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Sony G Master FE 24mm f/1.4 Review

Spoiler alert – if you’ve researched anything about the Sony G Master 24mm f/1.4 lens prior to making your way here, prepare for further confirmation of its greatness. If you are a lover of compact, fast primes, this is a lens you are going to want in your bag.

While some competitors have already abandoned the mirrorless mantra of compact size, Sony has been refocusing their commitment to size and weight reduction. This was the early promise of mirrorless and a major reason why many of us transitioned from dSLRs. Weighing in at only 445 grams (compare that to 650 grams for the Canon EF 24mm f/1.4 II) the GM balances wonderfully on any of the a7 or a9 bodies. This while still delivering a superbly built optic in the similar mold of previous GM lenses. The lens gets an aperture ring that can be de-clicked for video, a programmable button on the barrel, two XA elements (coma is virtually non-existent due to these elements so rejoice astro photographers), three extra-low dispersion elements and 11 rounded aperture blades. Please Sony, make this mix of high resolution performance and compact size a priority for all your future lens designs.

It’s hard to argue that the specs aren’t impressive but specs don’t make photographs. I’ve waited almost six months to collect my thoughts and images made with the 24mm GM and am comfortable reporting that the hype is real. Truthfully, I could have written this after the first week, as it was apparent then that the lens possesses a balanced mix of high performance that differentiates a great lens from a good one. As widely reported, it resolves sharply to the edges even wide open (this alone is a wonder), but what impressed most was just how naturally it renders a complex scene – organic is an appropriate descriptor. Color is accurate, distortion is minimal, and the way it transitions backgrounds is wonderfully smooth. This is a wide lens that can actually produce some dreamy bokeh in the right composition. Shoot it wide open and prepare to be amazed at how sharp your subject, and anything else on the focal plane is. Stop it down a bit and be equally amazed at how crystalline the scene is rendered deep into the frame.

Focus speed is also remarkable. Sony is using their “Direct Drive Sonic wave Motor AF system” – a mouthful but it gets the job done quickly, quietly and with excellent accuracy. I tend to switch often between continuous AF tracking and the more traditional single AF and results were exceptional in both modes.

Sony states that the lens is dust and moisture sealed. I can’t say I have used it in a dust storm but I did take it hiking in Big Bend National Park, had it out on a Texas salt-water bay and spent a couple days photographing BBQ smoke pits with no adverse effects. That said, always use common sense and protect your equipment when things get really nasty out there.

At release, the 24mm GM lists for $1399. This is a lens designed for professionals or hobbyists that want the best image quality available. Coming in $150 less than the Canon equivalent, it is still an expensive optic, but with judicious use of crop mode, you are essentially blessed with two lenses for the price of one. On a high resolution camera like the a7RII or a7RIII, switch to APS-C crop mode and the GM becomes one of the best 35mm lenses in the lineup, while still producing a printable 18mp image – remember when we were thrilled with 18mp of resolution? Considering 35mm is an essential focal length for my work, the ability to produce both a 24mm and 35mm image from a single f/1.4 lens is a dream realized and a major space and weight saver for my camera bag.

If you aren’t familiar or comfortable with the 24mm field of view you might be wondering when or how it would fit into your photography. I enjoy using it for environmental portraits, documentary, events and landscapes. It’s a perfect focal length for architectural interiors or photographing groups of people in smaller spaces. The lens has virtually no distortion so subjects will look natural (no fisheye effect of wider lenses) and your horizontal and verticals will line up nicely. Like anything, the more time you give to the more it will reward you. These days, I’m having a harder time seeing in the focal lengths I previously worked in, as 24mm has become a new favorite.

The best lenses are the ones you keep on the camera, the ones you have faith in, the ones that excite, and perhaps the ones that open up a new way of seeing. The 24mm GM has become all those things to me. Hopefully the images can tell the rest of the story but feel free to ask questions in the comments. 

About the author Chad Wadsworth

Chad is a Sony Artisan of Imagery and Red Bull Global Photographer based in Austin, TX.

All posts by Chad Wadsworth →

9 Comments

  1. Hey Chad. Huge fan and new to the Sony world

    If you had to have two – three lenses for the A7 series would they be? I like the idea of the 24,55 and 85. Not sure if you’re a video guy but love your thoughts on that glass as well.

    All the best. – Justin

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    1. Hey Justin, thanks for the kind words.

      Man, that kind of question is really subjective to who you are as a shooter. I can only comment on what I use and love so…top three desert island Sony FE lenses would be:

      1. 24/1.4 GM
      2. Sony Zeiss 50/1.4
      3. 135/1.8 GM

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  2. Hi Chad,

    Now I confused on my choice between the 16-35GM vs the 24m GM. You did excellent reviews of both and I was about the pull the trigger on the 16-35GM, but pause to think about getting the less expensive 16-35 and also purchase the 24m GM, assuming that I could ever find one. What would you do?

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    1. Hah, sorry about that! Only you can answer that question, depending on your shooting style and needs. Both are excellent but I lean heavily towards fast primes so I would say try and source a 24mm GM if you can.

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  3. Hi Chad, have you used Batis or Loxia with similar/same focal length? I am going to rent batis and this sony lens this weekend, so will figure out anyway but was curious if you had any experience / advice. Thanks – Mahesh

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    1. I’ve used the Batis 25/2 but would take the 24mm GM over it in a heartbeat. Not even close.

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  4. Hi Chad, thank you so much for this review and it got me thinking. Right now I am using RX1RII for brag and go anywhere. I do have A7 (original) for using manual lens (CV21 and CV58). If A7RIII + GM 24 can serve wide and 35mm equiv, I am tempted to move to this combo and replace the RX1RII and A7+21. I know CV21 is wider than GM24, but it’s close enough for me. I am interested in your thoughts on this.

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    1. Sounds like you have yourself convinced and I don’t disagree that the flexibility and IQ of the 24mm GM + a7rIII or IV is a great solution. I would miss the size of the RX1 though. Decisions!

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      1. Thats just the thing, the size of rx1 is really awesome esp when travel. Problem is i dont have a good way to get wide angle without bringing another camera. Decisions indeed. Thanks for the thought.

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