This is the zoom lens that I have been wanting over a decade for! As much as I have appreciated many different 24-70mm lenses over the years, as well as numerous 24-105mm and similar mid-range zooms, the one thing missing was a standard zoom lens that went to 20mm. Now that it’s here, I’m very excited to write this Sony 20-70mm f/4 G review.

It’s lightweight, compact, and relatively affordable compared to most full-frame mirrorless camera bodies it will be used on. However, is it actually any good?

It would be foolish to NOT ask that question, because reaching 20mm is unprecedented for a mid-range zoom. Surely there has been a reason that the dozens of other full-frame zooms all start at 24mm or 28mm, right?

Well, I don’t know how Sony did it, but they accomplished an unprecedented goal, indeed. The Sony FE 20-70mm f/4 G delivers impressive images, and (spoiler alert!) I’m now recommending it as one of the best all-around lenses for everything from travel photography and landscape photography, to portraits and journalism.

With that being said, let’s dive in and find out why the Sony 20-70mm is such a special lens!

Sony FE 20-70mm f/4 G | Specifications

  • FOCAL LENGHT & ANGLE OF VIEW: 20-70mm, 94°-34°
  • LENS MOUNT(S): Sony E (FE full-frame)
  • APERTURE & RANGE: f/4-22, 9 rounded blades
  • AUTOFOCUS: Twin “XD” linear focus motors
  • MANUAL FOCUS: Electronically controlled
  • OPTICAL CONSTRUCTION: 16 Elements in 13 Groups, 2 Advanced aspherical, 3 ED, 1 ED Aspherical, 1 Aspherical
  • MECHANICAL CONSTRUCTION: metal & plastic barrel, weather sealed
  • FOCUS DISTANCE & MAGNIFICATION: 9.8″, (25 cm) 0.39X
  • SIZE: 3.1 x 3.9″ (78.7 x 99 mm)
  • WEIGHT: 17.2 oz (488 g)
  • PRICE: $1,098 (B&H

Sony FE 20-70mm f/4 G Review | Who Should Buy It?

As a mid-range zoom, the Sony 20-70mm joins a very large collection of all-around, jack-of-all-trades lenses. The question is, what can’t this lens do?

Indeed, just imagine the standard zooms you’ve undoubtedly already used many times for many different subjects, …and then imagine if that lens could zoom out even more, into the ultra-wide range! It’s an excellent choice for almosy all types of photography, with only a few exceptions. Let’s get into those things now.

Travel Photography, Adventure Photography

Exploring Death Valley, CA (Sean Goebel, using the 20-70mm f/4 G; I opted for the Sony A6700)

First and foremost, the Sony 20-70mm f/4 G is near the top of our list of best travel lenses. Whether you are hiking and backpacking in the mountains or wilderness, or you’re vacationing anywhere around the world, this lens is an excellent choice.

The portability, durability, and image quality allow it to completely eclipse the bigger, heavier, (and usually much more expensive) 24-70mm f/2.8 zooms. Also, personally at least, I would much rather have 20mm on the long end than, say, a 24-105mm zoom.

Landscape Photography

Is this lens good enough for serious, traditional landscape photography? Its downright “tiny” size could make you do a double-take, and assume that its image quality makes unacceptable compromises.

Thankfully, as you’ll see below, I can report that the Sony 20-70mm f/4 G is incredibly sharp, from center-to-corner, at every focal length I tested.

Sony A7R III, Sony 20-70mm f/4 G, 1/100 sec, f/10, ISO 100
100% Crop, 42 megapixels, f/10, 20mm

There are a few caveats, because (full disclosure) the “lens correction profile” is indeed doing a lot of work to correct the optical flaws of distortion, vignetting, and chromatin aberration. Thankfully, the lens profile does its job. (Read on for more details!)

Vlogging & Videography / Cinema

Cerro Gordo, California | Sony ZV-E1, Sony 20-70mm f/4 G @ 20mm

With its 20mm focal length and lightweight design, this G-series lens strikes a perfect balance for both high-end cinema production, and virtually any sort of content creation such as vlogging.

Especially for vloggers, the 20mm end makes this lens automatically superior to all other mid-range zooms,  because it allows you to safely use Sony’s “Active” digital stabilization, a feature that is incredibly effective, but does crop the image back to about 24mm.

Sony ZV-E1, Sony 20-70mm f/4 G @ 20mm

So, whether you are a vlogger who creates all types of content, or you are looking to create cinematic films, you’ll appreciate the Sony 20-70mm f/4.

