Sony FE 12-24mm F4 G Lens Review

Sony FE 12-24mm F4 G Lens

The Sony FE 12-24mm F4 G Lens provides access to a fun zoom range that invites creativity, enabling imagery that is differentiating, standing out from the mundane.

  • 12mm is awesome, dramatic, fun, differentiating
  • Zooming to 24mm adds great utility
  • Professional grade
  • Focus hold button
  • Moderately priced
  • Soft corner image quality at wide and mid focal lengths
  • Moderate barrel distortion at wide end
  • 0.14x maximum magnification
  • Not compatible with threaded filters
In-Depth Review

Going wider than any Sony FE lens before it is the FE 12-24mm f/4 G Lens. Rectilinear (not fisheye) full-frame lenses do not get much wider than this one and ultra-wide equates to ultra-fun. Not only remarkable for the ultra-wide-angles of view, this nicely-built lens is surprisingly light in weight and small in size. Image quality was not left out of the design equation.

Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G Lens Angle View

Focal Length Range

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The 12-24mm focal length range is the primary reason for getting this lens and that is a differentiatingly great reason. There are wider angle full-frame lenses available, but most of them are fisheye lenses that capture a strongly-barrel-distorted image, rendering straight lines curved (unless passing directly through the center of the frame). While the fisheye look can be great for some uses, I find a rectilinear lens image to have greater versatility and note that 12mm is significantly wider than the 16mm focal length more commonly available.

As I've said in some other ultra-wide-angle lens reviews, you might want to wear scene-complementing shoes when working with this lens at 12mm. Keeping your own shadow from contaminating the scene is another challenge (consider wearing a nice hat and embracing the selfie aspect).

Extreme wide angles can differentiate your work from the crowd, but creating compelling extreme wide-angle compositions remains a challenge. It is easy to go out to 12mm and start shooting but these snapshots will usually look like ... snapshots. An ultra-wide-angle of view pushes the background away, making it much smaller in the frame relative to close foreground subjects. Ideal compositions will incorporate an interesting close foreground subject along with a complementary/supporting midground and background completing the composition.

Unless working in a tight space, there is going to be a lot of background in the scene and keeping the entire background attractive can be challenging in many locations. The big landscape of the American Southwest is an example of a great location for utilizing this lens, but there are many applications close to everyone's home (or perhaps within it). Of course, the 24mm focal length is not extreme and is quite easy to compose with, providing the ideal angle of view for many uses.

As you likely already determined, these focal lengths are popular with landscape photographers. While considering this lens for landscape photography use, a detracting attribute must be understood and that is the bulbous front lens element precluding the use of standard threaded front filters, namely circular polarizer and neutral density filters. Companies such as Fotodiox offer a filter solution for this lens but the filter holder and filters are quite large (ever see a 145mm filter?) and circular polarizer filters can create uneven filtration at the wide focal lengths. Regardless, there remains a lot of landscape photography to be done without filters.

While the max f/4 aperture is narrower than my preference for a night sky lens (nightscapes), the 12mm angle of view is wide enough that star trails do not become noticeable until longer exposure durations, offsetting some of the aperture difference. The 12-24mm focal length range is perfect for most milky way photography needs.

Architecture and real estate photographers will find this lens extremely useful, perhaps even mandatory. In real estate, bigger generally means more valuable. If you can make the real estate appear larger in photos by pushing the background deeper in the composition, more walk-throughs can be generated and more properties can potentially be sold. The latter point is what gets both realtors and photographers paid.

When people are in the photo, care will be required to prevent perspective distortion. The 12-24mm range can be perfect for environmental portraits but getting too close to the subject can cause heads (and noses) to appear awkwardly larger than the rest of the body parts (ears, feet, etc.) in the composition. A person closer to the camera can appear much larger than a person farther away (though sometimes this attribute can be an advantage). Wedding photographers can capture the big picture of the venue with this range. For example, photograph the bride and groom coming down the aisle, large in the frame, with the rest of the ceremony small in the frame behind them.

This lens is a great option for attaching to a remote sports camera, capturing the start of a race, capturing the finish of a race, covering the goal, mounted over the basket, etc. The lens will also capture the big image of the arena and will work for the overhead shot of the MVP sports figure being mobbed for interviews after a big game.

