Sony 20mm F1.8 first experiences (compared to 16-35 GM)

Started 10 months ago | User reviews
arneh Regular Member • Posts: 161
Sony 20mm F1.8 first experiences (compared to 16-35 GM)
27

I received my Sony 20mm F1.8 a week ago, and my first week of using it, I have been very impressed! The other wide angle lens I own is the 16-35mm GM, I lens I have been happy with so far. So I have made some comparisons with that lens.

The 20mm seems to actually be a bit wider than 20mm. I have to zoom the 16-35 to 19mm to get a similar FOV.

The sharpness is a little better than the GM. Most notable in the corners at big apertures. It's not a big difference most of the time. But what is much better is contrast, colors and an almost complete lack of chromatic aberations for the 20mm. I was surprised it was this much better than the GM!

Plenty of sharpness for both lenses wide open in the center. But contrast and colors are clearly superior on the 20mm

Both of the lenses wide open in the corner. Here the 20mm is clearly sharper. The GM has a quite curved focus field, and was focused in the corner for this image, so this is as good as it gets. Focusing in the center would have given even less sharp corners for the GM.

Both lenses in the corner, stopped down to 5.6. Sharpness is closer now. But chromatic aberations are still quite severe for the GM.

Another wide open image showing difference in chromatic aberations.

Other things I like about the 20mm is that it focuses much closer. And by setting it in manual focus I can get objects in focus just 5 cm in front of the lens. For the GM I can only get focus about 20 cm from the front of the lens.

Close focus on these tiny flowers in the forest. The GM would not be able to do this

I also like the size and weight of the lens, and the aperture ring. It makes it a joy to carry along and use! And of course the F1.8 aperture is an advantage in some situations.

F1.8 handheld at dusk

The only disadvantage I can find compared to the GM is of course that it has only one focal length. In every other way I can see it is superior.
This is quickly turning into my favorite lens!

Some more images from the first week:

Close up at sunset

Nice punchy colors

Nice smooth bokeh balls

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Sony FE 20mm F1.8G
Wideangle prime lens • Sony FE • SEL20F18G
Announced: Feb 25, 2020
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Bonsainz Regular Member • Posts: 332
Re: Sony 20mm F1.8 first experiences (compared to 16-35 GM)

arneh wrote:

I received my Sony 20mm F1.8 a week ago, and my first week of using it, I have been very impressed! The other wide angle lens I own is the 16-35mm GM, I lens I have been happy with so far. So I have made some comparisons with that lens.

The 20mm seems to actually be a bit wider than 20mm. I have to zoom the 16-35 to 19mm to get a similar FOV.

The sharpness is a little better than the GM. Most notable in the corners at big apertures. It's not a big difference most of the time. But what is much better is contrast, colors and an almost complete lack of chromatic aberations for the 20mm. I was surprised it was this much better than the GM!

Plenty of sharpness for both lenses wide open in the center. But contrast and colors are clearly superior on the 20mm

Both of the lenses wide open in the corner. Here the 20mm is clearly sharper. The GM has a quite curved focus field, and was focused in the corner for this image, so this is as good as it gets. Focusing in the center would have given even less sharp corners for the GM.

Both lenses in the corner, stopped down to 5.6. Sharpness is closer now. But chromatic aberations are still quite severe for the GM.

Another wide open image showing difference in chromatic aberations.

Other things I like about the 20mm is that it focuses much closer. And by setting it in manual focus I can get objects in focus just 5 cm in front of the lens. For the GM I can only get focus about 20 cm from the front of the lens.

Close focus on these tiny flowers in the forest. The GM would not be able to do this

I also like the size and weight of the lens, and the aperture ring. It makes it a joy to carry along and use! And of course the F1.8 aperture is an advantage in some situations.

F1.8 handheld at dusk

The only disadvantage I can find compared to the GM is of course that it has only one focal length. In every other way I can see it is superior.
This is quickly turning into my favorite lens!

Some more images from the first week:

Close up at sunset

Nice punchy colors

Nice smooth bokeh balls

Thanks for the mini review, and your opinion, will you keep them both? 
Clearly to me the 20 just that little better overall,

Also I see you have 28-75 Tamron how does it compare with the 24-105 you had .?

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OP arneh Regular Member • Posts: 161
Re: Sony 20mm F1.8 first experiences (compared to 16-35 GM)

Bonsainz wrote:

Thanks for the mini review, and your opinion, will you keep them both?
Clearly to me the 20 just that little better overall,

The 20 is certainly a keeper I will keep the 16-35 for now, zoom is quiet convenient at times. But might sell it later if it turns out I'm not using it much anymore.

Also I see you have 28-75 Tamron how does it compare with the 24-105 you had .?

Yes, I had the 24-105 first, then bought the Tamron. They were very close in image quality. Tamron a little better in center, Sony a little better in corners. Closed down hardly any difference. F2.8 and smaller size and weight were more important to me than the focal range of the Sony, so I kept the Tamron. But both are great lenses!

