Review: We take the all-new Sony FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM II for a test run

Review: We take the all-new Sony FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM II for a test run
  • PublishedOctober 6, 2023

Is Sony’s latest mirrorless lens worth the upgrade?

The latest addition to Sony’s mirrorless lens range is the all-new second-generation FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM II.

So, with promises of improved image quality, corner-to-corner sharpness and reduced chromatic aberrations over its predecessor, the FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM, how does the new mirrorless lens hold up?

Equipped with the powerhouse Sony A7R V I went around Sydney to see how adaptable and powerful the FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM II actually is across an array of shooting conditions.

Keep reading to see what I thought of Sony’s latest mirrorless lens release.

Specifications and features

  • Latest XD Liner motors for quiet and high-precision autofocus functionality
  • Advanced features for movie creators
  • Breathtaking G Master Resolution
  • Fluorine lens coating
  • Light and compact for high mobility, weighing in at 547g (20 per cent smaller than previous model)
  • Optimised for agile shooting
  • Maximum aperture of F2.8
  • Two focus hold buttons
  • Freedom in shooting with dustproof and splash-proof design
  • Minimum shooting distance of 0.22m and maximum shooting magnification of 0.32x
  • Clear image capture with Sony’s Nano AR Coating II
  • Aperture ring that can be clicked on/off with a switch

Light and compact

Compared to its predecessor, the FE 16-35 GM II is much lighter and compact, making it great for mobility. The smaller form factor of the body is a great benefit when travelling, as it fits into kit bags with ease.

The FE 16-35 GM II houses more power in a smaller compact body, making it a great addition for travel, street and landscape photography shooting. Overall, the lens is incredibly well-balanced and feels great to use for long periods of time.

Comparing the Sony FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM II  and Sony FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM.
Comparing the Sony FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM II and Sony FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM. Credit: Sony Australia

In terms of design, the lens is very well built, with a sturdy polycarbonate construction combining dust and moisture resistance, making it a powerful and confident kit addition when shooting in inclement outdoor conditions.

Testing out the Sony FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM II during a cruise on Sydney Harbour.
Testing out the Sony FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM II during a cruise on Sydney Harbour. Credit: Nicholas Gane

Incredibly sharp

I was incredibly impressed by the sharpness of the FE 16-35 GM II. Even images captured at the widest aperture of F2.8 the FE 16-35 GM II delivered outstanding edge-to-edge sharpness. The sharpness and wide angle of the FE 16-35 GM II make the lens a great option for landscape photographers looking to make their images shine from corner to corner.

Testing sharpness on the new Sony FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM II and Sony A7III inside the Sydney Opera House.
Testing sharpness on the new Sony FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM II and Sony A7III inside the Sydney Opera House. Credit: Nicholas Gane

Coupled with its outstanding sharpness, the FE 16-35 GM II is a great option for astrophotography. Although not as fast as other wide-angle options on the market such as the Sony FE 20mm F1.8 G, the FE 16-35 GM II delivers tack-sharp starry nights with minimum noise production.

Lowlight testing the new Sony FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM II at Barrenjoey lighthouse.
Lowlight testing the new Sony FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM II at Barrenjoey lighthouse. Credit: Nicholas Gane

The adaptability of the lens makes it a great choice when it comes to shooting both day and night.

Lowlight testing the new Sony FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM II near Observatory Hill in Sydney.
Lowlight testing the new Sony FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM II near Observatory Hill in Sydney. Credit: Nicholas Gane

Fast and accurate autofocus

The FE 16-35 GM II had no issues when targeting moving subjects, locking onto desired targets with relative ease and accuracy. Sony has truly mastered the autofocus game, with the FE 16-35 GM II being one of the strongest to date. Throughout testing, the FE 16-35 GM II did not show any significant focus breathing and seamlessly locked onto subjects even when confronted with busy shooting conditions.

Not only does it achieve high-speed performance, the FE 16-35 GM II’s AF system is very smooth and quiet, so it is ideal for both video and stills.

Capturing Hornby Lighthouse in Sydney’s Watsons Bay with the Sony FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM II.
Capturing Hornby Lighthouse in Sydney’s Watsons Bay with the Sony FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM II. Credit: Nicholas Gane

The colour reproduction of the FE 16-35 GM II coupled with the Sony A7RV was also very pleasing. The colours delivered were not over saturated and did not require much in terms of post-editing to make images stand out with colour authenticity.

Final thoughts

Although quite pricey Sony’s FE 16-35 GM II delivers on outstanding stills quality and performance.

When it comes to optimised performance and shooting reliability the FE 16-35 GM II is well worth the price tag.

Sony has certainly delivered on its promise of improved image quality and corner-to-corner sharpness, making the FE 16-35 GM II definitely worth the upgrade for professional-level shooting.

Whether you are new to the Sony ecosystem or just looking to upgrade your wide angle, the FE 16-35 GM II will deliver on sharpness, power, and mobility for all your shooting needs.

SOURCE: 7NEWS

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