Sony FE 24-70 mm f/2.8 GM II – first impressions

27 April 2022
Maciej Latałło

2. Build quality

The following chart presents a comparison between basic parameters of the tested lens and those of other 24-70 mm f/2.8 class instruments designed for full frame mirrorless cameras. Limited physical weight of the new Sony becomes conspicuous immediately - it is definitely the lightest and the smallest lens in the group. When it comes to the complexity of the optical system only the Canon is more complex than the new Sony, quite understandable, taking into account the fact that the Canon also features optical image stabilization.

The Sony FE 24-70 mm f/2.8 GM II, compared to its predecessor, improved its minimum focusing distance. At the 24 mm focal length it amounts to 0.21 of a meter and at 70 mm it reaches 0.30 of a meter. Such results are close to those of its best rivals but still the Sigma prevails in this category. The new Sony model, like the Sigma and the Panasonic, boasts an aperture with as many as 11 diaphragm blades, more than its predecessor and its rivals produced by Canon and Nikon. All lenses in this group need filters that are 82 mm in diameter.

Sony FE 24-70 mm f/2.8 GM II – first impressions - Build quality

The photos above and below show a comparison between the old and the new version of the Sony FE 24-70 mm f/2.8 GM. The new instrument is visibly shorter than its predecessor, no matter whether you measure it at the 24 mm focal length, with the lens completely folded, or at the 70 mm, with the tube extended as far as possible.

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Sony FE 24-70 mm f/2.8 GM II – first impressions - Build quality

The reduction of dimensions and weight improves notably the balance of the whole camera-plus-lens set. It is important because mirrorless cameras are typically smaller and lighter than reflex cameras of the same class. A big and heavy lens wouldn't fit a small mirrorless camera at all. The new model will be more handy not only in typically photographic uses but also when it comes to amateur video shooting.

Sony FE 24-70 mm f/2.8 GM II – first impressions - Build quality

The lens starts with a metal mount surrounding a black 34x24 mm frame made of plastics with embedded contacts. Its rear element doesn't move and fills the whole of the frame. From this side the construction seems to be completely sealed.

Sony FE 24-70 mm f/2.8 GM II – first impressions - Build quality

The proper body of the lens starts with a black ring made of plastics which diameter increases as you move further from the mount. On the ring you can find a white dot, making an alignment with a camera easier, the mount type (E-mount), the lens's logotype, its serial number along with its full name, its parameters, and information that it was produced in Thailand. The enlargened part features two toggles. The first one, labelled as IRIS LOCK, enables you to lock the ring either in the A position (when the camera body controls the aperture automatically) or limit it to a range from f/2.8 to f/22. The second one, CLICK ON/OFF, is responsible for the aperture mode – you can declick the lens, an option making video shooting far easier, or you can move up the scale every 1/3 EV step.

Sony FE 24-70 mm f/2.8 GM II – first impressions - Build quality

Then you see an aperture ring, as wide as 9 mm, partially ribbed, with focal lengths markings, and an A value that allows the camera body to choose the aperture automatically. The ring can move up the scale every 1/3 EV or work in a clickless mode, depending on the position of a special CLICK ON/OFF toggle we've mentioned a moment earlier.

Further on, you find a zoom ring,16 mm wide, with a mostly ribbed surface. Below you see focal length markings at 24, 35, 50, and 70 mm. The ring moves smoothly and its resistance can be adjusted with a special SMOOTH/TIGHT switch. If you choose the SMOOTH option the ring turns quite loosely and the lens can fold under gravity. The TIGHT option eliminates that effect completely – you can shake and swing the lens vigorously and its focal length position will remain unchanged, a fact that, undoubtedly, will make both photographers and filmmakers happy.

Sony FE 24-70 mm f/2.8 GM II – first impressions - Build quality

Then you find a ring as wide as 17 mm with two round, programmable Focus Lock buttons, an AF/MF switch for controlling the mode of the focusing mechanism, the SMOOTH/TIGHT toggle, mentioned before, the logotype of the producer and the G Master series mark.

Sony FE 24-70 mm f/2.8 GM II – first impressions - Build quality

A movable, ribbed manual focus ring comes next. It's a focus-by-wire construction, 21 mm wide, that turns with small but still comfortable resistance. Running through its whole distance range needs a turn by an angle of about 140-160 degrees. With such lens parameters as these it is a good value, allowing you very precise settings.

The front element is flat, 68 mm in diameter, surrounded by by a part of the casing with a non-rotating filter thread, 82 mm in diameter, and a hood mount; on its edge you can find the lens's minimum focusing distance. When you pass from 24 to 70 mm focal length the whole front element system extends on an homogeneous tube made of plastics and the dimension of the lens increases by 34 mm.

Sony FE 24-70 mm f/2.8 GM II – first impressions - Build quality

When it comes to optical construction you deal here with 20 elements positioned in 15 groups and the number of special elements is really impressive – inside you can find as many as three aspherical, two ED, two Super ED, and two XA elements. There is also a round aperture with eleven diaphragm blades; the producers boast of Nano AR Coat II anti-reflection coatings and protective coatings covering outer optical elements.

Buyers get in the box with the lens: both caps, a petal-type hood, and a hard case of very good quality.

Sony FE 24-70 mm f/2.8 GM II – first impressions - Build quality