Wide to standard zooms for APS-C cameras are always welcome additions to lens lineups. While a few on the market sport Sony’s E mount, none of them can claim to be the world’s smallest APS-C ultra-wide zoom like this Sony offering can. Will this lens’ small footprint amount to much in the grander scheme of things? Does the Sony 10-20mm f/4 PZ G stand up well against its competition? Find out in our full review.
- Light and compact
- Power zoom is smooth/silent
- Snappy autofocus
- Good color reproduction
- Sharp optics
- Decently priced
- Small manual zoom/focus rings
- No aperture dial
- Distortion on the wide end
Sony 10-20mm f/4 PZ G — Technical specifications
Sony provided technical specifications for this lens:
- Advanced optics
- Internal zoom
- Power zoom
- Small and light
- 2x Linear AF motors
- Significant suppression of focus breathing
- Fast, quiet, low vibration AF
- Dust /moisture resistant
- Focus hold button
- 6.2 ounces
- 7.87 min focus distance with AF
Sony 10-20mm f/4 PZ G — Ergonomics and build quality
This zoom lens has a tiny footprint for a lens with an equivalent focal range of 15-30mm. In fact, Sony claims that the Sony 10-20mm f/4 PZ G is the world’s smallest APS-C ultra-wide zoom. I can tell you that when paired with an a6600, the lens feels good. It’s certainly not front-heavy. With a weight of just 0.38lbs, you’ll actually find that the camera leans back a little due to how heavy the camera is compared to the lens.
The Sony 10-20mm f/4 PZ G is an all-plastic affair except for the mount. Still, it feels well made. The plastic feels rigid, and it survived being tossed into my camera bag and the odd bump here and there. The manual focus and zoom rings feel OK and operate smoothly. The AF/MF switch clicks positively into place, the Power Zoom toggle operates smoothly, and the customizable button offers good feedback. The lens even performed well during a brief spring shower.
Sony G series lenses aren’t Sony’s most premium offerings. Still, these lenses are well designed. The Sony 10-20mm f/4 PZ G is no exception to this rule. Overall, it’s a lens that most people will take to well.
Sony 10-20mm f/4 PZ G — In the field
The Sony 10-20mm f/4 PZ G is an excellent lens to use while out and about. Its compact size and low weight mean it never becomes a burden. For the most part, the lens is easy to use. However, those with chunky fingers — like me — will find that the small manual focus and zoom dials are too small and too close to each other.
I get it, it’s a tiny lens, and I also understand that most will use the Power Zoom. However, the manual controls pose a problem. To make things worse, there’s no way to know which dial is which. Some manufacturers use different textures on control rings when they’re so close to each other. They do this so you can feel the difference when the camera is up to your eye. However, that’s not the case here. There’s also no de-clickable aperture ring, which is odd, seeing as Sony is marketing this toward videographers.
The focal range of 10-20mm (15-30mm equivalent) makes this lens quite versatile. You’ll easily be able to shoot lovely landscapes, environmental portraits, street photography and more. The lens also lends itself well to selfies and vlogging. However, with a maximum aperture of just f/4, don’t expect great things when shooting in low light.
One of the biggest selling points of this lens is the Power Zoom. It’s certainly a feature aimed at videographers more than still photographers, but I found it useful. The switch operates easily, and the lens zooms in and out quietly and smoothly. In addition, you can alter the zoom speed by depressing the toggle more or less.
When in continuous autofocus mode, the lens tracked objects easily through the zoom range. In addition to this, the motors that power the zoom are silent. Again, videographers will appreciate this. Overall, the Sony 10-20mm f/4 PZ G is easy to use out in the field. Still, I wish Sony had made the manual focus and zooms rings more easily identifiable.
Sony 10-20mm f/4 PZ G — Focus performance
As you would expect from a Sony lens, autofocus performance is top-notch. I paired this lens up with the Sony A6600 and had no issues. Focusing from near to far, both at the wide end of things and the long, was near-instantaneous in good light. When the light got low, the lens did occasionally stutter. However, it always found its target. In addition, the motors that drive the elements are whisper quiet.