There are many additional needs for wide-angle photos captured in tight spaces including vehicle interiors and large groups. These angles of view promise to spur creativity and the 12-24 range can be interesting when used for video.

Here are examples of what this focal length range looks like:

Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G Lens Focal Length Range Example

12mm | 14mm | 16mm | 18mm | 21mm | 24mm
12mm | 14mm | 16mm | 18mm | 21mm | 24mm

Compare the focal length of the widest lens in your kit to 12mm to see what you are missing.

Cameras with smaller APS-C format imaging sensors utilize a smaller image circle with the angle of view crop factor being 1.5x for such Sony models. On an APS-C camera, this lens provides an angle of view equivalent to a 18-36mm lens mounted on a full-frame camera. While that angle of view range is less exciting from a differentiating point of view, it remains a useful range. Most will find this range more ideal for portraits and general-purpose uses and less ideal for architecture and real estate.

Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G Lens Front View

Max Aperture

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Made obvious in the name is that this lens has an f/4 max aperture and that aperture is available over the entire focal length range. The latter is great for maintaining a manual f/4 exposure without regard to the selected focal length but because aperture (f-stop) is the ratio of the focal length to the diameter of the entrance pupil, I often wonder if I'm giving up some potentially available aperture at the wide end to gain that feature. An f/4 max aperture is normal for this class of lens.

Wide apertures are desirable for the light they allow to reach the sensor, permitting shorter shutter speeds and/or lower ISO settings, but wide angles tend to render subjects small in the frame. Small in the frame means that subjects do not cross sensor pixels as fast, meaning that longer shutter speeds may be adequate for capturing sharp images, negating some of the need for wider apertures.

Wide apertures are often desirable for creating shallow depth of field, but wide angles are not best at creating diffusely-blurred backgrounds. The out-of-focus details in the background are not enlarged enough for a strong blur to be created by the ultra-wide angles of view.

Here are examples of the maximum background blur this lens can produce.

Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G Lens Maximum Blur Example

This lens is not the blur-master, but it can create some subject isolation at 24mm f/4 with a close subject.

While an f/2.8 max aperture would have been nice, that difference would put a substantial mark on the size, weight, and price of this lens. For many, that difference would not be worth the tradeoff. I do not encounter many situations where an f/4 aperture is inadequate in this focal length range aside from nightscapes.

If f/4 is not enough for your scenario (especially indoors), adding light to the scene is an option. Keep in mind that, even with the flip-down diffusor in place, your flash may not cover this lens's 12mm image circle. Many accessory flash modifiers are available to cover the 12mm angles. This diffusion reduces the flash's effective power level and distance.

Image Stabilization

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The Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G Lens is not optically stabilized, but Sony generally takes care of that omission with Steady Shot or IBIS (In-Body Image Stabilization). On a traditional DSLR with an optical viewfinder, IBIS results in an unstabilized view, meaning that stabilization was not helpful for composition or for providing a still subject to the camera's AF system. With EVFs being prevalent in Sony's lineup, the viewfinder image is produced directly from the imaging sensor which is stabilized. Therefore, the viewfinder image is nicely stabilized and sensor-based AF takes advantage of the stabilized view for improved accuracy.

With no IS switch on the lens, the camera menu must be used to enable or disable IBIS and that is annoying when needing to work quickly such as when going from tripod to handheld.

Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G Lens on Tripod

Image Quality

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The big question is: How sharp is the Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G Lens?

You are going to like the sharpness (contrast and resolution) this lens delivers in the center of the image circle. This lens is extremely sharp even with a wide-open f/4 aperture with the 24mm focal length being just slightly softer than the wider options. Don't expect to see a sharpness difference at f/5.6 except for at 24mm where the results then match those of the balance of the focal lengths.

In general, lenses are not as sharp in the periphery where light rays must be bent more strongly than in the center. At 12mm f/4, image quality slowly deteriorates from sharp in the center to soft in the full-frame corners. As the focal length is increased, peripheral performance improves until only the deep corners show noticeable softness at 24mm. As usual, selecting a narrower aperture improves corner image sharpness with the area of good sharpness pushing outward. At f/8, most of the frame becomes sharp. In the extreme corners at f/8, 12mm results remain a bit soft, 24mm results are slightly soft, and the mid focal lengths (most of the range) deliver sharp results.

