Sony FE 24-240mm Lens Initial Quick Review (SEL24240)

3/18/15 Update: Added two full size images for download and more test photos

4/3/15 Update: Review Part II with the 24-240mm on the Sony NEX-7 is now up at http://photoblog.velgos.com/2015/04/sony-fe-24-240mm-lens-review-part-ii-sel24240

4/4/15 Update: Review Part III comparing the 24-240mm with the 35mm f/1.8 is up at http://photoblog.velgos.com/2015/04/sony-24-240mm-review-part-iii

My Sony FE 24-240mm just arrived so I did some testing on the Sony A7R and also compared it against my Nikon D800 and Nikkor 28-300mm. This quick review covers a bit of my progression from DSLRs to Sony mirrorless, compares sizes between systems, and has a few images to give a general idea of how the lens performs. This isn’t a scientific test in a controlled lab. Just some general thoughts of a cityscape/landscape photographer.

Moving from DSLRs to Sony Mirrorless

For a while I was shooting with a Canon 5DMII and a bag full of lenses. Lugging around 30 lbs of gear and constantly switching lenses wasn’t really working well. I wanted to scale back on gear to go lighter and work more efficiently. I looked into the Canon 28-300 but it’s a monster. The Sony NEX-7 and 18-200mm caught my eye. A small, light, and versatile combo. But how good could it be especially compared to a 5DMII? Well, surprisingly good. Surprisingly, meaning when I first got it I wasn’t expecting great results from a utility 18-200 on a new and relatively unproven mirrorless camera. I took the NEX-7/18-200 and 5DMII/24-70 both out shooting so I could compare side-by-side results. I was pretty shocked. I opened two photos in Lightroom at 100% and thought I had accidentally picked two 5DMII photos. Nope. The two were so close in sharpness at the center I had a hard time telling the difference and in some areas the NEX-7 was better. Can you tell which is the Sony or Canon?

Sony NEX-7/18-200 and Canon 5DMII/24-70, f/8, Center, 100%

Sony 18-200 vs Canon 24-70

Obviously the 24-70 is f/2.8 and has some advantages for certain subjects like portraits and the corners are a bit sharper. And the NEX-7 isn’t an action camera and may not perform as well as higher ISO’s. But since I shoot cityscapes and landscapes f/2.8 isn’t where I spend most of my time. After doing a bunch of shooting with the NEX-7 and seeing what it was capable of, the 5DMII and bag of many heavy lenses started collecting dust. Then the Nikon D800 came out and I wanted higher resolution so I picked one up along with a Nikkor 28-300mm and a couple other lenses. Now I had less gear to carry but I still missed the size and features of the NEX-7. Then Sony released the A7R and I was excited at the thought of an NEX-7 with a D800 sensor. But that excitement wore off pretty quickly when I saw how limited the lens selection was. Which brings us to the 24-240mm. As soon as it became available I ordered one along with an A7R. I will probably pick up a wide prime and ultra-wide zoom to fill out the range. And that will make the transition from DSLR to mirrorless complete for me. Well, sort of. Until the Sony A7x 50MP comes out.

Initial Sony 24-240mm Impressions

First, I gotta say I like the 24-240mm range. The difference between 240mm and 300mm is so slight it’s almost unnoticeable. There have been plenty of times where I needed a bit more width than 28mm and 24mm would have helped over having to change to an ultra-wide lens.

Size

At 3.17 x 4.67″ / 80.5 x 118.5 mm it won’t be mistaken for a pancake lens. It’s not super compact but not huge either. Compared to he Nikon 28-300mm, which is already relatively compact for a full frame big focal range lens, it’s about the same size. Compared to the Sony 18-200 Model #SEL18200 (3.0 x 4.0″ / 7.62 x 10.16 cm) the 24-240 (3.17 x 4.67″ / 80.5 x 118.5 mm) is bigger but I don’t feel it’s a huge difference in size.

Here’s a side-by-side height comparison of the Nikon 28-300, Sony 24-240, and Sony 18-200.

Nikon 28-300 vs Sony 24-240 vs Sony 18-200Here’s a side-by-side lens diameter comparison of the Nikon 28-300, Sony 24-240, and Sony 18-200.

