Sony FE 20-70mm F4 G Lens Review

Sony FE 20-70mm F4 G Lens
Verdict

While full-frame 24-70mm lenses are common, 20-70mm lenses are not, and that extra 4mm on the wide end is a big deal and extremely useful. The Sony FE 20-70mm F4 G Lens is a high-quality, compact, lightweight, affordable, general-purpose lens. It is often the best choice when a solo lens is necessary, including for your anything-might-happen adventure.

Pros
  • Superb general-purpose lens choice
  • Great image quality
  • Dual XD Linear AF
  • Professional grade
  • 0.39x maximum magnification
  • Focus hold buttons
  • Aperture ring
  • Compact
  • Lightweight
  • Moderately priced
Cons
  • Strong barrel distortion at wide end
  • Noticeable lateral CA at 20mm
In-Depth Review

While full-frame 24-70mm lenses are common, 20-70mm lenses are not. In fact, the Sony FE 20-70mm F4 G is this site's first-reviewed full-frame zoom lens that zooms beyond 40mm to have wider than 24mm capabilities. That extra 4mm on the wide end is a big deal and is extremely useful.

Despite having an expanded focal length range with a moderately wide f/4 aperture over that entire range and G-class build quality, this lens is relatively compact, lightweight, and affordable.

The Sony FE 20-70mm F4 G Lens's corrected image quality is excellent, and this lens is an especially great option for travel, landscape, and general-purpose photography uses.

Sony FE 20-70mm F4 G Lens Top View

Focal Length Range

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I already made a big deal about this lens's focal length range, but the focal length range is the first aspect to consider for zoom lens selection. Focal length drives subject distance choices, which determine perspective, and this lens's extended range increases its utility.

Covering ultra-wide-angle through normal and short telephoto angles of view, the 20-70mm focal length range comfortably covers a superset of those expected from a general-purpose lens. The 20-70mm focal length range is superb for a standard do-everything lens.

Sony FE 20-70mm F4 G Lens Focal Length Range Example

20mm | 24mm | 28mm | 35mm | 50mm | 70mm

Illustrated here, the extra 4mm on the wide end makes a big difference. When taking this photo, I was not able to move back (there was a bus in the way), and the 20mm angle of view comfortably fit the three Mt. Vernon Place United Methodist Church doorways in the composition.

A 24-70mm lens is essential for most landscape and cityscape photography kits, and a wider-angle lens typically accompanies such a lens when pursuing these purposes. Going to 20mm, the FE 20-70 G lens may be itself be sufficient for many needs. At the 20mm end, this lens provides a wide angle of view, able to show a strong perspective and create a sense of presence in an image.

Sony FE 20-70mm F4 G Lens Sample Landscape Picture

At the 70mm end, smaller portions of a scene can be isolated, and distant mountains (or a lone tree) appear larger in proportion to closer elements.

Covering the 20-70mm is often a requirement for a wedding photographer kit. Capture environmental portraits that include the venue at 20mm and use 70mm for head and shoulder portraits that retain a pleasing perspective.

This lens is the ideal choice for photographing various events, from parents capturing informal birthday parties at home to photojournalists covering formal galas at large venues (as long as f/4 is wide enough).

Sony FE 20-70mm F4 G Lens Focal Length Range Example

20mm | 24mm | 28mm | 35mm | 50mm | 70mm

This focal length range is great for street photography.

While architecture photographers are typically looking for linear-distortion-free lenses to keep their buildings and walls straight and zoom lenses usually have some level of distortion at most focal lengths, this lens has ideal angles of view for such work. Distortion correction via software resolves the curved lines problem. The 20mm end of the range is nice for interior real estate photography.

Sports photographers getting close to their subjects (such as at the start of a track meet or in the soccer net) or wanting to capture a wider/environmental view of their events appreciate this focal length range. 20-70mm nicely complements a 70-200mm lens for sports uses (again, as long as f/4 is adequately wide).

Product photography is on this lens's capabilities list, especially with its high maximum magnification spec.