BONUS: this lens also includes a physical aperture that can be de-clicked or locked. The focusing is linear and silent, and focus breathing is only faintly visible, though present.

Wedding & Portrait Photography

A 24-70mm f/2.8 lens is undoubtedly one of the most popular zoom lenses for wedding & portrait photographers. So, just ask yourself this question: Would you trade that f/2.8 aperture for the ability to zoom out to 20mm?

For most portrait & wedding photographs who may not be interested in lugging around an additional, very large ultra-wide zoom, the answer to that question might be “yes!” However, it’s definitely a subjective decision.

For me, as both a wedding and portrait photographer, I already know my answers: When I reach for this type of mid-range zoom, am I usually using it in low light? Sometimes, but not all the time. Do I usually need it to deliver shallow depth of field? No, that’s what my primes are for.

Therefore, while I may often reach for a fast prime or a 70-200mm f/2.8, …for environmental protraits and large groups, I would gladly let the Sony 20-70mm f/4 G compliment my favorite primes instead of a mid-range f/2.8 zoom.

Fashion & Editorial Photography

Similarly to all portrait photography, serious professionals who do portraiture, product, or any kind of advertising, commercial, or editorial photography will often find themselves willing to trade f/2.8 for 20mm, depending on the situation.

Architecture & Real Estate Photography

Sony A7R V, Sony 20-70mm f/4 G @ 20mm, 1/6 sec, f/11, ISO 100

Architecture and real estate are lines of work where an ultra-wide zoom is often a must, so you may already have the focal lengths such as 14-24mm or 16-35mm covered.

Still, you will likely be happy to have 20mm on the wide end of a standard zoom, compared to 24mm. Also, you’re very likely to be doing almost all your work at f/8 or f/11, and on a tripod, so you won’t be concerned by the lack of f/2.8, or OIS stabilization.

Action Sports & Wildlife Photography

Sony A9 III (pre-production, JPG) Sony 20-70mm f/4 G @ 35mm

Opposite from architecture and real estate, a telephoto lens is more often the speciality for action sports and wildlife photography. In this case, I could see a continued preference for, say, a 24-105mm or 24-120mm lens, since you will most often be “bumping into” that telephoto end than you would hit at wide end.

Having said that, there are plenty of types of subjects that really lend themselves to having a nice wide-angle. You’ll have to make this decision based on your creative style.

Nightscape & Astrophotography

Sony A7R V, Sony 20-70mm f/4 G @ 20mm, 900 sec, (15 min) f/4, ISO 100

You might think that f/4 is a deal breaker for anyone who does nightscape photography, however, I have found it to be more than adequate for certain types of nightscape photography! Specifically, if you do star trails, or if you do any nightscape photography when there is lots of moonlight and/or light pollution; I think that the 20-70mm f/4 is an acceptable choice. Of course, such a lens would obviously be paired with an f/2.8 ultra-wide zoom, and/or a wide-angle prime.

Sony FE 20-70mm f/4 G Review | Pros & Cons

Some of the advantages and disadvantages of this lens are very plain, and easily allow you to decide whether you’re interested in it or not: It zooms out to 20mm, however, it is f/4, not f/2.8. It doesn’t offer optical stabilization, however, virtually all Sony cameras have IBIS, (sensor stabilization) and additional on-sensor stabilization for video (using a slight crop) has significantly improved in recent years.

Simply put, I hope you already have a good idea of whether or not you’re interested in this lens, based on those criteria. Now, let’s dive into the finer details of other concerns or questions you may have.

Image Quality

Overall, the image quality is excellent. Even if you pixel-peep, you’ll be impressed. Sharpness is incredible, even on the 61-megapixel Sony R-series full-frame sensors. Also, the other aspects of image quality, the subjective things such as colors, bokeh, sunsars, flare, etc….are all quite pleasing.


Sony A7R V, Sony 20-70mm f/4 G @ 20mm, f/8, focus stacked
Center 100% Crop, 61 megapixels, 20mm, f/8
Corner 100% Crop, 61 megapixels, 20mm, f/8

Whether you are working at 20mm, 35-50mm, or 70mm, you can expect truly incredible results in terms of resolution/sharpness. Even on the staggering 61-megapixel cameras, there is plenty of fine detail. Even if you are pixel-peeping the extreme corners, you’ll be impressed.

