Review: Sony 20mm f1.8 G (A Fantastic Lens for Everyday Shooters). Sony 20mm f1 8
Review: Sony 20mm f1.8 G (A Fantastic Lens for Everyday Shooters)
When you look at the current Sony E mount lens lineup, and then you take a look at the Sony 20mm f1.8 G, you might be wondering why Sony released this lens when they already have the 24mm f1.4 GM. The specs of the Sony 20mm 1.8 G sound great; in fact, the 20mm f1.8 G borrows a lot of the same tech that’s used in Sony’s more expensive GM options, so it should be a strong performer. On paper, the Sony 20mm f1.8 G sounds like a solid wide lens (it also happens to now be the widest prime lens in the Sony lineup), but how does the lens perform in the real world for 899.99? Let’s find out in our review.
“The Sony 20mm f1.8 G is bitingly sharp. Both the 24 Megapixel a9 II, and the 61 Megapixel Sony a7r IV when paired with this lens produced images with fantastic levels of sharpness.”
Pros and Cons
- Nice and light (0.82lbs)
- The small footprint makes it easy to carry around for long periods
- Super fast, silent focusing
- Weather sealing
- Very sharp optics
- Colors rendered are pleasing, and the bokeh isn’t too shabby either
- The aperture ring can be de-clicked so that it can be used for video
- The large, smooth manual FOCUS ring
We used the 899 Sony 20mm F1.8 G with the Sony a7r IV and the Sony a9 II.
All technical specifications have been taken from Sony directly.
- ED Glass for improved image quality and better controlled chromatic aberration
- Nano AR coatings to help with reflections and ghosting
- 7.5-inch minimum focusing distance
- XD LM autofocus motor that’s found in GM lenses
- Max magnification of 0.20x with Af and 0.22x with MF
- Minimum focusing distance of 7.5-inches
- Filter thread diameter of 67mm
- Dimensions of 2.89-inches x 3.33-inches
- Weighs just 0.83lbs
The Sony 20mm f1.8 G is a well-designed lens, which feels really nice in the hands. Put this small prime on your camera, and you’ll hardly notice that it is there given its small footprint (2.89-inches x 3.33-inches) and lightweight (0.82lbs). In the image above, you can see that the Sony 20mm f1.8 has a large focusing ring, and closer to the lens mount, you’ll see an aperture control ring.
On the right-hand side of the barrel, you’ll find the on-off switch for the aperture ring click. The switch is well placed and is easy to find. You’re also going to see the Sony branding here too. To the bottom right of the image, you will see the petal-shaped lens hood that comes with the lens,
On the left-hand side of the barrel, you will find the auto and manual FOCUS selector switch, the FOCUS hold button, and the large Sony G branding.
The front element of the Sony 20mm f1.8 G us ever so slightly bulbous but not to an extreme, this is to be expected in a lens of this focal length. This top-down image of the lens shows the front element. As you can see, the filter thread size is 67mm. Overall the Sony 20mm f1.8 G has an unremarkable, rather plain design. Let’s call it a standard design. There’s nothing that makes it stand out.
The lens is small, clean, uncluttered and, you’ll barely notice it attached to your camera, which means this lens is perfect for those who like to keep things compact and easy to carry when they head out of the door. There are no complaints here when it comes to ergonomics.
“The aperture control ring is, as you would expect, much smaller than the FOCUS ring, but it feels great. Leave the click mechanism turned on, and you get very satisfying clunks as you turn it.”
The Sony 20mm f1.8 G has the build quality that we have come to expect from G branded lenses in Sony’s line up; that’s to say, it’s excellent. The lens is a plastic affair, but it doesn’t feel cheap at all, in fact, it feels like it will stand up well to what most photographers will subject it to during normal use.
The Sony 20mm f1.8 G also features weather-sealing, which means you can take this lens out into the rain with no problems at all. I took it out with me, and the heavens opened up out of the blue, and it just kept on working with no issues at all. The focusing ring has just the right amount of tension, and the size of it makes it easy to use. The aperture control ring is, as you would expect, much smaller than the FOCUS ring, but it feels great. Leave the click mechanism turned on, and you get very satisfying clunks as you turn it. When you put the Click switch to off, you get a smooth spinning, completely silent aperture ring, which makes it ideal for video work. Overall the Sony 20mm f1.8 G won’t disappoint in the build quality department.
“The small size and weight of the Sony 20mm f1.8 G make this lens a pure joy to use.”
Ease of Use
Attach this lens to any Sony E mount camera, and off you go. It’s just that easy. The only choices you have to make are whether or not you want to be in control of the focusing, and if you want the aperture ring to be clicky or smooth. If you don’t want to use the aperture ring to change your f-stop, you can put it in auto, and you can use the dedicated aperture control on the camera body. The FOCUS hold button does exactly what it’s supposed to do too. The short minimum focusing distance is great as well! You can get nice and close to your subject (7.5-inches), and you can create some gorgeous bokeh.
The small size and weight of the Sony 20mm f1.8 G make this lens a pure joy to use. If you love going out on photo walks, partake in street photography, do documentary work, or landscapes that involve hiking to your location, you will enjoy this lens. There’s no IS in this lens, but you simply don’t need it on such a wide piece of glass, besides the IBIS on select Sony bodies will help if you need it. Put the lens on the camera and forget about it. You can easily use this lens all day without worrying about it becoming a burden.
“There were no problems with real-time human and animal eye-AF, nor with objects in motion. Half-press the shutter and you get FOCUS lock almost instantly.”
The Sony 20mm f1.8 G is a great performer when it comes to autofocus. Not only is it completely silent thanks to the XD LM linear AF motor that’s found in Sony’s more expensive GM lenses, but it’s also super snappy too. I tried this lens on the Sony a9 II, and the Sony a7r IV and granted, these cameras are ridiculous when it comes to the AF systems they employ, but the lens never missed a beat, and I doubt that it would miss on any newer Sony camera with the latest firmware. There were no problems with real-time human and animal eye-AF, nor with objects in motion. Half-press the shutter, and you get FOCUS lock almost instantly. This is the story in both good lighting conditions and less than stellar lighting conditions.
You’re going to be happy with the images you create with the Sony 20mm f1.8 G. Sharp is an understatement here. The amount of detail the lens can help Sony sensors resolve is incredible. One thing to note is that there were no profiles for this lens in either Capture One 20 or Lightroom during our testing period, so while the images look fine, there may well be some distortion, but at first glance, the photos look excellent. I can also say that vignetting is very well controlled too.
The Sony 20mm f1.8 G is going to give you great colors, nicely rendered bokeh, razor-sharp images from corner-to-corner from f1.8 and on, and the lens coatings control flare well when shooting directly into the sun. What more could you need?
While bokeh is not really a strong point of wide-angle lenses, you can surely create some nice out of FOCUS areas with the Sony 20mm f1.8 G. The minimum focusing distance of 7.5-inches helps here. The bokeh that can be rendered can be smooth and creamy; of course, it just depends on exactly what your background is, but overall the bokeh is great and not distracting in any way.
