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

Started 11 months ago | User reviews
OP arneh Regular Member • Posts: 163
Re: Sony 20mm F1.8 first experiences (compared to 16-35 GM)
3

TheOwl360 wrote:

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

I agree the first comparison was flawed, and I apologize for that. If I could I would delete that part as it does not show the true performance of the 16-35 GM. But it's impossible to edit or delete a post here after someone has replied.
So please disregard the 16-35 images from the first post, and only look at what the 20mm does on its own.

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TheOwl360 Regular Member • Posts: 384
Re: Sony 20mm F1.8 first experiences (compared to 16-35 GM)

arneh wrote:

TheOwl360 wrote:

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

I agree the first comparison was flawed, and I apologize for that. If I could I would delete that part as it does not show the true performance of the 16-35 GM. But it's impossible to edit or delete a post here after someone has replied.
So please disregard the 16-35 images from the first post, and only look at what the 20mm does on its own.

I suppose that is what any person striving for intellectual honesty will have to do. Thing is, many don’t strive for intellectual honesty and, for some, confirmation bias will lead them to conclude the 20mm G is better than the  16-35 GM in terms of IQ. That is a pity but it’s the norm, unfortunately.

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OP arneh Regular Member • Posts: 163
Re: Sony 20mm F1.8 first experiences (compared to 16-35 GM)
5

After the flawed first comparison of the 20mm G and 16-35 GM, I have tried to reproduce the bad results to see what may be the cause. I've made numerous comparisons, trying to recreate the same circumstances, but never gotten anything near as bad performance for the 16-35 as in the first test, neither with or without filter.

Here is what I got when I tried to reproduce the first test as best I could, with similar back lighting. This is the worst difference I could get in this test:

16-35 GM to the left, showing a bit more CA and worse contrast. But clearly no way near as bad difference as first test

This was without filter on either lens. Here is the same part comparing with and without filter. Here you can see that in these conditions the filter does make a difference.

16-35 with filter to the left, without to the right. More CA with the filter

Here is another part of the image, where the filter makes no difference:

16-35 with filter to the left, without to the right

So here are the new comparisons to the 20mm, this time without filter on the 16-35. All of them are 200% crops from the a7R3.

Both wide open in center. 20mm appears a little sharper and a little more contrast

Both at F2.8 in center. Here the 20mm is clearly better

Both stopped down to F5.6, where it is closer again, but the 20mm still a little better

Both wide open at the edge. The 20mm a bit sharper

Both at F2.8 at edge. 20mm is clearly sharper here

Both stopped down to F5.6 at edge. Much closer, but 20mm still a little sharper

In conclusion the big difference in contrast and colors of the first test seem to be have been caused by some unfortunate, rare circumstances, which I have been unable to reproduce since. The filter seems to have been part of the cause, but even with the filter I have not been able to get anywhere near as bad results since.

The 20mm still seems to be a little sharper and in backlit situations it seems to behave a bit better. But I'm happy to say that the 16-35 is still capable of making great images, and most often the difference can only be seen when pixel peeping, or in specific circumstances. Particularly if shooting stopped down.

So sorry for the confusion my first flawed test created!

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PWPhotography Forum Pro • Posts: 10,840
Re: Sony 20mm F1.8 first experiences (compared to 16-35 GM)
1

Maybe 20/1.8 G is sharper than 16-35 GM but only slightly. Once stop down a bit, 16-35 GM is basically as sharp as. That is what I found out from my two mostly used zoom lenses, 16-35 GM and Tamron 28-75, such as between Tamron and 55/1.8 ZA side by side . They are almost as sharp as most prime lenses in shared FL. I bought Loxia and Voigtlander prime lenses to complement the zoom lenses are not very good at - sunstar, micro-contrast and color rendering. In my case I bought CV 21/1.4 Nokton that is f1.4 wide open and should be slightly sharper than 20/1.8 G.

A few sample from 16-35 GM at 3 major FL stops full size @f2.8 wide open.

full size

full size

full size

full size real-world photo from 16-35 GM @24mm in the Torres del Paine NP

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(unknown member) Senior Member • Posts: 1,453
Re: Sony 20mm F1.8 coming...

