Sony 24-105mm f/4 G lens Review

Real World Images from the Sony 24-105:

Sony 24-105 review:

The Sony 24-105mm F4 G is probably the best general purpose “normal” zoom available for the Sony FE full frame mirrorless system.   When Sony first started the full frame lineup, they introduced a consumer grade budget variable aperture 28-70mm lens which was an okay performer for a $400 lens.   They introduced a constant aperture 24-70/f4 lens, which for a $1200 lens, left many people disappointed in the performance.   In late 2017, Sony introduced another option for just a $100 more, the SEL24015G, Sony 24-105/4.   For those who don’t need the constant 2.8 aperture of the 24-70mm/2.8 , the 24-105/4 is really a fantastic option, but not without some flaws.

Body and Handling:

The lens was tested on the Sony A7riii.   Overall, the size is very reasonable and balanced well on the A7riii.   At 663 grams, the weight is about the same as the camera body and slightly lighter than the competitor’s equivalent lenses.     The body seems to be largely plastic but still feels solid in the hand.   There are rubber grooves on the zoom and focus ring.   There are switches for AF/MF and for the SteadyShot vibration reduction system.  There is a single focus hold button, which I reassign to Eye-AF.

Sony lists the lens as dust and moisture resistant.  Overall, there is nothing to complain about in regard to the body.  It is a very well built lens and feels great in use.

The price of $1299, while not cheap, is fairly reasonable for a lens of this quality.   The Nikon 24-120/f4 is a much older lens and still sells for $1100.   The newest Canon 24-105/4 also sells for $1100.   Of course, the inferior Sony 24-70/4 is only $100 cheaper than this 24-105.   Canon and Nikon users can get Sigma 24-105/4 ART lens for just $899, but it is natural for the OEM lenses to cost a bit more than the third party lenses.   So I wouldn’t call the Sony 24-105/4 a bargain, but the price is reasonable.

Sony’s Vibration Reduction system, “SteadyShot” works extremely well on this lens.  The lens has an internal stabilization system which is used in conjunction with the camera-based stabilization system of the Sony A7riii.   Your results will depend on your own hand holding technique, but I was impressed.

105center130

Here you can see a 100% crop taken at 105mm and shutter speed of 1/30.  This didn’t even challenge the stabilization system, virtually every image was sharp.

105ibis115At 105mm and 1/15th of  a second, I still got mostly sharp images, as the one here on the right, but this is where is started to get more difficult.  Personally, I wouldn’t go below 1/10th of a second at 105mm, which is still very impressive stabilization performance for my use.

24ibis18

At 24mm, while I could get some sharp images as slow as 1/2 of a second, my results were inconsistent below about 1/8th of a second.

I’ve seen some mixed reviews about the autofocus performance from others.  Not sure if there were user errors or defective lenses.  But my results were consistently spot-on.  Focus was fast and completely silent.

Image Quality:

Unless otherwise noted, the photographs in this section were imported into lightroom with only default sharpening.

First, let me start with some very good news.  This lens handles flare extremely well.  I mostly had trouble even forcing this lens to flare as in these examples with the sun in the frame:

In this processed imaged, you can see I did have some minor flare, but nothing that destroyed the photograph.  The only flare is a couple small green dots.  Also note the quality of the sunburst, but you really need to stop down to F16 for good quality starbursts and sunbursts.

untitled (18 of 37)

Now the first bit of bad news.  Vignetting is a major issue at the widest angle of 24mm, as you can see in this uncorrected image at F4:

Even the Lightroom lens profile doesn’t fully correct it.  Looking at the top corners, you still see quite a bit of shading.

It improves a little bit as you stop down but remains very present in uncorrected files, such as here at F13 and obvious in the top right corner, nearly black.

The good news is that it does become correctable as you stop down, as in this F13 image with lens correction applied.

My first draft of this review was met with some pushback with people insisting they haven’t seen any vignette.   While it could certainly be an issue with my lens, I suspect it is prevalent, just people aren’t looking for it.  I confirm it again, with the below images, first an uncorrected image and then a corrected image at 24mm F4:

I converted these two images to black and white to get a better idea of the shading.   In the uncorrected image, the far corners are completely black.  You still have a tiny sliver of that blackness, even in the corrected image.  In the real world, I don’t think this will affect many shooters very often.  But it’s something to be aware of when doing 24mm landscapes at F4.  Personally, I’d rarely be in that situation as I tend to stop down for landscapes.

By 28mm, the vignetting issue becomes far less significant and is a non-issue at telephoto focal lengths.

Distortion is worst at 24mm, but is easily correctable at all focal lengths.   You can see these processed images at 70mm and F4, with some noticeable pin cushion distortion in the uncorrected image:

Some very good news:  I did not notice purple fringing or chromatic aberrations in any images.

Sharpness:

I can happily report that this is a VERY sharp lens.   If I’m going to forgo a 24-70/2.8 lens, then I really want the F4 lens to be very sharp wide open.   If I need to stop a lens way down to 5.6 or 6.3 to get good sharpness, then the lens is of limited use to me.   If it can be sharp at F4, then it can be a really good general purpose lens for my uses.



I’ll just demonstrate with some random 100% crops of various test shots I did at various focal lengths.  You will see the center is critically sharp at all focal lengths.   While most zoom lenses get weaker at the telephoto lens, this lens is particularly strong at 105mm.  Even at the far corners, sharpness remains at at least at “good” levels at all apertures.   There is some weakness in the far corners at 24mm, but that’s also due to the vignetting and distortion weakening the image in the corner.