This lens has an ideal focal length range for videography needs, including vlogging, and many other Sony FE 20-70mm F4 G Lens features complement this use.

Those examples only begin the uses list for this lens.

Here is one more set of images to illustrate the 20-70mm focal length range:

Sony FE 20-70mm F4 G Lens Focal Length Range Example

20mm | 24mm | 28mm | 35mm | 50mm | 70mm

APS-C imaging sensor format cameras utilize a smaller portion of the image circle, framing a scene more tightly. The Sony field of view crop factor is 1.5x, with the 20-70mm range providing a 30-105mm full-frame angle of view equivalent. This angle of view range has greater value for portraiture while foregoing some of the ultra-wide landscape and real estate angles.

Sony FE 20-70mm F4 G Lens Front View

Max Aperture

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How much light does the lens provide to the imaging sensor? Usually, that question is the second most important when selecting a lens.

The f/4 in the name refers to the maximum aperture, the ratio of the focal length to the entrance pupil diameter, available in this lens. The lower the aperture number, the wider the opening, and the more light the lens can deliver to the imaging sensor. Each "stop" in aperture change (full stop examples: f/2.8, f/4.0, f/5.6) increases or decreases the amount of light by a factor of 2x (a substantial amount).

Wide aperture lenses, allowing more light to reach the sensor, permit freezing action and handholding the camera in lower light levels and can also enable the use of lower (less noisy) ISO settings. In addition to allowing more light to reach the sensor, increasing the aperture opening provides a shallower DOF (Depth of Field) that creates a stronger, better subject-isolating background blur (at equivalent focal lengths). Often important is that low light AF performance is improved by an increased amount of light reaching the imaging sensor.

A narrow aperture's advantages are related to (often significantly) reduced lens element size and include smaller overall size, lighter weight, and lower cost.

Because the aperture is measured as a ratio of lens opening to focal length, the focal length must be taken into consideration when assessing how wide a lens's aperture can open. At 600mm, f/4 is a massive opening. At 20mm, f/4 is only moderately wide, and this lens has the small size, light weight, and lower cost advantages.

It is hard to diffusely blur the background with the low magnification provided by an ultra-wide-angle lens, but a short telephoto focal length is well suited for this challenge. These examples illustrate the maximum blur this lens can create:

Sony FE 20-70mm F4 G Lens Maximum Blur Example

20mm | 35mm | 70mm

When recording video, only a 1/60 second shutter speed (twice the framerate) is typically needed (assuming you're not capturing high framerate slow-motion video), and wide apertures are not often required for 1/60 second rates in normally encountered ambient lighting.

Most will appreciate this lens's constant max aperture, enabling f/4 throughout the focal length range. That said, I always wonder if wider apertures could have been availed at the wide end of such a lens.

Manual aperture rings have migrated to Sony FE full-frame zoom lenses, and the Sony FE 20-70mm F4 G Lens features one, permitting a manually selected aperture. With the ring in the A (Auto) position, the camera controls the aperture setting, and all other settings electronically force the aperture to the chosen opening. A 2-position switch on the bottom right side of the lens toggles the aperture ring between 1/3 stop clicks and smooth, quiet, non-clicked adjustments, ideal for video recording.

Aside from a slightly more complicated design, I find inadvertent aperture changes, especially while mounting a lens, the primary disadvantage of an aperture ring (especially when photographing in the dark). In previous reviews, I mentioned that a lock for the ring would eliminate that issue, and this lens gets an iris lock switch. Perfect.

Sony impressively integrated the two ring switches into the lens body, remaining functional but staying out of the way.

Sony FE 20-70mm F4 G Lens on Tripod

Image Stabilization

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The Sony FE 20-70mm F4 G Lens does not feature image stabilization. Omitting the optical stabilization system reduces the size, weight, complexity, and cost while increasing the MTBF (Mean Time Between Failure). However, image stabilization is an extremely useful feature.

