Sony FE 24-50mm F2.8 G Review: Compact and Fast Optics for Versatile Photography

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Image source: Jim Fisher

The Sony FE 24-50mm F2.8 G is a welcome addition to the company’s lineup of high-quality lenses, catering to photographers who need a versatile zoom that can deliver both speed and sharpness. With a fast focus motor and premium optics packaged into a lightweight design, this lens is perfect for enthusiasts and professionals looking for a wide-to-standard zoom lens. This review explores its features, performance, and overall value to help you decide if it’s the right choice for your Sony mirrorless camera.

Design and Build Quality

Image credit: Jim Fisher

Sony’s FE 24-50mm F2.8 G is designed with portability and performance in mind. At just 14.5 oz (410 g), it is incredibly lightweight for a lens of its kind, making it a convenient travel companion. Its compact form factor ensures that it doesn’t unbalance smaller camera bodies like the Sony Alpha series.

The exterior is made from a high-quality polycarbonate material that feels both durable and robust. The focus and zoom rings are rubberized for a secure grip, and both move smoothly and precisely, making them easy to operate. There’s a dedicated focus hold button and an aperture ring with a click on/off switch for those who prefer manual aperture adjustments.

Weather-sealing is a significant feature, with rubber gaskets protecting the lens mount and internal components from dust and moisture, making it suitable for outdoor photography in challenging conditions.

Optical Quality and Performance

Sharpness: The FE 24-50mm F2.8 G is designed to deliver excellent sharpness across the zoom range. At its widest aperture of f/2.8, center sharpness is impressive, while the edges remain sharp with only a slight drop-off. Stopping down to f/4 or f/5.6 improves corner sharpness significantly, resulting in uniformly crisp images across the frame.

Distortion and Vignetting: As with any zoom lens, some barrel distortion is present at 24mm, which gradually reduces as you move toward 50mm. However, this distortion is easily correctable in post-processing or through the camera’s built-in lens correction features. Vignetting is noticeable at f/2.8, particularly at the widest end, but also diminishes significantly as you stop down.

Bokeh and Flare: The nine-blade aperture produces smooth and circular bokeh, rendering attractive out-of-focus backgrounds that isolate subjects nicely. The lens’s coatings minimize ghosting and flare, even when shooting directly into strong light sources.

Chromatic Aberration: The lens effectively controls chromatic aberration, even in high-contrast scenarios, with minimal color fringing around edges.

Autofocus and Video Capabilities

The lens is equipped with a fast and accurate XD Linear Motor system that enables swift focusing for stills and video. The focus motor operates quietly, making it ideal for video recording without introducing distracting noise. The lens also includes an AF/MF switch for seamless transitions between autofocus and manual focus.

Focus breathing is minimized, ensuring consistent framing during focus pulls, a significant advantage for videographers. The internal focusing mechanism keeps the lens’s size constant, improving balance and stability during handheld shooting.

Focal Range and Versatility

The 24-50mm focal range provides excellent versatility for a range of photography styles. The wide 24mm end is suitable for landscape and architecture shots, capturing expansive scenes with ease. Moving towards the 50mm end is perfect for portraiture, street photography, and even close-ups of products or food.

The constant f/2.8 aperture throughout the zoom range is valuable for low-light conditions, providing enough light to maintain faster shutter speeds while also allowing for creative depth-of-field control.

Pros and Cons

Pros:

1. Lightweight and Compact: Easy to carry around all day and ideal for travel.

2. Excellent Optics: Delivers sharp, high-contrast images across the zoom range.

3. Fast Autofocus: The XD Linear Motor provides silent, quick, and accurate focusing.

4. Weather-Sealed: Withstands challenging conditions for reliable outdoor use.

5. Smooth Bokeh: The nine-blade aperture ensures pleasing out-of-focus backgrounds.

Cons:

1. Limited Telephoto Reach: The 50mm focal length may not suffice for some wildlife or sports photography.

2. Vignetting at Wide Aperture: Some darkening around the corners at f/2.8, especially at 24mm.

Conclusion

The Sony FE 24-50mm F2.8 G is a compelling choice for photographers who need a versatile zoom lens that can handle a range of shooting situations. Its lightweight design and fast focus make it an ideal companion for street, travel, and general photography. The constant f/2.8 aperture, excellent optics, and smooth bokeh set it apart, while the robust build quality ensures that it withstands the rigors of daily use.

While it may not offer the telephoto reach required by some sports or wildlife photographers, it excels at providing a flexible and high-quality focal range. If you’re seeking a premium, lightweight lens that delivers exceptional performance without weighing down your gear bag, the Sony FE 24-50mm F2.8 G is an excellent investment.

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