What's the difference between a $1,399 lens and a $399 lens?

Viltrox vs Sony
(Image credit: Chris Brockhurst)

The Sony G Master lenses are known for two things – performance and price. While they can be pricey, the Sony G Master lenses often offer brilliant results. One of the most popular lenses is the Sony FE 24mm f/1.4 GM, which offers a wide field of view and a beautifully wide maximum aperture. However, lens manufacturer Viltrox has officially thrown its hat into the ring with an affordable alternative – the Viltrox 24mm f/1.8. 

But how well does this $399 lens compare to the Sony GM $1,399 piece of glass? Can the Sony lens really provide an extra $1,000 worth of quality? Well YouTuber Chris Brockhurst might just have the answer with his latest video comparing the two lenses.

• Read more: Best wide-angle lens

Viltrox is a Chinese lens manufacturer that has historically produced APS-C lenses. It's become known for its inexpensive, yet brilliant, lenses for Fujifilm X-mount cameras – and for its extremely competitive pricing. However, Viltrox has recently started to produce full-frame lenses – and its latest offering is a 24mm f/1.8 lens. 

The video above offers an interesting look at how well the Viltrox performs in comparison to the Sony. Of course, the Sony G Master lens does offer better results when it comes to image quality. The Sony is slightly sharper when used wide open and it also offers a wider maximum aperture. However, the Viltrox performs so well in comparison that some may even feel that it's better value for money. 

One key difference between the lenses is that the Sony FE 24mm f/1.4 GM can focus closer at 24cm, while the Viltrox 24mm f/1.8 can only focus as close as 30cm. This might not initially seem like much difference, but when you're using wide angle lenses, that extra distance can impact the way you film or take photos. 

Interestingly, the Viltrox seems to have a wider field of view in comparison to the Sony. This tends to a common inconsistency among lens manufacturers. Focal lengths between manufacturers can vary when it comes to the actual angle of view. 

Either way, it's great to see manufacturers like Viltrox producing brilliant and inexpensive options. G Master lenses are incredible pieces of glass, but the cost can be prohibitive. Fortunately, it doesn't seem like you'll be sacrificing too much if you decide to purchase the less expensive option. 

You can download the files from Brockhurst to inspect for yourself using this link here

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Usman Dawood

Usman is a commercial and architectural photographer based in West Yorkshire, who has been working professionally for over seven years. He has also spent over four years as a writer for the biggest photography sites in the world, including Staff Writer for Digital Camera World, senior staff writer for FStoppers, and tech writer for Petapixel. 

With a particular interest in technology developments, high-resolution imaging and the high-end cameras, Usman has been on the cutting edge of camera news as well as writing features about medium format systems and global shutters, and has reviewed some of the latest Leica cameras as well as a tripod that’s even taller than Andre the Giant!