Sony Delivers on the Promise of Mirrorless with Three Diminutive and Ultralight High Performance Prime Lenses, at 24mm, 40mm, 50mm
For years, I myself and many readers have wanted to see compact lightweight prime lenses of high performance offered by a camera vendor. Travel, landscape/hiking, etc. Today, that finally has happened—kudos to Sony*.
Today’s release of three Sony “G” prime lenses further cements the Sony strategic vision of delivering class-leading optics while also encouraging an impressively diverse optical ecosystem.
Sum that up: three prime lenses totaling 510 grams, all with high-grade AF motors. OK, the lens hoods and caps will increase that to maybe 600g. But it doesn’t get any better than that and a travel/hiking system means just two lenses totaling ~310 grams.
Along with new technological tour de force cameras like the incredible Sony A1 (whose technology will migrate down the line), never before has it been so clear that Sony mirrorless is the smart move for the vast majority. No other camera system can touch what Sony is delivering on lenses or cameras. These lenses come on top of impressive new designs like the Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM and the Sony FE 35mm f/1.4 GM—Sony is on a roll.
Will Sony expand this lineup to include something wider and longer? It would make a lot of sense. I’d like to see a fisheye, an 18mm, 21mm, 28mm, 75mm, 100mm, 200mm, all following the same compact and relatively lightweight design principles.
* I give Sigma credit too, but Sony is the first manufacturer to seriously target the slow lens speed / ultra-compact / high performance market as a camera manufacturer. Also, Sigma made a serious mistake in not owning this space two years ago. Now Sony will dominate it instead.
Unbeatable value proposition
By constraining the lens speed to f/2.5 or f/2.8, these high performance and ultra-compact and lightweight performance can be delivered at a very competitive price point.
On the size and weight and performance front, these new G lenses blow away key appeals of the Leica M lineup (compactness and lightweight), they cut it by 1/2 or 2/3 in comparison. And the performance is going to be better at a tiny fraction of the price. Take that savings and buy the Sony A1 instead of the kludges that Leica offers.
These new G lenses are not “starter” lenses, but a migration of some of the best Sony technology into eminently portable and compact lenses. Testifying to that are the metal exterior with engraved (not painted-on) focal length and aperture markings, the use of aspherical and ED elements, focus hold button, physical aperture ring, dust and moisture sealing, etc. All the stuff you usually do not get in lenses are this low a price point.
Super design consistency, high-end features on the cheap
Sony has thought through every detail: the filter sizes match, the optical performance across the focal range is consistently high and strikingly consistent, pleasing bokeh, double linear focusing motors, haptics, etc all match beautifully.
Sony has its act together in a consistent design philosophy.
Performance to be confirmed
The Sony MTF charts show great promise, but as usual I want to see performance in the field that impresses me, meaning build qualify that delivers the claimed MTF, free of lens skew issues, focus shift, etc.
Please pre-order starting 10 AM Pacific time March 24 using these links.
Roy P writes:
After a bit of a breather last year that allowed Canon to get a little PR for the R5, Sony is now steamrolling it now. It has been one body blow after another to the competition, starting with the Sony A7S III, the Sony FE 35 f/1.4 GM, then the Sony A1, and now this set of ultra-compact primes. It’s reasonable to expect these three will be only the first of a larger array of compact primes like this.
These new lenses are definitely not to be confused with kit lenses – just looking at their construction (materials, finish – e.g., the AF hold buttons) and the MTFs, it is clear that these are high performance lenses. Plus you also get both manual and autofocus, plus aperture ring. Sony may have set a new standard for lens haptics with hits signature design. The only thing I’d additionally wish for is a built-in lens hood.
The rumor sites are expecting a 70-200 f/2.8 II, 24-70 f/2.8 II, 100 f/1.4 and 800 f/5.6 lenses later this year. All those would be formidable heavy-hitters. I’d like to also see an upgraded 100-400 and 100-300 constant aperture (e.g., f/4) zooms with internal zoom/focus.
At some point, either in 2021 or in 2022, I expect to see an A7R V that could have a lot of new computational photography goodies. To round it all up, it would be fantastic if Sony also came out with an A7R M, for Monochrome spelled with an e at the end.
Sony is certainly on a roll, and I really believe Sony is the right technology platform to be on. For people already neck deep in Canon, they do have a reasonable alternative in Canon, but for anyone considering a switch to a new system, I think Sony is the way to go.
DIGLLOYD: no other company has the deep technology stack that Sony does. And the lenses that Sony has delivered in the past two years show us that Sony is second to none in its lens line.