The new Sony 24mm f/2.8, 40mm f/2.5, and 50mm f/2.5 will ship in mid-May with new compact prime lenses for $599.99 each. They maintain the quality reputation that Sony has established with the G lineup, but what comes with a welcome surprise is their uniformity and small size.
Uniformity and size are rarely discussed with respect to lenses. As a video first producer, 67mm, 77mm and 82mm are typical thread sizes for my gear bag. However, it feels like I have to consider the cost of a new ND filter or step up or down ring for every new lens I buy. All three of these new lenses conveniently share the same 49mm filter thread.
And it has weight and size. It’s no secret that the bag with full frame camera equipment is heavy and the lens plays a small role in it. But these three new lenses are small and light enough to fit in a compact bag or jacket pocket.
Each lens has an aperture click toggle, auto focus toggle, programmable buttons, aperture and focus rings. They are all weather resistant and measure only 2.5 inches (64 mm) in diameter and 1.8 inches (45 mm) in height. This uniformity is especially useful when balancing the camera on the gimbal, and often requires rebalancing the gimbal with each lens change. On the Zhiyun Crane M2 with 24mm attached, I was able to balance the A7C and easily change it to 50mm for a tighter shot without the need to rebalance.
Weight also plays an important role here. The Zhiyun Crane M2 is a $200 handheld gimbal designed for cell phones, action cameras, and point-and-shoot cameras. The 24mm f/2.8 weighs 162g (5.71oz), the 40mm f/2.5 weighs 173g (6.10oz), and the 50mm f/2.5 weighs 174g (6.13oz). I added the heaviest 50mm of the three lenses to the 509g A7C and at 683g I was still under the Crane M2’s 720g (1.58lb) weight limit. This gave me enough free space to fit the Rode VideoMicro microphone into the camera.
The full frame camera with a full frame lens on a small gimbal is really amazing and my arms are forever grateful.
In general, short lenses have fewer lens elements than zoom lenses, so they are sharper and have less chromatic aberration. Also, Prime usually has a wider aperture that allows for more light or allows more creative control over the depth of field of the image. At f/2.8 and f/2.5 maximum apertures, none of these three lenses will win the competition for the most blurry bokeh or the ability to collect the most light. However, with full-frame Sony cameras, it provides enough separation between the subject and the blurry background. All in all, it captures sharp images with smooth, painterly defocusing. There was no other prime lens comparable for the $600 price point, but I was impressed by the lack of sharpness and chromatic aberration throughout the aperture range.
Photos taken with Sony 50mm f/2.5G model
For a head-to-head comparison of the new Sony Prime and other lenses at this price point, check out the great video Gerald Undone puts together. It covers everything from chromatic aberration to minimum focal length. I agree that the Sony Prime’s bokeh reveals too much of the blades at higher apertures, but I don’t find the Sony 40mm and 50mm chromatic aberrations to be a problem to be noticeable enough in real shots.
Photos taken with Sony 40mm f/2.5G model
While using these three lenses, I shot the most with 24mm. When shooting in RAW, this 24mm has a decent amount of distortion at the edges, giving the subject power and bringing the viewer’s eye to the center of the frame. This is exactly the effect I’m looking for on a wide-angle lens, but for those who prefer a more linear image, this effect may not be good. It’s a great lens for selfies and architecture. I could also see the use of this lens for video blogs when I need to capture both me and my environment.
Photos taken with Sony 24mm f/2.8G model
The 40mm and 50mm focus reduction is even and very amazing. Opening up to the maximum aperture of f/2.5 will blur the background to the point where it is sticky. The 40mm can handle portrait photography, but it’s wide enough to be used for certain landscape photography as well.
Each lens has dual linear motors for fast and quiet autofocus, making it perfect for shooting movies. There is a bit of concentrated breathing, but not regular enough to be a problem. I wish the minimum focal length was a little closer. This is especially true for 24mm, where the closest distance you can focus on is 24cm. The $550 Sigma 24mm f/3.5 has a minimum focal length of 4.25 inches (10.8 cm), and this close focus could draw viewers into our rare flowers, for example when taking flower photos. It is difficult to take those pictures with Sony lenses.
This prime isn’t the cheapest in its category, but I loved shooting at a uniform size without compromising the controls available by clicking a button, quality, or weather seal. You can rebalance the gimbal or switch between without actually adjusting other controls. It all feels the same in front of the camera.
Sony has finally delivered an experience they haven’t yet had with the G lens. Shooting 3 prime lenses while walking is never done because just one zoom lens saves space and weight. But with these three lenses, I could only carry one Fanny pack and I didn’t feel burdened by the weight.
In front of the video, we welcome 3 lenses all sharing the same filter thread, so you don’t have to deal with multiple sets of step-up or down-rings for ND filters. I also appreciate the almost quiet autofocus and the ability to toggle clicks on the aperture ring on and off.
The new Sony 24mm f/2.8, 40mm f/2.5, and 50mm f/2.5 are all compact without compromise, and while their price is high, they are out of reach. You can get faster lenses, you can get cheaper lenses, you can get smaller lenses. However, it will be difficult to find this combination of portability and performance in anything else in the Sony lineup.
I absolutely welcome Sony’s big push towards high-quality cameras and lenses that won’t break my back. Next step: Use a faster, more consistent aperture compact zoom.
correction: Previous versions of this article incorrectly explained that this is a Sony G Master lens. They are Sony G lenses. Sorry for the error.