Hands-On Review: the Sony FE 24-240mm f/3.5-6.3 OSS Super Zoom Lens

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Sometimes, the most annoying thing about having an interchangeable-lens camera is the interchangeable-lens part. Prime lenses and short-range zoom lenses for full-frame cameras aren’t that big by themselves. But at some point, you realize that the five-lens kit you have is a bit of a drag to carry around with you everywhere, and you wish you could just take one lens with you that could replace them all, which is where superzoom lenses like the new Sony FE 24-240mm f/3.5-6.3 OSS Lens come in handy.

The Sony 24-240mm (Center) is only a little larger than the Sony Zeiss 24-70mm f/4 (Left) and a lot shorter than the Vivitar 70-210mm f/3.5 (Right)

This new 24-240mm is a full-frame-compatible lens that offers an impressive 10x zoom range, giving full-frame a7-series camera users the ability to forgo changing lenses in situations where they may not have time to or just don’t feel like it. While 10x zooms are relatively common in the small-sensor world, they are somewhat rare in the full-frame world, and for a reason. Designing a superzoom lens for a full-frame camera isn't easy, and requires a number of tradeoffs, such as weight and a small maximum aperture. There is a reason most zoom lenses for full-frame cameras rarely go beyond a 3 or 4x zoom range. However, to a number of users, the extreme versatility of an all-in-one lens is a huge plus, so the tradeoffs are worth it.




 
 


 


 

Frozen Ships Wide/Medium/Tele Overlay: The flexible focal-length range allows for creative reframing of the same scene. These wide, medium, and tele images of boats, frozen in the Hudson River, were all shot from the same spot.

The lens has a telescoping design, and with dimensions of 3.2 x 4.7", is only a little bit larger than the Zeiss FE 24-70mm f/4 when fully retracted at 24mm, making it a rather compact lens for what it is. However, at 1.7 lb, it is noticeably heavier than the Zeiss 24-70mm, as one might expect. When fully extended, it gets a lot longer, but it is slightly shorter than the 70-210mm Canon FD lens I usually use. It is also worth noting that when the lens extends and focuses, the front of the lens does not rotate—polarizer-filter users will appreciate this.

Balance-wise, it doesn't feel completely out of place on the a7S, and is a lot better balanced than the 70-210 because most of the weight of the Sony is at the base of the lens, even when using it at telephoto lengths. Its mass does make me miss lightweight prime lenses, but if you want 10x zoom in a full-frame lens, then that is the price you have to pay. The lens zoom ring is a bit stiff, most likely to prevent lens creep, since this is a telescoping lens with some heft.

Sony was nice enough to lend me a pre-production model of the Sony FE 24-240mm f/3.5–6.3 OSS during a balmy winter week here in New York, and I tested it out on the a7S, to see if I could feel satisfied having only one lens with me. The massive telephoto reach of the lens ended up helping me capture pictures that I otherwise would not have been able to capture, as I typically do not have a telephoto lens attached when I am just walking around. I was able to catch a seagull eating a fresh fish on a floating ice floe, as well as get a view of a commuter ferry carrying eager New Jerseymen and Jerseywomen across an icy Hudson River. The lens is advertised as being weather resistant, and I can attest that it had no trouble working in 2°F temperatures (which is more than I can say for my hands). The lens's minimum focusing distance of 2.6' at the telephoto end is also relatively close and allows for some pseudo macro shooting, which is a nice plus.



 


 


 


 

The Optical SteadyShot image stabilization (OSS) does a good job counteracting the slow aperture, which combined with the better high ISO ability of the full-frame cameras, makes the low-light performance of this lens not as bad as some might fear. I was able to get some good night shots at the wide end. The OSS also helps frame the shot, as it is much easier to see what is going on through the EVF than with my 70-210 FD lens. I found autofocus to be very fast at the wide end, though not so fast at the telephoto end. Whether that is due more to the a7S's contrast detect AF or the lens, I'm not sure, as I haven't used many telephoto lenses with AF on the a7S.

I shot all photos in JPEG+RAW so I could compare any in-camera JPEG corrections to the RAW files. Upon reviewing the photos on the camera I was quite impressed; they had good color, contrast, were sharp, and showed no noticeable vignetting, distortion, or chromatic aberration. This is quite impressive, perhaps a little too impressive for a full-frame superzoom lens. Once I loaded the RAW images into the computer, I did notice that the camera was doing a fair amount of lens correction on the JPEG images. Still, distortion is easy to correct, a soft image isn't, and I'm happy to say the lens's sharpness and contrast are quite impressive, though it definitely exhibits a fair amount of distortion across the zoom range, and exhibits a bit of vignetting at the wide end.

