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Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM Lens Review

Surprisingly, until the Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 G Master Lens was introduced, the Sigma 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Lens was, for years, the only full-frame lens wider than 20mm to cover the f/1.8 aperture. While that focal length and aperture combination is very desirable and the Sigma lens is a great performer, the size and weight of the Art lens give pause to those wishing to carry it.

Sony crushed that holdback by introducing a same-spec, top-of-the-line G Master lens option that is considerably smaller and less than 40% of the weight.

The compact Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 G Master Lens brings us the impressive image and build qualities of its sibling lenses in a compact, lightweight body — and the price is reasonable.

Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM Lens Angle View

Focal Length

The ultra-wide 14mm angle of view is the first reason to purchase this lens or select it for use. Focal length drives subject distance decisions, and perspective is determined by those distances.

When moving back is not an option, 14mm may be a great choice. With even modestly longer focal lengths, you can’t move back far enough to fit everything in the frame that 14mm takes in.

The 14mm focal length finds frequent use in architecture, real estate, landscape, and night sky applications.

Architecture subjects are frequently large, and fitting large subjects in the frame often requires an ultra-wide-angle focal length. Photographers chasing architecture will likely find 14mm a mandatory focal length to have covered.

Real estate is also large, and in the real estate world, larger generally means more valuable. With an ultra-wide-angle lens, you can make real estate appear larger in photos by using an ultra-wide focal length to push the background deeper in the composition, hopefully generating more walk-throughs that sell more properties. The latter point is what gets both realtors and photographers paid.

In a sense, real estate and architecture are products, and 14mm is useful for some product photography applications, such as vehicle and aircraft interiors.

Extreme wide angles can differentiate your work from the crowd, but care must be taken to create compelling extreme wide-angle compositions. An ultra-wide-angle of view pushes the background away, making it considerably smaller in the frame relative to close foreground subjects. Ideal compositions will incorporate an interesting close foreground subject and a complementary midground and supporting background to complete the composition. The 14mm focal length is extremely useful for landscape photography, and implementing the attractive foreground subject against a beautiful background concept creates stand-out imagery.

While considering this lens for landscape photography use, understand that the bulbous front lens element precludes standard threaded front filters, namely circular polarizer filters (neutral density filters are accommodated via a rear filter holder). Companies such as Fotodiox offer a filter solution for this type of lens, but the filter holder and filters are enormous. That circular polarizer filters can create uneven filtration at 14mm reduces the desire to use such, and that issue minimizes the lack of support.

The Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 G Master Lens is at the top of the best night sky lenses available list. The extremely wide angle of view takes in a vast portion of the visible milky way, and the deep depth of field at this focal length encourages the inclusion of foreground elements, a differentiating element of a milky way image. I’ll talk more about the f/1.8 aperture soon, but that feature is another key to this lens’s nighttime specialness.

All focal lengths are useful for photographing people, but don’t let this lens’s ultra-wide-angle of view tempt you to get too close to people as it will enlarge their noses via perspective distortion. Also, remember that a person closer to the camera can appear much larger than a person farther away. Although this effect may sometimes be desired, use caution when photographing groups at 14mm.

Wedding photographers will love how this lens enables capture of the entire venue. For example, photograph the bride and groom coming down the aisle, large in the frame, with the rest of the ceremony small in the frame behind them.

This lens is an excellent option for attaching to a remote sports event camera, capturing the start of a race, capturing the finish of a race, covering the goal, mounted over the basket, etc. This lens will also capture the big image of the arena and will work for the overhead shot of the MVP sports figure being mobbed for interviews after a big game.

The 14mm angle of view promises to spur your creativity, and this focal length can produce very interesting when used for movie recording.

I’ll pull a focal length range example from a strongly competing sibling lens, the Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 G Master Lens.

Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM Lens Focal Length Range Example

At the very small focal length numbers, a mm or two change makes a big difference in the angle of view. The 12-24mm lens at 12mm clearly takes in a wider angle of view than the 14mm focal length, but 14mm frames considerably wider than the 16mm and longer options.