Sony addresses that omission with Steady Shot IBIS (In-Body Image Stabilization) in their Alpha cameras. In addition to reducing camera shake, the stabilized imaging sensor provides a still viewfinder image, enabling careful composition. 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, or to verify the current settings. This extra step is a slight impediment to working quickly, going from tripod mounted to handholding, for example.

Sony FE 20-70mm F4 G Lens Angle View

Image Quality

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One aspect we never want compromised is the image quality produced by a lens, and a new, expanded focal length range brings performance into question. Otherwise, it seems that manufacturers would have added the 4mm to the wide end of 24-70mm lenses long ago. So, how does the Sony FE 20-70mm F4 G Lens perform optically? Let's find out.

In the center of the frame with a wide-open aperture, this lens produces impressive sharpness over the entire focal length range. The 50 MP Sony Alpha 1 camera perceives no sharpness improvement at f/5.6, and that is exactly what the f/4 performance leaves wanting. Nothing.

Often, subjects are not placed in the center of a composition. In the periphery of the image circle, where light rays are refracted to a stronger angle than in the center, lenses typically show decreased sharpness.

With geometric distortion uncorrected (discussion coming), this lens continues to show impressive performance deep into the full-frame as-framed corners as shown in the site's image quality test results and stopping down the aperture primarily reduces peripheral shading.

Taking the testing outdoors, we next look at a series of center-of-the-frame 100% resolution crop examples. These images were captured in RAW format using a Sony Alpha 1 and processed in Capture One using the Natural Clarity method. The sharpening amount was set to only "30" on a 0-1000 scale. Note that images from most cameras require some level of sharpening, but a strong sharpness adjustment is destructive to image details and hides the deficiencies of a lens.

Sony FE 20-70mm F4 G Lens Sharpness Comparison Example

20mm: f/4.0 | f/5.6   f/4.0 | f/5.6
35mm: f/4.0 | f/5.6   f/4.0 | f/5.6
70mm: f/4.0 | f/5.6   f/4.0 | f/5.6

While tree trunks are not the most exciting subject, they feature lens testing advantages, including having fine details and resistance to movement in the wind. These images are all really sharp. Note that some heatwave distortion is present in the images of more distant subjects.

Next, we'll look at a series of comparisons showing 100% resolution extreme top left corner crops captured and processed identically to the above center-of-the-frame images, with geometric distortion correction added. The lens was manually focused in the corner of the frame to capture these images.

Sony FE 20-70mm F4 G Lens Corner Sharpness Comparison Example

20mm: f/4.0 | f/5.6   f/8.0 * | f/8.0 *
35mm: f/4.0 | f/5.6   70mm: f/4.0 | f/5.6

Samples taken from the outer extreme of the image circle, full-frame corners, can be counted on to show a lens's weakest performance.

* Note that the two 20mm f/8 examples are from the top left and top right corners of the church image shared earlier in the review. For these examples, the lens was focused on the door in the center of the frame.

The 20mm and 70mm results show modest blur, but from a relative perspective, these results are good. The 35mm results are nice.

Stopping down produces a significant peripheral shading reduction, and the resulting corner contrast increase produces even better-looking results.

Does corner sharpness matter? Sometimes it does, and sometimes it doesn't. I always prefer my lenses to be razor sharp in the corners in case that feature is needed, but each of us must consider our applications to answer this paragraph's question. If no better options exist or are affordable, any limitations present must be accepted.

This lens does not exhibit focus shift, the plane of sharp focus moving forward or backward as the aperture is narrowed (residual spherical aberration or RSA).

A lens is expected to show peripheral shading at the widest aperture settings when used on a camera that utilizes its entire image circle. Especially wide-angle lenses tend to show strong peripheral shading wide open, and the just under 3 stops at distortion-corrected 20mm f/4 is noticeable. The wide-open aperture corner shading decreases until about 1.5 stops remain in the 50mm corners and then increases again to just over 2 stops at 70mm.