Step back a little, and you can see that the bokeh produced is still very nice indeed. I don’t think people buying this lens will be doing so for the bokeh, but just know that if you want to create some subject separation, you can do so easily, and you will get pleasing results.
During my time with the Sony 20mm f1.8 G, I have been quite impressed with the lens, but I do have to say that at times I have noticed some purple fringing. You can see some in the image above around branches in the background. I was able to remove it easily during post, though, and once the lens profiles hit photo editing software, it will be gone with a single click. So, yes, there can be fringing at times, but no, it’s not a deal-breaker.
The colors that the Sony 20mm f1.8 G renders are accurate and true to life. They aren’t overly saturated, nor are they muted, they just look great, I left the camera on auto white balance and was pleased with the colors overall, and I think that anyone who picks one of these lenses up for their own use will be happy with what they will see too.
The Sony 20mm f1.8 G is bitingly sharp. Both the 24 Megapixel a9 II, and the 61 Megapixel Sony a7r IV when paired with this lens produced images with fantastic levels of sharpness. This should come as no surprise really as primes generally offer unmatched levels of sharpness. When you look at other G lenses that Sony offers, there is no reason for this offering to be any different from the levels of sharpness they offer, and it doesn’t disappoint. Use this lens with a flash, and sharpness levels will be even higher, not that you need it, though.
Additional Image Samples
Below you will find a mixture of both straight out of camera unedited RAW files and edited files so that you can get an idea of what to expect from this lens. Images are marked accordingly.
- Great size and weight
- Razor-sharp, even wide open
- Very fast and very quiet AF motors
- Nice natural color rendering
- Weather sealing
I have been really impressed with the Sony 20mm f1.8 during my time with it. At first, I was wondering if there was a need for a 20mm f1.8 lens in the Sony lineup, but after using the lens, I can say that yes, there is. This lens is perfect for a ton of different genres, from street photography to documentary, to landscapes, environmental portraits, macro, portraits, and food photography. This lens will also be an excellent choice for those who like astrophotography thanks to its wide field of view and fast f1.8 aperture.
The Sony 20mm f1.8 G is a small lens that packs a punch. The images the glass will help you capture will be tack sharp from f1.8 and on. The colors that it renders are pleasant and neutral and will no doubt please many. The bokeh is very good for a wide-angle lens, and the way the lens coatings help control flares and ghosting is excellent. This lens is a speed demon in the AF department as well, in both good and poor lighting conditions. The Sony 20mm f1.8 G is fun to use for extended periods thanks to its lightweight and small size. It’s the perfect lens for the everyday photographer. Put it on your camera, and you may not want to take it off.
Despite the few instances of purple fringing, the Sony 20mm f1.8 G is a great performing lens. We award the Sony 20mmm f1.8 G five out of five stars. If you want a small, sharp lens that’s fun to use on your Sony E mount cameras, check out this one.
Sony FE 20mm f/1.8 G Lens for Video
Is the Sony FE 20mm f/1.8 G lens good for video, cinematography and filmmaking? Here’s a detailed look at the important features.
The Sony FE 20mm f/1.8 G (Amazon, BH) is primarily a photography lens, though it will be used for video.
In this article let’s take a comprehensive look at the important features and specifications of the Sony FE 20mm f/1.8 G and see how good it will perform specifically for video, cinematography and filmmaking.
The aim of this article is to provide you with enough information and perspective so you can decide for yourself whether this lens is right for your film or video.
Important: This article is a comprehensive overview of the lens with available information; and an analysis based on our experience shooting for almost two decades. It is not a hands-on review. If and when we get hold of the lens we’ll be sure to publish a detailed review. If this is not your cup of tea you can stop reading.
Here’s Sony’s official video for the FE 20mm f/1.8 G:
What you need to know for video work about the Sony FE 20mm f/1.8 G (Amazon, BH):
- The Sony FE 20mm f/1.8 G is a great ultra-wide focal length lens.
- The f/1.8 aperture is good enough for low light work.
- It’s smaller and lightweight compared to the alternatives, making it a preferred lens for gimbal or drone work.
- 9 blade aperture for smoother, better bokeh.
- Linear MF or Fly by wire manual FOCUS response.
- Aperture ring on the lens makes it easier to ride the aperture.
- Customizable button on the lens body makes it versatile.
- The lens doesn’t have OSS, but you will get some stabilization with a Sony a7S III or the Sony Alpha 1 that has in built stabilization.
- Sony claims the Eye AF is precise and quick for video.
- It exhibits breathing.
Can be great for most following types of filmmaking.
Sony FE 20mm f/1.8 G vs Sigma 20mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art
|Lens||Sony FE 20mm f/1.8 G||Sigma 20mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art|
|Size||73.5mm × 84.7mm||90.7mm × 155.8mm|
|Closest focusing distance||AF: 0.19m / 0.63ftMF: 0.18m / 0.59ft||0.27m / 0.88ft|
|Aperture Blades||9 blades||9 blades|
|Angle of View (Diagonal)||94||94|
The Sony FE 20mm f/1.8 G (Amazon, BH) is very handy compared to the Sigma 20mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art (Amazon, BH). It is 700 grams lighter. This makes it the preferred lens for handheld or gimbal use out of the two.
The Sigma Art 20mm cannot use any sort of filters due to a protruding front lens element. This is a major drawback. However, it opens up to f/1.4 and gives you a little extra light.
The FE 20mm f/1.8 G lens does have a closer minimum focusing distance by 10cm.
Here’s a resolution comparison:
The Sony FE 20mm f/1.8 G seems to be much sharper and has better corner to corner performance than the Sigma Art 20mm f/1.4. At f/1.8 I expect the Sigma to be closer.
The Sony FE 20mm f/1.8 G (Amazon, BH) is a full frame lens. It is designed to completely cover a sensor the size of 36mm x 24mm.
If you are considering this lens for an APS-C sensor or other cinema camera, check out this article:
The maximum aperture is f/1.8 and the minimum aperture is f/22.
There is an aperture ring on the lens. The aperture can be de-clicked with the turn of a switch on the lens. This helps you ride the aperture in a smooth manner to control exposure during a shot.
Having f/1.8 is great for low light. Most people will use it at f/2 or f/2.8 for the purpose of getting optimum sharpness, and to get soft out of FOCUS backgrounds.
The Sony FE 20mm f/1.8 G (Amazon, BH) has 9 circular diaphragm blades. One expects a smooth bokeh, considering the number of blades, but it’s not always a given. To know more about bokeh:
The Sony FE 20mm f/1.8 G (Amazon, BH) is sharp in the center and low fall off at the edges. It’s an amazing performance at f/1.8. Shows you how far modern lens design has come.
With the variance in the Sagittal and Tangential lines, you can infer (somewhat) that the bokeh should be as smooth as the best prime lenses on the planet.
