Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Lens Review

Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Lens

Let me introduce you to Sony's 67th E-mount lens, 47th full-frame E-mount option, and 16th member of the G Master line-up, the Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Lens. As clearly delineated by the II, this lens is the successor to the Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM Lens, with the version I lens, at least at review time, remaining in the line-up at an attractively lower price.

Version II products always bring improvements, and one of this lens's most significant improvements is an 18% reduction in volume, 11% reduction in length, and 22% lighter weight, dropping 6.8 oz (193 g). World records are always fun, and those reductions give the FE 24-70 II title to the world's smallest and lightest 24-70mm standard zoom AF lens.

Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM I vs. II Lens

The new features do not stop with size and weight reduction and include improved image quality and a higher-performing AF system.

The extreme utility of a 24-70mm F2.8 lens makes it a most-used lens in the stills and video kit, and the small size, light weight, and outstanding image quality make the Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Lens option available.

Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Lens Top View

Focal Length Range

The focal length range is the first aspect to consider for zoom lens selection. Focal length drives subject distance choices, which determine perspective.

Covering wide-angle through normal and on to short telephoto angles of view, the 24-70mm focal length range comfortably covers the needed range for a general-purpose lens. This focal length range is ideal for a standard do-everything lens.

Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Lens Landscape Sample Picture

A 24-70mm lens is essential for most landscape and cityscape photography kits. At the 24mm end, this lens provides a very wide angle of view, showing a strong perspective and creating a sense of presence in an image. Still, 24mm is not so wide as to create compositional challenges.

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

A 24-70mm lens is often a requirement in a wedding photographer's kit, and an f/2.8 version of this lens often becomes the most-used lens in the kit. Capture environmental portraits that include the venue at 24mm 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.

Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Lens Architecture Sample Picture

While architecture photographers are typically looking for linear-distortion-free lenses to keep their buildings and walls straight and zoom lenses nearly always have some distortion at most focal lengths, this lens has ideal angles of view for such work. Using the lowest distortion focal length (around 28mm) takes care of the distortion problem, as does removal during post-processing.

Sports photographers getting close to their subjects (such as basketball shot from over or under the net) or wanting to capture a wider/environmental view of their events appreciate this focal length range. 24-70mm nicely complements a 70-200mm lens for sports uses.

Product photography is on its capabilities list, especially with this lens's high maximum magnification spec. With an f/2.8 aperture, the milky way and night sky are viable subjects.

I'm barely digging into the list of uses for this lens, but hopefully, your list is started.

Here is a focal length range illustration borrowed from a different lens review.

Canon RF 24-70mm F2.8 L IS USM Lens Focal Length Range Example

24mm | 35mm | 50mm | 70mm
24mm | 35mm | 50mm | 70mm

See the entire room at 24mm or only a couple of booths at 70mm — from a distance facilitating easy verbal communication. Make the mountain a backdrop, or make it large in the frame.

This lens has an ideal focal length range for videography needs, and many other Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Lens features complement this use.

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 24-70mm range providing a 36-105mm full-frame angle of view equivalent. This angle of view range has greater value for portraiture while foregoing some of the best landscape angles.

Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Lens Front View

Max Aperture

The lower the aperture number, the wider the opening, and the more light the lens can allow to reach the imaging sensor. Each "stop" in aperture change (full stop examples: f/1.4, f/2.0, f/2.8, f/4.0) increases or decreases the amount of light by a factor of 2x (a substantial amount).

The additional light provided by wider aperture lenses permits freezing action and handholding the camera in lower light levels and allows lower (less noisy) ISO settings. In addition, 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 critical is the improved low light AF performance availed by a wide-aperture lens.

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

Because the aperture is measured as a ratio of lens opening to focal length, the focal length must be considered when assessing how wide a lens's aperture can open. At 600mm, f/4 is a massive opening. In a 24-70mm zoom lens, f/2.8 is very wide, with only the Canon RF 28-70mm F2 L USM Zoom Lens surpassing this opening throughout this focal length range — though this lens does not reach out to 24mm. Among the prime lenses covering the available focal lengths, few do not open to at least f/2.8, and some open to f/1.4 or f/1.2.

Again, f/2.8 is very wide for a zoom lens. While this lens is expensive (comparable to the Canon alternative), it side-steps the negative size and weight aspects often associated with the wide aperture.

When recording video, only 1/60 second shutter speeds (twice the framerate) are 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. Note that the new aperture drive unit featured in this lens contributes to quieter operation, another positive aspect for video capture.