Want less corner shading? Stopping down is the universal solution. At 20mm, f/5.6 removes nearly a full stop of shading (the corners become twice as bright), and 50mm and longer corners are shaded by about 1 stop. At f/11, about 1.5 stops of vignetting remain at 20mm, and that shading slowly diminishes to half a stop at 50mm.

APS-C format cameras using lenses projecting a full-frame-sized image circle avoid most vignetting problems, and, with this lens's shading especially isolated to the deep corners, about half a stop of vignetting, at most, is present in APS-C results.

One-stop of shading is often used as the visibility number, though subject details provide a widely varying amount of vignetting discernibility. Vignetting is correctable during post-processing, with increased noise in the brightened areas 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 shown in our vignetting test tool to determine how your images will be affected.

Lateral (or transverse) CA (Chromatic Aberration) refers to the unequal magnification of all colors in the spectrum. 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 most significant amount as this is where the most significant 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. However, it is always better to avoid this aberration in the first place.

Color misalignment can be seen in the site's image quality tool, but let's also look at a set of worst-case examples. The geometric distortion-corrected images below are 100% crops from the extreme top left corner of Sony Alpha 1 frames showing diagonal black and white lines.

Sony FE 20-70mm F4 G Lens Lateral Chromatic Aberration Example

20mm | 24mm | 28mm | 35mm | 50mm | 70mm

Only black and white colors should be present in these images, with the additional colors indicating the presence of lateral CA. The color separation is moderate at the wide end and decreases to minor at 24mm through 50mm before increasing slightly at 70mm.

A relatively common lens aberration is axial (longitudinal, bokeh) CA, which causes non-coinciding focal planes of the various wavelengths of light. 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 observe. Axial CA remains somewhat persistent when stopping down, with the color misalignment effect increasing with defocusing. 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.

The examples below look at the defocused specular highlights' fringing colors in the foreground vs. the background. The lens has introduced any fringing color differences from the neutrally colored subjects.

Sony FE 20-70mm F4 G Lens Spherical and Axial Aberration Example

20mm | 24mm | 28mm | 35mm | 50mm | 70mm

The color separation shown here is minor, as expected from a high-quality f/4 lens.

Bright light reflecting off lens elements' surfaces may cause flare and ghosting, resulting in reduced contrast and sometimes interesting, usually destructive visual artifacts. The shape, intensity, and position of the flare and ghosting effects in an image are variable, dependent on the position and nature of the light source (or sources), selected aperture, shape of the aperture blades, and quantity and quality of the lens elements and their coatings. Additionally, flare and ghosting can impact AF performance.

Flare is a difficult and potentially time-consuming problem to resolve in post-processing, making flare avoidance an important aspect of a lens. This lens produced practically no flare effects in our standard sun in the corner of the frame flare test with a wide-open aperture. Narrow apertures tend to produce stronger flare effects, and the f/16 results show moderate flare effects.

Two lens aberrations are particularly evident in 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 that can be oriented either away from the center of the frame (external coma) or toward the center of the frame (internal coma). The 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). This aberration can produce stars appearing to have wings. Remember that Lateral CA is another aberration apparent in the corners.

The images below are 100% crops taken from the top-left corner of distortion-corrected a1 images captured at f/4.

Sony FE 20-70mm F4 G Lens Coma Example

From a relative standpoint, these results are not bad.

As alluded to, this lens has extreme barrel distortion at the wide end. The geometric distortion is so strong that Sony forces the correction in camera (EVF, LCD, JPG images, and movies), regardless of the lens corrections settings. Processing the distortion test images with correction disabled results in off-the-chart framing that shows the true image captured.

For reference, the squares in the test chart filled the viewfinder during capture. At 20mm, this lens has an uncorrected angle of view considerably wider than the corrected-to-20mm angle of view, and the straight line at the top of the chart is rendered as a strong curve. This lens's barrel distortion diminishes as the focal length is increased until transitioning into slight pincushion at 35mm and strong pincushion at 70mm.

Although today's distortion correction algorithms are good, geometric distortion correction requires stretching which is detrimental to image quality.