APS-C sensor format cameras utilize a smaller portion of the image circle, and that fact means a scene is framed more tightly, with 1.5x being the angle of view multiplier for Sony’s lineup. As estimatable in the previous illustration, the 22.4mm full-frame equivalent angle of view is quite narrower. Still, the uses for this angle of view are plentiful, with landscape photography and portrait photography perhaps benefiting the most from the difference.

Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM Lens Front View

Max Aperture

The lower the aperture number, the more light the lens will allow to reach the imaging sensor. Each “stop” in aperture change (full stop examples: f/1.4, f/2.0, f/2.8, f/4.0) increases or decreases the amount of light reaching the sensor by a factor of 2x (a substantial factor).

When you buy a prime lens instead of a zoom, you expect at least one strong advantage to offset the loss of zoom range versatility. Common prime lens advantages include smaller size, lighter weight, lower price, better image quality, and a wider aperture. The lens checks those boxes, including that of the last advantage.

I mentioned that the sibling Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 G Master Lens covers the 14mm focal length. I’ll create a complete comparison at the end of this review, but the Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM Lens vs. Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM Lens comparison along with a price check will make most of those prime lens advantages obvious.

We are currently talking about the wide aperture advantage. Allowing significant amounts of light to reach the imaging sensor provides tremendous benefits. Use that light to enable action (subject and camera) stopping shutter speeds in very low light levels, along with low ISO settings for reduced noise. At f/1.8, this lens is handholdable in dark environments without resorting to extreme ISO settings. At night, light levels are so low that the earth’s rotation becomes a source of camera motion that this lens adeptly defeats, making it among the best available choices for milky way photography.

Increasing the amount of light reaching the imaging sensor improves low light AF performance.

Another advantage of a wide aperture lens is the strength of the background blur it can create. F/1.8 with a close subject creates a very shallow DOF, drawing the viewer’s eye to the in-focus subject. It is hard to diffusely blur the background with the low magnification provided by an ultra-wide-angle lens. Still, an f/1.8 aperture combined with a close focus distance can do that, as illustrated below, adding artistic advantages to this lens’s list of highly-desired features.

Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM Lens Aperture Comparison Example

Note the blur pattern created by the minimum focus distance setting. As these images also show bokeh performance, I’ll refer back to these images later in the review.

Another pair of maximum blur samples are shared below:

Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM Lens Maximum Blur Example

Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM Lens Maximum Blur Example

There are notable drawbacks to lenses that feature wide maximum apertures. These lenses require the use of larger, heavier glass elements which translate into larger size and heavier weight. Unfortunately, those larger elements are not only evidenced by the increased size and weight but also by the increased price of the lens. That said, this lens is neither large nor heavy, and the price tag is reasonable.

Narrow aperture advantages are typically related to (often significantly) reduced lens element size and include smaller overall lens size, lighter weight, and lower cost. We all can appreciate those factors, but fortunately, this wide-aperture lens appears to avoid all of them.

Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM Lens Top View with Hood

As usual for Sony FE GM prime lenses, the FE 14 f/1.8 GM features an aperture ring, permitting a manually chosen aperture to be selected. With the ring in the A (Auto) position, the camera controls the aperture setting. All other settings electronically force the aperture to the chosen opening. A 2-position switch on the bottom right side of the lens toggles the aperture ring between 1/3 stop clicks and smooth, quiet, non-clicked adjustments, ideal for video recording.

Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM Lens Side View Showing Click Switch

Aside from a slightly more complicated design, I find inadvertent aperture changes the primary disadvantage of an aperture ring (especially when photographing in the dark). Incorporating a lock for this ring would eliminate that issue, and learning not to grasp the aperture ring when mounting the camera reduces the issue.

Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM Lens Front Angle View

Image Stabilization

The shorter the focal length, the smaller subject details (captured at the same distance) are rendered, and the less still the camera must be held to avoid subject details crossing imaging sensor pixels, the source of motion blur. Still, image stabilization remains a valuable feature in any lens. Sony has not been including image stabilization, OSS (Optical SteadyShot), in their recent wide-aperture prime lenses, and not surprising is that the FE 14mm GM lens also excludes OSS.

Sony addresses that omission with Steady Shot or IBIS (In-Body Image Stabilization) in their mirrorless cameras. In addition to reducing camera shake, the stabilized imaging sensor provides a still viewfinder image, enabling careful composition. Sensor-based AF takes advantage of the stabilized view for improved accuracy.

With no IS switch on the lens, changing a camera menu option is required to enable or disable IBIS, a slight impediment to working quickly, such as going from a tripod to handholding.

Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM Lens Side View with Hood

Image Quality

Until the Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM Lens arrived, we were left to guess the image quality it would deliver. However, the Sony-provided MTF chart appeared highly optimistic for outstanding performance.

Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM Lens MTF Chart

The other recent Sony GM wide-angle prime lenses proved themselves outstanding in this regard, and I expected to see the same performance from the FE 14mm f/1.8 GM — I was sure enough to preorder this lens.

Upon reviewing the lab image quality test results, I was considerably less sure about the image quality produced by this lens. Confirmation of the first results seemed important, and a second lens (retail-sourced) was brought in for testing. Here is that comparison. The results from the two lenses are nearly identical, confirming that the test results are accurate.

Even with a large test chart, an ultra-wide angle lens requires a close focus distance. Still, it is rare is that our lab test results do not accurately portray the image quality capabilities of a lens. Fortunately, this one is an anomaly, as the chart results are not stellar.

Regardless of the focus distance, this lens delivers extreme sharpness in the center of the frame, even at f/1.8. The f/1.8 results are so sharp that I found myself repeatedly checking the sharpness setting in Capture One when processing the RAW files. Our test chart also reflects this performance, and it seems that every f/1.8 image captured is sharp in the center (assuming no motion blur), with significant depth of field in the center of the frame assisting in this regard. Stopping down is only needed for increased depth of field or a longer exposure.

In general, lenses are not as sharp in the image circle periphery, where light rays are refracted to a stronger angle than in the center, and the periphery is where the test chart raised a warning flag. The test chart results for the two lenses were only mediocre (to be kind) and well below expectations for a prime G Master lens. Obvious is that a flat test chart highlights field curvature, a feature that few (none?) of us want. That the depth of sharp focus at the periphery become shallower and moves slightly rearward at close focus distances is the cause of the chart anomaly.

If carefully focused in the corner of the frame, as illustrated here, this lens produces sharp corner image quality. However, this improvement comes at the expense of the center of the frame performance. As seen below, longer focus distances resolve this issue, and notably, stars are sharp from corner to corner at infinity.

Below you will find sets of 100% resolution center of the frame crops captured in uncompressed RAW format using a Sony Alpha 1. The images were processed in Capture One using the Natural Clarity method with the sharpening amount set to only “30” on a 0-1000 scale. Note that images from most cameras require some level of sharpening, but too-high sharpness settings are destructive to image details and hide the deficiencies of a lens.

Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM Lens Sharpness Comparison Example

Those familiar with this site will immediately recognize the missing the crops from additional aperture settings. This lens’s center of the frame performance at f/1.8 is so outstanding that the additional aperture setting examples are superfluous.

If present, focus shift, the plane of sharp focus moving forward or backward as the aperture is narrowed (residual spherical aberration or RSA), is often made apparent in such a comparison. That issue is not exhibited by this lens. Many modern lenses automatically correct for focus shift, though slight angle of view effects from focus breathing (more later) can appear.

Next, we’ll look at a comparison showing 100% extreme corner crops captured and processed identically to the above center-of-the-frame images. The lens was manually focused in the corner of the frame to capture these images.