If you really want this lens at its sharpest you’re better off stopping down to f/2 or even f/2.8 for best results, but it’s no slouch at f/1.8. I expect this lens to make even the most demanding cinematographers happy.
If you are curious and want to read the MTF chart for yourself. Here’s a guide on how to read them easily.
The closest focusing distance depends on the FOCUS mode you choose. Autofocus mode has the closest focusing distance of 0.19 meters or 0.63 feet. Manual FOCUS mode has the closest focusing distance of 0.18 meters or 0.59 feet. Not a huge difference.
That’s great for this focal length because you can also use it for close ups.
The Sony FE 20mm f/1.8 G (Amazon, BH) lens doesn’t have OSS. This is a disappointment, because that would have made it a lot better than the Sigma version. Using it with the Sony Alpha 1 or the a7S III can provide it with some image stabilization.
Manual FOCUS system
The Sony FE 20mm f/1.8 G (Amazon, BH) has an infinite turn ring for its FOCUS ring and can turn infinitely one way or the other. Fortunately for videographers and cinematographers, the FE 20mm f/1.8 G is set to Linear MF or fly by wire by default.
What is the meaning of FOCUS by wire and fly by wire?
Focus by wire: Let’s say you turn the FOCUS ring to change FOCUS from point A to B. You’d expect the FOCUS to shift accordingly. When you stop point B will be in FOCUS. Now bring the FOCUS point back to A and try again, but at a different speed. Slower or faster, doesn’t matter. Now, even if you precisely rotate to the exact same degree, the FOCUS will not be on point B! The speed of rotation determines which point it is focused on. That’s just completely useless for follow FOCUS work. If an actor or person moves at a different speed, evens lightly, you’ll never get the same FOCUS. Avoid FOCUS by wire lenses like the plague (for video work).
Fly by wire: The distance of FOCUS shifted is directly proportional to the speed at which the ring is turned. This is how a manual FOCUS ring is supposed to operate for video and cinematography.
Linear Response MF provides a direct response to subtle FOCUS ring adjustments when focusing manually. Ring rotation translates linearly to a corresponding change in FOCUS like a mechanical control, directly reflecting the intent of the photographer and allowing delicate FOCUS adjustments.
This decision to include fly by wire or linear MF by Sony makes this lens a great choice for cinematographers and videographers.
Sony’s Autofocus is, without a doubt, one of the most revered video autofocus systems in the world. They claim the new AF actuators are much better than the previous autofocusing systems. There is a switch on the side of the body to switch from autofocus to manual FOCUS.
Two XD (eXtreme Dynamic) Linear Motors easily keep up with Sony’s high-speed camera bodies, taking full advantage of their AF speed, precision and tracking potential. New control algorithms make it possible to drive the lens’s large FOCUS group smoothly and without delays for responsive, silent, low-vibration auto FOCUS.
The Sony FE 20mm f/1.8 G (Amazon, BH) has a filter thread diameter of 67mm. This is an uncommon filter diameter. You might be well served to buy a larger filter and use a step-up ring.
The majority of the lens exterior is plastic, though the lens doesn’t feel cheap.
The optical design consists of 14 elements in 12 groups, including two AA (advanced aspherical) elements and three ED (Extra-low Dispersion) glass elements.
Size and Weight
The Sony FE 20mm f/1.8 GM (Amazon, BH) has a diameter of 73.5mm and a length of 84.7mm. It weighs around 373 grams. Compared to the Sigma Art 20mm f/1.4, this lens is as light as a feather.
Sony claims that all G lenses are weather resistant. But again this only holds true if the camera body you will be using is also weather sealed. No camera is truly and officially weather sealed, so the best you can hope for is reliable weather resistance.
Sony claims to have a fluorine coating on the front element of the FE 20mm f/1.8 G which will repel water, oil and other contaminants.
This is a G series lens and we can expect it to perform as such.
What’s in the box
This is what you get in the box (other than the lens):
- Hood (model): ALC-SH162
- Lens front cap: ALC-F67S
- Lens rear cap: ALC-R1EM
- Soft case
The hood might be useful for photography, but the shape and design makes it mostly vestigial for video work. Some people like to put it on to protect the front element in case of a fall. The hood takes the impact and shatters, but saves the lens. I’d keep it on unless you have good reason not to.
Alternatives to the Sony FE 20mm f/1.8 G Lens
The Sony FE 20mm f/1.8 G (Amazon, BH) is a great wide angle lens. Two lenses that come close are:
- Sigma 20mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art (Amazon, BH) – Wider aperture, heavier and bigger, worse AF, not compatible with filters. Not recommended over the Sony.
- Sony FE 24mm f/1.4 GM (Amazon, BH) – Wider aperture, expensive, smaller angle of view, more blades but FOCUS by wire lens.
As you can see, there really isn’t an alternative for this lens. It’s in a class of its own.
I hope you found this overview of the Sony FE 20mm f/1.8 G (Amazon, BH) useful. If we have missed out on something, please let us know in the Комментарии и мнения владельцев below.
Sony FE 20mm F1.8 G Lens Review
The FE 20mm f/1.8 G Lens was another Sony instant hit, becoming a #1 seller immediately upon availability. Some of the reasons for this instant success include a desirable wide-angle focal length and a very wide aperture in a well-built package with a compact form factor and a low price. The overall excellent performance of this lens adds greatly to the demand being seen.
Make focal length selection a priority when choosing a lens because focal length matters. While focal length determines the working distance and therefore perspective, very-wide-angle focal lengths are a lot about making foreground subjects large in relation to the background subjects and about including a lot of background in the frame. This angle of view is notably able to give the viewer a sense of the presence in the images captured by it.
The 20mm angle of view makes it a great “scapes” focal length. It is useful for photographing most scenes that “scapes” can be naturally appended to, including landscapes, nightscapes, cityscapes, buildingscapes, roomscapes, etc.
Include peoplescapes in that list, with environmental photos of individuals and groups captured at a wide range of locations from scenic landscapes to birthday parties in small rooms being a 20mm capability. Note that if multiple people are in the 20mm frame, their distance from the camera should not vary by a significant amount, else those in front will appear larger than those in the back. Avoid getting too close to people for additional perspective issues.
Weddings are a great use for this lens. Think of a bride getting ready with her attendants surrounding her. Think of the first dance at the wedding reception, with this lens capturing the bride and groom large in the frame with the guests encircling them in the background.
Photographing architecture? This is a great lens choice for that pursuit.
While the 20mm angle of view is rather wide for use as a general-purpose lens without at least one additional focal length available, there are general-purpose uses for 20mm. I’ve used 20mm to capture the entire day of family holiday festivities. This is a very fun lens to carry around with a creative purpose in mind.
Videographers will find a host of uses for 20mm.
I like to look at focal lengths in comparison format and, since this lens has only one focal length, I’ll borrow a comparison from the Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM Lens review.