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MRK 2010 Regular Member • Posts: 180
Re: Sony 20mm F1.8 first experiences (compared to 16-35 GM)

Interesting comparison and nice shots with the 20mm lens.

Re the differences in contrast......did you use the lens hood on the 1635gm?

By the way the maximum magnification for the 20mm is 0.20x and for the 16-35mm 0.19x so it should be possible to photograph flowers at similar magnification (if with a different perspective) as the 20mm lens

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OP arneh Regular Member • Posts: 161
Re: Sony 20mm F1.8 first experiences (compared to 16-35 GM)

MRK 2010 wrote:

Re the differences in contrast......did you use the lens hood on the 1635gm?

Yes, I used the lens hood on both lenses.

By the way the maximum magnification for the 20mm is 0.20x and for the 16-35mm 0.19x so it should be possible to photograph flowers at similar magnification (if with a different perspective) as the 20mm lens

As mentioned the 20mm goes closer than the specifiacation in manual focus. According to my measurements I get 0.26x magnification in manual focus. But the big difference is that I can get so much closer to objects, while with the 16-35 I've several times been annoyed that i can't get focus close enough. The 16-35 has ok magnification at 35mm, but at the wider focal lengths it's not nearly as good.

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MRK 2010 Regular Member • Posts: 180
Re: Sony 20mm F1.8 first experiences (compared to 16-35 GM)

Thanks for your reply. I missed your comment about manual focus. I was too distracted by your great photo of the flowers in the forest.  What aperture did you use for that shot?
I very nearly ordered this lens. I looks very tempting...but I already have too many wide angle lenses including the 16-35gm and 24mm F1.4gm

i might try manual focus on the 24gm to see if that works with a closer focussing distance

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OP arneh Regular Member • Posts: 161
Re: Sony 20mm F1.8 first experiences (compared to 16-35 GM)

MRK 2010 wrote:

Thanks for your reply. I missed your comment about manual focus. I was too distracted by your great photo of the flowers in the forest. What aperture did you use for that shot?

Thanks The first flower shot was at F4, the second closeup flower was at F2.8. Exif data is included, so just hover over or click the pictures to see it

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OP arneh Regular Member • Posts: 161
Re: Sony 20mm F1.8 first experiences (compared to 16-35 GM)
4

Since the first test against the 16-35GM showed such surprisingly big difference in color and contrast, I did another test now, with less challenging lighting (overcast, not the backlighting of the first test). And at least in this lighting the performance is much more similar.
I also realised I had a clear filter mounted on the 16-35 GM, which might have made the result worse. It made no difference in this second test, but might make a difference in backlit situations.
So here are some 200% comparisons in this second test

Wide open in center

Both closed down to F5.6 in center

Wide open at edge

Closed down to F5.6 at edge

This second result is much more as I would expect, with the 20mm just slightly sharper, but otherwise quite similar. 16-35 GM might struggle more in backlit situations, but it might also have been caused by the filter.

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mujana Veteran Member • Posts: 7,316
Re: Sony 20mm F1.8 first experiences (compared to 16-35 GM)

arneh wrote:

Since the first test against the 16-35GM showed such surprisingly big difference in color and contrast, I did another test now, with less challenging lighting (overcast, not the backlighting of the first test). And at least in this lighting the performance is much more similar.
I also realised I had a clear filter mounted on the 16-35 GM, which might have made the result worse. It made no difference in this second test, but might make a difference in backlit situations.
So here are some 200% comparisons in this second test

Wide open in center

Both closed down to F5.6 in center

Wide open at edge

Closed down to F5.6 at edge

This second result is much more as I would expect, with the 20mm just slightly sharper, but otherwise quite similar. 16-35 GM might struggle more in backlit situations, but it might also have been caused by the filter.

Thnxs for another set of images. In the first ones (especially the very first image), the 16-35 looks horrible. If mine would show images like this, then I would have thrown in in a bin. I already thought that something had to be "wrong" .

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Roentarre
Roentarre Forum Member • Posts: 63
Re: Sony 20mm F1.8 first experiences (compared to 16-35 GM)

Thanks for the second test. It does surprise me quite a lot in your first test.

I would only use 20mm f1.8 for either Astro or for bokeh rendering I guess.

blue_skies
blue_skies Forum Pro • Posts: 12,014
Re: Sony 20mm F1.8 first experiences (compared to 16-35 GM)

Can you retake the backlit scenes without a filter?

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Cheers,
Henry

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ArtAlt
ArtAlt Senior Member • Posts: 2,217
Re: Sony 20mm F1.8 first experiences (compared to 16-35 GM)
1

Magnificent work and it demonstrates the potential beauty of that focal length.  I've been mulling over the 20mm f/1.8 vs one of the available wide angle zooms and you've convinced me to go with the prime.  Thanks!  (I think 😉)

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TristanW
TristanW Contributing Member • Posts: 760
Re: Sony 20mm F1.8 first experiences (compared to 16-35 GM)

Thanks for the nice review!

Did you try another copy of 1635GM?