Video users might be attracted to this lens for its large zoom range, as it’s impossible to switch out lenses in between a shot, and the lens's image stabilization is a huge plus for shooting handheld. The lack of a constant aperture throughout the zoom range is a bit of a drag for video, as the exposure changes as you zoom, but thankfully it's a smooth transition, unlike other SLR zoom lenses I've used. Sony does not claim the FE 24-240mm is parafocal, the way the company does with the FE PZ 28-135mm f/4 G OSS, but in my rudimentary testing I can say that when I focused on something at the telephoto end and zoomed out, the focus did not shift noticeably, which is a big plus. The main drawbacks for video are the stiff zoom barrel, as well as the distortion, which is not as easily corrected for video users. Still, if you have to have a large zoom range and don't want to splurge for the Sony FE PZ 28-135 lens, then this is certainly a viable option.



 


 

The 24-240mm offers an extremely versatile range from wide to telephoto while still being relatively compact at the wide end. It's not going to be the sharpest or most light-sensitive lens but, in my testing, I think it does well enough to use in place of other FE lenses—in most circumstances. The question is whether the tradeoffs are worth the extra convenience a lens like this offers: if you can only take one lens, would you rather have a 3x zoom that performs great, a prime lens that is near perfect, or a 10x zoom lens that gets the job done? If you are looking into a superzoom, you probably already know the answer to that question.

Discussion 33

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Thanks for posting pictures from the new Sony 24-240. It's an interesting travel option for A7 owners.

Thanks for the post. I would have liked to see it tested on an A7R to really see it's potential.

Thanks for this review! Now if they could just release the new round of a7r m2, a7sm2, and the a9. I think this will be my first lens, then branch out when I can afford it.

Hello, 

I have Sony a6000 and planning to get a7II next year. Since I wanted to have a new lens prior to a7II, I would like to ask for your opinion regarding to this full frame lens for an APS-C sensor camera like the a6000.

It is very common to use Full-Frame lenses on APS-C format cameras.  Essentially you'll lose the wide angle effect offered at 24mm mark but it will function properly and still give you excellent images.

How's the AF compare with the FE 70-200mm F4 G OSS lens on A6000

I would think the 70-200mm f/4 would be slightly faster.  That being said, the autofocus should be fairly fast and quiet on the FE 24-240mm lens, especially on the a6000.

Thank you very much for your review !! How is the lens compared with the already available 70-200 Sony lens ? Which one is the better zoom lens for the Alpha-series ?

The Sony FE 70-200mm f/4 is a better performing lens between 70 and 200mm, though it is larger and obviously does not cover the 24-70mm range and 201-240mm range that the 24-240mm does. If all you need is the 70-200mm range than the 70-200mm is great, but you need have both the FE 24-70mm and the FE 70-200mm lenses to cover (most) of the range of the 24-240mm, which is harder to carry around and pricewise is in a whole different league.

I received my lens from Hong Kong today. The full zoom (240mm) had initial problems with autofocus. I ran it back to about 220 and then back to 240 and it was ok. I plan on this being my backpacking "in-the-mountains" lens along with a c/y zeiss 18mm. I use a sony A7R. Can't wait! 

In your review you wrote

"Would you rather have a 3x zoom that performs great, a prime lens that is near perfect, or a 10x zoom lens that gets the job done?"

Well, a major issue with the FE lens portfolio is that there is no standard 3x zoom that performs great. The FE 24-70 is decidedly mediocre with its very soft corners at 24mm.

So, whilst I would prefer a great 24-70 or 24-105 instead, the 24-240 might be a good alternative to the 24-70.

You guys tested this lens on 12MP A7s but I own A7r which is very taxing on lenses.   Why did you pick the least pixel hungry body to test with this lens?   How does it look with 24MP and 36MP bodies?

You guys tested this lens on 12MP A7s but I own A7r which is very taxing on lenses.   Why did you pick the least pixel hungry body to test with this lens?   How does it look with 24MP and 36MP bodies?

I took some photographs with my A7R using the new Sony 24-240 lens this morning. I have included a link to the review and photographs.

http://midsierramusing.blogspot.com/2015/03/sony-24-240mm-f35-63-oss-len...

We appreciate your frustration.  In this situation Sony lent us a copy of the lens for the purpose of this article but only for a very short window of time, and at that time the only camera model available in our user library with this mount was an A7s.  Hopefully after the lens is made available we will start to see some real world samples from Sony and other users with the A7r and other models.  

