The moniker “G Master” means it is designed to Sony’s highest standards, which should result in superb image quality. It boasts an optical design which features two Sony XA (extreme aspherical) elements which are intended to achieve outstanding resolution, low distortion and smooth bokeh. The maximum aperture is f/2.8 constant, making it ideal for creating shallow depth of field effects, or shooting in lower light conditions.
Like the 12-24mm lens which was also announced at the same time, the 16-35mm f/2.8 G Master Lens is impressively light and small considering what it offers. With the Sony A9 it feels well balanced and a good match for this camera – it would also feel at home on something like the Sony A7R II.
The lens features two rings. A larger ring towards the base of the lens is used for zooming the lens, and is marked with relevant focal lengths. A smaller ring towards the front of the lens is used for manual focus. Both of the rings have a rubberised texture to help you get a secure grip on them. I’d quite like to see an aperture ring for making super quick changes to aperture, but, it’s a feature Sony seems to have deemed unnecessary for the majority of its lenses.
A feature which is likely to appeal to those who spend a lot of time shooting outdoors is that the 16-35mm f/2.8 G Master Lens is dust and moisture resistant.
This lens doesn’t have an integrated lens hood like the Sony 12-24mm lens, but naturally one is supplied in the box to use with it. It’s recommended that you attach it for shooting in bright sunlight, but Sony Nano AR coating is included to reduce flare and ghosting. I was able to see some flare effects, but only in extremely bright conditions when pointing the lens directly at the sun – it didn’t take much to adjust the angle of view to get rid of it altogether.
Although I only had a limited time with this lens, the images that I managed to capture with it were extremely impressive. It is capable of producing pin sharp results, which may be even better appreciated when shooting with a high resolution sensor, such as the one found in the Sony A7R II. It also produced some lovely background blur when shooting at wide apertures, while focusing was quick and accurate.
I’d be very keen to shoot in a variety of different conditions to really put the lens through its paces, something which I’ll be looking to do as soon as samples become more widely available.
The 16-35mm f/2.8 is a great versatile lens option for Sony’s A7 and A9 range, and could possibly be used as a single lens set up if you are attempting to travel light. By pairing it with a 24-70mm lens, you’d have a great deal of flexibility. The wide angle of the 16-35mm f/2.8 lens is ideal for landscapes, and it seems likely that all but those with specialist needs would be tempted to go wider and plump for the 12-24mm f/4 lens.
While the 16-35mm f/2.8 GM lens is quite an expensive proposition, considering just how flexible it is for a variety of subjects and situations, it could be considered good value for money.