Nikon 28-300 vs Sony 24-240 vs Sony 18-200On the A7R the size ends up being somewhere in between the NEX-7/18-200 and D800/28-300 while feeling closer to the NEX-7. The D800 is pretty chunky so the A7R/24-240 feels way smaller. Sorry, I took a quick shot which came out blurry and didn’t have time to redo. You get the idea though.

Sony 18-200 Sony 24-240 Nikon 28-300Weight

At 1.72lb / 780g it ain’t a lightweight that’s for sure. But it’s not a tank either.  It’s relatively light.  Meaning ,1.75 lbs compared to other lenses I used to lug around like a Canon 70-200mm at over 3 lbs. Compared to the Nikkor 28-300mm (1.76lb / 800g) the 24-240 (1.72lb / 780g) is almost the same weight. Compared to the The Sony 18-200mm, it’s is definitely heavier at 1.72lb / 780g vs the 18-200 at 1.15lb / 524g. The weight isn’t a problem for me.

Usage

The first thing I noticed immediately is the zoom ring is stiff. Real stiff. And it doesn’t have a lock to prevent lens creep. You really need to exert some effort to turn the zoom ring at first. So much effort that I was getting worried I might damage the camera lens mount. But after using it for a few hours it seemed to loosen up a tiny bit and became less of a concern. While I was out shooting I left it hanging from my shoulder when I wasn’t using it. No creep at all after several hours. If the 18-200 were attached it would completely extend within a few seconds if not locked. Same thing with the Nikon 28-300. So I wonder how much the lens will loosen up over time. Maybe they did a ton of testing or used another lens as a reference and felt the lock wasn’t necessary. May have been a good idea to include the lock anyway. Only time will tell.

Overall Quality

It’s solid. The finish, fit, and feel are very good quality. It has a metal body with plastic inner sleeves. The zoom ring is thick and the rubber is very grippy. Interestingly the thinner focus ring looks similar to the zoom ring but seems to be made of a slightly less tacky material.

Image Quality

How about image quality? Pretty darn good. Better than I expected. I’m really happy with just about everything I’ve seen so far. How’s it compare to my D800/28-300? A little better in just about every measure and that’s all I could have asked for.

Sharpness – Comparatively speaking, sharp! In general, decently sharp. Better than I expected. This isn’t going to be as sharp as a prime lens or even something like a 70-200mm but compared to similar lenses I feel Sony did a pretty good job on this lens. Like many lenses f/8 seems to be the sweet spot for center sharpness. At the center this lens is decently sharp at all focal lengths. The sides aren’t bad either. Corners? Well, not great, but still better than I expected. It’s slightly sharper than the Nikon D800/28-300 combo. But some of that may be due to the D800. A D800E probably would have shown a bit sharper results.

Fringing – Seems pretty well controlled. There isn’t much from what I could see. The Nikon 28-300 has quite a bit with strong magenta and cyan toward the sides. While this can be easily corrected it Lightroom, if it’s severe enough it can affect image quality to the point where removing the color leaves behind damage that may need to be fixed. So this is a pretty nice bonus I wasn’t expecting and means less work for me to do in post processing.

Distortion – As you can see from the some of the samples it has quite a bit which just goes with the territory for this kind of lens. When Lightroom gets updated to include this lens the distortion will be easily corrected. No big deal.

Check out the test shots I posted far below.

Final Thoughts

I have a couple different thoughts. One is about the lens and the other is about the platform. Some people already have Sony equipment and probably just want to know about the lens specs and how it performs. Others may be sitting on the sidelines wondering if they should jump into mirrorless to possibly replace their DSLR(s) and big bag-o-stuff.

Lens Thoughts

Regarding the lens, I think Sony has a winner here. It’s reasonably sharp at most focal lengths between f5.6 and f/11 with f/8 being optimal. At first glance it may seem to be too big, too heavy, and not be a good match for the compact nature of the mirrorless platform. But paired with one of the Sony Alpha bodies it gives you a more compact system. On the A7R, and even the NEX-7, it’s pretty well balanced. And even though the size and weight aren’t much different than the Nikkor 28-300mm, the difference to me in overall bulk and weight is pretty substantial when using the A7R/24-240 and D800/28-300 at the same time.