Below you will find sets of 100% resolution center of the frame crops captured in uncompressed RAW format using a Sony a7R III. The images were processed in Capture One using the Natural Clarity method with the sharpening amount set to only "30" on a 0-1000 scale. Note that images from most cameras require some level of sharpening but too-high sharpness settings are destructive to image details and hide the deficiencies of a lens.

Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G Lens Sharpness Comparison Example

12mm: f/4.0 | f/5.6   f/4.0 | f/5.6
17mm: f/4.0 | f/5.6   f/4.0 | f/5.6
24mm: f/4.0 | f/5.6   f/4.0 | f/5.6

Only the 24mm f/4 results are slightly soft and you might not have noticed this without the other impressive results displayed for comparison. In the center of the frame, the advantage of stopping down is primarily to increase depth of field.

Focus shift, the plane of sharp focus moving forward or backward as the aperture is narrowed (residual spherical aberration or RSA), is not an issue with this lens (many modern lenses automatically correct for it).

Next, we'll look at a comparison showing 100% extreme-top-left-corner crops captured and processed identically to the above center-of-the-frame images. These images were manually focused in the corner of the frame.

Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G Lens Corner Sharpness Comparison Example

12mm: f/4.0 | f/5.6 | f/8.0   f/4.0 | f/5.6 | f/8.0
17mm: f/4.0 | f/5.6 | f/8.0   f/4.0 | f/5.6 | f/8.0
24mm: f/4.0 | f/5.6 | f/8.0   f/4.0 | f/5.6 | f/8.0

Samples taken from the outer extreme of the image circle, full-frame corners in this case, can be counted on to show the worst performance a lens is capable of. The extreme 12mm corners do not completely sharpen at narrow apertures (even at f/11 where there was little additional change seen) and the 24mm extreme corners remain slightly soft. The mid focal length corners are quite impressive.

Corner sharpness does not always matter but it does matter for many disciplines including some of this lens's specialties, including architecture and landscape photography.

When used on a camera that utilizes a lens's entire image circle, peripheral shading can be expected at the widest aperture settings. At 12mm f/4, about 3.5 stops of shading are present in the corners. Shading slowly decreases as the focal length is increased until about 2 stops of shading remain at 24mm. Stopping down to f/5.6 removes about 0.5 stops of corner shading and the improvement realized by stopping down to f/8 is even less. At f/16, an aperture narrow enough to show the softening effects of diffraction from most cameras, the shading amount ranges from a noticeable about 2.5 stops at 12mm to a sometimes-noticeable just over 1 stop at 24mm.

APS-C format cameras using lenses projecting a full-frame-sized image circle avoid most vignetting problems. In this case, the about-1-stop of shading showing at 12mm f/4 might be visible in images with a solid color (such as a blue sky) showing in the corners.

One stop of shading is the amount often used as the visibility number, though subject details provide a widely-varying amount of vignetting discernibility. Vignetting can be corrected during post-processing with increased noise in the brightened areas being the penalty or it can be embraced, using the effect to draw the viewer's eye to the center of the frame. Study the pattern showing in our vignetting test tool to determine how your images will be affected.

The effect of different colors of the spectrum being magnified differently is referred to as lateral (or transverse) CA (Chromatic Aberration). Lateral CA shows as color fringing along lines of strong contrast running tangential (meridional, right angles to radii) with the mid and especially the periphery of the image circle showing the greatest amount as this is where the greatest difference in the magnification of wavelengths typically exists.

With the right lens profile and software, lateral CA is often easily correctable (often in the camera) by radially shifting the colors to coincide though it is always better to not have the problem in the first place. Any color misalignment present can easily be seen in the site's image quality tool, but let's also look at a set of worst-case examples, 100% crops from the extreme top left corner of a7R III frames showing diagonal black and white lines.

Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G Lens Lateral Chromatic Aberration Example

12mm | 16mm | 21mm | 24mm

There should be only black and white colors in these images and the additional colors are showing the presence of lateral CA. This lens has modest lateral CA at the wide end and only minor impact showing at the long end.

