Sony has announced a new version of one of its key lenses for professional photographers, videographers and content creators. The Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master II standard zoom is smaller, lighter, faster and better than the original 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master.
Curiously, we’re told by Sony that the older FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM will remain on sale, as it’s still a great lens and will offer a more affordable entry point to the G Master range – Sony’s premium professional lenses. More affordable is, of course, relative.
Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master II key features
With the design of this new, lighter lens, Sony is acknowledging that users’ needs have changed and the need a lens better suited to video that’s also smaller and lighter to handle.
At the same time, any new lens has to offer image quality and performance that can match the capabilities not only of Sony’s current cameras, but the ones to come.
The main advances in this new lens are in its size and weight, its optical performance, its autofocus system and its controls.
Weighing 695g, the new Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master II is 22% lighter than its 886g predecessor. It’s also just 119.9mm long as opposed to the 136mm length of the old lens, and it’s 18% smaller in terms of volume. The new lens does have internal focusing, but it does not have internal zoom – we’re told the lens barrel does extend when zooming.
The autofocus system now uses four XD Linear motors to offer fast, quiet AF, and high tracking performance in particular, both when shooting stills in the Sony A1’s 30fps continuous shooting mode, for example, or for fast and reliable AF tracking for video.
The Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master II also focuses closer than its predecessor, with a minimum focus distance of 0.21-0.3m vs 0.38m, and a maximum magnification ratio of 0.32x vs 0.24x.
Optically, the FE 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master II uses 20 elements in 15 groups, including two XA (extreme aspherical) elements, three aspherical lenses, two ED lenses and two Super ED lenses. It has an 11-bladed circular diaphragm for attractive bokeh, and Sony says its XA lens elements, manufactured to a tolerance of just 0.01 microns, eliminate any ’onion ring’ effect in defocused bokeh disks.
A ‘floating focus’ mechanism is said to control chromatic aberration, stigmatism, distortion and coma, while a fluorine coating is used on the front element to repel moisture and make cleaning easier. This lens also uses Sony’s Nano AR Coating II to control flare and internal reflections.
Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master II video features
Apart from the new autofocus control, the Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master II has other features aimed at videographers. It offers an aperture ring with a ‘de-click’ feature for smooth and silent iris changes – and an ‘iris lock’ to stop this happening by accident.
Focus breathing has been controlled and minimised through the optical design, though this lens is also compatible with the focus breathing compensation feature on some Sony bodies.
The Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master II also offers linear manual focus control for more precise focus adjustments, and a zoom ‘smoothness’ switch to change the torque needed to turn the zoom ring.
The lighter weight will be good news for videographers, especially those using rigs and gimbals, though to achieve this the body construction is a mixture of metal and ‘engineering plastic’. It is, however dust and moisture-sealed.
Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master II price and availability
The Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master II will have a recommended retail price of $2,299/£2,099 (about AU$3,688) and should be available from the end of May 2022.