Sony A7R V, Sony 20-70mm f/4 G @ 35mm, f/8, focus stacked
Edge 100% Crop, 61 megapixels, 35mm, f/8
Extreme Corner 100% Crop, 61 megapixels, 35mm, f/8

The only thing I can add is this: there is a faint bit of sharpness falloff, and/or field curvature, at the edges and corners, so if you really are interested in achieving maximum sharpness, you’ll have to be sure to focus FOR the corners, and maybe even focus stack. The above images, captured at f/8, are all focus-stacked images. This is mainly to afford adequate depth of field while avoiding any diffraction, but it has the added benefit of ensuring that even extreme corners are in focus.

Sony A7R V, Sony 20-70mm f/4 G @ 70mm, f/11
Center 100% Crop, 61 megapixels, 70mm, f/11


Sony A7R V, Sony 20-70mm f/4 G @ 40mm, f/4

When you get up close with a subject, the full-frame sensor renders gorgeous amounts of background blur despite the f/4 aperture. Optically, the smoothness of the bokeh itself is very aesthetically pleasing, at least most of the time. (See below)

Sony 20-70mm f/4 G @ 20mm, f/4

“Busy” bokeh can be a challenge for any lens. In this case, yes, you will see a little bit of distracting or un-smooth bokeh, as well as a faint “tunnel vision” effect, especially if you are focusing at 20mm and the background has very harsh, high-contrast texture patterns. Having said that, it’s minor and I’m not bothered by it!

Colors & Contrast

The glass in the Sony 20-70mm f/4 G is indeed crystal clear, rendering beautiful contrast, colors, and overall vibrant images. Of course, it really helps that Sony ARW files have been significantly improved in recent years, to my eyes, in Adobe Lightroom. I strongly recommend the “Adobe Landscape”, or “Camera VV2” profiles, if you are creating imagery such as you see in this review!

Vignetting & Distortion

The number one issue that plagues many modern lenses is the amount of distortion and vignetting that are “hidden under the hood” by a correction profile.

Although lens correction profile technology can be considered a modern marvel that allows lenses to still deliver beautiful images while being more compact and more affordable, there are a few caveats to keep in mind. First, distortion correction can reduce the sharpness of your images’ corners, because they are effectively being “stretched out”. Also, in some cases, the actual angle of view of a lens is reduced.

Sony A7R V, Sony 20-70mm f/4 @ f/10, 1/400 sec, ISO 100 (Lens profile corrections all on)

I am happy to report that indeed, (as you can see above) corner sharpness is incredible even with the correction profile turned on. Furthermore, according to Sony, the focal length is actually very generously reported as 20mm; what this means is that if you turn the correction profile off, you’d be getting a ~19mm lens! I don’t recommend this, however, because as you can see the un-corrected image does have significant distortion, and even minor black vignetting in the extreme corners at 20mm.

Sunstars & Flare

As you can see both above and below, sunstars are beautiful, which is excellent for a lens that will be used for landscapes and cityscapes. Also, flare “dots” are minimal, with only the occasional dot here or there if the sun is literally in your image or just outside the corner.

Color Fringing, Aberration, Coma & Astigmatism

Another subtle aspect of image quality where a manufacturer can “sweep under the rug” quite a bit of poor performance is, of course, chromatic aberration. Virtually every lens these days has a little bit of these things, especially when used wide-open.

The Sony 20-70mm f/4 G, in all its compact, lightweight glory, does rely a little bit on software to “erase” some aberrations. However, considering how excellent sharpness is in the extreme corners, I think that virtually all photographers will be happy.

Macro & Close-Up Photography

Sony 20-70mm f/4 @ 70mm, f/4

This isn’t a dedicated, high-magnification macro lens, however, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how well the lens can perform for close-up subjects. The bokeh is very pretty, as mentioned, and the sharpness is not significantly diminished when using the closest-possible focusing distances.

Design & Durability

It’s not a GMaster lens, however, it does offer a very robust build quality, and the design overall is entirely professional. Honestly, the only thing that is missing is an orange “GM” badge, in my opinion.

The physical switches are very welcome; many compact, affordable mirrorless lenses are opting to either omit all switches and buttons entirely, or using a “hybrid” switch that is infuriating to use.

Ergonomics & Portability

As a walk-around and/or general travel & adventure lens, both ergonomics and portability are very important. As you already know, that is where this lens shines. Despite being relatively small, it handles very well, and balances very well on a full-frame morrorless camera, especially the newly announced Sony A7CR. If you’re interested in easy handling and portability, these two pieces of equipment are a dream travel kit.

Autofocus & Manual Focus Performance

With dual XD linear focus motors, the autofocus is what you would expect from a professional GM-series lens. Indeed, focusing is silent, and the lens quickly locks onto a subject and sticks to it like glue. Once again, whether you are a vlogger, an action/adventure photographer, or any type of content creator, you’ll be very satisfied with this lens’ performance.

