Sony’s new 20mm f/1.8 G lens is the widest full-frame prime lens in the E-mount line up and gives users more freedom to shoot stunning landscapes and starscapes as well as capturing impressive video.
Four of our European Imaging Ambassadors were kind enough to test the lens before its announcement and here’s what they had to say about it.
“I tried the FE 20mm f/1.8 G in a number of situations with my Alpha 9 and Alpha 7R III and found that it handled exactly as I would have expected – easily and comfortably, with fantastic sharp results!”
“Even stopped down to f/22, the edges of the frame showed no sign of softening and despite the bright points of light in this shot, I couldn’t see any evidence of chromatic aberration or coma.”
I’m a big fan of shooting unconventional portraits with a wideangle lens, so I was eager to see what effects shooting with a wide aperture would offer. I shot this portrait wide open and I love the smooth bokeh.
The compact design features two AA (advanced aspherical) elements and three ED (Extra-low dispersion) glass elements, delivering edge-to-edge sharpness even at f/1.8. In addition, the use of two XD (extreme dynamic) Linear Motors delivers fast, precise and quiet auto focusing for both stills and video shooting.
“In landscape photography, depth of field in low light is very important to me. I found that when I kept a certain distance from the object in front of me, the middle and background were still pin sharp, even at f/1.8. This meant I could keep the ISO to a minimum and still didn’t have to use long exposures.”
I was also interested to see how the lens would perform on my Alpha 6600 and found that it gave superb edge sharpness with minimal distortion, even for such a wide lens.
“I love the build quality too; it reminds me of the 24mm f/1.4 G Master which is a favourite of mine. I did manage to shoot some video footage on the 20mm and I particularly liked the fact that I can turn the clicks off on the manual aperture ring, the same as I can with the 24mm. This is a definite advantage when shooting quietly, and the near silent AF was a bonus too. Overall the lens balanced very well with both my Alpha 6600 and 7R III, when shooting video and stills hand-held.”
“For the few days I got to try the lens, the weather wasn’t good in my home city of Amsterdam, which was a shame as I was hoping to try some starscapes. I did get out a few evenings though and despite the rain, managed to put it through its paces. The lens got quite wet on occasion, but still behaved perfectly!”
The above shot was taken at the minimum focus distance and I was particularly impressed with the perfectly circular bokeh at f/1.8. Many of my wide angle landscape shots are taken on f/11 or smaller, but I had so much fun playing with the shallow depth of field on this lens.
“I wanted to try some interior architecture shots so I took it along to the Eemhuis library in Amersfoort. At f/11, it is impressively sharp across the frame and cropping into the centre, I can still read the magazine titles.”
Ole C. Salomonsen
“Much of my photography involves working in the dark photographing the aurora and stars, so I love primes and I love fast lenses. One thing I have found, over many years of testing lenses, is that fast wide angle lenses will often struggle with distortion and vignetting, and many will fail to keep the edges sharp if the centre of the frame is in focus.”
The Sony FE 24mm f/1.4 GM is one of my favourite lenses for the very reason that it performs brilliantly wide open and if I place stars in the corner of the frame, they stay round and don’t turn into bananas! But often I like to use a wider lens and so I was very excited to try the 20mm. Despite only having only a few days to shoot, and the winter weather in Tromsø has been terrible, I did manage to get out to some of my favourite locations.”
My initial conclusions are that this is an amazing lens – razor sharp across the whole frame, even at f/1.8 and although I love the 24mm, having the shorter focal length can sometimes make all the difference.
“This might well be my favourite lens for aurora work from now on. I’m simply amazed.”