Sony FE 24-240mm F3.5-6.3 OSS Lens Review
A 10x zoom range is certainly attention-grabbing. It is awesome and it is the big attraction of the Sony FE 24-240mm f/3.5-6.3 OSS Lens. That range handles a very high percentage of most photographers’ needs with the convenience of a single lens.
My standard reaction to a lens featuring an ultra-long focal length range is to doubt the image quality it will deliver. As always, we’ll discuss image quality in depth in this review and while most of us place a very high value on image quality, image quality is not everything.
A primary benefit of having a super-zoom lens is that fewer lens changes are needed. A second lens does not need to be purchased and carried and fleeting opportunities can be captured when there is no time for a lens change or conditions do not permit such. In some instances, this lens will capture images that other lens combinations are not able to. Photography is fun but few find lens changes fun. Sometimes we are simply too lazy to change lenses and sometimes we fear the sensor dust that can be acquired during a swap. Most of us do find it fun to go out with a single lens and be able to photograph a wide range of scenarios.
This lens has a lot of convenience and fun built into it. It is a good travel lens and it is great for less-serious photographers, perhaps a spouse or child, and many others will find the utility of this lens worth the acquisition.
There are additional reasons to acquire the Canon RF 24-240mm F4-6.3 IS USM Lens. Some include that this lens provides high-performing image stabilization, has a quick and quiet AF system, features nice build quality, and has a relatively compact design while bearing a moderate price tag.
Focal Length Range
At the top of the lens selection funnel is the focal length range needed for the task at hand. The right focal length provides the ideal working distance and perspective for the composition to be captured. This lens’ huge 10x focal length range, covering a range otherwise requiring at least 2 zoom lenses, does not narrow the selection funnel very much. This lens is suitable for an extremely long list of photography needs with ideal perspectives able to be covered in a large percentage of encountered scenarios.
It seems easier to list what uses these focal lengths are not optimal for. With the ultra-wide-angles missing, interior architecture and some landscape uses may require a panorama technique at 24mm. This lens will likely be found short for large field sports with significant cropping needed from 240mm captures. The 240mm full-frame focal length is only marginally useful for wildlife photography, though large and/or close animals are fair game for this range. Your pets likely qualify.
The 24-240mm focal length range is especially superb for family and travel needs and there are a host of video uses for this range.
Here is an example of the 24-240mm focal length range captured with a different 24-240mm lens (the angles of view remain the same from lens to lens as long as the focal length extents are accurately indicated):
That amazing grill is on the front of a 1942 Chevrolet truck. Car shows are great for adding color to a portfolio.
APS-C sensor format cameras utilize a smaller portion of the image circle and that means a scene is framed tighter with 1.5x being the angle of view equivalence multiplier for Sony’s lineup. With an angle of view similar to a 36-360mm lens on a full-frame camera, this lens has much-improved telephoto capabilities ideal for sports and wildlife coming at the expense of wide angles on APS-C cameras.
The f/3.5-6.3 in the name refers to the maximum aperture, the ratio of the focal length to the diameter of the entrance pupil, available in this lens. Wider apertures (lower numbers) are always better to have available — until the price, size, and weight penalties are factored in. Want a long focal length range that includes telephoto lengths in a zoom lens without a large size, heavy weight, and high price? You are likely looking at a variable max aperture lens and the apertures in the variable range will not be too wide. That is what we have in the Sony FE 24-240mm f/3.5-6.3 OSS Lens.
Here is this lens’ max aperture step down by focal length:
24-27mm = f/3.5 28-38mm = f/4.0 39-54mm = f/4.5 55-69mm = f/5.0 70-102mm = f/5.6 103-240mm = f/6.3
At 24mm, the f/3.5 aperture is reasonably wide (though few 24mm lenses do not open to at least f/4). Unfortunately, f/3.5 is only available for a very short 4mm range. By 103mm, we have the narrowest max aperture found in a Sony FE full-frame lens. These max apertures make this lens a poor choice for low light action such as indoor sports without flash (as a main light/overpowering ambient light) being involved. Those following the old “f/8 and be there” rule and those photographing outdoors under direct sunlight will have the necessary apertures available for most uses. When recording video, only 1/60 second shutter speeds (twice recording framerate) are typically needed (assuming you’re not capturing high framerate slow-motion video) and wide apertures are not often required for 1/60 second rates in normally encountered ambient lighting.