On an ASP-C/1.5x sensor format body, the 20mm focal length provides an angle of view similar to a 30mm lens on a full-frame sensor format body with an angle of view just slightly narrower than the 28mm example shared above. The 30mm angle of view is only moderately wide and just wider than the ultra-popular and very useful 35mm focal length. While there is some overlap in usage between the 20mm and 30mm focal lengths, they are rather different with 30mm having more general-purpose appeal and uses that better align with the 35mm focal length.
The angle of view provided by the 30mm focal length is a great choice for capturing a natural perspective. It is wide enough to capture the big scene but not so wide that people and other subjects are readily distorted by the close perspective invited by ultra-wide angles.
The 30mm angle of view is a great choice for photojournalistic uses. Wedding and portrait photographers like 30mm, especially for full to mid-body portraits and for group portraits. Landscape photographers have plenty of use for the 30mm angle of view. 30mm is also very popular with videographers, especially for creating documentaries. Many medium and large products can be captured at the 30mm angle of view. I’m always happy when a lens with the same or similar angle of view (or a zoom covering this angle of view) comes across my desk because I know that I can assign it around-the-house use.
The full list of 30mm angle of view uses is very long and I’ve only scratched the surface here.
Following is a small set of results captured while walking around for a couple of hours with only 20mm available.
No, post-processing was not used to create that perfectly-placed shadow. Showing up at the right place at the right time meant that a field house shaded all but the first lane on this university track. Also aiding in emphasizing the “1” was the perspective. With the 20mm lens positioned closer to the “1” than the other numbers, the “1” becomes the largest in the frame and therefore the most prominent. Everyone loves number “1” and there are far more uses for an emphasized “1” than any other number.
Once the shadow crept over the “1”, I found the scene less interesting and moved on.
On the football field inside the track, the “20” yard line number seemed appropriate to photograph at this focal length though finding a good camera position proved challenging. Shooting straight on the number was not creating an especially interesting composition but at an angle seemed to work better. The arrow beside the 20 did not fit well into the frame and in the end, I opted to include part of it with the other visible numbers fully contained. The sun was low and bright, making a shadow selfie a requirement from this position.
Moving to a position farther down the track made another shadow selfie as easy as “1 2 3”.
An administration building had caught my eye and photographing it was part of this evening’s to-do list. During the blue hour is a great time to photograph architecture and starting with a shooting direction away from the sunset provides the earliest brightness balance between the building lights and the sky.
This camera position required an upward angle to fit the building in the 20mm angle of view and the leaning walls reveal this. As the sky darkened, the light balance on the other side of the building, looking toward the sunset (brighter sky), improved.
It was winter and there was little flora to work with but the leading lines of a curving sidewalk help draw a viewer’s eye into the frame.
The camera direction for the last image of the evening was also toward the now fully set sun with a darker sky included in the frame.
To get a level camera for this perspective required fully extending the Really Right Stuff TVC-24L Mk2 Carbon Fiber Tripod legs and positioning the feet as close together as possible without risking stability. The camera was well above head height but the tilt LCD enabled proper leveling and composition.
I often use f/16 to photograph architecture at this time of the day to create large sunstars from the lights in the frame. Unfortunately, these particular LED lights (lots of little lights) were not responding well in this regard and f/8 created very noticeably sharper Sony a7R IV images.
Proved on this evening was something I already knew — that the 20mm focal length is very fun to walk around with.
For the 20mm focal length, the f/1.8 max aperture is really wide. As of review time, Sigma is the only interchangeable lens manufacturer offering a wider 20mm aperture, opening up to f/1.4. Wider apertures allow more light to reach the imaging sensor, allowing action (subject and camera) stopping shutter speeds in very low light levels. The wide focal length and wide aperture combination facilitate handholding this lens, especially on a camera with IBIS (In-Body Image Stabilization), in very low light levels.
Another advantage of a wide aperture lens is the background blur it can create. F/1.8 with a close subject creates a very shallow DOF (Depth of Field), drawing the viewer’s eye to the in-FOCUS subject. Wide-angle lenses make background details smaller and that makes it harder to diffusely blur the background, but an f/1.8 aperture can do that. Add artistic capabilities to this lens’ list of highly-desired features.
Here is a look at a set of apertures.
Compare the widest aperture you have in your 20mm lens with f/1.8.
The primary downsides to wide-aperture lenses, due to the increased diameter of lens elements required, are increased size, increased weight, and increased price. This lens side-steps those issues.
Sony has been featuring an aperture ring on some of their prime lenses including this one, permitting a manually-chosen aperture to be selected. With the ring in the A (Auto) position, the camera controls the aperture setting. All other settings force the aperture to the selected opening and a 2-position switch on the bottom right side of the lens toggles the aperture ring between 1/3-stop clicks and smooth, quiet, non-clicked adjustments, ideal for video recording.
Aside from a slightly more complicated design, perhaps the primary disadvantage of an aperture ring is that inadvertent aperture changes are made available. Making the A click stop firm enough to reduce the chances of this occurrence eliminates much of that concern.
This lens is not optically stabilized, but Sony generally takes care of that omission with Steady Shot or IBIS (In-Body Image Stabilization). On a traditional DSLR with an optical viewfinder, IBIS results in an unstabilized view, meaning that stabilization was not helpful for composition or for providing a still subject to the camera’s AF system. With EVFs being prevalent in Sony’s lineup, the viewfinder image is being read from the imaging sensor and that is stabilized. Therefore, the viewfinder image is very nicely stabilized and sensor-based AF takes advantage of the stabilized view for improved accuracy.
Of all of a lens’s characteristics, most of us care most about what we refer to as sharpness, a combination of contrast and resolution. In that regard, this lens rocks.
Over most of the full-frame imaging circle, this lens is very sharp wide open and impressively razor-sharp by f/2.8. Extreme full-frame f/1.8 corners have good sharpness, especially for a 20mm lens, and gradually improve through f/5.6.
Below you will find sets of 100% resolution center of the frame crops captured in uncompressed RAW format using a Sony a7R III (trees and grasses) and a Sony a7R IV (brick wall). The images were processed in Capture One using the Natural Clarity method with the sharpening amount set to only “30” on a 0-1000 scale. Note that images from most cameras require some level of sharpening but too-high sharpness settings are destructive to image details and hide the deficiencies of a lens.
Yeah, you will be happy with results like these.
Focus shift, the plane of sharp FOCUS moving forward or backward as the aperture is narrowed (residual spherical aberration, or RSA), is not an issue with this lens (many modern lenses automatically correct for it).
Next up is a comparison showing 100% extreme-top-left-corner crops captured and processed identically to the above center-of-the-frame images. These images were manually focused in the corner of the frame. Again, the trees were captured with an a7R III and the bricks were captured with an a7R IV.
The f/1.8 corners look good with peripheral shading reducing contrast. By f/5.6, the corners are looking exceptionally nice.
Corner sharpness does not always matter but it does matter for many disciplines including landscape photography. When I’m photographing landscapes with corner sharpness being desired, I’m probably using f/8 or f/11 to obtain enough depth of field for in-FOCUS corner details and this lens works beautifully for this purpose at these apertures. When shooting at wide apertures, the corners are most often out of FOCUS and not supposed to be sharp. Videos captured at normal wide-aspect ratios also avoid the use of corners.
