Lens review

Sony FE 16-35 mm f/2.8 GM II

29 August 2023
Maciej Latałło

10. Autofocus and focus breathing


The autofocus of the Sony FE 16-35 mm f/2.8 GM II is based on 4 linear XD motors. They ensure you a fast, noiseless performance and we found out that much while attaching the lens to such cameras as the Sony A7R III and the Sony A7R V. Although the launches of both models are a few years apart we didn't notice any significant differences in their performance – in both cases it was really quick and silent. In case of the A7R III running through the whole distance range and confirming the focus never takes longer than 0.3-0.4 of a second. In case of the A7R V this time can even be shortened to 0.2-0.3 of a second. Both results are splendid, allowing us to assess the tested lens very highly in this category.

When it comes to the accuracy of the autofocus it was very good, but not flawless. There were some misses but, fortunately, their number didn't exceed 2-3% of all shots.

We didn't notice any front or back focus tendency for a change. Even taking a photo at the maximum relative aperture and from the closest distance possible, the proper object was always close to the very centre of DOF.

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A7R III, 35 mm, f/2.8
Sony FE 16-35 mm f/2.8 GM II - Autofocus and focus breathing
A7R V, 35 mm, f/2.8
Sony FE 16-35 mm f/2.8 GM II - Autofocus and focus breathing

Focus breathing

Focus breathing tests show refraiming images as you oversharp them. We conduct them by manually passing from the minimum focusing ditance to infinity with the aperture stopped down; then we check how the field of view of the lens changed as a result.

After conducting a handful of tests now we can create a certain reference scale. A change of the frame ranging from 0 to 5% we consider to be low. Between 5 and 10% we can speak about a medium level. Usually these are also maximum values compensation algorithms, present in some bodies, can effectively deal with. A high level constitute results between 10 and 15%, more than 15% means a very high level.

The test video of the new Sony lens is presented below:

After comparing freeze-frames from this video we can estimate that focus breathing of the tested lens amounts to about 2% at the 16 mm focal length and 3% at the 35 mm focal length. These are low values that shouldn't bother you in real life and which can be corrected by compensation algorithms present in camera bodies without any problem. The new Sony zoom should definitely be praised for good breathing control.