The following images illustrate the crop required for the 20mm geometric distortion correction. The view in the camera is similar to or slightly narrower than the crop-masked image area shown here.

Sony FE 20-70mm F4 G Lens Bokeh Example

Every lens is a compromise, with size, weight, price, image quality, and focal length range being common factors, and with increasing frequency, manufacturers are relying on software over physical lens design to manage geometric distortion. While severe distortion and the required crop factor is seen by most as a detriment to this lens, the offsetting factors are welcomed. Still, the distortion amount must be considered when comparing lenses, and an image captured from a non-distorted lens can be similarly up-sized to even higher resolution using the same AI, potentially giving it an advantage.

Note that the uncorrected results from 24-70mm are not so different than those of other Sony FE 24-something mm f/4 lenses. If you consider the 20-23mm range a bonus, the strong distortion seems less objectionable.

As seen earlier in the review, it is easy to illustrate the strongest blur a lens can create. Due to the infinite number of variables present among available scenes, assessing the bokeh quality is considerably more challenging. Here are some f/11 (for diaphragm blade interaction) examples.

Sony FE 20-70mm F4 G Lens Bokeh Example

20mm | 35mm | 70mm   20mm | 35mm | 70mm

The first set of examples shows defocused highlights, and ultra-wide-angle focal lengths tend to produce rather ugly ones as seen here. The longer focal length results appear normal, though is a slight blob in the center of the circles.

The second 20mm example, a 100% crop from an image captured outdoors, looks nice. The second 35mm and 70mm examples show full images reduced in size and looking nice.

Except for a small number of specialty lenses, the wide aperture bokeh in the frame's corner 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 frame's corner, the shape is not round. That is the shape we're looking at here.

The 20mm, 24mm, and 28mm examples below are top-left quadrants, and the longer results are full images.

Sony FE 20-70mm F4 G Lens Cat's Eye Bokeh Example

20mm | 24mm | 28mm | 35mm | 50mm | 70mm

As the aperture narrows, the entrance pupil size is reduced, and the mechanical vignetting diminishes, making the corner shapes rounder.

A 9-blade count diaphragm will create 18-point sunstars (diffraction spikes) from point light sources captured with a narrow aperture. Generally, the more a lens diaphragm is stopped down, the larger and better shaped the sunstars tend to be. The examples below were captured at f/16.

Sony FE 20-70mm F4 G Lens Sunstar Effect Example

While a moderately wide max aperture lens does not afford much stopping down before reaching apertures where diffraction causes noticeable softening of details, and these lenses do not usually produce the biggest or best-shaped sunstars. However, the aperture is closed enough at 20mm to create excellent star effects. At 70mm, the spikes are not as precisely defined.

Sony FE 20-70mm F4 G Lens Design

The design of this lens is illustrated above. "Two AA (advanced aspherical) elements and three ED (Extra-low Dispersion) glass elements simultaneously correct chromatic and spherical aberration for extremely high optical performance right out to the image edges." [Sony]

Except for having extreme barrel distortion at the wide end of the focal length range, the Sony FE 20-70mm F4 G Lens is optically a great performer. The corrected 20mm corners are modestly soft, but otherwise, this lens produces sharp images.

Sony FE 20-70mm F4 G Lens Side View with Hood

Focusing

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With dual XD Linear motors driving AF, the FE 20-70mm F4 G smoothly and accurately focuses fast.

Sony FE 20-70mm F4 G Lens Dual XD Linear AF

Only faint buzzing is heard during long focus distance changes.

Wide aperture lenses rule for low light work, but a Sony a1 will focus this lens on reasonable contrast in rather dark conditions.

Non-cinema lenses usually require refocusing after a focal length change, and as illustrated in the 100% crops below, the reviewed lens does not exhibit parfocal-like characteristics. When focused at 70mm, zooming to wider focal lengths results in focus blur.