A relatively common lens aberration is axial (longitudinal, bokeh) CA, which causes non-coinciding focal planes of the various wavelengths of light, or more simply, different colors of light are focused to different depths. Spherical aberration along with spherochromatism, or a change in the amount of spherical aberration with respect to color (looks quite similar to axial chromatic aberration but is hazier) are other common lens aberrations to look for. Axial CA remains at least somewhat persistent when stopping down with the color misalignment effect increasing with defocusing while the spherical aberration color halo shows little size change as the lens is defocused and stopping down one to two stops generally removes this aberration.

In the real world, lens defects do not exist in isolation with spherical aberration and spherochromatism generally found, at least to some degree, along with axial CA. These combine to create a less sharp, hazy-appearing image quality at the widest apertures.

In the examples below, look at the fringing colors in the out of focus specular highlights created by the neutrally-colored subjects. Any color difference is being introduced by the lens.

Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G Lens Spherical and Axial Aberration Example

12mm | 16mm | 21mm | 24mm

Few lenses product as little color separation as this one at their widest apertures.

Flare and ghosting are caused by bright light reflecting off of the surfaces of lens elements, resulting in reduced contrast and sometimes-interesting artifacts. This lens utilizes Sony Nano AR Coating to avoid these issues and at f/4, this lens shrugs off our standard sun in the corner of the frame flare test, showing little flaring. Stopping down always increases the amount and intensity of flare effects seen but despite the relatively high element count (17 in 13 groups), this lens still shows a low amount of flare effects even at f/16.

Flare effects can be embraced, avoided, or removal can be attempted. Removal is sometimes challenging.

Two lens aberrations are particularly evident when shooting images of stars, mainly because bright points of light against a dark background make them easier to see. Coma occurs when light rays from a point of light spread out from that point, instead of being refocused as a point on the sensor. Coma is absent in the center of the frame, gets worse toward the edges/corners, and generally appears as a comet-like or triangular tail of light which can be oriented either away from the center of the frame (external coma), or toward the center of the frame (internal coma). Coma clears as the aperture is narrowed. Astigmatism is seen as points of light spreading into a line, either sagittal (radiating from the center of the image) or meridional (tangential, perpendicular to sagittal). Remember that lateral CA is another aberration apparent in the corners.

The images below are 100% crops taken from the top-right corner of a7R III frames.

Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G Lens Coma Example

12mm | 18mm | 24mm

These results, showing stretched stars, are not unusual but not amazing either.

At 12mm, this lens exhibits moderate barrel distortion. For an angle of view this wide in a zoom lens, this attribute is not surprising and perhaps more surprising is that the distortion amount is not stronger. By 15mm, the distortion profile is changed into slight pincushion distortion that slowly increases until modest distortion shows at 24mm.

Most modern lenses have lens correction profiles available and distortion can be easily removed using these. However, geometric distortion correction requires stretching as some portion of the image must be stretched or the overall dimensions reduced.

As seen earlier in the review, the amount of blur a lens can produce is easy to show and wide-angle lenses are disadvantaged in this regard. Assessing the quality of the blur is more challenging due in part to the infinite number of variables present in all available scenes. Here are some f/11 (for aperture blade interaction) examples.

Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G Lens Bokeh Example

24mm   12mm | 17mm | 24mm
12mm | 17mm | 24mm   24mm   24mm

The first 24mm example shows defocused specular highlights that are not rendered in amazing quality. The other examples appear fine for these angles of view.

Except for a small number of specialty lenses, the wide aperture bokeh in the corner of the frame does not produce round defocused highlights with these effects taking on a cat's eye shape due to a form of mechanical vignetting. If you look through a tube at an angle, similar to the light reaching the corner of the frame, the shape is not round and that is the shape seen here.

Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G Lens Cat's Eye Bokeh Example

12mm | 16mm | 21mm | 24mm

The 12mm example shows the upper-left 1/8 of the frame and the other 3 are upper-left quadrants. While the 12mm shapes are stretched in the corner, none of the examples show strong truncation of the shapes.