A downside to the variable max aperture is that, by definition, the same max aperture cannot be used over the entire focal length selected. The camera automatically accounts for the changes when in auto exposure modes, but making use of the widest-available aperture in manual exposure mode is complicated somewhat by the changing setting.
An advantage held by wide apertures is their ability to strongly blur the background. This lens does not have those apertures, but it has the other background blur advantage: long focal lengths. The following are examples of the maximum background blur this lens can produce:
Creating a blurry background with this lens at 24mm is … challenging. The second 240mm example was captured at a relatively close distance, additionally showing the bluring power of this focal length.
Sony marketing touts its cameras as having IBIS (In-Body Image Stabilization), but many of their lenses also feature OSS (Optical SteadyShot). While perhaps not immediately clear, these two stabilization systems are complementary: “5-axis image stabilization becomes available when used with α series bodies that feature built-in image stabilization.” [Sony]
While narrow apertures may not be optimal under low light conditions, this lens’ optical image stabilization system can save the day in such conditions, significantly increasing the versatility of this lens, improving usability and, in many situations, considerably improving the image quality delivered.
While OSS is great for reducing camera shake-caused blur in images, it is also very helpful for precise framing of subjects in the viewfinder. While OSS is active, drifting of framing is minor with the viewfinder view remaining well-controlled and subject reframing being easily accomplished.
This OSS system is nearly silent except for some clunking heard during significant movement. Handheld video recording is nicely assisted by OSS and the stabilized composition also provides a still subject to the camera’s AF system, permitting it to do its job better.
If having the ultimate image quality is important to you, no super-zoom lens we’ve tested should be mounted to your camera (including this one). That said, this lens can capture nice images.
Before proceeding, understand that distortion correction for this lens cannot be disabled in the camera. The test images shared in this review have this correction disabled during RAW file processing but scene/test target framing precision is impacted with details in our image quality test results showing slightly smaller than otherwise.
Starting with the best, in the center of the frame: With a wide-open aperture, center of the frame results are reasonably sharp at 24mm and 50mm, become soft by 100mm, and are quite soft at 240mm. The middle of the image circle results are quite sharp by f/5.6 at 24mm and 50mm. At 100mm, f/5.6 is wide open and f/8 results are decent at this focal length. At 240mm, f/11 results appear similar to wide-open 24mm results which are decent and considerably better than the 240mm f/6.3 results.
In general, lenses are not as sharp in the periphery where light rays must be bent more strongly than they are in the center and that is very true with this lens. The impacted periphery, in this case, is not too far out on the image circle radius and the impact is very noticeable. Stopping down to f/8 noticeably improves periphery sharpness at the wider focal lengths (at least through 100mm). Periphery results are very decent at 24mm but slowly degrade until 240mm where corners are still very rough at f/11.
Below you will find sets of 100% resolution center of the frame crops captured in uncompressed RAW format using a Sony a7R IV. 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.
Looking at the extreme full-frame corners will make the above images look amazing. Following are 100% extreme-top-right-corner crops captured and processed identically to the above center-of-the-frame images. These images were manually focused in the corner of the frame.
The 24mm results are very soft even at f/5.6. The 50mm results are better but still not great at f/5.6. The 100mm corners are similar to the 50mm results though these results are from narrower apertures. You will not be happy with this lens’s 240mm corner image quality. Results captured at apertures narrower than the narrowest illustrated above did not show improvements and were therefore omitted.
I’ll review lateral chromatic aberration soon but that is the cause of the colorful corners seen here. While this aberration is often easy to correct via software or in the camera, these corners remain very soft despite correction dialed in.
Corner sharpness does not always matter but you must determine if this lens is sufficient for your needs in that regard.
Without distortion correction applied, this lens’s 24mm f/3.5 deep corners have a very extreme amount of vignetting — 5-stops or more. By 50mm f/4.5, only a mild 1 stop of shading remains in the corners. Slightly less shading is present at 100mm f/5.6 and shading increases to about 2 stops at 240mm f/6.3. Stopped down to f/8, uncorrected 24mm corners have about 1 stop of shading that rapidly increases in the deep corners (showing mechanical obstruction). A seldom-noticed about 0.5 stops of shading shows in 50mm corners with slightly less in the 100mm corners and slightly more, just over 1 stop, showing in 240mm corners. Improvements seen at f/11 are slight.
APS-C format cameras using lenses projecting a full-frame-sized image circle avoid vignetting problems with this lens.