Let me start with a processed image:

untitled (5 of 23)-2

Let’s look at a close crop of the bottom left hand corner of the above image:

53mm F4 far corner crop

Look at the “8” on the lamp post.  In my book, this is exceptional extreme corner sharpness for F4.   No, it’s not the same as center sharpness. Yes, I sharpened in lightroom.  But you can only do so much with Lightroom sharpening if the lens isn’t already sharp.   So at 53mm, already getting “good” sharpness in the far corners.  Here is the same extreme corner at F9:

53mm, F9, extreme corner

So going from F4 to F9, you see sharpness went from good to excellent.

Now some random samples without any extra sharpening beyond the basic lightroom import.

So here are center crops at 24mm, F4 and F9.  The image may actually be modestly sharper at F4, as diffraction has started to kick in at F9.  The center sharpness is indeed fantastic.

24mm center F4
24mm center F9

Even the corners at 24mm, once you get past the vignetting, remain very sharp.  Here, focus was on the grill thermometer, samples of the corner at F4 and F8:

Below, let’s look at crops 50mm and F4, center and far corner of the same storefront.   You can see in the corner image, the effect of uncorrected distortion.  But considering this is wide open aperture in the extreme corner, I would still rate the corner sharpness as fair.  Certainly, if we aren’t pixel peeping, this would be acceptable corner to corner sharpness.  The center is exceptionally sharp.

Let’s take a look at the 50mm crops at F7.1:

As you can see, once you stop down, even the extreme corner becomes exceptionally sharp.

Sharpness is similar at 105mm, which is often the weak point of such lenses.

As you can see in the above center crops, the center of the frame is critically sharp at F4.

Now some extreme corners at 105mm:

The far corner is certainly slightly soft at F4 but sharpens up very nicely by F6.3.   Keeping some perspective, the corner sharpness isn’t exactly bad at F4.   Without pixel peeping, the image would be acceptably sharp from corner to corner.   But you need to stop down just a bit for corner to corner, pixel peeping totally tack sharpness.

I have not tested the Sony 24-70/2.8 but my suspicion is that this lens is just as sharp.

Overall:

The pros of this lens vastly outweigh the few cons.   The build quality is excellent.  The overall sharpness must be considered superb.   Distortion is definitely present but correctable.   Fringing/CA and flare are practically non-issues.

The main significant negative is the heavy extreme corner vignetting at 24mm.   If you are going to shoot at 24mm, you really need to stop down.  Even stopped down, you will get significant vignette but it is correctable.  For most people in most situations, this will have no significant real world effect.   But it is something to be aware of when shooting wide landscapes.

While it is an F4 lens, the fantastic stabilization system combined with the great high ISO capability of the Sony A7riii really make this a very capable low light lens.

Rating (1-10):

Score: 7

Balancing price, weight and quality, the Sony 24-105 is my favorite general purpose zoom for the Sony system.   Compared to the Sony 24-70/2.8, you are getting more range as significantly less weight and lower price, while still getting fantastic image quality.   Optically, the lens is superior to the Sony 24-70/4 and variable aperture 28-70.

I would use the Sony 24-105 as a “general walk around.”  It is very capable for portraits, where you don’t need the extreme background separation of a prime lens.   While it can be a very very good landscape lens, I would be careful about using it at 24mm, watching out for vignettes.   In fact, if not for the 24mm vignette issue, this lens might get a 9 rating from me.  Certainly, if it was $200 cheaper and didn’t have the vignetting, there would be nothing to complain about. For anyone who doesn’t feel they absolutely need a 2.8 zoom lens, I would strongly recommend the Sony 24-105.

(About my scoring:  9-10 is a superb lens which could have a place in the bag of almost every photographer.   6-8:  recommended with caveats.   3-5:  A compromised lens that may still be suitable for some shooters and situations.  1-2:  Just stick to your phone camera)

If you are interested in the Sony 24-105, you can support this site by using this Amazon link for your purchase:

Sony Full Frame 24-105mm f/4 Standard-Zoom Camera Lens

The lens uses 77mm filters. I recommend a high quality filter, I use the B+W filter on my 24-105 lens:

B+W 77mm XS-Pro Clear UV Haze with Multi-Resistant Nano Coating (010M)

And if you haven’t purchased your Sony A7riii yet:

Sony a7R III 42.4MP Full-frame Mirrorless Interchangeable-Lens Camera

Any questions, leave a comment below.

7 thoughts on “Sony 24-105mm f/4 G lens Review”

  1. This lens like most mirrorless lenses is specifically designed to be used with a profile that corrects vignette distortion and so on. For example in PS click the enable lens profile corrections option when opening in ACR this will automatically apply the corrections. The lens is optically “wider ” than the stated focal length so hat the corrected image with no vignette etc is the correct 24-105mm

        1. Any manufacturing defects that the 181 lenses have would almost certainly have nothing to do with vignetting. Some of these lenses are prone to focus shift, but there is no evidence of this causing other optical problems. Anyway, as it happens, admin’s lens isn’t within the affected range.

          The corrected image in this review showing the worst vignetting looks like it has had its black levels pushed, which is only going to amplify any remaining vignetting after correction.

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