As mentioned and as with all other wide-angle, wide-aperture prime lenses, peripheral shading darkens image corners at wide apertures. At f/1.8, expect a noticeable but not unusual 3.5 stops of shading. unusual is that the reduction in shading is not especially substantial when stopping down with about 2 stops of vignetting remaining at f/5.6 and narrower apertures.
APS-C format cameras using lenses projecting a full-frame-sized image circle avoid most vignetting problems. In this case, a just-visible about-1.5-stops of shading shows at f/1.8.
One stop of shading is the amount often used as the visibility number, though subject details provide a widely-varying amount of vignetting discernibility. Vignetting can be corrected during post-processing with increased noise in the brightened areas being the penalty or it can be embraced, using the effect to draw the viewer’s eye to the center of the frame. Study the pattern showing in our vignetting test tool to determine if your subject will be darkened or if it will be emphasized by the darker periphery.
The effect of different colors of the spectrum being magnified differently is referred to as lateral (or transverse) CA (Chromatic Aberration). Lateral CA shows as color fringing along lines of strong contrast running tangential (meridional, right angles to radii) with the mid and especially the periphery of the image circle showing the greatest amount as this is where the greatest difference in the magnification of wavelengths typically exists.
Sony FX30 Cinematic Footage | 20mm f1.8 G
With the right lens profile and software, lateral CA is often easily correctable (often in the camera) by radially shifting the colors to coincide though it is always better to not have the problem in the first place. Any color misalignment present can easily be seen in the site’s image quality tool, but let’s also look at a worst-case example, a 100% crop from the extreme top left corner of an a7R III frame showing diagonal black and white lines.
There should be only black and white colors in these images with the additional colors seen showing the modest presence of lateral CA.
A relatively common lens aberration is axial (longitudinal, bokeh) CA, which causes non-coinciding focal planes of the various wavelengths of light, or more simply, different colors of light are focused to different depths. Spherical aberration along with spherochromatism, or a change in the amount of spherical aberration with respect to color (looks quite similar to axial chromatic aberration but is hazier) are other common lens aberrations to look for. Axial CA remains at least somewhat persistent when stopping down with the color misalignment effect increasing with defocusing while the spherical aberration color halo shows little size change as the lens is defocused and stopping down one to two stops generally removes this aberration.
In the real world, lens defects do not exist in isolation with spherical aberration and spherochromatism generally found, at least to some degree, along with axial CA. These combine to create a less sharp, hazy-appearing image quality at the widest apertures.
In the examples below, look at the fringing colors in the out of FOCUS specular highlights created by the neutrally-colored subjects. Any color difference is being introduced by the lens.
That result looks excellent.
Sony utilizes Nano AR Coating on this lens to reduce flare and ghosting. In our standard flare testing utilizing the sun in the corner of the frame (it is easy to get the sun in the 20mm angle of view), this lens shows practically no flaring at f/1.8. As usual, flare effects increase in appearance as the aperture narrows but the f/16 results show only modest flaring.
Flare effects can be embraced, avoided, or removal can be attempted. Removal is sometimes very challenging and, in some cases, flare effects can be quite destructive to image quality.
Two lens aberrations that are particularly evident when shooting images of stars, mainly because bright points of light against a dark background make them easier to see. Coma occurs when light rays from a point of light spread out from that point, instead of being refocused as a point on the sensor. Coma is absent in the center of the frame, gets worse toward the edges/corners, and generally appears as a comet-like or triangular tail of light which can be oriented either away from the center of the frame (external coma), or toward the center of the frame (internal coma). Coma clears as the aperture is narrowed. Astigmatism is seen as points of light spreading into a line, either sagittal (radiating from the center of the image) or meridional (tangential, perpendicular to sagittal). Remember that lateral CA is another aberration apparent in the corners.
The image below is a 100% crop taken from the top-left corner of an a7R III frame.
Those stars are certainly not round, though they are not unusually distorted for a wide-aperture, wide-angle lens.
Bring on the straight lines in your subjects because this lens will keep them straight. Aside from a touch of pincushion distortion slipping in at the extreme corners, this lens has an excellent geometric profile.
The amount of blur a lens can produce is easy to show (and was shown earlier in the review). Assessing the quality is a much harder challenge due in part to the infinite number of variables present in all available scenes. I’ll share some 100% crop f/8 (for aperture blade interaction) examples below.
In the first example, the shapes are nicely rounded and very smoothly filled. In the second example, we see an anomaly, dark blobs, that effects a very small portion of the frame in the review lens. The third example shows a crop from an outdoor scene.
Except for a small number of specialty lenses, the wide aperture bokeh in the corner of the frame does not produce round defocused highlights with these effects taking on a cat’s eye shape due to a form of mechanical vignetting. If you look through a tube at an angle, similar to the light reaching the corner of the frame, the shape is not round and that is the shape seen here. The image below is a reduced top-left quarter of the frame example.
While not perfectly round, the corner circles are not very distorted. As the aperture narrows, the entrance pupil size is reduced and the mechanical vignetting absolves with the shapes becoming round.
With a 9-blade count aperture, point light sources captured with a narrow aperture setting and showing a sunstar effect will have 18 points. Wide aperture lenses tend to have an advantage in this regard and this lens is capable of producing gorgeous stars as illustrated below.
This lens design incorporates two AA (Advanced Aspherical) elements  and three ED (Extra-low Dispersion) glass elements  as seen below.
This lens has rather strong peripheral shading at narrow apertures and extreme full-frame corner performance is not perfect at wide apertures. Most are going to overlook those issues in light of the balance of the image quality this lens produces including the impressive sharpness.
“Two XD (eXtreme Dynamic) Linear Motors easily keep up with the high-speed capabilities of today’s most advanced camera bodies, taking advantage of their full autofocus speed, precision, and tracking potential to capture the most dynamic subjects. New control algorithms make it possible to drive the lens’s large FOCUS group smoothly and without delays for responsive, silent, low-vibration autofocus.” [Sony]
The Sony 20mm f/1.8 G Lens internally focuses smoothly, quietly, accurately, and the speed is quite good. This lens mounted to an a7R IV focuses in very low light scenarios (though FOCUS slows) when adequate contrast is provided.
Sony provides an AF hold button on this lens. While in continuous FOCUS mode, this button can be pressed to lock FOCUS at the currently selected FOCUS distance, permitting a FOCUS and recompose technique. This button also acts as a custom button (C5) and can be programmed to another function using the camera’s menu (note that not all models support this).
FTM (Full Time Manual) focusing is supported via Sony’s DMF (Direct Manual Focus) AF mode.
The ribbed-rubber-coated manual FOCUS ring is nicely sized. It turns very easily, slightly more easily than I prefer, and it has a small amount of front-to-back play. This ring has decent smoothness and the 80° of Linear Response MF rotation is just right for precise manual focusing at all distances. This is a nicely-implemented FOCUS-by-wire design with adjustments being reasonably-smoothly made.