Sony FE 20-70mm F4 G Lens Parfocal Example

70mm | 50mm | 35mm | 28mm | 24mm | 20mm

If you adjust the focal length, re-establish focus. This rule usually applies. It seems that Sony could electronically adjust the focus distance during the focal length adjustment.

Two customizable AF hold buttons are provided for easy thumb access when shooting in horizontal and vertical orientation. With the camera set to continuous focus mode, press AFL to lock focus at the currently selected focus distance, permitting a focus and recompose technique. These buttons also act as custom buttons and can be programmed to another function using the camera's menu.

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

Sony FE 20-70mm F4 G Lens Side Extended View with Hood

A low-profile AF/MF switch is provided. While having a switch is a great advantage over the alternative, this switch is recessed enough that it is modestly difficult to use without gloves and quite difficult to use when wearing gloves.

The FE 20-70 F4 G has a ribbed-rubber-covered focus ring nicely positioned toward the front of the lens. As hinted by the "Linear" in the AF motor type, manual focus is linearly adjusted, ideal for video recording and for rocking perfect focus when capturing still photos. With about 150° of rotation creating a full extent distance adjustment, the rate of change is excellent at wide focal lengths and a bit fast at long ones.

The MF ring lacks resistance, and I sometimes find it turning slightly when I lift my fingers from the ring at 70mm, where the adjustment rate seems fast.

Sony FE 20-70mm F4 G Lens Extended Top View

It is normal for the scene to change size in the frame (sometimes significantly) as the focus is pulled from one extent to the other. This effect is focus breathing, a change in focal length resulting from a change in focus distance. Focus breathing impacts photographers intending to use focus stacking techniques, videographers pulling focus (without movement to camouflage the effect), and anyone critically framing while adjusting focus.

Sony FE 20-70mm F4 G Lens Focus Magnification Example

20mm: Far | Close   35mm: Far | Close
70mm: Far | Close

This lens produces a modest change in subject size through a full-extent focus distance adjustment, with slightly less change seen at 70mm.

This lens has a minimum focus distance of 11.8" (300mm), and at 70mm, it generates a significant 0.39x maximum magnification spec.

ModelMin Focus Distance "(mm)Max Magnification
Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 DG DN Art Lens7.1(180)0.34x
Sigma 28-70mm F2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens7.5(190)0.22x
Sony FE 20-70mm F4 G Lens11.8(300)0.39x
Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Lens8.3(210)0.32x
Sony FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS Lens15.7(400)0.20x
Sony FE 24-105mm F4 G OSS Lens15.0(380)0.31x
Sony FE 24-240mm F3.5-6.3 OSS Lens19.7(500)0.27x
Sony FE 28-60mm F4-5.6 Lens11.8(300)0.16x
Sony FE 28-70mm F3.5-5.6 OSS Lens11.8(300)0.19x
Tamron 20-40mm f/2.8 Di III VXD Lens6.7(170)0.26x
Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III VXD G2 Lens7.1(180)0.37x

At 20mm, a subject measuring approximately 8.9 x 5.9" (226 x 151mm) fills a full-frame imaging sensor at this lens's minimum MF distance. At 70mm, a 3.2 x 2.1" (81 x 54mm) subject does the same.

Sony FE 20-70mm F4 G Lens Focus Magnification Example

The USPS love stamps shared above have an image area that measures 1.05 x 0.77" (26.67 x 19.558mm), and the overall individual stamp size is 1.19 x 0.91" (30.226 x 23.114mm).

While this lens produces sharp center of the frame details at minimum focus distance with a wide-open aperture, expect the image periphery to be soft due to field curvature. F/11 brings on increased depth of field that provides significant improvement in corner image quality — f/11 corners are nice.

Need a shorter minimum focus distance and higher magnification? Mount an extension tube behind this lens to significantly decrease and increase those respective numbers. Extension tubes are hollow lens barrels that shift a lens farther from the camera, allowing shorter focusing distances at the expense of long-distance focusing. Electronic connections in extension tubes permit the lens and camera to communicate and function normally. As of review time, Sony does not publish extension tube specs or manufacture these items, but third-party Sony-compatible extension tubes are available.