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Tristan.W

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joger
joger Veteran Member • Posts: 6,497
CUDOS - excellent comparison -
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OP arneh Regular Member • Posts: 161
Re: Sony 20mm F1.8 first experiences (compared to 16-35 GM)
1

blue_skies wrote:

Can you retake the backlit scenes without a filter?

I will try when conditions allow. But now it's raining, and weather doesn't look good for the next days, so can't get the same backlit setup now.
But I did a simple backlit setup indoors, and it did seem like the filter reduced contrast in that setup, so it's a suspect for at least being part of the cause of the bad performance of the GM in the first test.

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OP arneh Regular Member • Posts: 161
Re: Sony 20mm F1.8 first experiences (compared to 16-35 GM)

TristanW wrote:

Did you try another copy of 1635GM?

No, I only have access to this one. But now the filter I had mounted is the biggest suspect of the bad backlit performance.

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blue_skies
blue_skies Forum Pro • Posts: 12,014
Re: Sony 20mm F1.8 first experiences (compared to 16-35 GM)

arneh wrote:

blue_skies wrote:

Can you retake the backlit scenes without a filter?

I will try when conditions allow. But now it's raining, and weather doesn't look good for the next days, so can't get the same backlit setup now.
But I did a simple backlit setup indoors, and it did seem like the filter reduced contrast in that setup, so it's a suspect for at least being part of the cause of the bad performance of the GM in the first test.

I know that filters play havoc with wide-open lenses if lens flare or 'backlit' like conditions (e.g. a lamp, lantarn, etc) are present.

I stopped using filters because of this reason.

Yes, I noticed your indoor shots, and they seem to measure up much closer.

Fwiw, the sharpness between the lenses seems fairly close, so the f/1.8 is imho all about the extra speed. I am guessing that without the filter and with a tad more post-processing the results will be fairly close.

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Cheers,
Henry

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tcdc12321 Regular Member • Posts: 149
Re: Sony 20mm F1.8 first experiences (compared to 16-35 GM)

Thanks for sharing these! This looks like a wonderful lens. I have a question: do you know how the sunstars look? I was looking at the Zeiss Loxica 21, and noticed that that lens has absolutely gorgeous sunstars, so I am wondering how the 20 compares.

OP arneh Regular Member • Posts: 161
Re: Sony 20mm F1.8 first experiences (compared to 16-35 GM)
1

tcdc12321 wrote:

Thanks for sharing these! This looks like a wonderful lens. I have a question: do you know how the sunstars look? I was looking at the Zeiss Loxica 21, and noticed that that lens has absolutely gorgeous sunstars, so I am wondering how the 20 compares.

While it's subjective, I think the general consensus is that Loxia and Voigtlander lenses have the best sunstars. I didn't have any good sunstar photos myself, but here is one from DPReview which shows how it looks for the Sony 20mm:
https://www.dpreview.com/sample-galleries/0711375650/sony-fe-20mm-f1-8-g-sample-gallery/7406374325

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TheOwl360 Regular Member • Posts: 380
Re: Sony 20mm F1.8 first experiences (compared to 16-35 GM)
1

arneh wrote:

I received my Sony 20mm F1.8 a week ago, and my first week of using it, I have been very impressed! The other wide angle lens I own is the 16-35mm GM, I lens I have been happy with so far. So I have made some comparisons with that lens.

The 20mm seems to actually be a bit wider than 20mm. I have to zoom the 16-35 to 19mm to get a similar FOV.

The sharpness is a little better than the GM. Most notable in the corners at big apertures. It's not a big difference most of the time. But what is much better is contrast, colors and an almost complete lack of chromatic aberations for the 20mm. I was surprised it was this much better than the GM!

Plenty of sharpness for both lenses wide open in the center. But contrast and colors are clearly superior on the 20mm

Both of the lenses wide open in the corner. Here the 20mm is clearly sharper. The GM has a quite curved focus field, and was focused in the corner for this image, so this is as good as it gets. Focusing in the center would have given even less sharp corners for the GM.

Both lenses in the corner, stopped down to 5.6. Sharpness is closer now. But chromatic aberations are still quite severe for the GM.

Another wide open image showing difference in chromatic aberations.

Other things I like about the 20mm is that it focuses much closer. And by setting it in manual focus I can get objects in focus just 5 cm in front of the lens. For the GM I can only get focus about 20 cm from the front of the lens.

Close focus on these tiny flowers in the forest. The GM would not be able to do this

I also like the size and weight of the lens, and the aperture ring. It makes it a joy to carry along and use! And of course the F1.8 aperture is an advantage in some situations.

F1.8 handheld at dusk

The only disadvantage I can find compared to the GM is of course that it has only one focal length. In every other way I can see it is superior.
This is quickly turning into my favorite lens!

Some more images from the first week:

Close up at sunset

Nice punchy colors

Nice smooth bokeh balls

While I appreciate your efforts, the review is highly flawed.

I suggest a re-test, with you posting jpegs with exif for all files—not just the 20mm shots, which were also heavily compressed.

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