Normal is for the scene to change size in the frame (sometimes significantly) as FOCUS is pulled from one extent to the other, referred to as FOCUS breathing, a change in focal length resulting from a change in FOCUS distance. This lens shows a modest change in subject size as full extent FOCUS adjustments are made.
The Sony FE 20mm f/1.8 G Lens, in manual FOCUS mode, has a 7.1″ (180mm) minimum FOCUS distance that generates a 0.22x maximum magnification for very decent close FOCUS performance. Switch to AF mode and those numbers deteriorate slightly to 7.5″ (190mm) and 0.20x.
|Canon EF 20mm f/2.8 USM Lens||9.8″||(250mm)||0.14x|
|Nikon 20mm f/1.8G AF-S Lens||7.9″||(201mm)||0.23x|
|Nikon 20mm f/2.8D AF Lens||10.2″||(259mm)||0.12x|
|Rokinon (Samyang) 20mm f/1.8 ED AS UMC Lens||7.9″||(200mm)|
|Sigma 20mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens||10.9″||(277mm)||0.14x|
|Sigma 20mm f/1.8 EX DG Lens||7.9″||(201mm)||0.25x|
|Sony FE 24mm f/1.4 GM Lens||9.4″||(240mm)||0.17x|
|Tamron 20mm f/2.8 Di III OSD Lens||4.3″||(109mm)||0.50x|
|Zeiss 21mm f/2.8 Milvus Lens||8.7″||(220mm)||0.20x|
|Zeiss 21mm f/2.8 Classic Lens||8.7″||(220mm)||0.20x|
A subject measuring approximately 5.5 x 3.7″ (140 x 93mm) will fill the frame of a full-frame camera at the minimum FOCUS distance.
Need a shorter minimum FOCUS distance and greater magnification? An extension tube mounted behind this lens should provide a very significant decrease and increase respectively. Extension tubes are hollow lens barrels that shift a lens farther from the camera, which permits shorter focusing distances at the expense of long-distance focusing. Electronic connections in extension tubes permit the lens and camera to communicate and otherwise function as normal. Sony does not publish extension tube specs nor do they manufacture these items, but third-party Sony extension tubes are available.
This lens is not compatible with Sony teleconverters.
Build Quality Features
From a design standpoint, the Sony FE 20mm f/1.8 G Lens is a slightly-size-reduced Sony FE 24mm f/1.4 GM Lens. Here is that comparison:
These are nicely-built lenses — no concerns here.
The AF/MF switch is recessed, making it hard to inadvertently change and making a bit more effort required to intentionally change it, especially with gloves on. As mentioned before, the FOCUS ring has some play, mostly front-to-back.
“A dust- and moisture-resistant design provides the reliability needed for outdoor use in challenging conditions” though “Not guaranteed to be 100% dust- and moisture-proof.” [Sony]
The dust and moisture-resistant design, including a gasketed mount, can save an outdoor day (and sometimes an indoor day).
“The front lens element features a fluorine coating that repels water, oil, and other contaminants, while making it easier to wipe off any contaminants or fingerprints that do become attached to the lens surface.” [Sony]
The Sony FE 20mm f/1.8 G Lens is very small and light, especially for its class, making it a pleasure to carry and use for extended periods, including on a gimbal when recording movies.
|Weight oz(g)||Dimensions w/o Hood “(mm)||Filter||Year|
|Canon EF 20mm f/2.8 USM Lens||14.3||(405)||3.1 x 2.8||(78.0 x 71.0)||72||1992|
|Nikon 20mm f/1.8G AF-S Lens||12.6||(357)||3.2 x 3.1||(81.3 x 78.7)||77||2014|
|Nikon 20mm f/2.8D AF Lens||9.5||(270)||2.7 x 1.7||(69.0 x 42.5)||62||1994|
|Rokinon (Samyang) 20mm f/1.8 ED AS UMC Lens||17.5||(497)||3.3 x 3.5||(83.0 x 88.4)||77||2016|
|Sigma 20mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens||33.5||(950)||3.6 x 5.1||(90.7 x 129.8)||2015|
|Sigma 20mm f/1.8 EX DG Lens||18.4||(520)||3.5 x 3.4||(89.0 x 87.0)||82|
|13.2||(373)||2.9 x 3.3||(73.5 x 84.7)||67||2020|
|Sony FE 24mm f/1.4 GM Lens||15.7||(445)||3.0 x 3.6||(75.4 x 92.4)||67||2018|
|Tamron 20mm f/2.8 Di III OSD Lens||7.8||(221)||2.9 x 2.5||(73.0 x 63.5)||67||2019|
|Zeiss 21mm f/2.8 Milvus Lens||30||(851)||3.8 x 3.7||(95.5 x 95.0)||82||2015|
|Zeiss 21mm f/2.8 Classic Lens||21.2||(600)||3.4 x 4.3||(87.0 x 109.0)||82||2010|
For many more comparisons, review the complete Sony FE 20mm f/1.8 G Lens Specifications using the site’s lens specifications tool.
I have frequently complained about Sony’s Alpha series camera having inadequate space for my medium-large-sized hand’s fingers to fit between the camera and many Sony lenses. The good news is that this one clears my fingers even when the camera is solidly gripped.
A visual comparison adds perspective:
Positioned above from left to right are the following lenses:
The same lenses are shown below with their hoods in place.
Use the site’s product image comparison tool to visually compare the Sony FE 20mm f/1.8 G Lens to other lenses.
Notice that the Sony lens appears to be positioned higher than those around it in the above comparisons? The lenses are vertically aligned on their camera mounts and with a shallow lens mount cap, Sony saves some space below the line. While the smaller lens cap size does not affect the lens’ in-use size, is does modestly impact storage space requirements when unmounted, such as in a backpack.
The Sony FE 20mm f/1.8 G Lens’ narrow width allows it to use common, mid-sized, and affordable 67mm filters. A standard thickness circular polarizer filter will noticeably increase peripheral shading. A slim model such as the Breakthrough Photography X4 is highly recommended.
Sony includes a rigid, petal-shaped plastic hood in the box. This hood has a matte interior finish (not flocked) and it lacks a push-button release that makes bayonet mounts easier to use. This hood offers the front lens element reasonable protection from contrast-robbing, flare-inducing light and from impact including from light rain.
Sony includes a thin, fleece-lined lens pouch in the box. Only the bottom is padded. Consider a Lowepro Lens Case or Think Tank Photo Lens Case Duo for a quality, affordable single-lens storage, transport, and carry solution.
Price, Value, Wrap Up
As an “FE” lens, the Sony FE 20mm f/1.8 GM Lens is compatible with all Sony E-mount cameras, including both full-frame and APS-C sensor format models. Sony provides a 1-year limited warranty.
The reviewed Sony FE 20mm f/1.8 G Lens was online-retail sourced.