The peripheral performance was under close scrutiny, but after preparing 15 test example sets to share, the volume seemed overkill. Reality could be shared more efficiently by a subset of those results, still illustrating a variety of subject distances.

The first, second, and third sets of examples are from the bottom-left corner of the frame. The third set is cropped from the top-left, and the last two sets are from the bottom-right. All four corners produced similar image quality, so the choice of frame positions matters little aside from viewer orientation purposes.

Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM Lens Corner Sharpness Comparison Example

Samples taken from the outer extreme of the image circle, full-frame corners, can be counted on to show a lens’s weakest performance. What you see above is the best sharpness available from the worst performing section of an image. For a 14mm lens, these results are excellent and will accept additional sharpening nicely.

Corner sharpness does not always matter, but it does matter for many disciplines involving ultra-wide focal length lenses, including landscape, night sky, and architecture photography.

When used on a camera that utilizes a lens’s entire image circle, peripheral shading can be expected at the widest aperture settings. Wide-angle, ultra-wide aperture lenses tend to show strong peripheral shading wide open, and the f/1.8 corners darkened by about-3.5 stops will be noticeable in most images. By f/2.8, just over 2 stops of shading remain. While that performance is not bad, little change is seen at narrower apertures, even at f/16.

APS-C format cameras using lenses projecting a full-frame-sized image circle avoid most vignetting problems. In this case, the just-over one-stop of shading showing at f/1.8 may be visible in some images, especially those with a solid color (such as a blue sky) showing in the corners.

One-stop of shading is often used as the visibility number, though subject details provide a widely varying amount of vignetting discernibility. Vignetting is correctable during post-processing with increased noise in the brightened areas being the penalty, or it can be embraced, using the effect to draw the viewer’s eye to the center of the frame. Study the pattern showing in our vignetting test tool to determine how your images will be affected.

Lateral (or transverse) CA (Chromatic Aberration) refers to colors of the spectrum being magnified differently. Lateral CA shows as color fringing along lines of strong contrast running tangential (meridional, right angles to radii) with the mid and especially the periphery of the image circle showing the most significant amount as this is where the most significant difference in the magnification of wavelengths typically exists.

With the right lens profile and software, lateral CA is often easily correctable (often in the camera) by radially shifting the colors to coincide. However, it is always better to avoid this aberration in the first place.

Color misalignment can easily be seen in the site’s image quality tool, but let’s also look at a worst-case example. The image below is a 100% crop from the extreme top left corner of a Sony a1 frame showing diagonal black and white lines.

Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM Lens Lateral Chromatic Aberration Example

There should only be black and white colors in this image, with the additional colors in this sample indicating a mild amount of lateral CA.

A relatively common lens aberration is axial (longitudinal, bokeh) CA, which causes non-coinciding focal planes of the various wavelengths of light. More simply, different colors of light are focused to different depths. Spherical aberration along with spherochromatism, or a change in the amount of spherical aberration with respect to color (looks quite similar to axial chromatic aberration but is hazier) are other common lens aberrations to observe. Axial CA remains somewhat persistent when stopping down, with the color misalignment effect increasing with defocusing. The spherical aberration color halo shows little size change as the lens is defocused, and stopping down one to two stops generally removes this aberration.

In the real world, lens defects do not exist in isolation, with spherical aberration and spherochromatism generally found, at least to some degree, along with axial CA. These combine to create a less sharp, hazy-appearing image quality at the widest apertures.

The examples below look at the defocused specular highlights’ fringing colors in the foreground vs. the background. The lens has introduced any fringing color differences from the neutrally-colored subjects.

Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM Lens Spherical and Axial Aberration Example

Looking at the foreground blur vs. background blur shows a modest difference in color blur. This difference quickly clears as the lens is stopped down.

Bright light reflecting off of lens elements’ surfaces may cause flare and ghosting, resulting in reduced contrast and sometimes interesting, usually destructive visual artifacts. The shape, intensity, and position of the flare in an image are variable, dependant on the position and nature of the light source (or sources), selected aperture, shape of the aperture blades, and quantity and quality of the lens elements and their coatings.