With a 7-blade count aperture, point light sources captured with a narrow aperture setting and showing a sunstar effect will have 14 points. Here are some f/16 examples:

Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G Lens Sunstar Effect Example

12mm | 17mm | 24mm

In general, the more a lens is stopped down, the larger and better-shaped the sunstars tend to be. Though not huge, the wide and mid focal length sunstars this lens produces have nice shapes. With the aperture narrowed less to create f/4 at the long end, the points become more flared.

Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G Lens Design

The design of this lens is illustrated above with aspherical elements shown in lavender, Super ED glass in blue, and ED glass in green.

Overall, this lens turns in excellent image quality. Vignetting at 12mm is rather strong even at narrow apertures, the extreme full-frame corners are not sharp at 12mm even stopped down, and the 24mm corners are just slightly soft. Images captured over most of the focal length range this lens offers are sharp and this lens gets high grades in most of the other tests.

Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G Lens Side View 2


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The Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G Lens "features an advanced inner-focus mechanism driven by Sony's Direct Drive SSM (DDSSM) system for fast, accurate AF lock-on as well as smooth, quiet operation." [Sony]

This lens internally focuses with good speed and with only faint clicks being heard. As usual, low light levels slow AF performance but despite the only moderately wide f/4 max aperture, this lens performs reasonably well under such conditions.

Unique to a lens of this type (but rather common on Sony FE lenses) is an AF hold button. While in continuous focus mode, this button can be pressed to lock focus at the currently selected focus distance, permitting a focus and recompose technique. This button also acts as a custom button (C5) and can be programmed to another function using the camera's menu. Note that the owner's manual indicates "the focus hold button of this lens does not function with some camera models." The manual does not mention which cameras are not compatible, but ... one would expect the latest models to support this feature.

FTM (Full Time Manual) focusing is supported in Sony's DMF (Direct Manual Focus) AF mode.

Normal is for the scene to change size in the frame (sometimes significantly) as focus is pulled from one extent to the other, referred to as focus breathing, a change in focal length resulting from a change in focus distance. Focus breathing negatively impacts photographers intending to use focus stacking techniques, videographers pulling focus, and anyone critically framing while adjusting focus. The images below illustrate this behavior.

Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G Lens Focus Magnification Example

12mm: Far | Close   24mm: Far | Close

This lens shows a minor change in subject size as full extent focus adjustments are made at 12mm and only a modest amount of change is seen at 24mm for good overall performance in this regard.

The reviewed lens exhibits parfocal-like behavior, retaining focus during focal length changes.

The rubber-ribbed focus ring is positioned between the built-in lens hood and the zoom ring. This ring is relatively small in size but usable and being raised slightly from the zoom ring behind it makes it easy to find. The focus ring is smooth and has a comfortable resistance. If turned slowly, the ring requires about 240° of focus ring rotation for a full extents adjustment. At a more normal adjustment rate, roughly 50° of rotation makes that change, a comfortable rate.

A focus distance window is not provided, but a focus distance meter shows in the lower portion of the camera's electronic viewfinder during manual focusing.

Ultra-wide-angle focal lengths are inherently making details small in the frame and despite a close 11.0" (280mm) minimum focus distance, this lens generates a low 0.14x maximum magnification at 24mm.

ModelMin Focus Distance "(mm)Max Magnification
Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM Lens11.0(280)0.16x
Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G AF-S Lens11.0(280)0.15x
Nikon Z 14-30mm f/4 S Lens11.0(280)0.16x
Sigma 12-24mm f/4 DG HSM Art Lens9.4(240)0.20x
Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG HSM Art Lens10.2(260)0.19x
Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G Lens11.0(280)0.14x
Sony FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM II Lens8.7(221)0.32x
Sony FE PZ 16-35mm F4 G Lens11.0(280)0.23x

At 24mm, a subject measuring approximately 9.7 x 6.5" (246 x 164mm) will fill the frame of a full-frame camera at the minimum focus distance.

Need a shorter minimum focus distance and greater magnification? Extension tubes are hollow lens barrels that shift a lens farther from the camera, which permits shorter focusing distances at the expense of long-distance focusing. Electronic connections in extension tubes permit the lens and camera to communicate and otherwise function as normal. Sony does not publish extension tube specs nor do they manufacture these items, but third-party Sony extension tubes are available. An extension tube mounted behind this lens should provide a significant decrease and increase respectively — perhaps too much for all except the shortest tubes.