Alternatives to the Sony FE 20mm f/1.8 G Lens
I admit having to pause when considering which lenses to compare for you here. While there are many alternatives, there are not many direct equivalents to the Sony FE 20mm f/1.8 G Lens.
I’ll start in the Sony family with the Sony FE 24mm f/1.4 GM Lens, arguably the best 24mm f/1.4 lens produced to date and a lens I currently own. The 24mm angle of view is modestly narrower than 20mm (a 10° difference) and the f/1.4 aperture is 2/3 stop wider than f/1.8, both noticeable differences. In the image quality comparison, the two lenses perform similarly with the 24mm lens taking advantage of its wider aperture, rendering slightly sharper results at equivalent wide aperture settings. The 24mm lens has modestly less vignetting and shows fewer flare effects at narrow apertures in our test. The 20mm lens has slightly less geometric distortion, slightly less lateral CA, and less color blur.
Looking at the specs and measurements, the Sony FE 20mm f/1.8 G Lens vs. Sony FE 24mm f/1.4 GM Lens comparison shows the 20mm lens being slightly smaller (as visually illustrated earlier in the review) and slightly lighter. The 24mm lens has 11 aperture blades vs. 9. The 20mm lens’s AF is driven by a Dual XD Linear Motor vs. the 24mm lens‘s Direct Drive Super Sonic wave Motor. The 20mm lens has a slightly higher maximum magnification of 0.20x vs. 0.17x. The price difference will encourage those requiring a 24mm angle of view to crop the 20mm lens’s results accordingly.
Sigma used to produce a 20mm f/1.8 lens but it has long been discontinued. Having the same focal length but a wider aperture is the Sigma 20mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens. In the image quality comparison, the Sigma lens competes well in the center of the frame at equivalent apertures, but the Sony lens rules the periphery even stopped down a couple of stops. The Sigma lens has less vignetting and more linear distortion.
Looking at the specs and measurements, the Sony FE 20mm f/1.8 G Lens vs. Sigma 20mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens comparison shows the Sony lens being dramatically lighter and significantly smaller. The Sigma lens does not accept threaded front filters. The Sony lens has a higher maximum magnification, 0.20x vs. 0.14x. With the two lenses having price equality, those requiring the f/1.4 aperture will be the group choosing the Sigma lens in this comparison.
I recently reviewed the Tamron 20mm f/2.8 Di III OSD Lens. As made clear in the name, this lens has an f/2.8 maximum aperture and that is significantly smaller than f/1.8.
In the image quality comparison at f/2.8, the Sony lens, especially assisted from being stopped down, turns in sharper results. The Sony lens has less lateral CA and less peripheral shading at f/2.8. The Tamron lens has severe barrel distortion.
Looking at the specs and measurements, the Sony FE 20mm f/1.8 G Lens vs. Tamron 20mm f/2.8 Di III OSD Lens comparison shows the Tamron lens being smaller and much lighter. The Sony lens has 9 aperture blades vs. 7. The Tamron lens has a much higher maximum magnification, 0.50x vs. 0.20x. The Tamron lens’s primary advantage is a significantly lower price.
Use the site’s comparison tools to create other comparisons.
Aside from a small number of nit-picks (vignetting at narrow apertures, imperfect full-frame corners at f/1.8, and some wobble in the FOCUS ring), this lens offers very little to complain about. The 20mm focal length is fun and useful. The small size and light weight are very convenient and comfortable. The AF performance is good. Quality is there. The price is reasonable and sealing the deal is that the Sony FE 20mm f/1.8 G Lens delivers impressive image quality.
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Sony FE 20mm F1.8G review
We’re used to prime lenses with f/1.8 maximum apertures, but only in ‘normal’ focal ranges. The Sony FE 20mm F1.8G’s f/1.8 maximum is pretty remarkable in a lens as wide as this. It does have some third-party competition, but can any of it match this lens’s performance?
Since the arrival of the first A7-series cameras, Sony has established a healthy range of full-frame lenses for its mirrorless system. There are many exemplary examples among the 44 full-frame E-mount lenses Sony offers in 2023, and in recent years we’ve witnessed the manufacturer increase the number of telephoto lenses for the serious enthusiast and working professional. See our guide to the best Sony E-mount lenses for more.
With this lens, Sony has started to look at other areas of its lineup where lenses are missing. The number of fast wide-angle primes is one such area where there’s been a shortage. As sensational as Sony’s FE 24mm F1.4 G Master is, it’s on the expensive side and doesn’t provide the wide field of view many photographers specialising in architectural, landscape and astro photography are after.
The Sony FE 20mm F1.8G was tested with the Sony A7R IV for the purpose of this review
This has forced many to buy a fast wide-angle zoom instead, or consider a third-party prime alternative. Examples of such that benefit from autofocus include the Tamron 20mm f2.8 Di III OSD Macro, Sigma 20mm F1.4 DG HSM, Tokina FíRIN 20mm F2 FE AF and Zeiss Batis 18mm f2.8. Recommended manual-FOCUS ultra wide prime lenses include the Laowa 12mm f/2.8 Zero-D and Samyang 14mm f2.4 AE XP.
After acknowledging it was about time they produced a fast wide-angle prime of their own, Sony set about making the FE 20mm F1.8 G. Designed to be a compact lens promising excellent edge-to-edge sharpness and reliability for a wide variety of shooting requirements, it fills a gap in Sony’s lens lineup and becomes the widest and fastest fixed focal length E-mount lens from the manufacturer to date. What’s more, as a regular ‘G’ lens rather than a more expensive ‘G Master’, it has a more achievable price tag of around 899 / £949.
There is one notable recent rival. The Sigma 20mm f/2 DG DN gives just a little away in maximum aperture but is significantly cheaper at around 699 / £649.
Sony FE 20mm F1.8G review: construction
Although the FE 20mm F1.8G sports the letter ‘G’ on its barrel, it should be noted that we’re not looking at a Sony G Master lens. Those familiar with Sony’s top-of-the-line G Master lenses, which have a reputation for their optical excellence and exceedingly high prices, will know how to spot them apart from their G-series counterparts. The clue is the red background to the letter ‘G’ on the barrel, which differs to the G-series lens we’re looking at, which has a black background.
The FE 20mm F1.8G accepts filters and adapters via a 67mm filter thread at the front
Subtle differences in branding aside, the lens features a complex optical design that’s made up of 14 elements in 12 groups. This arrangement includes two advanced aspherical (AA) lens elements to provide high-performance from corner-to-corner at wide apertures and help mitigate sagittal flare – a common phenomenon with fast wide-angle lenses where points of light, such as stars in the night sky, appear as if they’re spreading at the periphery of the frame.
The aperture can be controlled in 1/3EV steps via the aperture ring or set to its ‘A’ setting if you’d prefer to control the aperture direct from the camera
To counteract the affects of chromatic aberration the lens also employs three extra-low dispersion glass elements, two of which are located towards the centre of the optical configuration, with the other positioned behind the front element. Not forgetting the importance of ensuring out of FOCUS points of light are rendered smooth and circular, the lens also benefits from nine rounded aperture blades. These are clearly obvious when you remove the lens and inspect it from the rear.
