Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM ( SEL1635GM ) - Review / Test Report - Sample Images & Verdict
Lens Reviews - Sony Alpha (Full Format)

Sample Images

Make SONY
Model ILCE-7RM2
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 27.0mm
Aperture: f/10.0
Exposure 1/320s
Make SONY
Model ILCE-7RM2
ISO Speed 320
Focal Length 29.0mm
Aperture: f/5.6
Exposure 1/60s
Make SONY
Model ILCE-7RM2
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 21.0mm
Aperture: f/10.0
Exposure 1/125s
Make SONY
Model ILCE-7RM2
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 16.0mm
Aperture: f/2.8
Exposure 1/5000s
Make SONY
Model ILCE-7RM2
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 16.0mm
Aperture: f/11.0
Exposure 1/320s
Make SONY
Model ILCE-7RM2
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 19.0mm
Aperture: f/11.0
Exposure 1/200s
Make SONY
Model ILCE-7RM2
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 16.0mm
Aperture: f/9.0
Exposure 1/80s
Make SONY
Model ILCE-7RM2
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 35.0mm
Aperture: f/2.8
Exposure 1/500s
Make SONY
Model ILCE-7RM2
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 26.0mm
Aperture: f/11.0
Exposure 1/200s
Make SONY
Model ILCE-7RM2
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 16.0mm
Aperture: f/11.0
Exposure 1/160s

Competition

As already hinted in the introduction, the Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM (to the left below) is competing against the Zeiss FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS (center below) and Zeiss Batis 18mm f/2.8 (to the right with attached hood here). You can also include the impressive Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G to the list (not shown). The Zeiss FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS is a stop slower but thanks to its image stabilizer it has actually more low-light potential at least. Quality-wise it's also comparable in the lower range at least. As good as the Sony lens may be, the Batis 18mm f/2.8 is better still but then the Batis is less flexible.

Visual comparison courtesy of camerasize.com.

Verdict

The Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM is certainly a good lens but it has a couple of flaws as well. The lens has been optimized for the lower part of the focal length range - which is certainly most important for most buyers anyway. The corner performance isn't great at fully open aperture except at the sweet spot around 20mm. The performance is decent at longer focal lengths but it stays a little short of the very high exceptations at least. That being said - keep in mind that today's high resolution sensors are killers. Just have a look what the Canon EOS 5Ds R (50 megapixels) did to the comparable Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8 USM L III.
Most will certainly take advantage of image auto-correction either directly in the camera or via a RAW converter thus neither distortions, CAs nor vignetting are real issues. However, the Sony lens has a decent native correction at least when compared to similar DSLR lenses. In the scope of its class, it also has a surprisingly good bokeh.

In terms of build quality, the Sony lens has everything you expect from a professional grade lens. It feels tough and has weather-sealing, The quality of the AF is largely depending on the base camera. On our test camera (A7R II), the speed is adequate for a lens in this class. Keep in mind that the Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM is not a small lens. Considering the small camera size, the balance is a bit off in our book - adding a vertical grip to your camera may be worth a thought.

The question of the day is, of course, whether the lens is worth its hefty price tag. As always, it depends. There are cheaper alternatives that are really good thus you should consider whether you really need the speed and/or flexibility.

Optical Quality (at 42mp):
Mechanical Quality:
Price/Performance:
      
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