One stop of shading is the amount often used as the visibility number, though subject details provide a widely-varying amount of vignetting discernibility. Vignetting can be corrected (distortion correction helps the severe 24mm results) 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 if your subject (subject’s face) will be darkened or if it will be emphasized by the darker periphery.
The effect of different colors of the spectrum being magnified differently is referred to as lateral (or transverse) CA (Chromatic Aberration). 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 greatest amount as this is where the greatest 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 though it is always better to not have the problem in the first place. Any color misalignment present can easily be seen in the site’s image quality tool, but let’s also look at a set of worst-case examples, 100% crops from the extreme top left corner of a7R III frames showing diagonal black and white lines.
There should be only black and white colors in these images and the additional colors are showing the presence of lateral CA. Not unusual for a zoom lens is that the color separation is rather noticeable in the corners at the focal length extremes (the color fringing reversing) with mid-range focal lengths showing little lateral CA. I think it is safe to call the amount of lateral CA at this lens’s focal length extents “extreme”. It doesn’t get much stronger than this and obviously, this lens is designed with correction expected to be applied. Moderate lateral CA shows at 50mm and the 100mm results have good color alignment.
A relatively common lens aberration is axial (longitudinal, bokeh) CA, which causes non-coinciding focal planes of the various wavelengths of light, or 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 look for. Axial CA remains at least somewhat persistent when stopping down with the color misalignment effect increasing with defocusing while 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.
In the examples below, look at the fringing colors in the out of focus specular highlights created by the neutrally-colored subjects. Any color difference is being introduced by the lens.
There is a moderate amount of color separation seen in these results.
Flare and ghosting are caused by bright light reflecting off of the surfaces of lens elements, resulting in reduced contrast and sometimes-interesting artifacts. Increase the number of lens elements in a design and expect flare effects to increase. While this lens’s 17 elements in 12 groups count is significant, it does not seem so high relative to the focal length range it provides. With a wide-open aperture, this lens produces very little flare effect in our standard testing with the sun in the corner of the frame. Stopping down increases flare effects but even at f/16, little flaring is seen over this lens’s focal length range. The 24mm f/16 results show the most flare effect but only a modest amount.
Flare effects can be embraced, avoided, or removal can be attempted. Removal is sometimes very challenging and, in some cases, flare effects can be quite destructive to image quality.
Two lens aberrations that 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.
The images below are 100% crops taken from the top-left corner of a7R III frames.
The 50mm results appear reasonable in shape but the others show strong star stretching.
This lens fits within the standard zoom lens geometric distortion statement, having barrel distortion at the wide end that transitions into a low distortion amount and on into pincushion distortion at the long end. It is the very strong amount of barrel distortion that stands out with this lens. As mentioned, distortion correction must be enabled when photographing with this lens and the chart misalignment that results can clearly be seen in the 24mm distortion test results. By 50mm, relatively strong pincushion distortion sets in and holds through the remainder of the focal length range. Again, it is obvious that this lens was designed with the expectation that lens distortion correction would be applied.
The amount of blur a lens can produce is easy to show (as seen earlier in the review). Assessing the quality is a much harder challenge due in part to the infinite number of variables present in all available scenes. I’ll share some f/11 (for aperture blade interaction) examples.
In the first set of results, we see how this lens handles defocused highlights. These are not the most smoothly-filled highlights we have seen.
In the second set featuring outdoor results, the 50mm image is a 100% crop, the first 100mm image is a 50%-reduced crop, and the last two are full images reduced in size. I didn’t share 24mm results in this set primarily because it is difficult to get out of focus results at 24mm f/11. Again, these are not especially smooth results.
Except for a small number of specialty lenses, the wide aperture bokeh in the corner of the frame 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 corner of the frame, the shape is not round and that is the shape seen here. The first two examples below are upper-left quadrants and the last two are full images downsized.
As the aperture narrows, the entrance pupil size is reduced and the mechanical vignetting reduces with the shapes becoming rounder.
With a 7-blade aperture, point light sources captured with a narrow aperture setting and showing a sunstar effect will have 14 points. Typically, the more stops an aperture is closed down, the more pleasing the stars will look. A narrow max aperture lens generally does not create great stars before reaching settings with strong diffraction effects. The following are f/16 results.
The double-flaring is not my favorite sunstar attribute but the 24mm results do not appear bad otherwise. Being increasingly stopped down by fewer stops disadvantages the remaining longer focal length results and the last two shapes probably fail to qualify as “sunstars”.