“The FE 14mm F1.8 G Master uses Sony’s original Nano AR Coating II technology to maximize clarity and effectively subdue flare and ghosting.” [Sony]

With a 14mm focal length, this lens’s angle of view makes the sun easy to include in the frame. Our standard sun in the corner of the frame flare test brings on some minor flare effects at narrow apertures, but the overall performance in this regard is quite good.

Flare effects can be embraced or avoided, or removal can be attempted. Removal is sometimes very challenging, and in some cases, flare effects can be quite destructive to image quality. High flare resistance is a welcomed trait of this lens.

Two lens aberrations are particularly evident when shooting images of stars, mainly because bright points of light against a dark background make them easier to see. Coma occurs when light rays from a point of light spread out from that point instead of being refocused as a point on the sensor. Coma is absent in the center of the frame, gets worse toward the edges/corners, and generally appears as a comet-like or triangular tail of light which can be oriented either away from the center of the frame (external coma) or toward the center of the frame (internal coma). Coma clears as the aperture is narrowed. Astigmatism is seen as points of light spreading into a line, either meridional (radiating from the center of the image) or sagittal (perpendicular to meridional). Remember that Lateral CA is another aberration apparent in the corners.

With the peripheral performance of this lens under special scrutiny and astrophotography a primary planned use for this lens, I was anxious to view the results from this test. The image below is a 100% crop taken from the top-right corner of an a1 frame.

Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM Lens Coma

That performance is among the best available.

This lens has slight barrel distortion, though it will seldom be noticed.

Most modern lenses have correction profiles available (including in-camera), and distortion can easily be removed using these. Still, distortion correction is destructive at the pixel level as some portion of the image must be stretched or the overall dimensions reduced.

As seen earlier in the review, the amount of blur a lens can produce is easy to illustrate, and wide-angle lenses are inherently disadvantaged in this regard. Due to the infinite number of variables present among all available scenes, assessing the bokeh quality is considerably more challenging. Here is an f/8 (for diaphragm blade interaction) example.

Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM Lens Bokeh Example

The concentric circles are especially strong in this result. To view bokeh from full images reduced in size, refer back to the aperture examples earlier in the review. The blur quality shown in those images appears very nice.

Except for a small number of specialty lenses, the wide aperture bokeh in the frame’s corner does not produce round defocused highlights, with these effects taking on a cat’s eye shape due to a form of mechanical vignetting. If you look through a tube at an angle, similar to the light reaching the frame’s corner, the shape is not round, and that is the shape seen here. The examples below show the upper left image quadrant.

Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM Lens Cat

Interesting is that the f/1.8 shape distortion appears substantially different than the f/2.8 and f/4 shapes. As the aperture narrows, the entrance pupil size is reduced, and the mechanical vignetting absolves with the shapes becoming rounder. Roundness is considerably improved by f/5.6 in this case.

With a 9-blade count diaphragm, point light sources captured with a narrow aperture setting and showing a sunstar effect will have 18 points. In general, the more a lens is stopped down, the larger and better-shaped the sunstars tend to be. Wide aperture lenses tend to have an advantage in this regard, and this lens is capable of producing stellar star shapes.

Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM Lens Sunstar Effect Example

The example above was captured at f/16.

The design of this lens is illustrated below.

Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM Lens Design

Highlighted are [1] Extreme aspherical lens (XA lens), [2] Aspherical lens, [3] Super ED glass, and [4] ED (extra-low dispersion) glass.

Sony indicates that “… advanced optical technology that delivers superb resolution and stunning contrast. Two XA (extreme aspherical) elements and one aspherical lens element maintain excellent resolution throughout the entire image area and contribute to its compact and lightweight design. Two ED (Extra-low Dispersion) glass elements and one Super ED glass element result in optical refinements that suppress chromatic aberration and deliver excellent contrast and precise rendering at all apertures.”