How would this lens compare to the Sony FE 70-200mm.   I have the 24-7 lens and do use the camera for some video.   Mostly I am missing a zoom lens for travel.    For a pro-consumer would I still see a noticeable difference in color and sharpness in the more expensive Sony FE 70-200mm lens?  I want to purchase only one. 

The Sony FE 70-200mm f/4 is a better performing lens between 70 and 200mm, though it is larger and obviously does not cover the 24-70mm range and 201-240mm range that the 24-240mm does. Since you already have the 24-70mm lens I would recommend going for the 70-200mm unless your aim is to carry around only a single lens and have a greater overall range than the other two lenses combined would give you. 

I purchased both lenses and have been testing with the 24-240 and the 70-200.    I set the Sony A 7ii on a tripod and took a series of photos from 5.6 -16 at 70mm using a setup that included letters, colors and various objects.  I was surprised to see that the 24-240 was sharper than the 70-200.    Is this because at 70 for the 70-200 lens is not at the optimal point?   Sorry I am not as technical just looking to find the highest quality lens given what I plan on spending.   I already have the 24-70 4.0 lens which is not as good as the two that I am reviewing.

As with other commenters, I'm excited to see some test shots with this lens on an a7R.  I have one other question, though--your description and photos show that the lens is telescopic but Sony's own site lists this lens as internal focusing "so the overall length of the lens does not change"--any idea if this was a change before the lens went to production. It doesn't seem like a small detail, so I'm curious about this discrepancy. Thanks.

The focus is internal and takes place inside the camera, the barrel on the front of the lens does not rotate or extend when autofocusing.  The telescopic aspect of the lens is the zoom, not the autofocus.  For the lens not to change in length in that respect, the lens would need to have "Internal zoom" as a listed feature. 

Hi

I have a NEX 7, I take most pictures but also some video. So I would therefore buy a versatile lens. also with good zoom. Which of these two lenses will recommend to my NEX7?       E PZ 18–200 mm F3,5–6,3 OSS or FE 24-240 mm F3,5–6,3 OSS

oerjan

 

The NEX-7 camera being an APS-C format camera will multiply any lens you mount on it by 1.5x.  The Sony E PZ 18–200 mm F3,5–6,3 OSS  would be the more versatile lenses of the two to go with, as this lens would still offer you a wide angle aspect whereas the 24-240mm lens after the 1.5x magnification will lose its wider angle aspect and thus be less versatile. 

does this lens work with the Sony a6000?

Yes it does; this lens is compatible with the Sony A6000 camera. 

You said, "The main drawbacks for video are the stiff zoom barrel, as well as the distortion, which is not as easily corrected for video users." It has been my experience that all the E mount lenses including the E PZ 18-105 lens make all lens corrections including distortion. Do you mean to say that this lens does not correct for distortion during video shooting?

Juni,

Distortion correction is an ability of the camera, not just the lens, and not all E mount video cameras offer distortion correction with the lenses. Also, another aspect is the firmware version of the camera which may require an update in order to perform the appropriate corrections.

How quiet (or not) is the 24-240mm lens?

Is there any compatible TC available for this lens at B&H?

From most of the preliminary reviews I have read, the consensus among users is that the lens is very quiet with very little noise if any.  There are not any teleconverters available for this lens. 

Did you have any run ins using this with moving objects? Sony says its good for sport images but i can't trust what they say. Would you say this would be good for sport images? like soccer or skateboarding?

i just bought these lens and was visiting HK ..I can attest this is a great street photography (on te A7r) lens as well as you can zoom in from a distance and get great bokeh as well..night shots as the author mentioned are easily handled by the sensor. It ddoesn't feel overly heavy or bulky..many of us I believe with A7 series cameras haave been waiting for a lens like this..thumbs up..

I have been using this lens for over a month with an A7II. Very happy with it as an all-purpose lens for hiking and landscape photography. Good for portraits too. Less well suited for "action" photography - one has to get used to it. Images are very sharp at centre and in my opinion rather good at edges compared to other super-zooms. Flare is virtually non-existant. Recommended.

Are there any comparisons/commentss to the Nikon 18-200 DX.  I am trying to "lighten the load" and still be able to shooot without changing lenses.

Before I trade in my d300 for an A7 II I'd like to know the image quality comparison. 

BTW - I shoot Raw and use Lightroom often enlarging a croppped part of the image up to 16x20