Above is a look at the design of this lens. Purple indicates aspherical elements and an ED element is shown in green. This lens has some weight and from that regard, so many elements being small in size is a touch surprising.
Overall, image quality is not a top reason for buying this lens but those using an APS-C camera model will avoid a majority of the troubles.
The Sony FE 24-240mm f/3.5-6.3 OSS Lens AF system is powered by “An advanced linear motor [that] drives the focusing mechanism for quick, smooth response throughout the extended zoom range.” [Sony]
This lens internally focuses very quietly with decent speed. As expected for a narrow aperture lens, low light AF is not a specialty and hunting can be expected at times when lighting and contrast are not strong.
This lens does not feature the AF hold button common on Sony lenses.
FTM (Full Time Manual) focusing is supported via Sony’s DMF (Direct Manual Focus) AF mode.
Normal is for the scene to change size in the frame (sometimes significantly) as 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 a scene while adjusting focus. This lens shows a very minor change in subject size as full extent focus adjustments are made.
These results are far above average in regards to focus breathing.
Parfocal behavior seems to be a characteristic of the reviewed lens. The lens electronically adjusts the focus distance to be appropriate for the focal length selected (a slight lag can be seen during fast focal length changes).
Manual focusing is not likely a major interest of those buying this lens and Sony provided a small focus ring that is nearly flush-mounted and has plastic ribs. The rear position is not my favorite for focus rings as the ring can be inadvertently changed while recomposing after focusing, However, with Sony cameras, that can only happen in DMF and MF modes. While not the easiest to use, the focus ring functions with good quality and smoothness, making precise adjustments possible.
This is a multi-speed focus ring. Turn it quickly for a full extent change in about 45° or turn it slowly for 360° of rotation. I generally prefer a linear response adjustment but this multi-speed implementation works well.
With a 19.7″ (500mm) minimum focus distance, the Sony FE 24-240mm f/3.5-6.3 OSS Lens creates up to an impressive 0.27x maximum magnification.
ModelMFDMM Canon RF 24-240mm F4-6.3 IS USM Lens19.7″(500mm)0.26x Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM Lens15.0″(380mm)0.24x Sony FE 24-70mm f/4 ZA OSS Lens15.7″(400mm)0.20x Sony FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS Lens15.0″(380mm)0.31x Sony FE 24-240mm f/3.5-6.3 OSS Lens19.7″(500mm)0.27x Sony FE 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS Lens11.8″(300mm)0.19x
At 240mm, a subject measuring approximately 5.0 x 3.3″ (127 x 85mm) will fill the frame at the minimum focus distance. The flower in the image below measures slightly less than 3″ (76mm) across.
Need a shorter minimum focus distance and greater magnification? An extension tube mounted behind this lens should provide a noticeable decrease and increase respectively. Extension tubes are hollow lens barrels that shift a lens farther from the camera, which permits 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. Sony does not publish extension tube specs nor do they manufacture these items, but third-party Sony extension tubes are available.
This lens is not compatible with Sony teleconverters.
Build Quality & Features
The Sony FE 24-240mm f/3.5-6.3 OSS Lens has a high-quality look and feel.
The rubber-ribbed zoom ring is large, feels nice, requires an ideal amount of rotational force, and is smooth with little play. As expected for a super-zoom lens, this one extends a significant amount (2.7″ / 68.5mm). The extended lens barrel has only a slight amount of play.
There are no switches or buttons on this lens. Menu options are required to switch between AF and MF and to enable or disable OSS.
This is a dust and moisture resistant lens. What that really means is always a bit vague and Sony statements for this lens include “High reliability in harsh conditions”, “A design that resists dust and moisture helps ensure reliable operation in harsh outdoor conditions”, “Shoot with confidence in light rain or windy conditions”, “This lens is not water-proof, although designed with dust-proofness and splash-proofness in mind”, and “If using in the rain etc., keep water drops away from the lens.”
While this lens is relatively compact, it has a noticeable weight.
