Sony 12-24mm a featherweight sharpshooter

Roger Cicala, founder of LensRentals and a leading authority of modern digital lenses, has delivered a glowing assessment of the Sony FE 12-24mm f4 G lightweight ultra-wide angle lens.

The self-described optics nerd ran 10 pre-release copies through Modulation Transfer Function (MTF) tests, which measures the sharpness captured by a lens.

‘The MTF results tell you if the lens should be a sharp lens, and the results here indicate that it should,’ Cicala said. ‘That makes it worth further investigation for those of you interested in this focal length. It’s one of the more impressive Sony offerings that have come out; reasonable price, excellent MTF, reasonable sample variation.’

LensRentals’ MTF variation tests at 12mm and 24mm. Source: LensRentals.

He was surprised that a lightweight lens, weighing at just 565 grams, produced such fine results. The Sigma 12-24mm f4 Art and Canon 11-24mm f4 L lenses, which also impressed Cicala, are over 450 grams heavier than the Sony.

Adding to the surprise is the price.

Sony has a reputation for charging premium prices for its lenses. However the 12-24mm lens, set to ship this month, has a global RRP of US$1700 (ProCounter could not find local pricing).

This is about US$1000 less than the Canon, Cicala notes, and only a few hundreds dollars more expensive than the Sigma. (Can’t beat those Sigma prices!)

‘There is something that is more interesting to me in the bigger picture, though. Sony has made this lens smaller than the others in this range, which will be nice sitting on an FE camera. And they’ve done that without the customary “Sony surcharge”, which is nice on your wallet. At this point, I can’t help but be very impressed.’

Inside the lightweight 12-24mm body is four aspherical elements, three ED glass elements and one Super ED glass element to minimise chromatic aberration. It has a Direct Drive Supersonic Wave Motor, and seven aperture blades.

The lens isn’t part of Sony’s G Master pro range. But it appears to produce a sharp image from 12 to 24mm to meet a professional’s expectations.

However Cicala only tested MTF, which doesn’t account for other factors like ‘flare resistance, autofocus accuracy, reliability, how it handles, etc’.

Sony has shown its commitment to professional photographers by building an impressive range of a-series camera, notably the a9, and launching a dedicated pro support program last year.

But the other challenge has been to have offer a broad spread of lenses. Sony now offers 16 G and G Master lenses, from ultra-wide angle through to super telephoto, as well as a decent range of Carl Zeiss FE lenses.

Read about the full LensRentals test results here.

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