Made For Travelling And Vlogging? A Preview of Sony FE 16-25mm f/2.8 G

Made For Travelling And Vlogging? A Preview of Sony FE 16-25mm f/2.8 G

Sony released a rather odd lens a few days ago. The FE 16-25mm f/2.8 G is neither a replacement for the GMaster nor the cheaper f/4. It is its own odd thing. What is its purpose? Where does it fit in the lineup? Does purchasing it make sense? For some, it most definitely might. Not for all, though.

The Third Of Its Kind?

Sony currently sells four wide-angle zooms starting at 16 millimeters. The FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM and its second generation. The FE PZ 16-35mm f/4 G and now the just released FE 16-25mm f/2.8 G. It seems odd to muddy the waters this much, even though plentiful options can only be a good thing for the end user. But why would you even choose the new unit over the older established ones? Well, there are clear benefits.

First off, the weight compared to the other two f/2.8 pieces is lower. At a mere 409 grams and 91 millimeters, it is lighter and smaller, and compared to the f/4 PZ G variant it is not much heavier nor larger. It's just in the sweet spot, albeit losing out on ten millimeters in the focal range. The reasoning behind releasing such a lens is simple. To accompany the FE 24-50mm f/2.8 G, which gets you from 16 to 50 millimeters at a constant f/2.8 aperture in two small and lightweight lenses. Sony has not yet confirmed nor denied whether they’re planning on expanding the range with a 50-100mm f/2.8 or similar, but it would make sense. 

Sony FE 16-25mm f/2.8 G. Small and lightweight.

Silent But Powerful

As we are already used to the internal and external build of the lens, this is just how we’d expect from a G/GM lens. Well built, precise, plastic on the outside but solid, and functional. The body features two rubberized control rings for zoom and focus. The zoom is oddly reversed in a way that the longest focal length keeps the front element fully retracted, and only when you move towards the wide end of the lens does the front element extend outwards. It might take some getting used to the fact, but it's nothing major. My best guess is that this is the price for the compact nature of the lens.

A third ring on the body of the lens controls your aperture, and as is customary with all new Sony releases, it can either run smoothly or with clicks on ⅓ stop marks with a flick of a switch. It can also be locked either in or out of Auto mode. And of course, it wouldn’t be a Sony G lens without a remappable Fn button on the side so we got that as well.

The focusing group is moved around by a duo of linear motors. This promises quiet, fast, and accurate focusing. The good news is the promises were fulfilled. The lens is smooth, quick, and with zero hiccups. And not just for stills but for video as well. If you’re using a newer body like the a7 IV or FX3 you can utilize focus breathing compensation as this lens is compatible with the feature. And while it does not offer any kind of optical stabilization, it is compatible with the in-body active stabilization, so you do not always need to use a gimbal. If you do find yourself using a stabilizer, though, rest easy. I’ve tested it on the recently released DJI RS 4 and regardless of what focal length the lens was on the balance numbers never left the green range. So you can easily zoom in while recording on such a gimbal without the constant need to rebalance as the center of mass does not shift significantly even though the front element travels back and forth.

Nice to see aperture rings are back in full swing.

Optically On Par

I’ve tested the lens using the tiny a7CR, which is run by a powerful 60-megapixel sensor, so there truly was no wiggle room for the lens to hide any kinds of imperfections or faults optically-speaking. And there was no need to. In the short few days I’ve had the lens, it resolved detail perfectly corner to corner regardless of focal length and aperture. Granted, I did not have the time to do any exact tests, including charts and similar, but I rarely find those to be indicative of what a lens is capable of.

The aperture consists of eleven blades for smooth bokeh in both the foreground and background. Combine that with the ability to focus even closer than the FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM you can get some nice wide-angle close-up shots. Not only that though. Once you close the aperture down a bit you get some lovely starbursts with 22 individual rays. 

Chromatic aberrations were either corrected very well in-camera or simply not present. Same with vignetting. LoCA was nicely controlled and barely noticeable. Overall the optical design is once again wonderful. Sony has been at the game for a while now, and it shows. They know their way around glass.

Mounted on the Sony a7CR makes this a perfect small-ish combo for travelling.

What I Liked

  • Small and lightweight build
  • Dedicated aperture ring with a click toggle
  • Function button
  • Silent operation
  • Fast and accurate autofocus
  • 11 aperture blades for smooth bokeh and nice starbursts
  • Well-balanced for a gimbal even extended
  • Filter thread
  • Sharp and great contrast even in sunlight

What I Disliked

  • Front element extending when zooming out, not in

Travelling Companion And Vlogger’s Friend

It is clear this lens is aimed towards either travelers or vloggers who do not want the heavier and bulkier GMaster but still prefer an aperture brighter than f/4. The FE 16-25mm f/2.8 G accompanies the recently-released FE 24-50mm f/2.8 G perfectly giving you more than enough in terms of focal range and optical quality. However, it is more than capable of standing on its own when used as a daily vlogging lens mounted on a ZV-E1, FX3, or an a7R IV. The good build, silent motor operation, focus breathing compensation compatibility, active stabilization compatibility, smooth aperture ring, and small form factor make this a wonderful option for anyone using a Sony camera either seriously or as an enthusiast. Sure, the price of $1,200 is not low, but it is not overly expensive either for what it offers. Give it a try and let us know your thoughts.

A Few Samples

Ondřej Vachek's picture

Ondřej Vachek is a Prague based independent documentary photographer and photojournalist with multiple journeys to war-torn Ukraine where he covered everything from the frontline in the Donbass to the civilian life adapting to the new normal. Avid street photographer with love for writing and storytelling.

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1 Comment

This lens is NOT aimed towards travelers or vloggers. It is aimed to anyone who needs the features it provides.