ModelWeight oz(g)Dimensions w/o Hood “(mm)FilterYear Canon RF 24-240mm F4-6.3 IS USM Lens26.5(750)3.2 x 4.8(80.4 x 122.5)722019 Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM Lens31.3(886)3.4 x 5.4(87.6 x 136.0)822016 Sony FE 24-70mm f/4 ZA OSS Lens15.2(430)2.9 x 3.7(73.0 x 94.5)672014 Sony FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS Lens23.4(663)3.3 x 4.5(83.4 x 113.3)772017 Sony FE 24-240mm f/3.5-6.3 OSS Lens27.5(780)3.2 x 4.7(80.5 x 118.5)722015 Sony FE 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS Lens10.4(295)2.9 x 3.3(72.5 x 83.0)552013
For many more comparisons, review the complete Sony FE 24-240mm f/3.5-6.3 OSS Lens Specifications using the site’s lens specifications tool.
Here is a visual Comparison:
Positioned above from left to right are the following lenses:
Sony FE 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS Lens Sony FE 24-70mm f/4 ZA OSS Lens Sony FE 24-240mm f/3.5-6.3 OSS Lens Canon RF 24-240mm F4-6.3 IS USM Lens Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM Lens
The same lenses are shown below with their hoods in place.
Use the site’s product image comparison tool to visually compare the Sony FE 24-240mm f/3.5-6.3 OSS Lens to other lenses.
This lens uses common, mid-sized 72mm threaded filters. Despite the severe corner vignetting at 24mm f/3.5, a standard thickness circular polarizer filter does not increase peripheral shading.
Sony includes the petal-shaped ALC-SH136 hood in the box. This is a semi-rigid plastic hood with a matte plastic interior. This bayonet-mount hood does not include a release button but smoothly snaps into place without significant effort. This hood is large enough to be protective, especially on the top and bottom.
A lens case is not included in the box, but finding a case for a common lens form factor is not challenging. Consider a Lowepro Lens Case or Think Tank Photo Lens Case Duo for a quality, affordable single-lens storage, transport, and carry solution.
Price, Value, Wrap Up
The Sony FE 24-240mm lens has a moderately-high price tag but one that is relatively low on the Sony FE lens scale. If one considers that this lens can replace two others, that price tag seems a very good value.
As an “FE” lens, the Sony FE 24-240mm f/3.5-6.3 OSS Lens is compatible with all Sony E-mount cameras, including both full-frame and APS-C sensor format models.
Sony provides a 1-year limited warranty.
The reviewed Sony FE 24-240mm f/3.5-6.3 OSS Lens was online-retail sourced.
Alternatives to the Sony FE 24-240mm f/3.5-6.3 OSS Lens
With a focal length range so extreme, this lens does not have a single-lens alternative in the Sony lineup. Crossing over brands is always entertaining and the Canon RF 24-240mm F4-6.3 IS USM Lens is a direct equivalent.
The image quality comparison shows the two lenses performing similarly at 24mm, though our standard Sony a7R III sharpness settings typically produce sharper results than the EOS R images processed at our standard Canon settings. At 50mm and 100mm, the Sony lens is perhaps very slightly sharper than the Canon lens in the center of the frame but the Canon lens is considerably sharper than the Sony lens mid-frame and in the periphery of the image circle. At 240mm, the Canon lens is not a stellar performer but it is considerably better than the Sony lens. The Canon lens has less peripheral shading. With fewer lens elements (17 vs. 21), the Sony lens has slightly better flare control. Both lenses force distortion correction in-camera and Canon’s software forces it during RAW image processing. Therefore, the site’s distortion tool will make the Canon lens artificially appear far better in this regard.
Looking at the specs and measurements, the Sony FE 24-240mm f/3.5-6.3 OSS Lens vs. Canon RF 24-240mm F4-6.3 IS USM Lens comparison shows the two lenses being nearly the same size and weight. The Sony lens has an up to 1/3 of a stop aperture advantage at the wide end. The Canon lens is less expensive.
Use the site’s comparison tools to create other comparisons.
“One lens for all occasions” is a phrase Sony has used to describe the FE 24-240mm f/3.5-6.3 OSS Lens. The focal length range of this lens is awesome, alone encompassing the needs of a large majority of occasions.
By far the biggest downside to this lens is the mediocre image quality it produces, especially in the image circle periphery and at the long end of the focal length range. Those using APS-C imaging sensor format cameras avoid much of that downside and will likely be happier with this lens’ image quality performance than full-frame camera users. As mentioned earlier in this review, havingthe right focal length mounted when needed can make the difference between getting the shot and getting nothing and that image quality difference is dramatic.
Aside from the image quality, I like this lens a lot. It looks great, is relatively compact, is nicely built, has OSS, and features quality manual and autofocus implementations. The cost is reasonable for a Sony FE lens.
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