This lens is not compatible with Sony teleconverters.

Sony FE 20-70mm F4 G Lens Extended Top View with Hood

Design & Features

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As usual for a Sony "G" lens, the FE 20-70mm F4 G lens is nicely designed and built.

Sony FE 20-70mm F4 G Lens Product Images

MFD |    MFD |    w/ Hood:  MFD |    MFD |    Rotated   Compare »

Normal for this class is to use an extending design, and the FE 20-70 extends as the focal length is increased until reaching the full 1.5" (39mm) extension at 70mm. The fully extended lens barrel has minimal play.

As mentioned, the AF/MF switch is recessed, making it hard to inadvertently change and harder to intentionally change it, especially with gloves on. The aperture ring switches are also nicely recessed and integrated into the design.

Sony FE 20-70mm F4 G Lens Mount

This lens design features dust and moisture resistance. I took advantage of that feature, spending an afternoon shooting in light rain in Baltimore.

Sony FE 20-70mm F4 G Lens Weather Sealing

The front lens element features a fluorine coating that repels fingerprints, dust, water, oil, and other contaminants, and makes cleaning considerably easier.

The Sony FE 20-70mm F4 G is a compact, lightweight lens that is easy to carry and use for long periods.

ModelWeight oz(g)Dimensions w/o Hood "(mm)FilterYear 
Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 DG DN Art Lens29.5(835)3.5 x 4.8(87.8 x 122.9)822019
Sigma 28-70mm F2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens16.6(470)2.8 x 4.0(72.2 x 101.5)672021
Sony FE 20-70mm F4 G Lens17.2(488)3.1 x 3.9(78.7 x 99.0)722023
Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Lens24.5(695)3.5 x 4.7(87.8 x 119.9)822022
Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM Lens31.3(886)3.4 x 5.4(87.6 x 136.0)822016
Sony FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS Lens15.2(430)2.9 x 3.7(73.0 x 94.5)672014
Sony FE 24-105mm F4 G OSS Lens23.4(663)3.3 x 4.5(83.4 x 113.3)772017
Sony FE 24-240mm F3.5-6.3 OSS Lens27.5(780)3.2 x 4.7(80.5 x 118.5)722015
Sony FE 28-60mm F4-5.6 Lens5.9(167)2.6 x 1.8(66.6 x 45.0)40.52020
Sony FE 28-70mm F3.5-5.6 OSS Lens10.4(295)2.9 x 3.3(72.5 x 83.0)552013
Tamron 20-40mm f/2.8 Di III VXD Lens12.9(365)2.9 x 3.4(74.4 x 86.5)672022
Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III VXD G2 Lens19.1(540)3.0 x 4.6(75.8 x 117.6)672021

For many more comparisons, review the complete Sony FE 20-70mm F4 G Lens Specifications using the site's lens specifications tool.

Here is a visual comparison:

Sony FE 20-70mm F4 G Lens Compared to Similar Lenses

Positioned above from left to right are the following lenses:

Sony FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS Lens
Sony FE 20-70mm F4 G Lens
Sony FE 24-105mm F4 G OSS Lens
Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Lens

The same lenses are shown below with their hoods in place.

Sony FE 20-70mm F4 G Lens Compared to Similar Lenses with Hoods

Basically, the 20-70 gains 4mm on the wide end with only a small increase in size over the 24-70mm F4. Use the site's product image comparison tool to visually compare the Sony FE 20-70mm F4 G Lens to other lenses.

Sony FE 20-70mm F4 G Lens Front View on Camera

This lens uses common, mid-sized 72mm filters. A standard-thickness circular polarizer filter does not increase peripheral shading at 20mm with full distortion correction enabled. Still, a slim model such as the Breakthrough Photography X4 is recommended.