Most will appreciate this lens's constant max aperture, enabling f/2.8 throughout the focal length range.

24mm does not create a strong background blur, though this lens's close minimum focus distance will aid in that respect. At 70mm, the f/2.8 aperture provides a nice blur strength, especially when focused close with a distant background.

Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Lens Maximum Blur Example

Here are maximum blur examples created at the marked focal lengths

Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Lens Maximum Blur Example

24mm | 35mm | 50mm | 70mm

Manual aperture rings have migrated to Sony FE full-frame zoom lenses. As usual for Sony FE GM and G prime lenses, the Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Zoom Lens, like the Sony FE PZ 16-35mm F4 G Zoom Lens, features an aperture ring, permitting a manually selected aperture. With the ring in the A (Auto) position, the camera controls the aperture setting. 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.

Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Lens Aperture Ring

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 FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Lens Side View with Hood

Image Stabilization

The Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II 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 a very 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 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Lens

Image Quality

During a media call with Sony, the Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Lens's image quality was indicated to be superior to the version I lens.

Looking at the MTF charts, I see the II's 24mm f/2.8 center of the image circle performance slightly improved, with this lens's tangential and radial values staying closer to each other in the corners — approx. 70 and 70 vs. 50 and 85 for the 30 line pairs/mm that most magnify the difference). The better tangential and radial line alignment likely indicates reduced astigmatism.

At 24mm f/8, the two lenses are more similar, but the version II lens's T line flattens toward the right side (approx. 75 vs. 55), suggesting improved corner performance.

A greater differential is found at 70mm f/2.8, where the version I lens shows more need for improvement. The version II lens was expected to produce sharper results. At 70mm f/8, the version II lens should show slightly improved mid-frame performance and perhaps slightly more extreme corner astigmatism than the version I lens.

Here is the Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM I vs. II Lens MTF chart comparison. Note that the II's charts were resized to match the I's charts, and very slight dimension differences may be present.

Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Lens MTF Chart Comparison

MTF (Modulation Transfer Function) describes how well a lens can reproduce fine details, measured as the degree of contrast achieved between finely spaced lines.

In the studio, the Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Lens surpassed expectations, handily besting the version I lens (discern the camera resolution difference). The II is considerably sharper at the long end of the range.

With a wide-open f/2.8 aperture, the Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Lens delivers very sharp image quality in the center of the frame throughout the entire focal length range. Mid-frame performance is very close to that of the center of the frame, and stopping down the aperture results in little image quality improvement (none is needed).

Often, subjects are not placed in the center of a composition, and moving farther out on the image circle, where light rays are refracted to a stronger angle than in the center, lenses typically show decreased sharpness. Fortunately, the degradation seen in this lens's imagery is quite low, with corner performance remaining quite good even at f/2.8.

The resolution chart is brutal/merciless on image quality, so let's take the testing outdoors, next looking 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 too-high sharpness settings are destructive to image details and hide the deficiencies of a lens.

Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Lens Sharpness Comparison Example

24mm: f/2.8 | f/4.0   f/2.8 | f/4.0
35mm: f/2.8 | f/4.0   f/2.8 | f/4.0
50mm: f/2.8 | f/4.0   f/2.8 | f/4.0
70mm: f/2.8 | f/4.0   f/2.8 | f/4.0

The results shared above reiterate what we saw in the testing, sharpness that is sure to bring a smile to your face.

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. The lens was manually focused in the corner of the frame to capture these images.

Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Lens Corner Sharpness Comparison Example

24mm: 2.8 | 4.0 | 5.6   2.8 | 4.0 | 5.6   2.8 | 4.0 | 5.6
35mm: 2.8 | 4.0 | 5.6   2.8 | 4.0 | 5.6   2.8 | 4.0 | 5.6
50mm: 2.8 | 4.0 | 5.6   2.8 | 4.0 | 5.6   2.8 | 4.0 | 5.6
70mm: 2.8 | 4.0 | 5.6   2.8 | 4.0 | 5.6   2.8 | 4.0 | 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. While the extreme corner of the frame results will not be confused with the center of the frame results, these results are quite good for this lens class.

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). Many modern lenses automatically correct for focus shift, though focus breathing (more later) can create slight angle of view changes.

When used on a camera that utilizes a lens's entire image circle, a lens can be expected to create peripheral shading at the widest aperture settings. This shading can be seen in the above f/2.8 examples and seen clearing in the f/4 and f/5.6 results.

