Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Sony 24-70 f/2.8 E Mount, Two High Quality Options

Special thanks to my good friend Keith follow him at https://www.instagram.com/coffee_2_cocktails/

From Left to Right: Sony A7RII with Zeiss 24-70mm f/2.8 Sony (A Mount) mounted with the 
Sony LA-EA4 adapter. Sony A7III with Sony G Master 24-70mm f/2.8

As my good friend David Davis would ask "What's with you and mid-range zoom lenses?" It's true, I have a hankering for mid-range zoom lenses. A mid-range zoom lens basically a lens featuring a focal range of around 24-28mm up to 105mm. They are also referred to sometimes as an "every day lens" due to the versatility of the focal range. A "walk around" lens can be almost any focal length but mid-range zoom lenses might also fit that catch term as well.

As it is with making a choice for a lens at any focal length or range, it really comes down to how much you're willing to pay and what kind of performance you're looking to get for your money.
A f/2.8 mid-range zoom lens is not super important as far as what I have to choose from in my inventory. Most of the time I am usually carrying my Zeiss FE 24-70mm f/4 lens. It's my mid-range lens of choice due to several factors. Firstly, it's a Zeiss lens, so you know it's going to be good. And it comes in at a slightly easier to swallow price tag of $898 USD brand new. I am mostly shooting street photography and landscapes these days so the fact that the widest aperture on this lens is f/4 doesn't really bother me that much. I am usually at f/8 sometimes f/5.6 for most of my street stuff and when it comes to landscapes, most of the time I'm at the other extreme, f/18-f/22. This usually isn't my go to lens for shooting portraits and/or models. For that kind of photography you'll usually find a nice prime lens with a wider aperture of f/1.8 or f/2.

Pictured above: Zeiss 24/70mm f/4
Pictured below: Sony DT 16-50mm f/2.8 APS-C A Mount lens (Full frame equivalent 24-70mm)

I've also recently added another option for my mid-range focal length zoom lens addiction and that's the surprisingly good Sony DT 16-50mm f/2.8 lens. It's an A mount, APS-C lens which gives me a full frame equivalent focal range of 24-70mm when mounted on my A77II A Mount camera body or my E Mount Sony A6500, which is mounted via the LA-EA3 or LA-EA4 adapter. 

"But Felix, isn't the Sony G Master 24-70mm f/2.8 a better lens?"

Overall, yes it is, it better be for the WHOPPING PRICE TAG of $2,198 USD for a brand new lens.
More on this lens later... but first let's talk about a less expensive alternative...

There is another option for those of you wanting a full frame 24-70mm f/2.8 lens for your Sony E Mount camera body such as the Sony A7III, which seems to be the most popular camera body amongst the Sony crowd. The Zeiss 24-70mm f/2.8 A Mount can be mounted on your full frame E Mount body for less than half the price of the G Master. Using the Sony LA-EA3 or LA-EA4 adapter, you can use the A Mount Zeiss 24-70mm lens! You can find a nice, used Zeiss 24-70mm f/2.8 A Mount lens on EBay for around $700-850 USD. There are two versions of this lens, with version II incorporating some improvements such as a better T* coating for less flare and ghosting, improved weather sealing and more. I have version I which seems to work better with the LA-EA4 adapter. Version II will cost slightly more than version I. Both are no longer in production, I am pretty sure Sony is only producing E Mount lenses now. However, I see that Adorama still has brand new version II available but they are priced at $2098 USD.

You will not be able to take advantage of all your focus points using the adapter, but the lens still performs well and the images are extremely sharp.

Sample images:

Above is a nice example of the creative advantage that a large, high resolution sensor, like the 42 MP sensor on the Sony A7RII can provide. The two images above are the same image, with the bottom image having been cropped for Instagram. You can crop an extreme amount and still maintain a very nice, hi-res image, especially when paired with a high quality lens such as the Zeiss ZA 24-70mm f/2.8

Enjoy the following samples taken with the Sony A7RII with the Zeiss ZA 24-70mm f/2.8 A Mount lens mounted with the Sony LA-EA4 adapter. As you can see, it produces very nice, sharp images and is something you should definitely consider if the Sony G Master 24-70mm f/2.8 is out of your price range.

From Left to Right: Sony A7RII with Zeiss 24-70mm f/2.8 Sony (A Mount) mounted with the 
Sony LA-EA4 adapter. Sony A7III with Sony G Master 24-70mm f/2.8

Above: Sony A7III with Sony G Master 24-70mm f/2.8

My good friend Keith https://www.instagram.com/coffee_2_cocktails/ has been debating is next lens purchase for a fair amount of time. He rented the Sony G Master 70-200mm f/2.8 a few months ago and we both found it to be worth every penny. But he admits, the G Master 24-70mm took a little time to grow on him. At first, he was not overly impressed with the performance given the asking price, but did tell me that the longer he used it, the more he liked it. SPOILER ALERT: he is more inclined to spend his money on the G Master 70-200mm and prefers the bokeh that it renders. 

The overall size and weight are relatively comparable to my rig which comes it at 1261.55 grams for the lens and LA-EA4 adapter together, whereas the Sony G Master 24-70mm f/2.8 comes in at 885 grams. However, I do have to say that in the hand, they feel similar in weight. That being said, neither of these are light weight lenses by any stretch of the imagination. Compare that to the Zeiss FE 24-70mm f/4 which comes in at half the weight at only 426 grams. And with that in mind, you can see why I usually reach for that lens. After all, one of the main reasons I switched to the Sony E Mount system was to rid myself of having to carry so much weight around all day.

It was clear to me that the advantages of using a native E Mount lens over an adapted A Mount lens are many, the overall image quality between the two lenses is similar but things such as auto-focus speed and number auto-focus points and lighter weight (376.5 grams less) make the G Master the better choice for many. Image stabilization may or may not be an issue for some users as the G Master actually DOES NOT have image stabilization. That being said, most Sony E Mount camera bodies have in-body stabilization. The Zeiss 24-70mm f/2.8 A Mount DOES have image stabilization built into the lens. All that aside, there is of course, as I previously mentioned is the difference in price. For my money, I will forego the more expensive Sony G Master, for now. Perhaps I will stumble into a financial windfall in the near future catapulting me into the "money is no object" elite, in which case I would most definitely purchase Sony's entire line of G Master lenses. But short of that, I'll go "on the cheap" with by taking advantage of the fantasic A Mount to E Mount adapters that Sony has to offer and continue to use my excellent A Mount glass on my E Mount camera bodies.

Which would you choose?

Enjoy the samples below, taken with a Sony A7III with Sony G Master 24-70mm f/2.8 lens.