Now, this! I do not need it but I want it and there was a 100€ refund on Missnumeric.

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aSevenArr
aSevenArr Senior Member • Posts: 2,670
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

A prime being a tiny bit sharper than a zoom especially in the corners, that's a surprise

Anyway, congrats on your new lens.

Frankly Sony would be doing something very wrong in their lens designs if this were not the case. What's impressive to me is how good the zoom actually is.

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kesariraju Junior Member • Posts: 37
Re: Sony 20mm F1.8 first experiences (compared to 16-35 GM)

A prime being a tiny bit sharper than a zoom especially in the corners, that's a surprise

Anyway, congrats on your new lens.

Frankly Sony would be doing something very wrong in their lens designs if this were not the case. What's impressive to me is how good the zoom actually is.

Nope, it's a common misconception.

Quoting Dr Hubert Nasse - https://youtu.be/9cnEnRADDLo?t=360

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

Thanks Arneh for this lens review.

I'm in the market for a 16-35 GM and this is a nice comparison. I do have a 18mm Zeiss Batis that makes me wonder if I should consider selling it to get the 20mm F1.8 . Something worth thinking about now.

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pollup Contributing Member • Posts: 860
Re: Sony 20mm F1.8 first experiences (compared to 16-35 GM)

It is indeed wider than 20mm. You can actually do a little experiment to measure its exact focal length, but someone else did it and came up with 19.3mm.

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N4865G
N4865G Contributing Member • Posts: 717
Re: Sony 20mm F1.8 first experiences (compared to 16-35 GM)
5

Hallo all,

Ever since I got my 16-35GM I found it sitting in my bag rather than on a camera. Whilst the picture quality is fantastic I thought it is taking too much space in my bag for me to take it with me everywhere I go. I normally shoot telephoto, including landscape photography, but occasionally I come across a scene which just begs for wide angle. That was the whole point of me buying into the 1635GM. But the size and weight of it is prohibitive long term, so I thought I would experiment and get the widely praised 20mmf1.8 as a potential replacement

Got it yesterday and took it for a bit of a benchmark test against the 1635GM.

I am happy to discover that to my eyes, it is not softer than the zoom, in fact I find it's corners sharper - even at f1.8!

This is by no means scientific test, but just a casual shoot.

16-35GM

20mm f1.8

As mentioned above I am surprised to see the prime corners much sharper than the GM, yet the center is a tie in my eyes (maybe even slightly sharper on the zoom):

center crop, prime on the left, zoom on the right

corner crop, prime on the left, zoom on the right

Another scene:

16-35GM, this time stepped down to f8

20mm f1.8, f8 as well

Surprisingly, the prime beats the zoom at f8 as well.

zoom on the left, prime on the right

again, zoom on the left, prime on the right.

Last, but not least, here is the comparison of their sunstars.

prime left, zoom on the right, both shot at f22

Please do not take this post as provocative. I merely want to share my experience and decision making process in order to optimise my lens portfolio.

I think I will be selling my GM zoom and keeping the prime. Versatility of the zoom turned out not to be an advantage with my shooting style, but the weight and space savings (never mind the cost) are significant.

Thanks

Dom

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PWPhotography Forum Pro • Posts: 10,840
Re: Sony 20mm F1.8 first experiences (compared to 16-35 GM)

N4865G wrote:

Hallo all,

Ever since I got my 16-35GM I found it sitting in my bag rather than on a camera. Whilst the picture quality is fantastic I thought it is taking too much space in my bag for me to take it with me everywhere I go. I normally shoot telephoto, including landscape photography, but occasionally I come across a scene which just begs for wide angle. That was the whole point of me buying into the 1635GM. But the size and weight of it is prohibitive long term, so I thought I would experiment and get the widely praised 20mmf1.8 as a potential replacement

Got it yesterday and took it for a bit of a benchmark test against the 1635GM.

I am happy to discover that to my eyes, it is not softer than the zoom, in fact I find it's corners sharper - even at f1.8!

This is by no means scientific test, but just a casual shoot.