A customisable FOCUS-hold button is located between the zoom and aperture ring on the barrel
To maximise the speed of autofocus and make sure it’s well matched with the high-speed capabilities of Sony’s latest A7-series cameras, the lens is equipped with two extreme dynamic (XD) linear motors. These are developed to deliver high thrust and efficiency, working in tandem with new control algorithms to drive the lens’s large FOCUS group in a smooth and silent manner. In AF mode users can exploit the lens’s 19cm minimum FOCUS distance, which reduces to 18cm if you switch to focusing manually.
A view of the rear element that also illustrates the metal mount that’s secured by four screws
To help suppress reflections that can cause flare and ghosting the lens benefits from Sony’s original Nano AR coating. The front element also gains a fluorine coating that repels water and makes it easy to wipe off fingerprints or other greasy or oily contaminants.
Thanks to its internal focusing, the 67mm filter thread at the front of the lens doesn’t rotate. This is good news for users of polarising filters who don’t want to be forever readjusting their filter between shots. A plastic petal-shaped, bayonet hood is also supplied in the box along with front and rear caps and a soft lens case.
The minimum FOCUS distance (0.19m) is printed at the front of the lens. Users will find they’re able to FOCUS fractionally closer (0.18m) when focusing manually
While the lens is most likely to see use with Sony’s A7-series full-frame mirrorless cameras, there’s nothing to prevent owners of Sony’s APS-C E-mount cameras using it. Paired with cameras such as the Sony A6100 or A6600, it becomes equivalent to a 30mm f/1.8 lens.
Sony FE 20mm F1.8G review: small but mighty
Compared to the Sigma 20mm F1.4 DG HSM, the FE 20mm F1.8G is more compact and balances brilliantly with A7-series bodies like the A7R IV, which has a new and improved handgrip over older A7-series models. It is a fraction larger than the newer Sigma 20mm f/2 DG DN, however.
A side view of the FE 20mm F1.8G mounted to the Sony A7R IV
There’s no hint of the lens making the camera feel nose heavy like there is with some big wide-angle zooms and you get a superbly designed aperture ring that gives you the choice of it notching into position at 1/3EV intervals, with the option of engaging a ‘click off’ setting that turns it into continuously smooth aperture ring for silent aperture control during movie recording. At the far end of the aperture scale the lens can be set to an ‘A’ setting. This hands aperture control back to the camera’s front dial if you prefer to work in this way.
The aperture ring can be set to either click as it’s rotated or operate smoothly via this switch.
Just above the AF/MF switch, Sony has added a FOCUS hold button. Enter the Custom Key settings from the camera’s menu and you can reassign it to a variety of different settings. Something I did observe about this button is that it does click fairly loudly and isn’t as quiet to use as many of the buttons on the A7R IV’s body.
Here the difference in size between the manual FOCUS ring and aperture ring is clearly obvious
The manual FOCUS ring is rubberised, which helps differentiate the feel between it and the thinner aperture ring from behind the camera. It’s as smooth as manual FOCUS rings get and its linear response provides incredibly precise control of the highest order. Although not guaranteed to be 100% dust and moisture proof, the lens does include seals at strategic points in its construction to ensure reliable operation in demanding conditions.
Sony FE 20mm F1.8G review: performance
The image quality performance is best described as sublime. Using it with Sony’s 61-million-pixel A7R IV gave it as stiff as test as any and even when it was coupled to this powerhouse of a camera it delivered exceedingly impressive results through its aperture range.
Sony A7R IV, Sony FE 20mm F1.8G, 1/2000sec at f/1.8, ISO 200
The lens resolves highly respectable sharpness in the centre of the frame wide-open at f/1.8, with corners being only marginally softer. This is great news for astronomy, nightscape and wedding photographers who are likely to use the lens close to its maximum aperture in complete darkness or in very testing environments. Stopping down to f/2.8 sees centre and corner sharpen up more with a gradual increase in sharpness across the frame to its so-called ‘sweet spot’ in the aperture range, which I identified just beyond f/5.6.
Sony A7R IV, Sony FE 20mm F1.8G, 1/2500sec at f/1.8, ISO 400
The introduction of diffraction softening fine detail was observed when aperture settings of f/16 and f/22 were used, so it’s best to avoid these apertures if you want to be rewarded with the sharpest images.
Sony A7R IV, Sony FE 20mm F1.8G, 1/320sec at f/8, ISO 400
SONY 20MM F1.8 G Wide Angle Lens Review
With chromatic aberration and distortion compensation turned on from the lens compensation menu in the camera, the built-in lens profile that’s applied automatically to raw files did a fine job of correcting these optical deficiencies to the extent no fringes of colour or obvious bowing of straight lines were visible in my real-world images. The way I look at it, there’s little, if any reason, to ever need to turn these lens compensation aids off.
Sony A7R IV, Sony FE 20mm F1.8G, 1/500sec at f/1.8, ISO 200
As for shading correction, this is also accessed via the lens compensation options in-camera. This effectively curtails, but doesn’t completely remove the vignetting at the far corners at f/1.8. Stop down to f/2 and f/2.8 and you’ll notice vignetting is quick to disappear, with no trace whatsoever at f/4 or beyond. Overall, it’s an extremely impressive optical performance from such a small and lightweight wide-angle prime.
Sony FE 20mm F1.8G review: verdict
As briefly mentioned earlier, Sony has some exceptional lenses in its lineup for users of their full-frame A7-series cameras. Though the FE 20mm F1.8G isn’t a G Master lens, don’t let this fool you into thinking that it’s not one of Sony’s finest.
As I discovered during my lengthy period of testing, it excels in all the key areas a wide-angle prime lens should, providing fast and quiet focusing, mesmerising sharpness at wide apertures in challenging low-light conditions and advanced aperture control for stills and movie shooting via an aperture ring with a clever ‘de-clickable’ switch. In my personal opinion it’s certainly deserving of G Master status.
The FE 20mm F1.8G weighs 72g less than Sony’s FE 24mm f1.4 G Master lens and cost £345 less
It isn’t out of its depth when it’s used with Sony’s high-resolution cameras either. Stunning close-ups are possible, contrast is excellent and it complements the fit and finish of high-end mirrorless cameras like the Sony A7R IV with a solid, hardwearing build quality of its own. Add its compact size and the fact it weighs just 373g to the mix and it makes for an ideal companion when you wish to work or travel light.
Though it is on the expensive side and you can pick up many third-party wide-angle primes for less, none are as fast and as compact as the FE 20mm F1.8G. This is its unique selling point and where it has an advantage over lenses of similar price.
Ultimately, if you’re a Sony user looking for one of the best wide-angle prime lenses money can buy, the FE 20mm F1.8G will serve you extremely well and should be seriously considered.