The very first lens I bought for my first-ever camera was a standard zoom lens. It’s been a mainstay in my bag ever since, and with the introduction of the Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 GM II, the standard just keeps getting better.
However, a standard lens is, in fact, what it is — standard. A lot of people like to hate on the 24-70mm range. They complain that there’s nothing exciting about it, nothing artistic, nothing groundbreaking. And for the most part, they’re right. Despite that, it’s still a necessary lens for any event or wedding photographer. And the newest iteration from Sony is tough to beat.
- Incredibly small and light compared
- Well-controlled distortion
- Weather sealing
- Autofocus is quick and accurate
- Sharp in large and small details
- Very pricey, coming in at over $1000 more than its competitors
Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 GM II — Technical specifications
All technical specifications for the Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 GM II have been taken from B&H Photo:
- Aperture range: f/2.8–f/22
- Angle of view: 84° to 34°
- Minimum focus distance: 8.3″ / 21 cm
- Maximum magnification: 0.32x
- Optical design: 20 Elements in 15 Groups
- Diaphragm blades: 11, Rounded
- Image stabilization: No
- Filter size: 82mm
- Dimensions: 3.5 x 4.7″ / 87.8 x 119.9 mm
- Length at maximum extension: 6″ / 152 mm
- Weight: 1.5 lb / 695 g
Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 GM II — Ergonomics and build quality
I’ve used two standard zoom lenses for my Sony system — the Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 Art lens and the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 II lens. The new Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 GM II lens fits in-between these options, offering a professional-grade option in a small, lightweight body.
The lens has two customizable focus hold buttons on it, along with an autofocus/manual focus switch. There’s an aperture ring, which can be de-clicked, making this a great lens for video. There’s also a small Iris Lock switch.
The zoom ring is a good size and feels nice, coming in with just the right amount of friction. You can also customize this to provide a tighter friction if you wish.
The lens hood is rather large given the lens’ size, but it still comes in significantly smaller than Sigma’s standard hood.
Overall, the lens feels premium, and it’s extremely well-balanced on my cameras. Sony has been focusing on shrinking its lens’ footprints for the past year or so, and the 24-70mm definitely needed to be shrunk down.
Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 GM II — In the field
As someone who’s used a standard lens dating back to 2012, I’ve experienced both the good and bad of this lens. The good? Standard zooms are usually some of the most reliable lenses out there. The bad? Don’t expect artistry in every situation.
The Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 GM II is probably one of the most artistically sound standard zooms I’ve used, next to the Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 Art. It’s a beautiful lens inside and out, and produces some stellar images in the process.
The lens is approachable, especially given its smaller footprint. It’s great for someone shooting events, family portraits and weddings. I also used it on a food photoshoot for a magazine, and it worked wonders there (though I’m not able to show those photos quite yet).
Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 GM II — Autofocus performance
If there’s one thing I loved about the new Sony 24-70mm, it was how reliable and quick the autofocusing was. Whether it was photographing exercise classes, dancers or a magic show, this lens kept up with the fastest of movements with ease.
I’d feel confident using this lens for any of my events I photograph. There was no hunting, and the lens just snapped right at the subject you were photographing. Combined with Sony’s Eye AF in cameras like the a1 and a7 IV, this is a stellar lens if you need to capture some movement.
Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 GM II — Image quality
The image quality, in a word, is stunning. The Sony 24-70mm produces a beautiful glance into the world, with nice colors, sharpness and a beautiful depth of field.
Distortion control and vignetting
The Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 GM II has some minor distortion at the edges, along with a small vignette. Any distortion and vignette can be easily eliminated during post-processing. Without a side-by-side comparison, it was difficult to see if there were really any flaws here.
Ghosting, flaring and chromatic aberrations
During my tests I found no issues with ghosting, flaring or chromatic aberrations. The 24-70mm features Sony’s Nano AR Coating II, which is meant to help reduce, or eliminate, these potential lens issues.
This lens is beautifully sharp, with small details just screaming! While it doesn’t feature image stabilization, the compact size and lighter weight makes it easy to get a sharp shot.
While zooms will never be masters of bokeh, the Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 GM II holds its own. It offers a nice, pleasing depth of field with circular bokeh balls in the distance. The falloff on this lens is beautiful, providing an artistic view at what’s in front of you.
The colors on the Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 GM II were toward the warmer side, but still very pleasing.