16-35GM

20mm f1.8

As mentioned above I am surprised to see the prime corners much sharper than the GM, yet the center is a tie in my eyes (maybe even slightly sharper on the zoom):

center crop, prime on the left, zoom on the right

corner crop, prime on the left, zoom on the right

Another scene:

16-35GM, this time stepped down to f8

20mm f1.8, f8 as well

Surprisingly, the prime beats the zoom at f8 as well.

zoom on the left, prime on the right

again, zoom on the left, prime on the right.

Last, but not least, here is the comparison of their sunstars.

prime left, zoom on the right, both shot at f22

Please do not take this post as provocative. I merely want to share my experience and decision making process in order to optimise my lens portfolio.

I think I will be selling my GM zoom and keeping the prime. Versatility of the zoom turned out not to be an advantage with my shooting style, but the weight and space savings (never mind the cost) are significant.

Thanks

Dom

I heard this lens has copy variation. You might have a lemon copy. My copy is pretty sharp. I have Voigtlander FE 21/1.4 Nokton that has similar sharpness as Sony 20/1.8. I did side by side test between 16-35 GM and CV 21/1.4 Nokton and don't see that much difference shown in your test. My 16-35 GM is also very sharp at edges after stopping down a bit. It's a very versatile lens with great FL range and much needed 16mm wide. It's my default lens on A7r IV.

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Waldemar Senior Member • Posts: 1,964
Sunstars any good?

nt

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Waldemar

joger
joger Veteran Member • Posts: 6,682
Re: Sony 20mm F1.8 first experiences (compared to 16-35 GM)

N4865G wrote:

...Please do not take this post as provocative. I merely want to share my experience and decision making process in order to optimise my lens portfolio.

I think I will be selling my GM zoom and keeping the prime. Versatility of the zoom turned out not to be an advantage with my shooting style, but the weight and space savings (never mind the cost) are significant.

Thanks

Dom

Hi Dom,

excellent quick comparison and I fully understand your sentiment about size and weight - this is why I chose some primes over the comparable slow f/2.8 GM zooms as well. Zooming by feet or virtually is a viable option and most primes outpace the zooms by a hefty bit.

As alway individual mileage varies and needs may vary too.

It is good that you point out what counts most for your need not implying others will have the exact same needs - that said we seem to agree on the very same priorities

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N4865G
N4865G Contributing Member • Posts: 717
Re: Sony 20mm F1.8 first experiences (compared to 16-35 GM)

Thank you very much for your comments.

My initial evaluation leading me to buying the 16-35GM zoom in the first place was the spectrum of scenarios when I would not be able to zoom with my feet, say standing on a cliff or something similar.

As it turned out I do not do much of this kind of landscape photography at all, the wide angle shots I do most of the time can easily be catered for with the fixed length of 20mm.

To cut the long story short again, it is not so much about the absolute sharpness, as it is about the weight, volume taken in my bag and the cost of owning this lens.

Happy to see, that there is a native Sony option now with phenomenal performance and the size/weight which is very small.

Happy New Year!

Dom

joger wrote:

N4865G wrote:

...Please do not take this post as provocative. I merely want to share my experience and decision making process in order to optimise my lens portfolio.

I think I will be selling my GM zoom and keeping the prime. Versatility of the zoom turned out not to be an advantage with my shooting style, but the weight and space savings (never mind the cost) are significant.

Thanks

Dom

Hi Dom,

excellent quick comparison and I fully understand your sentiment about size and weight - this is why I chose some primes over the comparable slow f/2.8 GM zooms as well. Zooming by feet or virtually is a viable option and most primes outpace the zooms by a hefty bit.

As alway individual mileage varies and needs may vary too.

It is good that you point out what counts most for your need not implying others will have the exact same needs - that said we seem to agree on the very same priorities

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joger
joger Veteran Member • Posts: 6,682
Re: Sony 20mm F1.8 first experiences (compared to 16-35 GM)

N4865G wrote:

Thank you very much for your comments.

My pleasure

My initial evaluation leading me to buying the 16-35GM zoom in the first place was the spectrum of scenarios when I would not be able to zoom with my feet, say standing on a cliff or something similar.