This lens is not compatible with Sony teleconverters.

Build Quality & Features

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While the Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G Lens is not a G Master lens, it is still nicely designed and constructed.

Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G Lens Product Images

MFD |    MFD |    Rotated        Compare »

This lens features a quality plastic exterior construction. The overall shape includes a series of diameter increases from the mount until the built-in hood's diameter is reached. As with the focus ring, a diameter change occurs at the zoom ring, making it similarly easy to find. Also like the focus ring, the zoom ring is smooth with an ideal rotational resistance. While this lens does extend and retract a small amount during focusing, the extension is contained deep within the hood.

I appreciate having the AF/MF switch that has gone missing on many current-era lenses. It is faster to switch between these modes using a switch vs. using a menu option.

Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G Lens Mount

Sony claims that this lens has a "Dust and moisture-resistant design". That said, the mount does not appear to have a gasket seal, creating concern for not only moisture penetration into the lens but into the camera body as well.

While this lens is not long, it has a noticeable width, promising to fill out your hand. When using the Sony a7R III and a7R IV, my knuckles impact the barrel of this lens firmly enough to be uncomfortable. While it is a stretch to call a 19.9 oz (565g) lens lightweight, compared to many others with similar focal lengths, it is that.

ModelWeight oz(g)Dimensions w/o Hood "(mm)FilterYear 
Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM Lens41.7(1180)4.3 x 5.2(108.0 x 132.0)n/a2015
Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G AF-S Lens34.2(969)3.9 x 5.2(98.0 x 131.5)n/a2007
Nikon Z 14-30mm f/4 S Lens17.1(485)3.5 x 3.3(89.0 x 85.0)822019
Sigma 12-24mm f/4 DG HSM Art Lens40.6(1150)4.0 x 5.2(102.0 x 131.5)n/a2016
Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG HSM Art Lens40.6(1150)3.8 x 5.3(96.4 x 135.1)n/a2018
Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G Lens19.9(565)3.4 x 4.6(87.0 x 117.4)n/a2017
Sony FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM II Lens19.3(547)3.5 x 4.4(87.8 x 111.5)822023
Sony FE PZ 16-35mm F4 G Lens12.5(353)3.2 x 3.5(80.5 x 88.1)722022

For many more comparisons, review the complete Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G Lens Specifications using the site's lens specifications tool.

Here is a visual comparison:

Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G Lens Compared to Similar Lenses

Positioned above from left to right are the following lenses:

Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G Lens
Sigma 12-24mm f/4 DG HSM Art Lens
Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM Lens

Here is a comparison within the Sony FE family:

Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G Lens Compared to Similar Lenses

Positioned above from left to right are the following lenses:

Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G Lens
Sony FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS Lens
Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM Lens

Use the site's product image comparison tool to visually compare the Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G Lens to other lenses.

As mentioned multiple times, this lens has a built-in, not removeable hood. This is an attractive petal-style matte plastic hood with a matte interior finish.

Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G Lens Case

A fleece-lined vinyl drawstring pouch with protective padding limited to the bottom is included with this lens. Consider a Lowepro Lens Case or Think Tank Photo Lens Case Duo for a quality, affordable single-lens storage, transport, and carry solution.

Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G Lens Cap

Ultra-wide-angle lenses with a convex front lens element and built-in hood get a 3-dimensional cap that surrounds the end of the lens. How such caps attach varies with some utilizing a friction fit for securing in place. That design is often deficient with the cap frequently sliding off when the lens is removed from a case. A better design is for these caps to clip onto the end of the longest petals of the hood, requiring a specific alignment for the attachment to work. Sony's design is even better.

Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G Lens Cap Back

This cap has substantial plastic fingers extending deep into the lens hood. Pressing the cap's release buttons moves these fingers inward and when released in position, the fingers securely grip inside the end of the lens – with the cap mounted in any orientation. The cap itself is lightweight slightly-flexible plastic.

Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G Lens with Cap

Price, Value, Compatibility

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I've had mostly positive things to say about this lens but the quality and features come with a moderately high price. Compared to the most-similar Canon EF lens model, the Sony lens is a bargain.

