Sony FE 24mm ƒ/1.4 GM Lens Review

The Sony FE 24mm f/1.4 GM is a high-end fast prime designed for Sony's full-frame mirrorless cameras. Here's my hands-on review.

A 24mm ƒ/1.4 is my stuck-on-a-desert-island lens. While it’s not perfect for everything, but I find them endlessly versatile. The 24-70mm lenses available today are also excellent—as is the 12-24mm, which I’ve also been shooting with lately—but with maximum apertures of ƒ/2.8 or ƒ/4, they’re a bit slower than I like. For my travel photography, a 24mm ƒ/1.4 is a great choice for heading out at night, whether it’s for a night-time landscape, a busy urban street, a famous floodlit landmark, or a night market in Southeast Asia.

The 24-70mm zooms also have a little less versatility in blurring the background—something that’s harder to do with a wide-angle lens. I also like the way that prime lenses restrict the options; that, in turn, forces me to think more about the shot and where I’m positioned. I just think they’re more fun to shoot with. Whether it’s general travel photography, environmental portraits, or candid family photos, I like the 24mm wide perspective, especially when it’s combined with the low-light possibilities afforded by a wide ƒ/1.4.

Nikon’s version of the 24mm ƒ/1.4 has been one of my go-to lenses for years and is nearly always in my kit—and often on my camera—on my travels.

Recently I’ve been shooting with Sony’s version, Sony FE 24mm f/1.4 GM. I’ve been using it on the new Sony a7R IV body. It makes for a great pairing.

This lens is in Sony’s high-end lineup. It’s designed primarily for Sony full-frame cameras. You can put it on one of the crop-sensor APS-C cameras, in which case the effective focal length will become the equivalent of 36mm.

To change the aperture with this lens, you use the dedicated aperture dial on the lens itself, not the control dial on the camera body. This “Click” switch toggles between a smooth rotation or one with light but tactile clicks like old-school lenses. In this shot, the aperture ring is the thin one in the center of the frame. The larger rotating ring that you can partially see at the top right of the frame is the manual focus adjustment ring.

There’s a switch on the side of the lens to toggle between autofocus and manual focus. The round button is a focus hold button. It’s not something I’ve been using, because I prefer to assign the AF-ON button on the camera to focusing and de-assign the shutter button for autofocus. This button also doesn’t work on every camera.

Sample Images

I’ve posted a much more extensive collection of sample images separately, which you can find here. But here’s a small sampling of photos I’ve taken with it.

Taken on a Sony a7r IV with a lens aperture of ƒ/5.6. Another with several strong, straight lines near the edges of the frame to look for distortion.

Taken on a Sony a7r IV with a lens aperture of ƒ/10.

Taken on a Sony a7r IV with a lens aperture of ƒ / 1.4. I thought this would be a good test of how smooth the bokeh dropoff is from focus in the foreground, with the aperture wide open.

Taken on a Sony a7r IV with a lens aperture of ƒ/3.5.

Taken on a Sony a7r IV with a lens aperture of ƒ/2.8.

Taken on a Sony a7r IV with a lens aperture of ƒ/8. I’ve been pleasantly surprised with how sharp it is in the corners.

Taken on a Sony a7r IV with a lens aperture of ƒ/8.0. This shot is a good test of two things: sharpness in the corners and chromatic aberration (purple fringing). I haven’t applied any fixes to either issue, but the lens comes through with flying colors.

Sony FE 24mm f/1.4 GM Lens Key Specs

It’s a prime autofocus E-mount lens designed for Sony’s full-frame cameras. You can use it on APS-C crop sensor cameras, in which case the focal length becomes the equivalent of 36mm on a full-frame camera (i.e., 35mm equivalent).

Its full name is the Sony FE 24mm f/1.4 GM Lens, and its product number is SEL24F14GM. Its MSRP is $1399.99.

It has an 11-blade circular aperture with two XA (extreme aspherical) elements.

It’s dust- and moisture-resistant.

It has a minimum focus distance of 0.79 feet (24 cm) and weighs 15.7 ounces (445 grams). It measures 3.75 inches (9.24 cm) long and has a diameter of 3 inches (7.54 cm).

It takes 67mm filters.

The original lens hood’s model number is ALC-SH154.

It comes with a lens hood. If you need a replacement because you’ve lost or damaged it, the model number is ALC-SH154.

You can find the produce manual here [PDF].

Wrap Up

Having been shooting with this lens, I’ve become a fan. The optical quality is excellent, especially when you can make the most of a high-resolution camera like the Sony a7R IV. While it would be great if it could be a bit smaller—24mm ƒ/1.4 primes are surprisingly hefty, and on a body like the full-frame mirrorless a7R IV the whole package is barely smaller than a full-size DSLR—I understand that there are practical limits imposed by the optical physics.

On the three most common optical flaws in a lens like this—softness at the edges, especially when wide open, chromatic aberration, and barrel distortion—I’ve come across remarkably little. Surprisingly little, in fact—I was expecting to find some, but none of those have really appeared in my shooting with it.

The build is solid, quiet, and accurate. Even small touches, like the black felt lining the inside of the lens hood (the lens hood is included, by the way), point to the care that has gone into designing and manufacturing this lens. I haven’t put its moisture and knock resistance to the test, but I’ve seen nothing to suggest that it isn’t just as rugged and dependable as Sony says it is.

Overall, I really don’t have any quibbles with this lens, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised at its excellent optics.

Where to Buy the Sony FE 24mm f/1.4 GM Prime Lens

You can find them at B&H Photo.

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