Sony is marketing this lens as a top choice for videographers. They claim that the Sony 10-20mm f/4 PZ G offers almost no focus breathing. I’m happy to report that this is what I found. When manually focusing, there’s hardly any change in focal length. This is impressive performance for a zoom lens in this price range. So, if you need a lens that will allow you to create smooth focus pulls without jarring visual changes, this could be the lens for you.
Sony 10-20mm f/4 PZ G — Image quality
Overall, the images you’ll create with the Sony 10-20mm f/4 PZ G will please. We’ll break things down further below. Just to note. The image samples you see here have only received minor corrections to exposure. No other parameters were touched during the editing process. The loaner Sony a6600 we received was used in standard profile mode, and auto white balance was selected.
Being such a wide lens, we were expecting there to be some issues when shooting at 10mm. However, distortion isn’t as bad as we thought it would be. You can see barrel distortion (the frame bowing out from the center, which causes curved edges) at 10mm. Distortion is well controlled by the time you hit 15mm. Unfortunately, no profiles for this lens were available in our photo editing suites when writing this review. I did, however, have in-camera corrections turned on.
In terms of vignetting, when shooting at 10mm and f/4, there’s quite a bit of vignetting. Stopping the lens down helps control this. Again, by the time you hit roughly 15mm, the vignetting is much better. We expected this level of performance with this lens being a wide zoom. Overall, the lens is not the greatest we’ve seen, but not the worst when it comes to vignetting.
The Sony 10-20mm f/4 PZ G is a good performer when it comes to ghosting, flaring, and chromatic aberrations. Flaring and ghosting are at their worst on the wide side of things, and, like other characteristics of this lens, it calms down a little as you zoom in. Likewise, chromatic aberrations are well controlled, with there being only one or two images out of hundreds I took showing any signs of green or purple fringing.
One thing you don’t have to worry about with the Sony 10-20mm f/4 PZ G is sharpness. Wide-open at f/4, you’ll find that the image is very sharp for most of the frame when shooting at 10mm. However, the corners are a little softer due to barrel distortion. Still, as you zoom in, sharpness levels across the frame become uniform. You can shoot down to roughly f/11 before you start to see the effects of diffraction. I have been pleasantly surprised by this lens when it comes to sharpness.
The bokeh that can be produced with the Sony 10-20mm f/4 PZ G is nothing to write home about. This should come as no surprise. We’re talking about a wide angle zoom with a maximum aperture of f/4. Still, you can get some background separation when using the lens at its minimum focal distances of 5.11-inches (at 10mm) and 6.69-inches (at 20mm) and while shooting at f/4.
The bokeh is not the smoothest, and specular highlights are catseye in shape. But, of course, you’re not buying a lens like this for bokeh in the first place, so as long as your expectations are in check, you’ll be fine.
Sony lenses of late have impressed when it comes to color rendition. I’m pleased to say that the Sony 10-20mm f/4 PZ G follows that suit. The colors are nice and natural, and they represent what my eyes were seeing on the days I used the lens. Reds, blues, oranges and greens all look fabulous to me. I like how the colors render. However, color reproduction is highly subjective, so I will leave you to make your mind up.
Sony 10-20mm f/4 PZ G — A versatile zoom for stills and video
The Sony 10-20mm f/4 PZ G is a lens I have become quite fond of. Wide to standard focal length zooms aren’t easy to find for Sony’s APS-C cameras. So, this is an excellent addition. It’s decently priced, too at $748. This lens goes up firmly against the slightly more expensive Tamron 11-20mm f/2.8 Di III RXD. The Sony lens is 46% lighter than its competition, but you also have to remember that it’s also one full stop slower.
Overall, the Sony 10-20mm f/4 PZ G is a solid zoom that produces pleasing images. The Power Zoom feature might be a little lost on photographers; however, this feature will delight videographers. The lens is made well, it’s not afraid to get down and dirty when the weather gets a little tough, and its small footprint makes it easy to carry around and balance on gimbals.
So, who is this lens for? If you’re a fan of Sony’s APS-C cameras and need a moderately fast wide to standard zoom that produces sharp images with pleasing colors and decent bokeh, the Sony 10-20mm f/4 PZ G is worth taking a closer look at. However, if you’re a photographer or videographer who often shoots in low-light scenarios and don’t mind zooming with a traditional zoom ring, you might want to look at the Tamron 11-20mm f/2.8 Di III RXD. Both are solid lenses, and they will serve those who use them well.