The Sony FE 40mm f/2.5 G is a smart, quick general-purpose lens in the G series lineup. Nilofer Khan puts it through its paces to see how it fares.
The 40mm is a focal length that sits comfortably between 35mm and 50mm and mimics the angle of view of human vision. The few companies that manufacture this focal length lenses include Sigma, Zeiss, and Canon. Recently, Sony joined this list with the launch of the FE 40 mm f/2.5 G, one of the three lenses in the company’s G series.
It features 9 elements in 9 groups, including three aspherical elements, and a circular seven-bladed diaphragm. It also features two linear motors and a 49mm filter diameter. The lens has a minimum focusing distance of 0.28m in AF and 0.24m in MF. The maximum magnification ratio while using the AF is 0.2x and 0.23x when focusing manually. On an APS-C camera, the lens is an equivalent of 60mm. It comes with an inverted lens hood, and is dustand moisture-resistant.
Like the 50mm f/2.5, the 40mm f/2.5, too, weighs 173g and measures 68 x 45mm. In terms of ergonomics, the lens is identical to its siblings, and features a wide ring with fly-by-wire mechanism, a narrow de-click aperture ring with markings at the rear of the barrel, a customisable focus hold button, a focus mode switch, and a switchable aperture-ring click stop button. The rings move smoothly, and its aluminium body is quite sturdy.
The 40mm f/2.5 has excellent AF performance. I was shooting during Ganesh Visarjan, and the lens quickly responded to any movement in the frame. It even tracked the subjects well. So you do not need to worry about missing a moment.
At f/2.5, the lens is quite sharp across the entire frame. The sharpness peaks between f/5.6 to f/8, which is also the sweet spot of the lens. This peak is modest as the edges are pretty sharp at wide open aperture. You can shoot at f/16 too. However, if you push past it, there is a loss in details.
The RAW files show slight barrel distortion, but it’s easily corrected in Photoshop. However, it’s not visible in processed JEPGs. The colour rendition of the lens is quite accurate, and can capture details in highlights and shadows too.
The lens shows visible vignetting at f/2.5. As you increase the f-stops, the vignetting gradually disappears, and it’s completely gone at f/7.1. Lateral chromatic aberration and ghosting are controlled well too.
On the bokeh front, the lens produces soft round bokeh at the centre of the frame. However, at the edges, you see sagittal (cat-eye shape) bokeh. If you stop down to f/4, it leads to a polygonal-shaped bokeh. There is also onion rings in the bokeh, but this is only visible if you view the image at 100 percent. Like the other two G series lenses, the 40mm f/2.8 shows breathing issues, both at f/2.5 and f/22.
Priced at Rs. 69,990, the Sony FE 40mm f/2.8 is competing against the Zeiss Batis 2/40 CF (Rs. 99,950) and Sigma’s 40mm f/1.4 DG HSM | Art (Rs. 1,25,000). Apart from being cost-effective than Zeiss and Sigma, the Sony 40mm also features a de-click aperture ring. It is also far lighter (173g) than Sigma (1.2kg) and Zeiss (360g). The Sony 40mm f/2.8 is ideal for those who want a lens that can do it all. It performs well in dimly lit conditions, has a quick and accurate AF, de-click aperture, is compact and has exceptional sharpness across the entire frame at f/2.5. The only shortfall is the focus breathing issue that is seen amongst the other two G series lenses too. If that’s not a concern for you, then you can consider this all-round lens an option.
This article originally appeared in the October 2021 issue of Better Photography.
f/2.5 and de-click aperture ring
Quick AF, sharp at f/2.5, good colour rendition and sagittal bokeh
Weather-resistant, sturdy aluminium body
Internal focus, good placement of buttons and switches, compact
|Warranty & Support
Wide service network, two-year warranty
|VALUE FOR MONEY||3.5/5|
|Who should buy it?||Portraitists, street, wedding, landscape photographers, and photojournalists.|
|Why?||It is a great lens that works in various settings. It is also lightweight, cost-effective, and has an excellent optical performance.|