Alpha Universe Story Detail
Alpha Universe Story Detail
The Latest G Master Lens: 12–24 mm F2.8 GM

Albert Dros and Michael Schaake 

Continuing its expansion of G Master lenses, Sony has introduced the FE 12–24 mm F2.8 G Master—the world’s widest angle, F2.8 aperture zoom lens*.

 

Sony FE 12–24 mm F28 G Master Zoom

The all-new design features three XA (Extreme Aspherical) elements for outstanding resolution, along with two super ED and three ED glass elements to deliver high corner-to-corner resolution and beautiful bokeh. Four XD Linear (Extreme Dynamic) motors deliver faster and more accurate focusing than conventional lenses for both photography and videography.

Acclaimed landscape photographers and Sony Imaging Ambassadors, Michael Schaake and Albert Dros, were kind enough to try the lens prior to release and share their thoughts with us.

Albert Dros

Conditions in the Netherlands were ideal, allowing me to try the lens in lots of different conditions and scenarios. I grabbed my trusted Alpha 7R IV and went exploring.

I started in this picturesque district of Amsterdam—completely empty and closed due to COVID-19—and this is a great example of where 12 mm really comes into its own. The sharpness of this lens, especially at the edges, is incredible.

Sony FE 12–24 mm F28 G Master Zoom

© Albert Dros | Alpha 7R IV | FE 12–24 mm F2.8 GM | 4 sec | F8 | ISO 200

I visited the beautiful town hall in Nieuwegein. It's a very modern building, both inside and out, and I thought it would be the perfect model for some wide-angle shots. One feature I find useful in these situations is the flip-out screen on my Alpha 7R IV. I sometimes walk around looking at the screen, pointing and rotating the camera until I see a composition I like.

Albert Dros Sony Alpha 7RM4 the outside of the town hall in Nieuwegein

© Albert Dros | Alpha 7R IV | FE 12–24 mm F2.8 GM | 1/320 sec | F10 | ISO 100

Albert Dros Sony Alpha 7RM4, the inside of the town hall in Nieuwegein

© Albert Dros | Alpha 7R IV | FE 12–24 mm F2.8 GM | 1/30 sec | F11 | ISO 100

With storms forecast, I headed out to the countryside, hoping to capture some dramatic skies. For this windmill shot, I took a quick hand-held panorama. The incoming storm cloud mirrors the small stream in the foreground exactly. What I really liked about this shot is that it almost looks like a fisheye perspective because of the panorama.

Albert Dros Sony Alpha 7RM4, panoramic view of a windmill in the Netherlands with dramatic stormy skies behind

© Albert Dros | Alpha 7R IV | FE 12–24 mm F2.8 GM | 1/50 sec | F5.6 | ISO 320

After the storm had passed, I was able to get this shot of a poppy field, just as the sun was setting.

Albert Dros Sony Alpha 7RM4 a poppy field in the Netherlands after a rainstorm

© Albert Dros | Alpha 7R IV | FE 12–24 mm F2.8 GM | 1/13 sec | F11 | ISO 200

We also had some beautiful mornings and I managed to get up at 3:00 a.m. and head to the forest—one of my favorite places to shoot. I usually use a much longer lens in these situations, but I was keen to try the 12–24 mm, and forcing myself to use it certainly got some interesting results.

Albert Dros Sony Alpha 7RM4, sunlight breaking through trees in a forest in the Netherlands

© Albert Dros | Alpha 7R IV | FE 12–24 mm F2.8 GM | 0.6 sec | F11 | ISO 100

I occasionally use a technique called ‘focus stacking’ in which I get extremely close to a subject and use multiple images with different focus points to get the entire image from front to back in focus. This shot was a combination of three images taken at F22 and I was able to achieve pin-point sharpness throughout the frame.

Albert Dros Sony Alpha 7RM4, a moss-covered fallen tree in a forest in the Netherlands

© Albert Dros | Alpha 7R IV | FE 12–24 mm F2.8 GM | 2.5 sec | F22 | ISO 100

Last but certainly not least, I was able to shoot some starscapes. Now, shooting the milky way in the Netherlands in general is almost impossible because there is a lot of light pollution everywhere, but there are some places where the light pollution is relatively low compared to the rest of the country.

