Sony is just churning out lenses these days. The latest is the FE 14mm f/1.8 GM Lens, and it is a beauty. It instantly became Sony’s widest prime to date and is competing against only one other lens for this focal length and aperture. Plus, it seems to have done that while significantly cutting size and weight.
All things point to Sony having another winner on their hands, though leave it to Gerald Undone to provide an in-depth review of the lens at launch. Everything is on the table here, including distortion, bokeh (yes, even in a 14mm), flare, build quality, and more. If you want to know all you need to about Sony’s new 14mm this is the video to check out.
We have to address the elephant in the room – the Sigma 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Lens. It’s the only serious competition at this point for Sony E. It was designed for DSLRs though, so it is absolutely massive. It has the extra length thanks to what is basically a built-in adapter and it’s heavier at over 1200g with the caps. Compare that to the 500g of the Sony. And yet both have the same price ($1,599), focal length, and aperture.
Getting to build, the 14mm is a G Master. That means it has Sony’s best sealing in their lens lineup. It also has rubberized focus ring, a de-clickable aperture ring, AF/MF switch. It is a focus-by-wire system, but it is linear so should be accurate. Sigma is mechanical, so that is an advantage. On the other hand, Sigma’s focusing is loud. Sony is quiet and fast, plus breathing is well controlled.
One of the most significant differences was discovered with the minimum focus distance testing. The Sony actually has very well controlled distortion. Lines are noticeably straighter on the Sony compared to Sigma. You can’t fix some perspective distortion as it is a 14mm, but it looks straight.
Bokeh is interesting to discuss on an ultra-wide lens. The f/1.8 is useful and can help create shallow depth of field. Sony does have much better control over onion ring effects. The bokeh does stretch quite a bit when you get to the corners.
As for chromatic aberration, the Sony lens shows a minimal amount. Longitudinal in particular is basically non-existent. There is a small about of lateral aberration, though it is a very well-corrected lens. Fringing is low enough that a small degree of correction will basically erase it.
Detail! It has a great deal of detail. In focus areas are sharp. There is some harsh falloff, but that is more of a side effect of the ultra-wide focal length. For close-ups wide open you might not be as happy as with an 85mm f/1.8, but it does work if you want to use it that way. Another thing is that stopping down for even just f/2 or f/2.8 the sharpness and vignetting are improved noticeably.
Flare is the last thing. Sony shows some more contrast, but you are getting more reflections that appear to be coming from the optical design and the shape of the elements, so it is something to consider. Additionally, sun stars seem to be super easy to get with this lens.
A guest on the video is Jared Polin, aka FroKnowsPhoto, who talks about how this prime compares to the various zooms out there. He used the a1 with the 12-24mm f/2.8 GM, the 14mm f/1.8 GM, and the Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8. Interestingly, Polin wants to stick with the 12-24mm.
The extra benefit is worth more than the few advantages you might get with the prime. However, if you are looking for something for astrophotography where the prime might excel, zooms might be best. Also, the Sigma option will save you a fair amount, be more versatile, and you don’t lose much for image quality.
Overall, it does look like Sony is continuing to knock things out of the park. The FE 14mm f/1.8 GM is another stunner.
Are you going to add this lens to your kit?
[source: Gerald Undone]