Features & Customizations

My biggest complaint with many lenses that are either affordable and/or portable is that they have a severe lack of any “bells and whistles” whatsoever. The Sony 20-70mm f/4 G definitely goes in the opposite direction of this trend, and offers as many features & customization as they could possibly fit onto such a small lens!

Despite its compact size, it manages to accommodate a physical aperture ring as mentioned above, with both an iris lock and a de-click switch. Also, above the AF/MF switch, you’ll find a customizable Fn button.


At $1,098, the Sony 20-70mm f/4 G is definitely not a “small budget” lens, however, it certainly isn’t in the category of “exotic”. For me, the bottom line is this: It offers the image quality and overall durability of a lens that ought to cost twice as much, considering the fact that it offers an unprecedented zoom range.

That is indeed what it all comes down to, because think of it this way: If it were “only” a compact 24-70mm f/4, would you pay ~$1,100 for it? Probably not. The competitors and the alternatives are definitely more affordable, such as the Panasonic 20-60mm f/3.5-5.6 which costs $497, or the downright tiny Sony 28-60mm f/4-5.6, which is also $498.

In fact, aside from the Panasonic, there are no full-frame mid-range zooms that reach 20mm; you’ll have to buy an additional ultra-wide zoom if you want to go wider than 24mm or 28mm.

This is why the Sony 20-70mm presents such a great value; you are getting a mid-range lens that might save you from ever needing a wide-angle lens!

Sony FE 20-70mm f/4 G Review | Compared To The Competition

LEFT: Tamron 17-50mm f/4 | RIGHT: Sony 20-70mm f/4 G

As I mentioned above, there are virtually zero other mid-range zooms that also offer 20mm; only the Panasonic 20-60mm. Besides that, literally no other lens offers 20-70mm! If you’re comparing your options, it’s either this, or you’re considering a fundamentally different lens. With that being said, here is how much I like this lens:

  • If you already own a 24-70mm f/2.8, but don’t really use f/2.8 very much, trade that 24-70mm in for this lens.
  • Those who already own a 24-105mm f/4, and find yourself spending more than 50% of your time at 24mm compared to 105mm, then trade that lens in for this one.
  • If you’re considering a lightweight, ultra-compact “kit” lens such as the Sony 28-60mm, don’t; just save up and get this lens instead.

Other than that, just about the only reason I could envision not choosing this lens is if you already have an ultra-wide zoom that you really like, such as the Sony 16-35mm f/4 PZ, or an exotic f/2.8 option, of course.

Last but not least, Tamron did just release a 17-50mm f/4 which deserves a mention; it’s not exactly a mid-range zoom since it doesn’t zoom past 50mm, however, they are similar enough that many types of photographers and content creators might be looking at either one. Personally, I find that both lenses are excellent, and the decision is mostly a personal decision based on the exact type of photography you do.

Sony FE 20-70mm f/4 G Review | Conclusion

For whatever reason, this type of zoom has never been made before. I’m sure the optical formula was quite a challenge, and I must give kudos to the optical engineers at Sony! Still, I’m surprised that the Sony 20-70mm f/4 is literally the only one of its kind, because for me, it’s a perfect all-around “kit” lens!

Even more surprising, however, is the fact that it’s not just a novelty zoom, with terrible image quality, nor is it an enormous, heavy beast. The image quality is excellent, and the overall design is both portable and durable.

If you ever wanted a better all-around zoom lens for your full-frame mirrorless camera, then this could be a great choice for almost any type of photo and video subjects. If you are a landscape photographer, or any sort of adventurous, traveling content creator, then the Sony 20-70mm f/4 G should be at the top of your 2023 lens wishlist.

Check Pricing & Availability

The Sony 20-70mm f/4 G is currently available for $1,098. Keep an eye out for various rebates or “instant savings” offers, as usual!



  • Unprecedented zoom range
  • Excellent sharpness & image quality
  • Professional, durable build quality
  • Silent, fast, reliable autofocus
  • Professional features & customizations
  • Highly portable & comfortable to use
  • Excellent overall value


  • No optical stabilization
  • F/4 aperture will give pause to some 24-70mm f/2.8 users
Image Quality
Build Quality
Autofocus & Manual Focus Performance
Ergonomics & Portability
Features & Customizations

Final Verdict

With literally no direct competitors to challenge its focal range, the Sony 20-70mm f/4 G doesn't need to be perfect to offer value, and yet, it certainly does achieve perfection, almost!