Such things happen from time to time and when you're standing on the cliffs one step further might be unwise

In my experience there are multiple ways to work around limitations like these. Either more sensor resolution and/or more reach with longer focal lengths and/or focus or panorama stitching ...

Not everything works best very time - sometimes the tool dictates the way of shooting and that's what I personally like when working with primes. They face me to think twice what I'd like to achieve. That's a very personal view.

The only two zooms I own are compromises since one is one of the best ever built ultra wide angle options and the other one is the lightest native sharp 600 mm tele lens available.

As it turned out I do not do much of this kind of landscape photography at all, the wide angle shots I do most of the time can easily be catered for with the fixed length of 20mm.

I once owned the Nikkor 20 f/2.8 and it did a fabulous job in many ways being ultra compact while having a very good corner to corner sharpness (stopped down) on analog cameras. The Sony G 20 f/1.8 is a bit larger and heavier but still on the small side and probably more attractive than the GM 24 being wider and still almost as good in performance - and it has an aperture ring - a big plus IMHO.

To cut the long story short again, it is not so much about the absolute sharpness, as it is about the weight, volume taken in my bag and the cost of owning this lens.

I understand the sentiment about size and weight. What do you mean with 'cost of owning the lens'?

Lens cost are:

  • purchasing price + maintenance - income from it - selling price => total cost of ownership

Which part of the GM 16..35 do you calculate more critical compare to the G 20 f/1.8? Potential selling price or potential income with it?

Happy to see, that there is a native Sony option now with phenomenal performance and the size/weight which is very small.

GM 24 and G 20 have been nice surprises for everyone - I guess - I am personally looking forward to a GM 16 or even better a GM 14

Happy New Year!

Dom

Happy new year to you and everyone else as well!

And happy shooting with whatever gear you just own and like to use!

<=> Joachim

P.S. You have some really nice images in your portfolio

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N4865G
N4865G Contributing Member • Posts: 717
Re: Sony 20mm F1.8 first experiences (compared to 16-35 GM)

Thank you very much for your valuable comments Joachim,

I understand the sentiment about size and weight. What do you mean with 'cost of owning the lens'?

Lens cost are:

  • purchasing price + maintenance - income from it - selling price => total cost of ownership

Which part of the GM 16..35 do you calculate more critical compare to the G 20 f/1.8? Potential selling price or potential income with it?

I make money (not much as this is merely a hobby for me) from sport photography genre and this has been catered for with my telephoto primes and zooms. Landscape, or more so, the travel photography is just a hobby.

I bought the used 16-35GM at the bargain price and it should be quite feasible to get the same price for it should I decide to resell it again. Therefore, this cost would balance out.

I am not particularly pressed to monetise on this expensive lens, then again not using it and collecting dust in my cabinet begs for solution.

P.S. You have some really nice images in your portfolio

Appreciate it very much.

Dom

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upgrader Regular Member • Posts: 383
Re: Sony 20mm F1.8 first experiences (compared to 16-35 GM)
3

Thanks for the infos. If you know you will need only a 20mm - perfect. No question the little new Sony will do well. During a photo trip I find a 16-35mm just the absolute basic equipment during a day. In your pictures that you posted there are mostly conditions where you can correct in post such as contrast. You just can't recover sharpness in the end. Weighing all in I would never sell my 16-35GM just for a fixed focal-length. These are 2 worlds. I think the new 20mm will shine especially for milky-way photography aso.

mujana Veteran Member • Posts: 7,372
Re: Sony 20mm F1.8 first experiences (compared to 16-35 GM)

upgrader wrote:

Thanks for the infos. If you know you will need only a 20mm - perfect. No question the little new Sony will do well. During a photo trip I find a 16-35mm just the absolute basic equipment during a day. In your pictures that you posted there are mostly conditions where you can correct in post such as contrast. You just can't recover sharpness in the end. Weighing all in I would never sell my 16-35GM just for a fixed focal-length.

The 16-35GM is almost glued to my camera. Very versatile and IQ is nothing short of outstanding. Same as you, I would never sell it for a fixed focal length.

