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Sony SEL 20-70mm f/4 G Test Report Header Foto Koch
Reading time: 8 minutes - January 17, 2023 - by Foto Koch Marketing

New: Sony 20-70mm f/4 G - Sharper than a G-Master?

We introduce you to the new Sony FE 20-70mm F/4 G. Behind this beautiful name is Sony's new standard zoom. It is lighter, faster and sharper - the question now only remains "than what?". You can find out why Sony chose this particular focal length range and why it is worth the proud price of 1,599 Euros (MSRP) in this article!

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Sony SEL 20-70mm f/4 G

  • Premium G-series full frame standard zoom lens
  • suitable for mirrorless Sony full frame cameras
  • constant maximum F4 aperture throughout the zoom range
  • Focus breathing compensation compatible
  • fast and precise autofocus
  • particularly soft background blur (bokeh)
  • ideal for content creation, photo and video shooting
  • dust and water resistant design

 

Exterior Features of the Sony 20-70mm f/4

From the outside, the new lens isn't particularly exciting at first... as we've come to expect from Sony's newer lenses, it's small and at 488g, it's also extremely light. It also has a dedicated aperture ring with lock functions and of course the two function buttons are back. While the lens does extend when zooming, it still remains relatively compact. There isn't much more to say, so let's get straight to the optical quality.

Sony SEL 20-70mm f/4 G on Alpha 7R V

Optical quality of the Sony lens

Over the past few years, we've become accustomed to Sony raising the bar on optical quality with new generations of lenses. In terms of distortion, chroma, vignetting, and of course sharpness, you see more and more of the change because the cameras, such as a Sony 7R V here, also demand more and more in order to deliver the perfect image results. So Sony had to meet a lot of criteria with the new lens to a) justify the price and b) also stand out from the other lenses in terms of quality. Let's take a look at what is important for a new lens - the image quality.

Sony 20-70mm f/4 G comparison with Sony 20mm f/1.8 vs 24-70mm f/4 vs Tamron 28-75 G2 vs 24-70 GM

Comparison tests of different Sony lenses

As mentioned before, we compared the lens against the most relevant competitors and were quite amazed at times.

Starting with Sony 20mm f/1.8, which was launched in March 2020. The oldest lens in the round is the 24-70mm f/4 Sony Zeiss, which is now pretty much 9 years old. Then on the other side are the much cheaper Tamron 28-75 G2, which isn't quite as wide-angle but has an open aperture of 2.8, and because it's in the same price category: the Sony 24-70 GM Version I.

As our ultimate benchmark for resolution and optical quality, however, we will compare all of the above lenses with our 24-70 GM II, which is in a completely different price range, but also shows what is currently possible with a standard zoom.

Before we look at the image results, which we will also make available to you for download (more on this in a moment), we must explain the framework conditions for this, shall we say, "scientific" comparison: We took a picture in front of a building at a distance of about 20 m with all six lenses at the shortest and the longest focal length. We photographed the whole thing with the largest open aperture of the respective lens, once at f/4 and once at f/8.

For the photos we used the Sony A7R V, all images are in JPEG, uncorrected and directly out of the camera. We repeated the test in front of a brick wall at a distance of about 2 meters, also at the focal lengths and aperture values just mentioned. Somewhat involuntarily, we were also allowed to test the weather resistance of the lens directly after our tests.

Sony 20-70mm f/4 G (at 20mm, f/4)
Sony 20-70mm f/4 G (at 20mm, f/4)

Sharpness comparison with all lenses

So let's get to the exciting part - what did we notice?
Let's start with the sharpness. If we look at all the lenses here at f/4, it quickly becomes clear why the new 20-70 mm costs 1,600?. It's extremely sharp not only in the center of the frame, but also in the peripheral areas at both 20 and 24 mm, and has no problem whatsoever imaging the A7r V's 60 MP.

Sony SEL 20-70mm f/4 vs 24-70mm f/4 Zeiss vs Tamron 28-75 f/2.8 G2 vs 24-70mm f/2.8 GM I and II
Sony SEL 20-70mm f/4 vs 24-70mm f/4 Zeiss vs Tamron 28-75 f/2.8 G2 vs 24-70mm f/2.8 GM I and II

You can see a slight difference between 20 and 24 mm, but that does not surprise us personally, since we are already in an extreme wide-angle range.

However, the old 24-70 mm Zeiss clearly has difficulties with the imaging performance here, as it looks much blurrier and also has a strange green color cast. By the way, this color cast is present in all focal lengths and aperture values.

