony to make them more unique otherwise there’s no leverage for people to stop simply converting the Canon ones which will be the cheaper option.

Edison Wrzosek's picture

I just rented the Sony FE 4.5-5.6 100-400 GM OSS over the weekend, and while it’s a brilliant lens (albeit ridiculously overpriced, Sigma here I come), this is a prime example of it having practically NO “uniqueness” over it’s Canon counterpart, the 100-400 L Mk2. We can nit pick that though about the weight being slightly less, or it being slightly smaller, but on the whole, they are basically the same, even optically speaking perform nearly identical, with the Sony being better at some focal lengths in the centre or corner frame vs the Canon and vice versa. Oh, it has more programmable buttons, that’s one “unique” aspect.

The Sony FE 4.5-5.6 70-300 G OSS is another unremarkable example of your run-of-the-mill implementation of the popular 70-300mm telephoto zoom lens. No, this isn’t a GM lens, but I wanted to bring it up as an example nonetheless.

The Sony FE 400 2.8 GM OSS... Another beautiful lens, but does it really offer much over the Canon counterpart other than some weight savings, a leather-wrapped tripod foot, and more programmable buttons around the focus ring? That hardly makes this unique or different enough, aside from the programmable buttons.

The point I’m trying to make, is that most of Sony’s glass isn’t that “unique”. There are exceptions, like the 200-600, or this new 12-24, which genuinely bring the goods to the table, but when you look at Sony’s lens lineup, they often have released lenses to fill gaps in their lineup simply for that reason, without actually bringing much innovation to the table.

And though not a GM lens again, I have to bring this up, their “nifty fifty” 50mm f1.8 is a JOKE of a 50mm lens, like a SERIOUS joke... I have absolutely NOTHING positive to say about it. If they are getting into Mark II territory of lens design and revisions as you speculate, then someone needs to send them a memo, cause the 50mm f1.8 is BEGGING for an overhaul!

But, having said all that, if Sony comes out with an auto-focus TS lens lineup, my response (and probably many others) would be: TAKE MY MONEY!!!

Keith Mullin's picture

They might not be "innovative" improvements, but the newer design of internal elements, faster/quieter AF motors, are all improvements over the Canon versions. Right now Sony is filling out their E mount line up, we have already seen a few specialty type lenses like the 100mm STF GM, and I imagine we will see more. I do fully agree that we need a new 50mm. For a $200 lens its not bad, but its still a $200 lens.

Chris Fowler's picture

Oh look another Sony lens I can't afford! haha, in all seriousness though, I'm only slightly bitter because my choices for wide lenses is so limited in the Sony APSC lineup. yes I could buy this new uber-lens, but it costs more than all of my camera gear combined!