As an "FE" lens, the Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G Lens is compatible with all Sony E-mount cameras, including both full-frame and APS-C sensor format models. Sony provides a 1-year limited warranty.

The reviewed Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G Lens was online-retail sourced.

Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G Lens Front View on Camera


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It seems most reasonable to first compare this lens to its one-stop-wider sibling, the Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM Lens.

In the image quality comparison, we see the f/2.8 GM lens producing sharper images at f/2.8 than the f/4 G lens produces at f/4, especially in the corners. By f/8, the image quality from the two lenses greatly equalize, but the f/2.8 lens continues to hold an advantage. Wide-open, the two lenses produce similar amounts of peripheral shading. Aided by the one-stop-wider max aperture, the f/2.8 lens shows considerably less vignetting in the f/4 comparison and still considerably less at the wide end even at f/16. The f/2.8 lens shower modestly fewer narrow aperture flare effects and has modestly less geometric distortion, including at both ends of the focal length range.

Looking at the specs and measurements, the Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM Lens vs. Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G Lens comparison shows the f/4 lens noticeably smaller and considerably lighter, two differences commonly expected with a 1-stop difference in max aperture. The max aperture difference is notably important for some uses, typically those involving low light. The GM lens has 9 aperture blades vs. 7 in the G lens. The GM lens has a Quad XD Linear AF motor vs. SSM. The GM lens has a considerably higher price tag, though it comes with a padded case.

If you can afford and carry the Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM Lens, take that option as it is a substantial upgrade.

Prior to the FE 12-24 lens's arrival, it was not uncommon to see the highly regarded Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM Lens used on Sony cameras via mount adapters and this was the comparison I wanted to see first. Note that 11mm is noticeably wider than 12mm, a Canon advantage worth considering.

In the image quality comparison, the Canon lens is noticeably sharper than the Sony lens in the periphery of the image circle in the wider half of the focal length range. Stopping down neutralizes much of the difference. At f/4, the Canon lens shows stronger vignetting at 12mm and less at 24mm though by f/8, the Canon lens has a noticeable overall advantage in this regard. The Canon lens has slightly more barrel distortion at 12mm and less pincushion distortion in the upper half of the zoom range.

Looking at the specs and measurements, the Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G Lens vs. Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM Lens comparison shows the Canon lens to be significantly larger and weighing twice as much. The two lenses have the same minimum focus distance spec but the Canon lens has a slightly higher maximum magnification spec (0.16x vs 0.14x). The Canon lens has 9 aperture blades vs. 7. Price is another big differentiating factor with the Sony lens being considerably less expensive.

The other lens I was anxious to compare against this Sony lens is the Sigma 12-24mm f/4 DG HSM Art Lens. In the image quality comparison, the Sony lens is slightly sharper in the center and the Sigma lens is modestly sharper in the image circle periphery at the wide end while the Sony lens is the better performer at 24mm. The Sigma lens has considerably less vignetting including when stopped down.

Looking at the specs and measurements, the Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G Lens vs. Sigma 12-24mm f/4 DG HSM Art Lens comparison shows the Sigma lens to be significantly larger and weighing twice as much. The Sigma lens has 9 aperture blades vs. 7 and, with a slightly shorter minimum focus distance, has a significantly higher maximum magnification, 0.20x vs 0.14x. The Sony lens costs moderately more.

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Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G Lens Top View


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What the Sony 12-24 offers to full-frame DSLR owners is a stand-out range of ultra-wide-angle of views, a range that nicely and efficiently complements that found in most standard zoom lenses. With this lens, that great focal length range comes in a package that is considerably smaller than and half as heavy as many of the other options.

Aside from the extreme full-frame corners at the focal length range maximum extents, this lens delivers sharp images, especially when stopped down modestly to gain improved peripheral performance. Vignetting is rather strong at the wide end even when stopped down and geometric distortion levels are strong at the widest and longest zoom settings but this lens performed especially well in most of the remaining tests. This lens's build quality and design are good and AF performance stays out of the way.

The Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G is a lens that will be found critical to architecture, real estate, and serious landscape photographers and many more will find this lens to offer a great amount of fun. See the world anew with the 12-24mm angle of view!

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Sony FE 12-24mm F4 G Lens
Sony FE 12-24mm F4 G Lens
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