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Sony 20mm f/1.8 G Lens: First Impressions & Early Reviews

The newly announced Sony 20mm f/1.8 G Lens expands the full-frame E-mount lineup and brings a multi-faceted new tool to Sony photographers and filmmakers. Photographers and members of the press had the opportunity to test out the new lens and are posting their first impressions online. Here are some first reactions across the web for this new addition to Sony’s full-frame lens lineup.

"Spoiler alert: it's a near perfect optic." – DPReview on the new Sony 20mm f/1.8 G lens

Dan Watson

"...Another big highlight is the auto-focusing motors. So we do have Sony's XD linear auto focusing motors which are just insanely fast. They are incredibly quiet and it's some of the best autofocus technology built into any lens right now and we do have it on this one which is absolutely amazing. Another big thing we're normally dealing with on wide-angle lenses is distortion. It's something that you can correct in software so it's not that big of a deal, but I'm happy to say I'm not seeing it here at all. So if you're looking at this lens for architecture or inside or landscapes or things like that, I'm happy to say this is going to be a great choice."

"So overall the performance of this lens just seems to be amazing. So when it comes to the competition here, there really isn't a whole lot out there."

"If you want a lens that's built well and has image quality and really justifies the point of a prime lens with aperture, this is going to be your ticket."

Adorama – Alpha Collective members Oveck Reyes (@oveck) & Dave Krugman (@dave.krugman)

"We had a blast testing out this lens. Some of the things I liked about it – I love that with 20 you kind of get a little bit more than a 24 or a 35. You can include a little bit more in the frame. I thought that was pretty cool."

"Another thing I loved is just how sharp it is. Even at 1.8 I was able to capture, especially with Eye Auto Focus, just really dial-in and get a really crisp portrait. I love a wide angle because you can really also include a lot of the foreground. I found myself shooting through objects a lot and using them to frame the subjects, and the wide angle lets you include more of those surroundings." – Dave Krugman

"Not only that, but one of the things that I loved is how close you could get to the subject. It's almost like a Macro wide." – Oveck Reyes

B&H Photo/Video – Sony Artisan Ben Lowy

"One of the cool things about the lens, regardless of what you're shooting – it gets everything."

"Primes in general teach you a little about discipline of shooting. 'OK, I just want to shoot with this one lens and how do I see the world with this one lens?' When you switch to primes and you start backing up and using wider angles, it's all again about discipline and trying to figure out how you see and how you experience the world and how you want to capture it." – Ben Lowy

DPReview.com – Rishi Sanyal

"Fast aperture wide-angle primes in particular are hard to produce without common optical aberrations like longitudinal chromatic aberration and a drop-off in sharpness across the frame, not to mention lateral chromatic aberration, distortion and vignetting. The Sony FE 20mm F1.8 exhibits extremely high sharpness and contrast wide open, even at close focus distances, and a lack of longitudinal chromatic aberration, seen as purple and green fringing in front of, and behind, the focus plane. Those attributes in and of themselves would have made this lens quite desirable, but the lack of lateral chromatic aberration (or, more accurately, the lack of a major decrease in sharpness after correction of any lateral CA), and only mild distortion make this a prime optic."

Read DPReview's full initial review here.

The Everyday Dad

"The most striking thing about this lens is how much it looks like the 24mm G Master which we've talked about here in the channel and is probably in the running of my favorite lens of all time. And that's something that I really like about what Sony does from both a lens standpoint, but also a product standpoint in general. They aren't afraid to let their new cutting-edge technology start to make its way into lower-end products. Because again, this is a G lens, not a G Master lens."

"Something else I really like is the lack of distortion. Sometimes with really wide-angle lenses you can get this bowing out in the corner so far and again I've only had it a week – I haven't seen these problems. Man, what a setup."

TechRadar.com – James Abbott

"The most impressive feature, beyond the small size and weight of the lens, is that the manual aperture ring has three settings to suit all photographers and videographers. There’s the 'A' setting for camera body control of the aperture, stepless for manual control when shooting video, and clicked manual aperture where you can feel the click between each stop and is more suitable for stills. So, whatever your preferred method of aperture control, this lens provides it."

