In 2017, Sony released the Sony FE 24-105mm f/4 G lens. The 24-105mm lenses form a popular “do it all” or travel lens, and it was only a matter of time before Sony joined the race.
Some manufacturers have hit the mark with various legendary lenses in this category… but there are just as many sub-standard lenses that have left users disappointed and frustrated.
Sony’s version comes in with the G-rating – together with the G Master rating, these are traditionally reserved for the best Sony lenses.
Along with the lofty price tag, the expectations buying this lens will be understandable quite high.
Thanks to Sony Australia, I got to have a play around with the Sony FE 24-105mm f/4 G for a few weeks to put together the review you can read below.
Table of Contents
Sony FE 24-105mm G f/4 OSS Specs
- Image Quality
- f/4 won’t appeal to everyone
- Another lens you’ll end up wanting
- Focal Length: 24 to 105mm
- Maximum Aperture: f/4
- Minimum Aperture: f/22
- Lens Mount: Sony E
- Format Compatibility: Full-Frame
- Angle of View: 84° to 23°
- Maximum Magnification: 0.31x
- Minimum Focus Distance: 1.25′ / 38 cm
- Optical Design: 17 Elements in 14 Groups
- Diaphragm Blades: 9, Rounded
- Focus Type: Autofocus
- Image Stabilization: Yes
- Filter Size: 77 mm (Front)
- Dimensions (ø x L): 3.28 x 4.46″ / 83.4 x 113.3 mm
- Weight: 1.5 lb / 663 g
Build & Ergonomics
The Sony FE 24-105mm f/4 G comes with the usual items you’d expect to find in your camera lens box:
- Pouch (only with the more expensive Sony Zeiss and G lenses)
- Front and rear caps
- Manuals and warranty papers
While some lenses in this category feel like cheap plastic, the Sony 24-105mm f/4 is definitely a professional lens. It has earned the “G” moniker, and it isn’t a “kit lens”… unless you’re planning to put it on a Sony A9!
If I compare the lens to Sony 24mm f/1.4 G Master, it’s hard to find anything on this lens that indicates it has lower quality construction.
The weight and size are reasonable for a lens of this type. It’s about 80% of the weight of Canon 24-105mm f/4, which is the closest alternative in terms of image quality and price.
On the lens itself, you will find an AF/MF Switch, OSS Switch, AF-Lock Button, Zoom Ring and Manual focus ring.
The zoom ring and manual focus ring have an excellent feel to them – firm but not stiff.
The AF lock is helpful, although having a spread of different lens manufacturers means I can’t rely on it for all my lenses. It may not seem like a big issue, but most photographers rely on muscle memory.
The Sony FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS has excellent autofocus performance. It won’t match a sports lens like the 70-200mm, but the differences aren’t distinct. You have to push this lens to the limits to notice the difference.
Like many lenses, autofocus is a little worse off in low light, but it’s still accurate and fast. I like shooting seagulls in the evening as an autofocus test as they move inconsistently.
In this case, the Sony FE 24-105mm f/4 G had no challenges keeping track of the seagulls. The autofocus also had no issues with some tests I did shooting into the sun.
For some time, I was wondering whether I should just put “wow” in this section and leave it at that. It might have been cryptic, but people would have got the idea.
For a 24-105mm, this lens blew me away.
I came into this review with a lot of preconceived ideas. I am one of those people that come with emotional baggage from my lousy history with some 24-105mm lenses…
The Sony FE 24-105mm f/4 G is a lens I wanted to hate. That never occurred and all I realised is that Sony just got it right with this one.
You’ll want it even if you don’t need it – it’s that good.
The Sony FE 24-105mm f/4 G is very sharp all the way from 24mm to 105mm. It softens a little around 90-105mm, but it’s still excellent considering the zoom range.
Corners are softer but never to the degree that you are particularly concerned about it. Once you stop down to f/8, the sharpness is impressive. I’d feel comfortable using this for professional studio portraits at f/8.
Chromatic Aberration is well controlled so it’s easily fixed in post-processing when it occurs.
Like most zooms, there is distortion, particularly at the wide end. The distortion is likely to be corrected automatically in your raw processing tool if you are using lens profiles.
While the image quality is fantastic, you’re still stuck with an f/4 lens, and this is likely to be the biggest issue for potential buyers.
However, thanks to the built-in image stabilization of this lens, combined with the incredible high ISO performance of most modern Sony mirrorless cameras, using this ‘slower’ f/4 lens isn’t much of an issue.
I found it easy to handhold sharp images at 1/6th (see previous sunset image), requiring no major effort to try to keep the camera stabilised.
I don’t consider myself the steadiest shooter in the world so I think this would be achievable for most shooters.
Sony FE 24-105mm G f/4 OSS Sample Images
Check out these sample images taken with the Sony FE 24-105mm G f/4:
Value for Money
At a shade under $1,400, the Sony FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS comes with a hefty price tag for a non-f/2.8 lens.
While the price is high, there is little to complain about. As far as 24-105mm lenses go, this is as good as they get.
I think the most significant competition will come from the Tamron stable and primarily because of the f/2.8 aperture. The Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 is a fair amount cheaper, but doesn’t have the range that this does.
You also lose 24 vs 28mm on the wide end, which may be critical for some shooters. A lot of buyers will be looking for 24mm for travel landscapes.
For the price of the Sony and a couple of hundred dollars extra, you could pick up a 17-28mm and a 28-75mm, but then you’d be stuck with two lenses, and this defeats the purpose of why many people want a 24-105mm – it packs a lot of useful focal lengths in just one lens.
Sony FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS Review | Conclusion
The Sony FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS has earned a lot of praise since its release.
Sadly, if you were looking at buying this lens and hoping this review would help save you $1,300, I can’t help you there…!
There are reasons not to get this lens, but none of them relates to the quality of the lens or the optics. This lens is simply outstanding.
The choice will ultimately come down to is whether you can afford the lens and whether the f/4 aperture is big enough for your personal needs.