Sony FE 20mm f/1.8 G - Review / Test Report
Lens Reviews - Sony Alpha (Full Format)

Review by Klaus Schroiff, published October 2020


Just two decades ago, 20mm lenses were rather exotic beings and about as extreme as it got in the ultra-wide angle segment. Today, it's probably more appropriate to classify such lenses as "moderate" ultra-wide. However, this doesn't mean that they aren't desirable - on the contrary. You may argue that -say- a 14mm lens is offering more thrill but the wider you go, the more you emphasize the foreground whereas the background gets "pushed back". In case you haven't used such a lens - it's not trivial to find many scenes that work really well with such a lens. This is much less of a challenge at 18/20mm. Such lenses still offer a fairly dramatic perspective while avoiding going over the top. 20mm prime lenses were a bit neglected by the manufacturers for many years but we have seen a bit of a revival lately - namely the Nikon Z 20mm f/1.8 S, the Tamron 20mm f/2.8 Di III, and the Sony FE 20mm f/1.8G. In this review, we are going to discuss the latter.

As the name implies, the Sony FE 20mm f/1.8G is a member of Sony's G-class series - or in other words: it's targeting semi-professional users. The build quality is very high thanks to a combination of high-grade plastics based on a metal mount. The lens is also dust- and splash-resistant. The front element features a fluorine coating for repelling dust and water as well. The broad, rubberized focus ring operates smoothly. Interestingly, Sony decided to add a dedicated aperture ring. So far we've only seen this in some Zeiss ZA and Sony GM lenses. You can also switch the aperture-ring to a "de-clicked" mode if you are into movies. A plastic, petal-shaped lens hood is included in the package.

The Sony FE 20mm f/1.8G uses two XD ("Extreme Dynamic") linear motors for very fast and silent focusing. A fast AF is usually not a killer argument in this segment - but then - why complain? There's also a (customizable) focus stop button in case you need it. The focus group is guided on an internal rail system. Unless mounted to the camera, you can actually feel how the focus group moves on the rails when turning the lens upside down. Manual focusing works by-wire thus you are driving the focus motors when turning the focus ring. This works nicely and it's very precise.  It's also worth noting that the lens can focus down to 0.18m allowing a maximum object magnification of 1:4.5. While this isn't in macro territory yet, it's certainly unusual in this class.

Optical construction14 elements in 12 groups inc. 2x aspherical, 3xED elements
Number of aperture blades9 (rounded)
min. focus distance0.18m (max. magnification 1:4.5)
Filter size67mm
Hoodpetal-shaped (bayonet mount, supplied)
Other featuresdust & moisture resistant, focus-stop button, aperture-ring, clickless mode
MountSony FE

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