These are 2 worlds. I think the new 20mm will shine especially for milky-way photography aso.

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PWPhotography Forum Pro • Posts: 10,840
Re: Sony 20mm F1.8 first experiences (compared to 16-35 GM)

mujana wrote:

upgrader wrote:

Thanks for the infos. If you know you will need only a 20mm - perfect. No question the little new Sony will do well. During a photo trip I find a 16-35mm just the absolute basic equipment during a day. In your pictures that you posted there are mostly conditions where you can correct in post such as contrast. You just can't recover sharpness in the end. Weighing all in I would never sell my 16-35GM just for a fixed focal-length.

The 16-35GM is almost glued to my camera. Very versatile and IQ is nothing short of outstanding. Same as you, I would never sell it for a fixed focal length.

These are 2 worlds. I think the new 20mm will shine especially for milky-way photography aso.

16-35 GM is default on my A7r IV that is so versatile. My copy is very sharp as in the photos shown in my earlier post in this thread. I do have a similar Voigtlander FE 21/1.4 Nokton that is as sharp as Sony 20/1.8 G. It's only slightly sharper especially at edges but no much after stopping down a bit in my side by side test. However I swap in prime when I have a chance and at the scenes involving sunstar/lightstar that is way better and don't need to even stop down much (such as to crazy f18) to get excellent sunstar from this CV lens. The prime is also slightly better in micro-contrast. I found my prime lenses win in areas of characters when I needed but not really in sharpness especially in stop-down landscape type photos.

Nevertheless in trips like in glacier tour on cruise, swapping lenses or trying to do stitching are not that practical. Therefore I even carried 3 sets - 16-35 GM on A7r IV, Tamron 28-75 on A7r III and 100-400 GM on A9. Supposedly also carried into the Antarctic trip but that was cancelled due to bad weather. In such trips, only prime lenses will be very restrained. I intend to only carry pure prime lenses in slow-pace casual trips, already did in this trip and will do more.

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mujana Veteran Member • Posts: 7,372
Re: Sony 20mm F1.8 first experiences (compared to 16-35 GM)

PWPhotography wrote:

mujana wrote:

upgrader wrote:

Thanks for the infos. If you know you will need only a 20mm - perfect. No question the little new Sony will do well. During a photo trip I find a 16-35mm just the absolute basic equipment during a day. In your pictures that you posted there are mostly conditions where you can correct in post such as contrast. You just can't recover sharpness in the end. Weighing all in I would never sell my 16-35GM just for a fixed focal-length.

The 16-35GM is almost glued to my camera. Very versatile and IQ is nothing short of outstanding. Same as you, I would never sell it for a fixed focal length.

These are 2 worlds. I think the new 20mm will shine especially for milky-way photography aso.

16-35 GM is default on my A7r IV that is so versatile. My copy is very sharp as in the photos shown in my earlier post in this thread. I do have a similar Voigtlander FE 21/1.4 Nokton that is as sharp as Sony 20/1.8 G. It's only slightly sharper especially at edges but no much after stopping down a bit in my side by side test. However I swap in prime when I have a chance and at the scenes involving sunstar/lightstar that is way better and don't need to even stop down much (such as to crazy f18) to get excellent sunstar from this CV lens. The prime is also slightly better in micro-contrast. I found my prime lenses win in areas of characters when I needed but not really in sharpness especially in stop-down landscape type photos.

Using my Batis 85mm for portraiture (but it' s hard to find any models in this covid time). Voigtlander 110mm Macro for (ofcourse) Macro and occasional landscape (as your Voightlander also better sunstars than the 16-35GM.

Nevertheless in trips like in glacier tour on cruise, swapping lenses or trying to do stitching are not that practical. Therefore I even carried 3 sets - 16-35 GM on A7r IV, Tamron 28-75 on A7r III and 100-400 GM on A9. Supposedly also carried into the Antarctic trip but that was cancelled due to bad weather. In such trips, only prime lenses will be very restrained. I intend to only carry pure prime lenses in slow-pace casual trips, already did in this trip and will do more.

OT...nice area...Yunnan China. Have been there and your images bring back good memories. Thnxs for posting this link.

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