Sony 16-35mm f2.8 GM Review

Specifications

Aperture
f/2.8 – f/22
Size
88.5 x 121.6mm
Filter Thread
82 mm
Weight
680 g
Max Magnification
0.19
Min Focusing Distance
28 cm
Number of aperture blades
11, Rounded
Elements/Groups
12 / 10
Optical Stabilization
No
Weather Resistance
Yes

Build Quality

[Taken with Sony 24-70mm f2.8 GM]

The lens features dust and moisture sealing, which is a must-have landscape lens feature. Being a G Master or GM lens, it has a solid construction, with sturdy and rubberized zoom and focus rings. The zoom ring is not too tight or too loose. The lens hood on our copy was a little loose, which was fixed by putting a small piece of tape on the inside of the hood.

The lens is not too large and heavy, and it feels well-balanced on Sony mirrorless cameras. Amazingly, it is barely larger than the Sony 16-35mm f4 ZA lens while being sharper and a stop faster across the zoom range. It takes normal lens filters, which means no need for bulky add-on filter systems. It is nice as we often use a circular polarizing filter on the lens.

[Taken with Sony 100mm f2.8 STF GM]

Autofocus

Like other GM lenses, the 16-35mm f2.8 lens has a fast, silent and accurate autofocus. It is extremely capable for taking photos of fast-moving children and other action photos.

Image Quality

The 16-35mm f2.8 GM lens is noticeably sharper in our experience than the Sony 16-35mm f4 ZA lens, one of the reasons we upgraded. Some people have argued that the f4 lens is sharper, so it’s possible that there’s some lens variability for both versions.

The sun star of the Sony 16-35mm f2.8 GM has a different characteristic than the Sony 16-35mm f4 ZA lens.

16-35mm f2.8 GM — 16-35mm f4 ZA

The GM has a much more clearly defined and symmetrical 22-pointed sun star due to the shape of its blades, whereas the ZA has different lengths of rays in its sun star. Both types can be aesthetically pleasing, although the ZA often exhibits worse flares in its sun stars than the GM lens.

The f2.8 aperture on the GM lens is great for environmental portraits, gently blurring out the background to feature the foreground, but the scale and beauty of the background environment remain visible.

The lens has worked well for astrophotography. Being able to go to 16mm f2.8 is nice for getting more of the Milky Way in the frame, and coma seems to be minimal.

Although the 16-35mm f2.8 GM lens does not have optical lens stabilization or OSS like the 16-35mm f4 ZA, the in-body stabilization of the a7RIII that we generally pair it with does a great job. Of course, lens stabilization does not matter when using a tripod.

Some more favorite photos with the 16-35 GM:




Summary

Pros

  • Amazing sharpness
  • Good flare resistance
  • Good coma resistance
  • Good contrast and rendering
  • Silent, accurate and fast autofocus
  • Weather Sealing

Cons

  • Expensive at $2200
  • Still has some flares when shooting directly into the sun

The Sony 16-35mm f2.8 GM is a great wide angle zoom lens for the Sony mirrorless E-mount system. Although expensive, it is worth the price if you are interested in astrophotography, environmental portraits or low light indoor wide angle shots in addition to landscapes. We had the Sony 16-35mm f4 lens and upgraded to the 16-35 GM. If your philosophy is buy it nice or buy it twice, this is a keeper lens you won’t need to upgrade.

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