From a sharpness (contrast and resolution) perspective, this lens was very challenging to test. The center of the frame results seem to be always crazy sharp, while the image circle periphery seems to require more finesse to dial in perfection. The FE 14 GM’s peripheral shading performance leaves the door open for improvement, but otherwise, this lens is a great performer. The Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM Lens is a first choice for milky way photography, even if a Sony camera must be purchased to use the lens on.

Focusing

Getting the full benefit of excellent image quality requires accurate focus, and most of us rely on AF for that task. Behind the Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM Lens’s AF capabilities are a pair of XD Linear Motors.

“Using two XD (extreme dynamic) Linear Motors, focus can be accurately acquired and maintained even when shooting with narrow depth of field at F1.8 giving professional shooters the reliability they need to get the job done in challenging conditions. Moreover, the FE 14mm F1.8 G Master enables quiet AF with minimal vibration for smooth focus transitions, perfect for video content creation.” [Sony]

The XD Linear Motors from the Sony FE 35mm f/1.4 GM Lens are shown below.

Sony FE 35mm f/1.4 GM Lens XD Linear Motors

The Sony 14mm f/1.8 GM Lens internally focuses smoothly, quietly, consistently accurately, and fast. Remember that the Alpha a1, a7R III, IV, and similar cameras defocus the lens before refocusing while in AF-S mode. This focus lock speed detriment is not present in AF-C continuous focusing mode.

The 14 GM’s low light AF performance is outstanding. With good contrast, the a1 can focus this lens in light levels I can barely see in (without the focus assist light).

Sony provides an AF hold button on this lens. While in continuous focus mode, press this button to lock focus at the currently selected focus distance, permitting a focus and recompose technique. This button also acts as a custom button, able to be programmed to a different function using the camera’s menu.

FTM (Full Time Manual) focusing is supported via Sony’s DMF (Direct Manual Focus) AF mode.

Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM Lens Side View

The nicely sized ribbed-rubber manual focus ring rotates smoothly and has a modest rotational resistance.

“The FE 14mm F1.8 G Master also features Linear Response MF for direct and precise manual focusing.” “The focus ring rotation translates directly to a corresponding change in focus, so control feels immediate and precise.” [Sony]

I prefer linear MF systems, and this lens’s 130° of Linear Response MF rotation is excellent for precise manual focusing, including at both close and far distances.

Normal is for the scene to change size in the frame (sometimes significantly) as the focus is pulled from one extent to the other, referred to as focus breathing, a change in focal length resulting from a change in focus distance. Focus breathing negatively impacts photographers intending to use focus stacking techniques, videographers pulling focus, and anyone very critically framing while adjusting focus. This lens shows a relatively large change in subject size as full extent focus adjustments are made.

Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM Lens Focus Magnification Example

Despite having a minimum focus distance of only 10.6″ (270mm), this lens’s 14mm focal length only turns in a 0.10x maximum magnification spec. While this is a meager number compared to all lenses, it is not unusual for a 14mm lens.

ModelMFDMM Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM Lens7.9″(200mm)0.15x Rokinon SP 14mm f/2.4 Lens11.0″(280mm)0.08x Rokinon AF 14mm f/2.8 Lens7.9″(200mm)0.15x Sigma 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Lens10.6″(270mm)0.10x Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM Lens11.0″(280mm)0.14x Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM Lens9.8″(250mm)0.10x Sony FE 20mm f/1.8 G Lens7.1″(180mm)0.20x Sony FE 24mm f/1.4 GM Lens9.4″(240mm)0.17x Zeiss 15mm f/2.8 Milvus Lens9.8″(250mm)0.11x

A subject measuring approximately 12.4 x 8.3″ (315 x 210mm) fills a full-frame imaging sensor at this lens’s minimum focus distance.

Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM Lens Maximum Magnification Example

Above and below are examples of this lens’s maximum magnification capability.

Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM Lens Maximum Magnification Example

Need a shorter minimum focus distance and higher magnification? Mounting an extension tube behind this lens significantly decreases and increases those respective numbers, perhaps by too much for an even short extension tube to be usable. Extension tubes are hollow lens barrels that shift a lens farther from the camera, allowing shorter focusing distances at the expense of long-distance focusing. Electronic connections in extension tubes permit the lens and camera to communicate and otherwise function as normal. As of review time, Sony does not publish extension tube specs, nor do they manufacture these items, but third-party Sony compatible extension tubes are available.

This lens is not compatible with Sony teleconverters.

Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM Lens on Tripod

Build Quality & Features

The G Master lens series represents Sony’s best available lenses. GM lenses feature the complete pro-ready package, and the FE 14 GM’s family resemblance is obvious.

Sony GM Lens Comparison

The Sony GM prime lenses shown above, from left to right, are the 14mm, 24mm, 35mm, 50mm, 85mm, and 135mm.

Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM Lens Product Images

Sony FE lenses have a relatively narrow mount and, despite being relatively narrow for its class, a noticeable diameter increase occurs not far in from the mount end. Once the wider diameter is reached, the lens maintains a mostly straight design with a slight diameter increase occurring at the rubber-covered focus ring, making it easy to find tactilely. The outer lens barrel construction is engineering plastic.

Overall, this lens’s build quality is high. The AF/MF switch is again recessed, making it hard to inadvertently change and making a bit more effort required to intentionally change it, especially with gloves on or in the dark.

Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM Lens Weather Sealing

The FE 14 f/1.8 GM is a great outdoor lens, and its dust and moisture-resistant design, including a gasket on the mount, can save the day out there.

Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM Lens Mount

The front element is fluorine-coated to resist dust, moisture, and fingerprints and for easier cleaning.

Those familiar with the Sigma 14mm f/1.8 Art Lens are saying, “Wow, the Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM Lens is incredibly tiny and light!” The difference is remarkable. The Sony FE 14 f/1.8 lens’s size and weight is not a burden to carry in hand for long periods.

ModelWeight oz(g)Dimensions w/o Hood “(mm)FilterYear Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM Lens22.8(645)3.1 x 3.7(80.0 x 94.0)2007 Rokinon SP 14mm f/2.4 Lens27.9(791)3.7 x 4.3(95.0 x 109.4)2016 Rokinon AF 14mm f/2.8 Lens17.1(485)3.6 x 3.8(90.5 x 95.6)2018 Sigma 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Lens41.3(1170)3.8 x 5.0(95.4 x 126.0)2017 Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM Lens29.9(847)3.8 x 5.4(97.6 x 137.0)2020 Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM Lens16.2(460)3.3 x 3.9(83.0 x 99.8)2021 Sony FE 20mm f/1.8 G Lens13.2(373)2.9 x 3.3(73.5 x 84.7)672020 Sony FE 24mm f/1.4 GM Lens15.7(445)3.0 x 3.6(75.4 x 92.4)672018

For many more comparisons, review the complete Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM Lens Specifications using the site’s lens specifications tool.

Here is a visual comparison:

Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM Lens Compared to Similar Lenses

Positioned above from left to right are the following lenses:

Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM Lens Sigma 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Lens Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM Lens

As usual for its class and as mentioned earlier in the review, the Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM Lens does not have filter threads. The bulbous front element interferes with that feature. “The rear filter holder accommodates standard sheet-type ND, color correction and other filters for expanded expressive capability. A cutting template for sheet filters is supplied.” [Sony]

Notably not supported by the rear filter holder are circular polarizer filters. The alternative is to use a filter attachment system with very large filters.

Also, as usual for its class, this lens has an integrated petal-shaped lens hood. For the 14mm coverage facilitated, this rigid plastic hood provides a reasonable amount of protection from both impacts and from bright light.

Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM Lens Cap On

Ultra-wide-angle lenses with a convex front lens element and built-in hood get a 3-dimensional cap that surrounds the end of the lens. How such caps attach varies, with some utilizing a friction fit for securing in place. That design is usually deficient, with the cap frequently sliding off, especially when the lens is removed from a case. The better-designed caps clip onto the end of the longest petals of the hood, though this design typically requires a specific alignment for the clips to connect. Sony’s latest design improves upon this concept.

Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM Lens Cap

The FE 14 lens cap has plastic fingers covering four sides of the lens hood.

Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM Lens Cap Back

Pressing the cap’s release buttons moves these fingers inward, and when released in position, the fingers very securely grip the inside of the end of the lens hood. This enables the cap to be mounted in any orientation, and it stays on. The cap is lightweight, slightly flexible plastic.

Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM Lens Case

Sony includes a nice zippered, padded nylon lens case in the box.

Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM Lens Front View on Camera 2

Price, Value, Wrap Up

While the Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM is not an inexpensive lens, it is a great value. Consider that, despite only opening to f/2.8, the current Canon and Nikon 14mm lenses cost considerably more than the Sony. Sigma, a brand reputed for great value, has their 14mm f/1.8 lens priced $1.00 higher at review time. The price combined with the performance expected from the FE 14 GM lens creates an excellent value.

As an “FE” lens, the Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM Lens is compatible with all Sony E-mount cameras, including full-frame and APS-C sensor format models. Sony provides a 1-year limited warranty.

The reviewed Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM lenses were purchased online-retail.

Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM Lens Front View on Camera

Alternatives to the Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM Lens

The first lens I wanted to compare the FE 14mm f/1.8 GM with is the impressive Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 G Master zoom lens. The obvious differences are that one lens offers the versatility of a zoom range of focal lengths while the other has the advantage of a 1 1/3 stop larger max aperture opening.

The FE 14mm f/1.8 GM lens’s image quality test chart results not accurately portraying optical performance challenges comparisons. That said, the FE 14 GM and FE 12-24 GM lenses are both stellar performers. Their center of the frame sharpness is excellent wide open, and there is little differentiating the corners. The zoom performs better at close distances. Wide open, the FE 14 has modestly more peripheral shading than the FE 12-24, but the prime equals the zoom at f/2.8.

The Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM Lens vs. Sony-FE-12-24mm-f-2.8-GM-Lens comparison shows the zoom considerably larger and much heavier. The 12-24 has a higher maximum magnification (0.14x vs. 0.10x), but that advantage is reached at 24mm. The prime lens has a slightly shorter minimum focus distance (9.84″ vs. 11.02″, 250mm vs. 280mm), so it should compare favorably equalized at 14mm, focus breathing aside. If we look at the price per focal length provided, the zoom appears to be a much better deal. Otherwise, the prime lens has a far lower price tag.

The other lens that should be considered is the direct equivalent, the Sigma 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Lens.

While the Sigma lens produces very good image quality, my expectation was that the Sony lens will surpass it. It did.

In the image quality comparison at close distance, the Sony lens shows itself sharper in the center of the frame. At longer distances (or focused in the corners), the Sony lens also surpasses the Sigma lens’s sharpness in the periphery, a difference made especially noticeable when photographing the night sky. The Sigma lens has less peripheral shading at narrow apertures. The Sony lens has less geometric distortion.

The Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM Lens vs. Sigma 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Lens comparison shows the Sigma lens considerably larger and over 2.5x heavier. With the balance of the specs appearing comparable and the Sigma lens’s $1.00 higher price tag, the Sony lens seems the obvious choice for Sony camera owners.

Use the site’s comparison tools to create additional comparisons.

Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM Lens Top View

Summary

The Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM is one of those lenses that make one grateful to be photographing at this time. Those photographing architecture, real estate, large products, or other subjects in a confined space, those photographing the great outdoors, including landscape and night sky photography, and those who simply want to get creative with ultra-wide-angles will want the Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM Lens in their kit.

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