At f/2.8, expect about 2.5 stops of corner shading. Vignetting decreases a bit at longer focal lengths — figure between 1.5 and 2 stops throughout the mid and long range. Stop down one stop to impart nearly one stop of corner shading reduction. Little shading reduction is realized beyond f/4. At narrower apertures, about 1 stop of vignetting remains in the 24mm corners, with a slowly decreasing amount at longer focal lengths.

APS-C format cameras using lenses projecting a full-frame-sized image circle avoid most vignetting problems. In this case, the just over 1/2 stop of corner shading showing at 24mm f/2.8 will seldom be noticeable.

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 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 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 images below are 100% crops from the extreme top left corner of Alpha 1 frames showing diagonal black and white lines.

Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Lens Lateral Chromatic Aberration Example

24mm | 35mm | 50mm | 70mm

Only black and white colors should appear in these images, with the additional colors indicating the presence of lateral CA. The focal length extents of a zoom lens tend to show the strongest color separation, and this 24mm result shows a modest amount. The lateral CA amount diminishes as the focal length increases, with the 50mm results appearing clear of color separation. A touch of lateral CA moves back in by 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 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Lens Spherical and Axial Aberration Example

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

The 24-35mm results shared above show little color separation. At 50mm, colors begin to show, and at 70mm, the color separation becomes modestly strong for a lens of this caliber.

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 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.

Sony utilizes Nano AR Coating II to combat flare and ghosting from this lens.

With a wide-open aperture, this lens produced few flare effects in our standard sun in the corner of the frame flare test. As usual, narrow apertures result in stronger flaring. Still, this lens's test results are in line with or better than those from the other most recently introduced lenses in this class.

Flare effects can be embraced or avoided, or removal can be attempted. Removal is sometimes very challenging, and in some cases, flare effects can be quite destructive to image quality. Thus, high flare resistance is a welcomed trait of this lens.

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 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). 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 A1 images captured at f/2.8.

Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Lens Coma Example

24mm | 40mm | 70mm

While the stars in these images are not perfectly sharp circles, they are good from a comparison standpoint.

This is a standard zoom lens, and the usual standard zoom lens geometric distortion description holds true. This lens has barrel distortion at the wide end, transitions into negligible distortion (at just wider than 28mm), and pincushion distortion at the long end. The barrel distortion at 24mm and pincushion distortion at 70mm are moderate but quite good for the lens class.

Most modern lenses have correction profiles available (including in-camera), and distortion can easily be removed using these. Still, distortion correction is destructive at the pixel level as some portion of the image must be stretched or the overall dimensions reduced. Thus, low geometric distortion is preferred.

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 all available scenes, assessing the bokeh quality is considerably more challenging. Here are some f/11 (for diaphragm blade interaction) examples.

Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Lens Bokeh Example

24mm | 40mm | 70mm   24mm | 35mm | 50mm | 70mm

The first example shows relatively round defocused highlights filled reasonably smoothly. The second set of examples shows full images reduced in size and looking very nice, as usual.

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.

Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Lens Cat's Eye Bokeh Example

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

While the 24mm extreme corner shapes show strong truncation, the corner shapes rendered at other focal lengths are quite round. As the aperture narrows, the entrance pupil size is reduced, and the mechanical vignetting absolves, making the shapes becoming rounder.

An 11-blade count diaphragm will create 22-point sunstars (diffraction spikes) from point light sources captured with a narrow aperture. In general, the more a lens diaphragm is stopped down, the larger and better-shaped the sunstars tend to be. Wide aperture lenses tend to have an advantage in this regard, and this lens is capable of producing beautiful stars, as illustrated below.

Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Lens Sunstar Effect Example

The example above was captured at f/16.

The design of this lens is illustrated below.

Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Lens Design

[1] Extreme aspherical lens (XA) lens [2] Aspherical lens [3] Super ED glass [4] ED (extra-low dispersion) glass

The Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Lens's optical design features a best-of-the-best set of elements. Three aspherical lens elements minimize aberrations. Two XA (Extreme Aspherical) lens elements, manufactured to 0.01-micron surface precision, control distance-related aberration variations and suppress onion ring bokeh. Two ED (Extra-low Dispersion) and two Super ED glass lens elements suppress chromatic aberration.

It is not a stretch to expect a newly launched Sony GM lens to bring the best image quality ever seen in that Sony lens class, but the margin by which this lens optically surpasses the only 6-year-older predecessor is remarkable.

Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Lens on Tripod

Focusing

Quad XD (extreme dynamic) Linear Motors drive AF for the Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Lens. Dual XD motors are assigned to each of the front and rear floating focus groups, driving very fast yet smooth and quiet AF optimized for video needs.

"Tenacious, reliable AF can smoothly track subjects while shooting high frame rate photos or movies." [Sony]

This lens offers high tracking performance even at 30 fps while zooming, with tracking performance while zooming improved by approximately 2x over the version I lens.

Especially with the wide f/2.8 aperture, this lens focuses in very dark environments when adequate subject contrast is available. As usual, AF becomes very slow when light levels drop.

Sony's FE lenses, including this one, consistently focus accurately, the number one requirement of an AF system.

This is an internally focusing lens.

Remember that (at least some) cameras, including the Sony Alpha 1, defocus the image slightly before final focusing in AF-S mode, even if the subject was initially in focus. This process adds significantly to the focus lock time. However, this lens focuses fast enough to significantly reduce this lock time issue.

A pair of customizable AF hold buttons are provided. With the camera set to continuous focus mode, press an AF hold button to lock focus at the currently selected focus distance, permitting a focus and recompose technique. These buttons also act as custom buttons, programmable to other functions via the camera's menu.

FTM (Full Time Manual) focusing is supported via Sony's DMF (Direct Manual Focus) AF mode with the shutter release half-pressed or the AF-ON button pressed. This lens has an AF/MF switch, allowing this frequently used camera setting to be changed without accessing the menu system.

The Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Lens has a fine-sharp-ribbed rubberized focus ring ideally positioned forward of the zoom ring. This ring is significant in size and raised slightly from the lens barrel behind it, making it easy to find.

The focus ring turns smoothly, has a light amount of resistance with no play, and the 70° of MF rotation adjusts focusing at an ideal rate, allowing precise manual focusing even at close distances. This is a linear response MF ring, with marks able to be established and repeatedly hit.

Overall, this lens provides a high-quality manual focus experience.

Normal is for the scene to change size in the frame (sometimes significantly) as the focus is pulled from one extent to the other. This 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, and anyone critically framing while adjusting focus.

While Sony promotes this lens as having a minimal change in subject size through a full extent focus distance adjustment, I see a normal, modest amount of subject size change.

Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Lens Focus Magnification Example

24mm: Far | Close   70mm: Far | Close

Unusual for a non-cinema lens is for accurate focus to be maintained throughout the zoom range without refocusing. Per Sony, this lens is optimized in this regard. With computer-controlled focusing, it seems that nailing this feature would be easy.

Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Lens Parfocal Example

70mm | 50mm | 35mm | 24mm

As illustrated in the 100% crops above, the reviewed lens does not exhibit parfocal-like characteristics. When focused at 70mm, zooming to wider focal lengths results in focus blur.

Here are more Sony lens advantages for video:

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.

This lens has a 24mm minimum focus distance of 8.3" (210mm), and the spec distance lengthens slightly to 11.8" (300mm) by 70mm, where it produces a 0.32x maximum magnification spec. While that maximum magnification number is remarkably high, it aligns with the closest current Canon, Nikon, Sigma, and Tamron lens alternatives.

ModelMFDMM
Canon RF 24-70mm F2.8 L IS USM Lens8.3"(210mm)0.30x
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8E AF-S VR Lens15.0"(380mm)0.28x
Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 DG DN Art Lens7.1"(180mm)0.34x
Sigma 28-70mm F2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens7.5"(190mm)0.22x
Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Lens8.3"(210mm)0.32x
Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM Lens15.0"(380mm)0.24x
Sony FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS Lens15.7"(400mm)0.20x
Sony FE 24-105mm F4 G OSS Lens15.0"(380mm)0.31x
Sony FE 28-60mm F4-5.6 Lens11.8"(300mm)0.16x
Sony FE 28-70mm F3.5-5.6 OSS Lens11.8"(300mm)0.19x
Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III VXD G2 Lens7.1"(180mm)0.37x

At 24mm, a subject measuring approximately 5.9 x 3.9" (150 x 100mm) fills a full-frame imaging sensor at this lens's minimum focus distance. At 70mm, a 4 x 2.7" (102 x 68mm) subject does the same.

Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Lens Maximum 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).

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 otherwise 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 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Lens Extended Top View with Hood

Build Quality & Features

The "GM" in the moniker reflects the Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Lens's membership in the Grand Master lens series, representing Sony's best-available lenses. These lenses feature professional-grade build quality, ready for the rigors of daily use.

Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Lens Product Images

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

The Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Lens features a hybrid metal and engineering plastic construction for high durability, high precision, and light weight. This lens extends modestly (1.22", 31.1mm) as the focal length is increased to 70mm.

Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Lens Smooth Tight Switch

A new feature found on this lens is a two-position Zoom Smoothness switch, offering the choice of Smooth or Tight zoom ring resistance/torque settings. In the smooth setting, the zoom ring turns easily, but the lens does not gravity extend. The tight setting requires considerably more effort to turn, but this setting remains usable while ensuring that gravity extension or retraction does not occur

The Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Lens features "An updated dust and moisture-resistant design provides extra reliability for outdoor use in challenging conditions." [Sony]

Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Lens Mount

All seams are sealed, the buttons and switches have silicone rubber gaskets, and a rubber ring seals the lens mount.

Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Lens Weather Sealing

The front lens element is fluorine coating to avoid dirt and moisture adhesion and greatly facilitate cleaning.

The FE 24-70mm version I lens's size and weight were not out of line for the class, but the version II lens drops considerable size and weight, falling under all of the direct alternatives, garnering the record. The Sigma 28-70mm F2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens and Tamron 28-75mm Di III VXD G2 Lens, sharing most of the zoom range, are smaller and lighter, requiring a narrowly defined claimed record.

For those carrying this lens for significant periods, the smaller size and lighter weight alone will be worth the update from the version I lens.

ModelWeight oz(g)Dimensions w/o Hood "(mm)FilterYear 
Canon RF 24-70mm F2.8 L IS USM Lens31.8(900)3.5 x 4.9(88.5 x 125.7)822019
Nikon Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S Lens28.4(805)3.5 x 5.0(89.0 x 126.0)822019
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 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 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 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 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Lens Specifications using the site's lens specifications tool.

Sony notes that this lens's overall balance remains constant for gimbal or drone-mounted movie recording. With the amount of length extension at 70mm, it is surprising how little the balance changes.

I find the joints of my fingers against the barrel of this lens when tightly gripping the Sony Alpha 1.

Here is a visual comparison:

Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Lens Compared to Similar Lenses

Positioned above from left to right are the following lenses:

Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III VXD G2 Lens
Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Lens
Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 DG DN Art Lens
Canon RF 24-70mm F2.8 L IS USM Lens

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

Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Lens Compared to Similar Lenses with Hoods

Use the site's product image comparison tool to visually compare the Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Lens to other lenses.

All of the major brand 24-70mm f/2.8 lenses, including this one, have 82mm filter threads. Surely there is a good reason for that, but I find this is a favorable design aspect. While 82mm filters are not small, light, or inexpensive, many lenses in the kit share this size, and most of those that do not have 82mm threads can be adapted to 82mm via step-up filter adapter rings. I generally have a circular polarizer filter along for each lens, but with multiple densities often desired for neutral density filters, I usually carry only an 82mm set along with step-up rings.

A standard thickness circular polarizer filter will increase peripheral shading from this lens at the wider focal lengths. Therefore, a slim model such as the Breakthrough Photography X4 is highly recommended.

Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Lens Angle View with Hood Window Open

The Sony ALC-SH168 Lens Hood ships with the FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Lens. A new feature for this lens class is this hood's operable window, facilitating circular polarizer and variable ND filter adjustment.

Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II ALC-SH168 Lens Hood

As usual, I find it difficult to rotate a filter through the small window.

The ALC-SH168's petal shape is optimized to block as much light outside the utilized image circle as possible. As zoom lens hoods must be tuned for the wide end of the zoom range, less than optimal protection is afforded at the long end. Still, this hood offers reasonable front element protection from dust, water, fingers, limbs, etc., and from flare-inducing bright light.

The petal shape also looks cool, and an advantage of this hood shape is easier installation alignment (align the small petal to the top), though a round-shaped hood enables the lens to stand on its hood better. The interior is flocked for reduced internal reflections.

The ALC-SH168's semi-rigid plastic build absorbs some impact, adding a layer of physical protection to the camera and lens.

Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Lens Case

Sony provides a soft case in the box.

Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Lens Cap

The caps, of course, are included.

Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Lens Side View

Price, Value, Wrap Up

The Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Lens is Sony's best professional-grade general-purpose zoom lens to date, and unsurprisingly, it is relatively expensive. Perhaps more surprising is that the version II lens costs only modestly more than the version I's list price.

The Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Lens will see a high percentage of camera-mounted time and will be used to capture a significant share of images. As the lens is often the limiting factor for image quality, selecting the highest quality general-purpose lens available makes perfect sense, even if it is expensive. The image quality produced by this lens will affect a great percentage of images. The price tag will be a barrier for some, but serious photographers will not hesitate to spend this much for their most-used lens.

As an "FE" lens, the Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II 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 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Lens was purchased online/retail.

Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Lens Angle View

Alternatives to the Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Lens

The closest alternative to the Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Lens is its predecessor, the Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM Lens. I'll make this easy: unless the version II lens is absolutely not affordable, get the version II lens.

In the image quality comparison, the version II lens outperforms the version I lens, especially at the long end. The newer lens has slightly less linear distortion and controls flare slightly better.

The Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Lens vs. Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM Lens comparison at f/2.8 shows the new lens is 18% smaller in volume, measuring 11% shorter and 22% lighter, weighing 6.8 oz (193 g) less. The version II lens picked up two additional aperture blades, 11 vs. 9. The version II lens features a higher-performing AF system driven by Quad XD Linear motors vs. SSM, and it focuses closer for a higher maximum magnification of 0.32x vs. 0.24x.

The list price difference between the two lenses is $100.00 in the USA but promotions will likely impact the street price difference until the version I lens becomes unavailable. Get the II.

The Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 DG DN Art Lens matches the primary specifications and is available for the Sony E-mount.

In the image quality comparison at f/2.8, the Sigma lens competes strongly at 24mm. As the focal length increases, the Sony lens takes the advantage in the mid and peripheral areas, and by 70mm, the Sony lens is also sharper in the center of the frame. The Sigma lens has stronger barrel distortion at the wide end.

The Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Lens vs. Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 DG DN Art Lens comparison shows the two lenses competing closely. The Sigma lens weighs slightly more, 29.5 vs. 24.5 oz (835 vs. 695 g), and measures slightly longer. That the Sigma lens costs less than half as much as the Sony lens is a significant differentiator.

The Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III VXD G2 Lens provides an interesting comparison.

In the image quality comparison at f/2.8, the Tamron lens tested slightly sharper in the periphery, but the Sony lens comes back to win the rest of the focal length comparisons, notably by producing less lateral CA. The Tamron lens has slightly stronger vignetting at f/2.8 and stronger pincushion distortion in the longer half of the focal length range.

The Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Lens vs. Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III VXD G2 Lens comparison shows the Tamron lens 5.4 oz (155 g) lighter, 0.5" (12mm) narrower, and extending 0.6" (15mm) less. The Sony lens has 11 aperture blades vs. 9 and 82mm filter threads vs. 67mm. The Tamron lens takes the maximum magnification avantage, 0.37x vs. 0.32x.

The Sony lens's 24mm focal length has a considerably wider angle of view than the Tamron's widest 28mm option, while the Tamron's 75mm telephoto capability is slightly narrower than 70mm. None will miss the Tamron lens's dramatically lower price tag.

Sigma also has a 28-something mm lens, the 28-70mm F2.8 DG DN Contemporary.

The image quality comparison at f/2.8 shows the Sony lens producing sharper images across the focal length range. The Sigma lens has stronger vignetting and strong linear distortion.

The Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Lens vs. Sigma 28-70mm F2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens comparison shows the Sigma lens is smaller and lighter. The Sony lens has 11 aperture blades vs. 9 and 82mm filter threads vs. 67mm. The Sony lens has a higher maximum magnification, 0.32x vs. 0.22x, and a much higher price.

For those looking across camera brands, the Canon RF 24-70mm F2.8 L IS USM Lens makes for an interesting comparison.

In the image quality comparison at f/2.8, the Sony lens is slightly sharper in the periphery across the focal length range. The Sony lens produces noticeably less vignetting, including when stopped down, and fewer flare effects.

The Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Lens vs. Canon RF 24-70mm F2.8 L IS USM Lens comparison shows the Canon lens modestly larger and 7.3 oz (205 g) heavier. The Sony lens has 11 aperture blades vs. 9. The Canon lens has a 5-stop image stabilization system that coordinates with IBIS camera models for outstanding performance. The Canon lens is slightly more expensive.

Use the site's tools to create additional comparisons.

Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Lens Top View with Hood

Summary

Assured was that the Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Lens would be an outstanding general-purpose lens choice for everyone owning a Sony Alpha camera. It is that.

I didn't hesitate to select this lens to anchor my Sony kit. Expect more sample pictures to be added to this review.

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