Wide-angle lenses have always intrigued me. While it took me a while to get my first wide-angle lens as I got into photography, the moment I did, I absolutely loved it. Since then, I’ve absolutely loved using them.
While some photographers like to use telephoto lenses to get close, abstract details, I like using my wide-angle lenses for a similar purpose. I find myself more creative with wide-angle lenses, as it helps me to push the boundary a bit and play with what’s around me.
So when I had the chance to review Sony’s new 14mm f/1.8 G-Master lens, I jumped at the opportunity.
First impressions and build quality
First off, this thing is tiny! As someone who’s used to the much larger Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 lens, the Sony 14mm certainly was a breath of fresh air when it came to size. Of course, you lose a few things with that — the main being the lack of zoom range. But as someone who’s getting more and more into primes for my personal work, I can definitely see this lens working well for me.
The clickable aperture ring is something I won’t personally use, but video shooters will delight in the fact that you can turn off the clicking sound. This is something Sony’s been adding as of late (including to the 50mm f/1.2 G-Master), and it’s a really smart move. Sony is known for doing great in the video field, and the 14mm is a great option for that, especially when shooting low-light.
The lens feels sturdy and well-built. The lens hood is smaller than I’m used to with wide-angles, but again, works well with the lens. The focus ring is perfectly smooth; nothing here should surprise you if you’ve used a Sony G-Master lens in the past.
- Aperture: f/1.8–16
- Minimum focus distance: 9.8 inches
- Optical design: 14 elements in 11 groups
- Diaphragm blades: 9, rounded
- Image stabilization: No
- Weather sealing: Yes
- Dimensions: 3.3 x 3.9 inches
- Weight: 1 pound
While this lens screams to be used for landscapes and architecture, the first use case with the Sony 14mm was actually capturing some murals being worked on in downtown Grand Rapids, MI. It provided me a nice, wide-angle view, which let me capture an outdoor mural in its entirety, and a tunnel mural quite wide.
The f/1.8 aperture really let me push the lens in the dark tunnel, and it performed very well. It was quick to focus and kept up with the artist’s movements as he painted.
Later that week, I ventured out to the Grand Haven lakeshore and captured an old train and the scene around it. Shooting wide-angle landscapes here worked to perfection.
From there I went to the North Pier, and captured sunset from a slightly different angle than what I’m used to. A few of the angles I photographed from were rather awkward, and it was a lot of guessing to get the shot the way I wanted to. But one thing I can say — the Sony was very quick to focus, allowing me to capture my shots without straining my hands and arms too much.
What I did notice, however, when shooting objects, is that the edges can get rather soft. It creates an interesting effect too, which almost looks like your going through a tunnel at a fast speed. Personally it didn’t bother me (I actually thought the effect was kinda cool), but it is something worth noting.
Making the night sky shine
I ended my night up in Cedar Springs, capturing the highest vantage point in the county as the stars came out. This is when the f/1.8 aperture can come in handy. It worked really well, and really made the stars pop. They really were tack sharp, and I could barely even see them when I was photographing!
I had hoped to get some more astro shots, but after hearing some coyotes howl and get closer, I decided to pack up. And run.
Perfect for architecture and cityscapes
I took out the lens once more to photograph more of downtown Grand Rapids, and I focused on capturing some architecture. What surprised me here is that the lens didn’t have as much distortion as I was expecting it to have. I’m not sure how Sony pulled that off, but real estate photographers might want to look into this lens.
There was also virtually no ghosting or lens flare present, which seems to be a common problem with a lot of wide-angle lenses.
I was equally impressed while shooting details, though I did get that tunnel effect again when focusing on a bike rack. All that being said, the background separation was pretty nice when shooting at an open aperture close to an object. Just … different.
With so many wide-angle options on the market for Sony shooters, the Sony 14mm f/1.8 GM definitely sits at the top of my list. While I haven’t tried Sigma’s 14mm f/1.8 variant, the Sony comes in at a smaller, more compact size … for the same price. The image quality is stunning, the minimized distortion and lens flare is a breath of fresh air.
If you’re looking at a prime wide-angle lens, I’d can’t recommend the Sony 14mm f/1.8 GM lens enough.
Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM Lens
A dynamic ultra wide-angle focal length with an especially bright design, the FE 14mm f/1.8 GM from Sony is a fast, versatile lens well-suited to landscape, nature, architectural and astrophotography applications. Its extremely wide-but-usable perspective is complemented by the f/1.8 maximum aperture for excellent performance in low-light conditions and increased control over depth of field.