However, the direct comparison between the new 20-70 and the 20mm f/1.8 is exciting. Here we hardly see any sharpness differences, but the new 20-70 seems to cope better with the 60 megapixels of the A7r V. You can see a generally smoother image here.

The comparison with the Tamron 28-75 G2, which performs very well when stopped down in a direct comparison, is clearly interesting here, at least in terms of sharpness.

Sony 20-70mm f/4 G at 20mm vs 24mm
Sony 20-70mm f/4 G vs 24-70mm f/4 Zeiss

Sony 20-70mm f/4 G vs. 24-70mm GM I & II

Compared to the two 24-70 G-master lenses, we can say with confidence that the new 20-70 is actually a good deal sharper than the old 24-70 GM version 1. Now, to be fair, we must also note that the GM I has a few more years under its belt and was not yet developed for such a high resolution. This leads us directly to the new 24-70 GM II, which is a good deal sharper.

Even with the smaller distance of about 2 m to this brick wall, our observations also run through all focal lengths and aperture values.

Sony 20-70mm f/4 G vs. 24-70mm GM I & II

Distortion of the different lenses

Distortion also plays a big role in a wide-angle lens, of course, and there's actually an interesting observation here. All lenses with a large open aperture (i.e. both G-Masters, the Sony 20mm and the Tamron 28-75) show a greater distortion than the two lenses with a maximum open aperture of f/4. By the way, this is where we found the weak point of the Tamron, because the Tamron shows the greatest distortion in all focal lengths, whereby the new 20-70mm from Sony is the clear winner here.

Samples for download, of the test lenses

So that you can get an idea of the optical differences, we provide you with our samples here for download (only downloadable with a PC/Mac).

Please use the pictures for your own use only and note that there could be slight exposure differences between the individual photos and therefore the pictures do not allow a 100% accurate comparison.

The test photos are packed in a .ZIP file. In the file name of the photo, you can read out which aperture values and focal length the respective photo is about.

Example: "FE_20-70mm_F4_G20-0_mmf/4-0fern.jpg "
Thefirst part of the file name stands for the lens used ("FE_20-70mm_F4_G"), followed by the focal length used ("20-0_mm"), the aperture value ("f/4-0") and whether the image was taken at a distance of approx. 20m or approx. 2m ("far").

Download test images 

Please use the images for your own use only and note that there could be slight differences in exposure between the individual photos and thus the images do not allow for a 100% accurate comparison.

The test photos are packed in a .ZIP file. In the file name of the photo, you can read out which aperture values and focal length the respective photo is about.

Example: "FE_20-70mm_F4_G20-0_mmf/4-0fern.jpg "
Thefirst part of the file name stands for the lens used ("FE_20-70mm_F4_G"), followed by the focal length used ("20-0_mm"), the aperture value ("f/4-0") and whether the picture was taken at a distance of approx. 20m or approx. 2m ("far").

Download test images

Please use the images for your own use only and note that there could be slight differences in exposure between the individual photos and therefore the images do not allow for a 100% accurate comparison.

The test photos are packed in a .ZIP file. In the file name of the photo, you can read out which aperture values and focal length the respective photo is about.

Example: "FE_20-70mm_F4_G20-0_mmf/4-0fern.jpg "
Thefirst part of the file name stands for the lens used ("FE_20-70mm_F4_G"), followed by the focal length used ("20-0_mm"), the aperture value ("f/4-0") and whether the picture was taken at a distance of approx. 20m or approx. 2m ("far").

Download test images

Please use the images for your own use only and note that there could be slight differences in exposure between the individual photos and therefore the images do not allow a 100% accurate comparison.

The test photos are packed in a .ZIP file. In the file name of the photo, you can read out which aperture values and focal length the respective photo is about.

Example: "FE_20-70mm_F4_G20-0_mmf/4-0fern.jpg "
Thefirst part of the file name stands for the lens used ("FE_20-70mm_F4_G"), followed by the focal length used ("20-0_mm"), the aperture value ("f/4-0") and whether the picture was taken at a distance of approx. 20m or approx. 2m ("far").

Download test images

Please use the images for your own use only and note that there could be slight differences in exposure between the individual photos and therefore the images do not allow a 100% accurate comparison.

The test photos are packed in a .ZIP file. In the file name of the photo, you can read out which aperture values and focal length the respective photo is about.

Example: "FE_20-70mm_F4_G20-0_mmf/4-0fern.jpg "
Thefirst part of the file name stands for the lens used ("FE_20-70mm_F4_G"), followed by the focal length used ("20-0_mm"), the aperture value ("f/4-0") and whether the picture was taken at a distance of approx. 20m or approx. 2m ("far").