Sony FE 20-70mm F4 G Lens Angle View Extended with Hood

The Sony ALC-SH174 Lens Hood is included in the box. This hood's semi-rigid, plastic build will absorb some impact, providing physical protection to the camera and lens from bumps, and helping to keep dust, water, fingers, limbs, etc., and flare-inducing bright light off of the glass.

The EW-83P's petal shape is optimized for maximum protection, but hoods must be sized for the wide end of zoom lenses that increase in length with focal length. Another advantage of the petal shape is easier installation alignment (align the small petal to the top), though a round-shaped hood enables the lens to better stand on its hood. The petal shape also looks cool. This hood's interior has a matte finish for reduced internal reflections.

Sony FE 20-70mm F4 G Lens Case

Sony includes a soft pouch in the box.

Sony FE 20-70mm F4 G Lens Cap

Price, Value, Wrap Up

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While this lens is not cheap, it seems a good value for an f/4 G zoom lens, especially with the unique 20-70mm focal length range. I call the FE 20-70mm F4 G a good value.

As an "FE" lens, the Sony FE 20-70mm F4 G Lens is compatible with all Sony E-mount cameras, including full-frame and APS-C sensor format models. Sony provides a 1-year limited warranty.

The reviewed Sony FE 20-70mm F4 G Lens was online-retail sourced.

Sony FE 20-70mm F4 G Lens Angle View with Hood

Alternatives

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I always like to compare a lens to its predecessor, highlighting the performance and feature upgrades. A lens with a new focal length range seems to not have a direct predecessor, but the Sony FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS Lens is the one I'll deem that.

The image quality comparison shows the 20-70mm lens considerably sharper than the 24-70. The 24-70 has stronger peripheral shading at 24mm and shows slightly fewer flare effects at most focal lengths, likely due to having fewer lens elements (12 vs. 16). While the 20-70 has extreme barrel distortion at 20mm, it has less geometric distortion than the 24-70 at equivalent focal lengths.

The Sony FE 20-70mm F4 G Lens vs. Sony FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS Lens comparison shows the 24-70 slightly smaller and slightly lighter. The 20-70 has a better AF system, a 9-blade iris vs. 7, uses 72mm filters vs. 67mm, and has a 0.39x maximum magnification vs. 0.20x. The 24-70 is less expensive, but I recommend getting the newer lens, the Sony FE 20-70mm F4 G.

Sony's other f/4 general-purpose lens is the FE 24-105mm F4 G OSS Lens. This lens does not zoom out to match the 20mm angle of view, but it has the advantage on the other end, and the focal length difference is the biggest between these two lenses.

The image quality comparison shows the two lenses performing similarly at equal focal lengths. The 20-70 has a slight sharpness advantage at the longer shared focal lengths. The 24-105 has slightly stronger peripheral shading at 24mm.

The Sony FE 20-70mm F4 G Lens vs. Sony FE 24-105mm F4 G OSS Lens comparison shows the 24-105 noticeably larger and heavier. The 20-70 uses 72mm filters vs. 77mm and has a 0.39x maximum magnification vs. 0.31x. The 24-105 has optical image stabilization and is modestly more expensive.

Use the site's tools to create additional comparisons.

Sony FE 20-70mm F4 G Lens Top View with Hood

Summary

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There are many Sony FE 20-70mm F4 G Lens attributes to love, but I'll get this lens's primary deficit out of the way first. The barrel distortion at the wide end is extreme and requires correction, which requires the image to be cropped and then upsized using AI. By 24mm, the distortion is considerably diminished, with this lens competing strongly with 24-70mm variants.

Otherwise, the 20-70mm focal length range is excellent, sometimes allowing one less lens in the bag. The uncorrected image quality is excellent, and even the corrected 20mm corners are not bad.

The 20-70mm F4 G is compact and lightweight, making it a pleasure to hold and use, even for hours at a time. Weather resistance means that a little rain won't ruin the day.

The affordable price makes the Sony FE 20-70mm F4 G Lens a solid choice for a general-purpose lens.

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Sony FE 20-70mm F4 G Lens
Sony FE 20-70mm F4 G Lens
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