"As you’d expect from a prime, when this lens is set to the sweet spot aperture, it’s incredibly sharp throughout the frame – and with this lens that aperture is f/8. While sharpness is impressive at f/1.8, it’s when you stop down to f/2.8 that you see a significant jump in sharpness, with each subsequent aperture stop providing improved edge sharpness to f/8."

"The FE 20mm f/1.8 is a lens that clearly fills a hole in the Sony FE line-up and has broad appeal across a wide range of photographic subjects."

Read TechRadar's full review here.

The Art Of Photography – Ted Forbes

"Now under the hood Sony has also built this lens with their XD linear focus actuators, so you're going to get extremely fast, accurate, and quiet auto focus tracking. This is fast and silent enough for video applications and I something that I use these lenses for all the time – they're really that good."

"You've got very short focusing distance so you can get really close to your subjects. You can engage a really beautiful bokeh in the background.

"Not only can you have a nice separation between your subject and your background, but you can also stop it down and shoot extremely gorgeous, sharp images that exhibit excellent micro-contrast as well."

Steve Huff

"This is what I've been waiting for. I've been waiting for something wider than 24, something made by Sony, something that's f/2 or faster – and 20 millimeter f/18 is perfect. I've been waiting for this so I wrote Sony the other day and I said I'm buying this lens as soon as it's available. I love it! So whether you are shooting video, whether you're vlogging, whether you're doing interviews, whether you're doing photos, landscapes, street photography, environmental portraiture – this is really a great lens to take a look at."

PCMag.com – Jim Fisher

"It's been quite some time since we've been anything but happy with a full-frame Sony lens. The FE 20mm F1.8 G keeps the streak going, delivering outstanding optical performance, a solid build, and strong features for both still photographers and the cinematography crowd."

"The FE 20mm F1.8 G is an excellent choice for photographers who want a prime that's decidedly wide angle. It's not quite as incredible as the FE 24mm F1.4 GM, which is simply the best 24mm you'll find for any system, and with a slightly narrower angle of view that makes it more of an everyday lens. Still, the FE 20mm isn't far off, and that should be plenty for any photographer, and earns our Editors' Choice recommendation as well."

Read PCMag's full review here.

FStoppers.com – Ryan Mense

"As you can see it's a really impressive design that features a beefed-up focus ring, focus-hold button, an auto-focus/manual focus switch, and an aperture ring that can be toggled with or without clicks between f-stop numbers. It can also simply be left on the 'A' setting to keep your regular camera dial in control of changing the aperture."

"The lens FE 20mm f/1.8 G lens is not really like any other G-series lens before it. Sony has slightly blurred the line between what a G and a G Master lens is. This is evident when we look at what this lens has going on inside. The lens uses Sony's top-of-the-line XD linear focus actuator which in my testing works great for tracking subjects and is extremely quiet. The minimum focusing distance is 7.5 inches which for 20mm means there's a maximum magnification of .2X. It has a 9-bladed circular aperture which is capable of some really pleasing autofocus character."

See more at Fstoppers.com.

Jason Vong

"I'm predicting this is going to be a hot lens for a lot of Sony users."

"Pros will know all the potential use cases for a 20mm. Personally I think casual users are going to have the most fun with this lens. 20mm is obviously fantastic for landscape and selfies. Full frame quality selfies, because who has the time to take out their phone for a quick smartphone selfie? Am I right?"

"...in all seriousness, selfie is a form of environmental portraits. So yeah 20mm is fantastic for some environmental portraits. People who travel a lot especially will enjoy this as well as allow them to show more of the places that they've been to while still retaining a little bit of themselves in the photo as well."

Gerald Undone

"I quickly came to enjoy the balance it offered between field of view and distortion control. But that distortion correction isn't based solely on lens profiles and post-processing. They do help a bit but even if you turn off distortion compensation in the camera you'll be surprised with how well this lens compensates for field curvature while maintaining corner-to-corner sharpness."

"In my opinion it gracefully walks the line between an almost vintage lens aesthetic, while taking a modern approach to error correction. You get these really smooth transitions but with minimal chromatic aberration and distortion. It preserves so much detail without looking impossibly sharp, something that's not as common these days in photographic lenses."

"I think you'll find this 20mm nicely brings in more of the environment without adding too much of that super wide face-stretching effect. I could totally see this being some people's new favorite vlogging lens, especially considering how well it balances on the full frame bodies."

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