Download test images

Please use the images for your own use only and note that there could be slight differences in exposure between the individual photos and therefore the images do not allow for a 100% accurate comparison.

The test photos are packed in a .ZIP file. In the file name of the photo, you can read out which aperture values and focal length the respective photo is about.

Example: "FE_20-70mm_F4_G20-0_mmf/4-0fern.jpg "
Thefirst part of the file name stands for the lens used ("FE_20-70mm_F4_G"), followed by the focal length used ("20-0_mm"), the aperture value ("f/4-0") and whether the image was taken at a distance of approx. 20m or approx. 2m ("fern").

Download test images

Why did Sony choose this focal length?

However, the comparison tests not only showed us which lens is ahead in terms of optical quality, but also why Sony chose exactly this focal length range for their new lens. Because in general: The shorter the focal length, the more important and decisive every single millimeter becomes. If we take a look at the three wide-angle lenses compared here, it is immediately noticeable that only 20 mm can capture the entire playhouse; at 24 and especially at 28 mm, you can only see how big the difference really is.

Sony 20-70mm f/4 focal length range

Close focus distance of the Sony 20-70mm f/4

Since Sony's XD linear focus motor design, the closest focusing distance of lenses has always been a big issue. Especially with the new G Master lenses, we've been really spoiled there. We're glad that these improvements are also being inherited by the G series, because Sony has also given us a closest focusing distance of 30 cm at wide-angle and 25 cm at telephoto with the 20-70.

Sony 20-70mm f/4 G close focus distance

Conclusion & Target group of the Sony 20-70mm f/4 G

With the new 20-70mm f/4 G, Sony once again proves what they can grind out of such a bit of glass when it comes to optical quality. The focal length range covers pretty much everything from landscape to architecture to portrait. But what convinces us the most is the optical quality of the lens. It's rat sharp, and yes, it's so sharp that even old G-Master lenses can't keep up while keeping distortion, chromatic aberrations and vignetting at an absolute minimum. The new 20-70 also doesn't compromise on autofocus speed and ease of use, making it a perfect always-on choice not only for photographers, but filmmakers as well.

200,- Trade-in Bonus Welcome to Alpha Bonus sichern
200,- Trade-in Bonus Welcome to Alpha Bonus sichern
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100,- Trade In Bonus Welcome to Vlog Bonus sichern Welcome to Alpha Bonus sichern

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Sony SEL 20-70mm f/4 G

  • Premium G-series full frame standard zoom lens
  • suitable for mirrorless Sony full frame cameras
  • constant maximum F4 aperture throughout the zoom range
  • Focus breathing compensation compatible
  • fast and precise autofocus
  • particularly soft background blur (bokeh)
  • ideal for content creation, photo and video shooting
  • dust and water resistant design

 

Exterior Features of the Sony 20-70mm f/4

From the outside, the new lens isn't particularly exciting at first... as we've come to expect from Sony's newer lenses, it's small and at 488g, it's also extremely light. It also has a dedicated aperture ring with lock functions and of course the two function buttons are back. While the lens does extend when zooming, it still remains relatively compact. There isn't much more to say, so let's get straight to the optical quality.

Sony SEL 20-70mm f/4 G on Alpha 7R V

Optical quality of the Sony lens

Over the past few years, we've become accustomed to Sony raising the bar on optical quality with new generations of lenses. In terms of distortion, chroma, vignetting, and of course sharpness, you see more and more of the change because the cameras, such as a Sony 7R V here, also demand more and more in order to deliver the perfect image results. So Sony had to meet a lot of criteria with the new lens to a) justify the price and b) also stand out from the other lenses in terms of quality. Let's take a look at what is important for a new lens - the image quality.

Sony 20-70mm f/4 G comparison with Sony 20mm f/1.8 vs 24-70mm f/4 vs Tamron 28-75 G2 vs 24-70 GM

Comparison tests of different Sony lenses

As mentioned before, we compared the lens against the most relevant competitors and were quite amazed at times.

Starting with Sony 20mm f/1.8, which was launched in March 2020. The oldest lens in the round is the 24-70mm f/4 Sony Zeiss, which is now pretty much 9 years old. Then on the other side are the much cheaper Tamron 28-75 G2, which isn't quite as wide-angle but has an open aperture of 2.8, and because it's in the same price category: the Sony 24-70 GM Version I.

As our ultimate benchmark for resolution and optical quality, however, we will compare all of the above lenses with our 24-70 GM II, which is in a completely different price range, but also shows what is currently possible with a standard zoom.

