It’s an E-Mount lens designed for use with Sony’s full-frame mirrorless Alpha cameras. You can use it on Sony’s APS-C cropped-sensor cameras, in which case the focal length will be equivalent to 30mm.
The FE 20mm ƒ/1.8 G is an ultra-wide prime lens, but isn’t the widest lens in Sony’s lineup for their Alpha cameras—that would be the 12-24mm lenses (there are two; one is ƒ/2.8, and the other is ƒ/4), the new 14mm ƒ/1.8 prime, and the 16-35mm zoom.
It’s fast, with a maximum aperture of ƒ/1.8, making it good in low-light. That large aperture also helps with a shallow depth of field, but with an ultra-wide focal length like this, that’s much less prominent unless the subject is in very close to the camera. That said, while it’s not a macro lens, with a minimum focus distance of around 7 inches / 18 centimeters, you can get in very close to your subject, and I’ve included some examples of that below.
The lens is also relatively compact and light (weighing around 13 ounces / 370 grams), at least compared to some of the fast zooms, making it a well-balanced match with the Sony Alpha camera bodies.
I’ve recently been out shooting with the Sony 20mm on the Sony A1 full-frame body (aka, the Alpha 1, the ILCE-1, or Sony’s new flagship camera with all the bells and whistles).
It’s a lens I’ve enjoyed shooting with (particularly on the A1, which is a peach of a camera). The 20mm focal length has been a favorite of landscape photographers for a long time, because it packs a lot into the frame without tipping into the heavy distortion that many wider lenses get. It’s a very good option as a travel photography lens, although it’s less flexible than the more expensive and heavier 12-24mm and probably less versatile for most shooters than a fast 35mm or 24mm prime. I find it especially good for tight, indoor spaces, where the aspherical elements really come into their own to minimize wide-angle distortion. By way of comparison, I’ve previously posted sample photos I’ve shot with the Nikon 20mm ƒ/1.8 lens on a Nikon body.
In terms of performance, after shooting with it for a while, I can think of no complaints with this lens. It’s beautifully sharp, quick, and quiet. It’s relatively compact and very well-built, as is typical with Sony’s lenses.
The photos below have been lightly processed in Lightroom, but I haven’t applied any of Lightroom’s optical corrections. I have, however, left the camera’s default Lens Compensation settings on, which correct for chromatic aberration, lens vignetting, and barrel distortion. That’s in keeping with my purpose here aimed at practical shooting results rather than lab optical tests.
With the current movement restrictions, I haven’t been able to get out and about to shoot with as much variety as I’d like, but hopefully these are still useful for a practical sense of what the results from this lens look like when combined with a Sony Alpha full-frame mirrorless camera. I’ve tried to include a range of apertures as well as some that test corner-to-corner sharpness, chromatic aberration, and some closer shots to demonstrate the bokeh. I would have liked to include some night scenes for looking at flaring, etc, but the opportunity hasn’t come up.
You can click on each image to open a full-size version.
Accessories for the Sony FE 20mm ƒ/1.8 G Lens
- Filters. It takes 67mm screw-in filters: Polarizer | UV/Haze | Neutral Density. There is likely some benefit in going withe slimline filters, especially if you plan to stack them (eg. adding a circular polarizer on top of a protection or UV filter). That will help reduce the risk of corner vignetting.
- Lens Hood. The dedicated petal lens hood for this lens is model number ALC-SH162. If you opt for a cheaper aftermarket alternative, be sure to check that it doesn’t add any vignetting, which is a particular problem when adding hoods and filters to these very wide lenses.
Where to Find Them
It retails for under $900.
You can also rent them from ~LensProToGo.
- Compact ultra-wide prime G lens w/ stunning wide-open resolution
- F1.8 max aperture provides extraordinary exposure and depth of field
- The model number of this lens is SEL20F18G. ↩
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