Sony FE 20-70mm f/4 G - Review / Test Report
Lens Reviews - Sony Alpha (Full Format)

Review by Klaus Schroiff, published May 2023


For decades, full-format standard zoom lenses have been confined to the 24-XX or 28-XXmm range. This only changed very recently in 2020 when Panasonic released their Lumix S 20-60mm f/3.5-5.6 lens. The Panasonic lens was quite an innovation because conventional standard zoom lenses are already hard to design, and a 20-60mm is on an even higher complexity level while remaining quite affordable. It took Sony no less than 3 years to come up with their own interpretation of the topic - the Sony FE 20-70mm f/4 G. Unlike the Panasonic lens, it is targeting a more upmarket consumer segment which is also reflected in a very different price tag of around 1100USD/1500EUR. While it may feel quite steep, it is in line with Sony's FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS. So if you are shopping in this price class, you can choose between an emphasis on the wide- or tele-end. Both lenses are members of Sony's G-lineup, which balance both costs and quality and are the natural place to be for most enthusiasts. Sony's G-class lenses are a major differentiator in our book - other manufacturers only follow a two-lens-grade (bottom + high-end) strategy.

The G-class designation also means that Sony didn't compromise on build quality. While the lens body is made of plastics (on a metal mount), it is a high-quality variant that feels solid. Despite the very low weight of the lens, it feels "dense," and there's no wobbling of the inner zoom tube even when fully extended. The zoom and focus ring actions are smooth. Needless to say, Sony incorporated some sealing again dust and moisture. A fluorine coating in the front element also helps to repel fluids and particles. Given the fact that video is becoming ever more important, Sony also implemented an aperture click switch, an iris lock and breathing compensation is supported if the camera is capable of doing so. A petal-shaped lens hood is part of the package.

Two XD (extreme dynamic) Linear Motors provide very fast and silent autofocusing. Manual focusing works, of course, "by wire". A rather usual feature of the Sony lens is its close focus capacity. A max magnification of 1:2.5 may not be true macro territory yet, but it's far better than the class average. Sony didn't implement an optical stabilizer. Some may consider this a drawback, but based on our experience, it's a good thing. As hinted above, this is a complex design, and throwing even more ingredients into the soup doesn't make it any better, especially regarding long-term durability (consistent centering).

Optical construction16 Elements in 13 Groups (2x AA, 1x aspherical, 1x ED-aspherical, 2x ED elements)
Number of aperture blades9 (rounded)
min. focus distance0.25m (max magnification: 1:2.5)
Filter size72mm
Hoodpetal-shaped (bayonet mount, optional)
Focus-breathing compensationsupported
Other featuresaperture ring, iris-lock, focus-lock buttons, aperture click switch, dust- and moisture-resistent

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