Before we look at the image results, which we will also make available to you for download (more on this in a moment), we must explain the framework conditions for this, shall we say, "scientific" comparison: We took a picture in front of a building at a distance of about 20 m with all six lenses at the shortest and the longest focal length. We photographed the whole thing with the largest open aperture of the respective lens, once at f/4 and once at f/8.

For the photos we used the Sony A7R V, all images are in JPEG, uncorrected and directly out of the camera. We repeated the test in front of a brick wall at a distance of about 2 meters, also at the focal lengths and aperture values just mentioned. Somewhat involuntarily, we were also allowed to test the weather resistance of the lens directly after our tests.

Sony 20-70mm f/4 G (at 20mm, f/4)
Sony 20-70mm f/4 G (at 20mm, f/4)

Sharpness comparison with all lenses

So let's get to the exciting part - what did we notice?
Let's start with the sharpness. If we look at all the lenses here at f/4, it quickly becomes clear why the new 20-70 mm costs 1,600?. It's extremely sharp not only in the center of the frame, but also in the peripheral areas at both 20 and 24 mm, and has no problem whatsoever imaging the A7r V's 60 MP.

Sony SEL 20-70mm f/4 vs 24-70mm f/4 Zeiss vs Tamron 28-75 f/2.8 G2 vs 24-70mm f/2.8 GM I and II
Sony SEL 20-70mm f/4 vs 24-70mm f/4 Zeiss vs Tamron 28-75 f/2.8 G2 vs 24-70mm f/2.8 GM I and II

You can see a slight difference between 20 and 24 mm, but that does not surprise us personally, since we are already in an extreme wide-angle range.

However, the old 24-70 mm Zeiss clearly has difficulties with the imaging performance here, as it looks much blurrier and also has a strange green color cast. By the way, this color cast is present in all focal lengths and aperture values.

However, the direct comparison between the new 20-70 and the 20mm f/1.8 is exciting. Here we hardly see any sharpness differences, but the new 20-70 seems to cope better with the 60 megapixels of the A7r V. You can see a generally smoother image here.

The comparison with the Tamron 28-75 G2, which performs very well when stopped down in a direct comparison, is clearly interesting here, at least in terms of sharpness.

Sony 20-70mm f/4 G at 20mm vs 24mm
Sony 20-70mm f/4 G vs 24-70mm f/4 Zeiss

Sony 20-70mm f/4 G vs. 24-70mm GM I & II

Compared to the two 24-70 G-master lenses, we can say with confidence that the new 20-70 is actually a good deal sharper than the old 24-70 GM version 1. Now, to be fair, we must also note that the GM I has a few more years under its belt and was not yet developed for such a high resolution. This leads us directly to the new 24-70 GM II, which is a good deal sharper.

Even with the smaller distance of about 2 m to this brick wall, our observations also run through all focal lengths and aperture values.

Sony 20-70mm f/4 G vs. 24-70mm GM I & II

Distortion of the different lenses

Distortion also plays a big role in a wide-angle lens, of course, and there's actually an interesting observation here. All lenses with a large open aperture (i.e. both G-Masters, the Sony 20mm and the Tamron 28-75) show a greater distortion than the two lenses with a maximum open aperture of f/4. By the way, this is where we found the weak point of the Tamron, because the Tamron shows the greatest distortion in all focal lengths, whereby the new 20-70mm from Sony is the clear winner here.

Samples for download, of the test lenses

So that you can get an idea of the optical differences, we provide you with our samples here for download (only downloadable with a PC/Mac).

Please use the pictures for your own use only and note that there could be slight exposure differences between the individual photos and therefore the pictures do not allow a 100% accurate comparison.

The test photos are packed in a .ZIP file. In the file name of the photo, you can read out which aperture values and focal length the respective photo is about.

Example: "FE_20-70mm_F4_G20-0_mmf/4-0fern.jpg "
Thefirst part of the file name stands for the lens used ("FE_20-70mm_F4_G"), followed by the focal length used ("20-0_mm"), the aperture value ("f/4-0") and whether the image was taken at a distance of approx. 20m or approx. 2m ("far").

Download test images 

Please use the images for your own use only and note that there could be slight differences in exposure between the individual photos and thus the images do not allow for a 100% accurate comparison.

The test photos are packed in a .ZIP file. In the file name of the photo, you can read out which aperture values and focal length the respective photo is about.