The biggest challenge, however, was that I had chosen the longest day of the year, during which there isn't even pure darkness!

Albert Dros Sony Alpha 7RM4, the milky way visible in the sky above Amsterdam with a dead tree in the foreground

© Albert Dros | Alpha 7R IV | FE 12–24 mm F2.8 GM | 20 sec | F2.8 | ISO 3200

This image was shot wide open at F2.8 and I was particularly impressed with the sharpness of the stars. One point worth mentioning is that the red-orange glow on the horizon is not light from the sun, but rather light pollution from the city.

In summary, here are my initial thoughts:

•  I’m a big fan of the 12–24 mm F4 G, but having the extra stop makes a huge difference, especially for starscapes.
•  Low distortion, even at 12 mm. I didn’t use any correction profiles on the images as they’re not available yet!
•  Light weight and size considering the focal length and aperture.
•  Gives great sunstar effects.

 

Albert Dros Sony Alpha 7RM3 Sony FE1224GM alongside the Sony FE 1224G for comparison

As you can see, the F2.8 version is not that much bigger than the F4 version

Michael Schaake

I had the opportunity to try the new 12–24 mm F2.8 G Master lens for a few days and I was immediately struck by the solid workmanship. With a weight of 847 grams it is certainly not light, but it balances well with the Alpha 7R IV in the hand, and with a large, curved front lens element, I wasn’t expecting this!

The large front element makes it difficult to use filters (although there is an option to use rear gelatin-type filters), but that said, I saw no signs of flare or ghosting, which says a lot for the new coating Sony have designed specifically for this lens.

  

This image shows a very contrasty scene, shot directly into the sun. A small sun star can be seen in the water and no flare is visible.

Michael Schaake Sony Alpha 7RM4 a wide-angle view across a lake with the sun visible through dramatic storm clouds

© Michael Schaake | Alpha 7R IV | FE 12–24 mm F2.8 GM | 1/1250 sec | F8 | ISO 100

I shot at various apertures, from F2.8 all the way down to F22, and I only saw a slight decrease in sharpness past F18, which is to be expected. Wide open at F2.8, it was pin-sharp and I wouldn't hesitate to shoot this way in low light.

Michael Schaake Sony Alpha 7RM4 black and white image of a lone tree against a clean sky with fluffy clouds

© Michael Schaake | Alpha 7R IV | FE 12–24 mm F2.8 GM | 1/1250 sec | F2.8 | ISO 100

In this shot, I wanted to use a long exposure to soften the water, and because I couldn't use an ND filter, I had to shoot at F22 (which I would normally avoid), but the sharpness is still good.

Michael Schaake Sony Alpha 7RM4, a fast-flowing river captured in slow motion against the rocks

© Michael Schaake | Alpha 7R IV | FE 12–24 mm F2.8 GM | 1 sec | F22 | ISO 50

My main lens for landscape photography is the FE 16–35 mm F4 ZA OSS, which I'm very happy with, but having the extended wide-angle focal length gave me a new perspective which I thoroughly enjoyed.

 

Michael Schaake Sony Alpha 7RM4 looking up through barley stems at the cloudy blue sky

© Michael Schaake | Alpha 7R IV | FE 12–24 mm F2.8 GM | 1 sec | F22 | ISO 50

Michael Schaake Sony Alpha 7RM4, a wooden path leads off across a field with dramatic skies above

© Michael Schaake | Alpha 7R IV | FE 12–24 mm F2.8 GM | 1/1250 sec | F2.8 | ISO 100

Overall, I am extremely impressed with this lens and its focal length range certainly inspired creativity in the scenes I photographed.

*Compared to interchangeable constant F2.8 zoom lenses for full-frame digital cameras. As of July 2020.

This article was originally published on https://www.sony.co.uk/alphauniverse

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