REVIEW: Sony FE 35mm F1.4 GM

Sony introduces a standard lens with a fixed focal length of 35 mm. The Sony FE 35mm F1.4 GM is part of the range of professional G Master lenses.

Does the newcomer meet the expectations that this raises?

Click on the lens for specifications, prices and test results.

TEST RESULTS Sony FE 35mm F1.4 GM:

PROS

CONS

  • optically excellent
  • pricey

The Sony FE 35mm F1.4 GM is already Sony’s fifth lens with this focal length, and it should be the best ever.

Years ago, Sony opted for the “One Mount” strategy, in which one lens mount serves on all cameras, from the inexpensive system cameras with crop sensors to the professional video cameras. Meanwhile, 59 lenses with the Sony F mount have already been released, of which 38 have the full-frame FE mount.

You can never have too many 35mm lenses, Sony must have thought.

The Sony FE 35mm F1.4 GM is the fourth lens with this focal length, after the Sonnar T* FE 35mm F2.8 ZA (2013), the Distagon T* FE 35mm F1.4 (2014) and the FE 35mm F1.8 (2019). 35mm is also a versatile focal length.

35mm is a popular focal length for reportage and street photographers because you get just a little more in frame than with a 50mm lens but without the distortion you risk with wider fields of view. However, a 35mm is also perfect for a portrait in which the environment plays a role. High brightness then helps to separate your subject from the background and to create a pleasant background blur (the bokeh).

Sony FE 35mm F1.4 GM

BUILD AND OPERATION

The Sony FE 35mm F1.4 GM is part of Sony’s G Master series. This consists of high-quality lenses with excellent image quality, which are nevertheless light and relatively compact. According to Sony, the FE 35mm F1.4 GM is designed according to the example of the award-winning FE 24mm F1.4 GM.

Like all G Master lenses, the Sony FE 35mm F1.4 GM is dust- and splash-proof. The use of metal and high-quality plastic ensures that you can also use the lens in challenging conditions. It weighs 524 grams and is only a few millimeters longer than the FE 24mm F.

Sony FE 35mm F1.4 GM
 The shortest focusing distance is 27 cm when using the autofocus. F1.4, 1 .400S, ISO 100

The Sony FE 35mm F1.4 GM is also both smaller and lighter than the Distagon T FE 35mm F1.4, which weighs 630 grams and is 112 mm long. There is no stabilization in the lens, but you normally don’t expect that with a bright prime, and Sony’s full-frame bodies have stabilization built in, of course. The lens has a broad focus ring and a switch to change between autofocus and manual focus. Closer to the mount is an aperture ring with positions for each third stop between F1.4 and F16. If desired, the aperture can also be made infinitely and click-free (declick), so that you can smoothly and silently make the aperture larger and smaller. That is an advantage for videographers, because there are no clear differences in brightness then when you open or close the aperture while shooting. A focus lock button completes the physical controls.

DESIGN

The Sony FE 35mm F1.4 GM features many special lens elements and glass types. Two XA (extreme aspherical) elements are ground with an accuracy of up to 0.01 micron (one hundred thousand millimeters). These contribute to high resolution. An ED (extra-low dispersion) element reduces chromatic aberration.

The lens has a diaphragm with eleven rounded blades, which should provide a nice background blur.

The lens has not one but two XD Linear focus motors. These use an electromagnetic drive to move the large focusing element quickly, precisely and silently. Videographers who prefer to focus manually will be delighted with the linear response focus ring, with which you can focus without jumps.

The Sony FE 35mm F1.4 GM can focus up to 25 cm (with manual focus) or 27 cm (with autofocus). The magnification factor is 0.23x – still far from the real macro range, but it can be used for close-up shots of not-too-small objects.

 Together with the A7R IV it provides images with a large amount of detail. F1.4, 1/640, ISO 100

PERFORMANCE

To get the best possible impression of the capabilities of the Sony FE 35 mm F1.4 GM, I combined it with the 61 megapixel A7R IV – currently the full-frame camera with the highest resolution on the market. This combination delivers images with an amazing amount of detail from corner to corner, even wide open at F1.4. It should be noted that in reality, the sharpness in the corners will be restricted by the depth of field progression rather than by the optical quality.

Thanks to Sony’s hybrid autofocus system, the lens focuses exactly wherever the subject is in the image frame. The real-time eye autofocus also works reliably. At the largest openings, there is vignetting to the corners, which completely disappears at F4. This vignetting is automatically corrected when you switch on the shadow compensation option in the camera menu for lens compensation. You will also notice the slight pincushion-shaped distortion only if you do not use the built-in distortion compensation.

 Sony FE 35mm F1.4 GM
 specifications
  
field of view (diag)63°
sensor formatfull-frame
min. setting distance27 cm
filter diameter67 cm
diaphragm blades11
image stabilizernone
dimensions (dxl)96 mm
weight524 gr
mountSony E
particularsstepless aperture
importerSony Benelux
list price€ 1700.00
  
resolution/109
contrast/109
chromatic aberration/55
distortion/55
vignetting/54
autofocus/55
flare/55
finish/109
  
final score9.3

ConclusiON: REVIEW Sony FE 35mm F1.4 GM oN Sony A7R IV

With the A7R IV, it is a dream combination for those who can afford it.

The Sony FE 35mm F1.4 GM is a valuable addition to Sony’s G Master series. Compared to the cheaper FE 35 mm F1.8, it offers not only a higher brightness, but above all a higher optical quality and a beautiful image rendering.

With the A7R IV, it is a dream combination for those who can afford it.