Example: "FE_20-70mm_F4_G20-0_mmf/4-0fern.jpg "
Thefirst part of the file name stands for the lens used ("FE_20-70mm_F4_G"), followed by the focal length used ("20-0_mm"), the aperture value ("f/4-0") and whether the picture was taken at a distance of approx. 20m or approx. 2m ("far").

Download test images

Please use the images for your own use only and note that there could be slight differences in exposure between the individual photos and therefore the images do not allow for a 100% accurate comparison.

The test photos are packed in a .ZIP file. In the file name of the photo, you can read out which aperture values and focal length the respective photo is about.

Example: "FE_20-70mm_F4_G20-0_mmf/4-0fern.jpg "
Thefirst part of the file name stands for the lens used ("FE_20-70mm_F4_G"), followed by the focal length used ("20-0_mm"), the aperture value ("f/4-0") and whether the picture was taken at a distance of approx. 20m or approx. 2m ("far").

Download test images

Please use the images for your own use only and note that there could be slight differences in exposure between the individual photos and therefore the images do not allow a 100% accurate comparison.

The test photos are packed in a .ZIP file. In the file name of the photo, you can read out which aperture values and focal length the respective photo is about.

Example: "FE_20-70mm_F4_G20-0_mmf/4-0fern.jpg "
Thefirst part of the file name stands for the lens used ("FE_20-70mm_F4_G"), followed by the focal length used ("20-0_mm"), the aperture value ("f/4-0") and whether the picture was taken at a distance of approx. 20m or approx. 2m ("far").

Download test images

Please use the images for your own use only and note that there could be slight differences in exposure between the individual photos and therefore the images do not allow a 100% accurate comparison.

The test photos are packed in a .ZIP file. In the file name of the photo, you can read out which aperture values and focal length the respective photo is about.

Example: "FE_20-70mm_F4_G20-0_mmf/4-0fern.jpg "
Thefirst part of the file name stands for the lens used ("FE_20-70mm_F4_G"), followed by the focal length used ("20-0_mm"), the aperture value ("f/4-0") and whether the picture was taken at a distance of approx. 20m or approx. 2m ("far").

Download test images

Please use the images for your own use only and note that there could be slight differences in exposure between the individual photos and therefore the images do not allow for a 100% accurate comparison.

The test photos are packed in a .ZIP file. In the file name of the photo, you can read out which aperture values and focal length the respective photo is about.

Example: "FE_20-70mm_F4_G20-0_mmf/4-0fern.jpg "
Thefirst part of the file name stands for the lens used ("FE_20-70mm_F4_G"), followed by the focal length used ("20-0_mm"), the aperture value ("f/4-0") and whether the image was taken at a distance of approx. 20m or approx. 2m ("fern").

Download test images

Why did Sony choose this focal length?

However, the comparison tests not only showed us which lens is ahead in terms of optical quality, but also why Sony chose exactly this focal length range for their new lens. Because in general: The shorter the focal length, the more important and decisive every single millimeter becomes. If we take a look at the three wide-angle lenses compared here, it is immediately noticeable that only 20 mm can capture the entire playhouse; at 24 and especially at 28 mm, you can only see how big the difference really is.

Sony 20-70mm f/4 focal length range

Close focus distance of the Sony 20-70mm f/4

Since Sony's XD linear focus motor design, the closest focusing distance of lenses has always been a big issue. Especially with the new G Master lenses, we've been really spoiled there. We're glad that these improvements are also being inherited by the G series, because Sony has also given us a closest focusing distance of 30 cm at wide-angle and 25 cm at telephoto with the 20-70.

Sony 20-70mm f/4 G close focus distance

Conclusion & Target group of the Sony 20-70mm f/4 G

With the new 20-70mm f/4 G, Sony once again proves what they can grind out of such a bit of glass when it comes to optical quality. The focal length range covers pretty much everything from landscape to architecture to portrait. But what convinces us the most is the optical quality of the lens. It's rat sharp, and yes, it's so sharp that even old G-Master lenses can't keep up while keeping distortion, chromatic aberrations and vignetting at an absolute minimum. The new 20-70 also doesn't compromise on autofocus speed and ease of use, making it a perfect always-on choice not only for photographers, but filmmakers as well.

200,- Trade-in Bonus Welcome to Alpha Bonus sichern
200,- Trade-in Bonus Welcome to Alpha Bonus sichern
Gratis: POLARPRO Vario VND Peter McKinnon Filter 200,- Trade-in Bonus Welcome to Alpha Bonus sichern
100,- Trade In Bonus Welcome to Vlog Bonus sichern Welcome to Alpha Bonus sichern

More about Sony

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