Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Review: A Sizable Upgrade?
This is the original Sony 24-70 F2.8 GM (remove lens to reveal size of the new lens), and this is the brand new 24-70 GM II. Straight out of the box, I am really impressed with how much lighter and smaller the lens is in comparison to its predecessor. But is it worth the upgrade? Let’s find out in today’s review!
It seems like Sony is updating it’s G-master “holy trinity” lens lineup starting with the 70-200 GM II releasing sometime last year and more recently the 24- 70 GM II and I believe we can expect a 16-35 GM II coming soon, but of course, fingers crossed. It'll come in due time for sure. Just a matter of when.
But lets take a look at the 24-70 GM II because this is honestly pretty exciting. in the recent lenses that Sony has released we have seen some similarities such as an aperture ring as well as more customizable focus hold buttons and yes that is exactly what you'll find with this latest rendition as well.
Personally, I actually quite like the direction that Sony is heading with its new lenses. With the direction that they are heading in, I believe they are keeping filmmakers in mind with features like the aperture ring and focus breathing compensation and this really holds true to the entire hybrid nature of the Alpha series of mirrorless cameras and this is honestly just a really good thing. In addition to that, there's also a new tension adjustment toggle switch per se so you can choose between having a lighter or tougher control over the rings, which is really up to preference.
Now talking about design, the overall design of this lens is quite unique and does deviate slightly from the original first generation. If you take a closer look, you will notice that the front element is actually bigger than the body of the lens itself in terms of diameter and the overall size is much reduced in comparison to the previous generation. In terms of the actual technicalities, it has a 82mm filter thread and with it being smaller, does also meaning it's quite a bit lighter as well, coming in at 695g which is almost a whole 200g lighter than the previous and at that weight, it might quite possibly be the lightest in its class as well.
Again, everything just feels great to the touch and just natural to use. All the buttons are also placed where they should, just like before. So of course apart from the main Zoom and Focus rings, you now get that new Aperture ring which is de-clickable, alongside that tension smoothness as mentioned earlier and all the additional buttons that most would be familiar with.
But enough about the design of the lens really, all you have to know and absorb from everything we just shared would be mainly two things. Additional functions such as the aperture ring and the tension smoothness toggle, as well as the significantly lighter weight. But here's the main point we all want to know. Is there really any quality difference coming from the original GM?
Here are some shots for your reference to take a look and see for yourself.
So all these photos were shot using the Sony A7III and they were shot using the same settings. The only difference here is the lens itself. As you can tell from the photos shown, the image quality on the GM II definitely does take the edge here. If you're just taking wide-shots, the difference isn't too pronounced but if you actually zoom in on the details, the GM II retains much more detail and sharpness as compared to the GM I.
But perhaps the bigger difference comes when we delve into the rendition of the bokeh. As shown with the show on the flower, both shot at F2.8, the GM II is able to handle highlights much more naturally and just taking a look at the photos side-by-side, the photo taken from the GM II just gives it that slight bit more contrast and added vibrancy which makes for a more pleasant image. The second test is to mainly focus on the style of the bokeh itself and the GM II certainly improves upon the previous. The GM II produces bokeh that has a much more natural fall off and if you actually look closely at the shot with the GM I, that has quite a bit more chromatic aberration. The GM II certainly fixes those two main points.
Of course they still perform rather similar in most regards and it's only when you really nitpick do you see the difference in details. But as a professional, if I were to choose which lens to take with me, it'll definitely be the GM II without a doubt.
But even if you're a casual shooter, just bringing it out to shoot and capture your everyday lives, the lens just performs great at any one focal length with it wide open at F2.8. Everything is tact sharp where it should be and bokeh is natural all around. Even when you're shooting at 24mm, there is enough separation from the foreground and background to make your photos just pop that bit more. Add on the really nice contrast and controlled elements all within the frame and sure enough, most of your photos just turn out... great. Simply great.
So overall the GM II is an extremely sharp & versatile lens for both still and video shooters and perhaps surprisingly enough, the price isn't half bad either. It goes for just about S$2,999 officially here in Singapore and that is actually more affordable than the previous GM I which comes in at a slightly higher S$3,199. This is really an obvious win in our books.
So it is worth the upgrade?
100%. If you're someone who shoots professionally or perhaps just someone who dabbles a lot into both photography and videography, this is simply a fantastic lens. If you don't already own a 24-70mm and you're looking for one, look no further. Get this. But if you already own the previous GM I, well... this is still very much worth an upgrade in our opinion. It performs better, has much more functionality and is lighter to boot. This is one lens you can bring around anywhere and not think about it. And hey! You can save a little simply by selling off your previous GM I in the used market and at that point, this is one serious upgrade that's worth every cent for sure.
Safe to say, the Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II lens really impresses. If you want that G-Master look, look no further.