I’ve also seen some comments regarding it being expensive. From what I’ve seen I think it’s competitively priced with similar lenses and I’m sure after the initial launch the sales will start showing up.

If you already have one of the Sony A7 cameras this promises to be a great travel or walkaround lens to compliment your primes. If you have one of the Sony NEX cameras, this lens offers an interesting range of around 36-360mm to give you a bit more zoom over the 27-300mm range that the 18-200mm provides.

Mirrorless Thoughts

If you’re considering moving to mirrorless, my recommendation is, it depends. It depends on what kind of photography you do. General subjects? Absolutely. Travel? Probably. Sports and action seems to be one areas where DSLRs still have an advantage but cameras like the Sony a6000 and some stuff from Fujifilm, Olympus, and Panasonic are closing that gap. Portraits and weddings? Can’t say. I don’t shoot those subjects but I’ve seen some people making a move. For me? Absolutely.

Summary

In summary, the 24-240mm along with the A7R offer me the opportunity to lighten my load and work more efficiently while still getting amazing image quality. What I’ve seen so far is pretty promising. Exciting times!

Test Shots

I’m not a professional lens reviewer so there’s nothing scientific to this process. Just some quick shots to give a basic idea of how the lens performs. All shots were taken in RAW at ISO 100 and f/8. The Sony A7R was used with the 24-240mm, D800 for the 28-300mm, and NEX-7 for the 18-200mm. I used a pretty solid tripod along with a 2-second timer delay to try to reduce any shake or vibration. Image Stabilization was disabled on all lenses. All images were opened in Lightroom with standard settings. No changes were made to anything. I posted two shots of most scenes.  The original scene and then the same scene shown at 1:1 (100%) in Lightroom. I’ll post the full size originals and some additional images shortly.

Update 3/18/15: Two full size images available for download

Update 3/21/15: I’ve seen some comments and questions about the image process I used and if any modifications were done. The images were all taken as RAW on all three cameras. They were imported into Lightroom directly from the SD cards. No lens corrections, sharpening, or any other changes were applied. The two download files are RAW files exported as JPEG with no changes. The test images below are all screenshots captured as PNG from Lightroom so you are looking at unedited RAW files exactly as you would see them in Lightroom.

All images Copyright © Paul Velgos and may only be used for personal viewing for the purpose of evaluating lens performance.

Scene 1 Full Size File Download

Scene 2 Full Size File Download

Sony 24-240mm, 24mm, f/8 (Scene 1)

Sony 24-240mm 24mm f:8 (1)Sony 24-240mm, 24mm, f/8, 100%, Center

Sony 24-240mm 240mm (1)Sony 24-240mm, 240mm, f/8

Sony 24-240mm 240mm f:8 (1)Sony 24-240mm, 240mm, f/8, 100%, Center

Sony 24-240mm 240mm f:8 100 (1)Sony 24-240mm (Left) and Nikkor 28-300mm (Right), 240mm, f/8, 100%, Center

Sony 24-240mm vs Nikkor 28-300 240mm f:8 100 (1)Sony 24-240mm (Left) and Sony 18-200mm (Right), 240mm, f/8, 100%, Center

Sony 24-240mm vs 18-200mm 240mm f:8 100 (1)Sony 24-240mm (Left) and Nikkor 28-300mm (Right), 240mm, f/8, Right Side

Sony 24-240mm 24mm f:8 100 RightSony 24-240mm (Left) and Nikkor 28-300mm (Right), 240mm, f/8, Left Side

Sony 24-240mm 24mm f:8 100 LeftSony 24-240mm, 24mm, f/8 (Scene 2)

Sony 24-240mm 24mm f:8 (3)Sony 24-240mm, 24mm, f/8, 100%, Center

Sony 24-240mm 24mm f:8 100 (3)Sony 24-240mm, 240mm, f/8

Sony 24-240mm 240mm (2)Sony 24-240mm, 240mm, f/8, 100%, Center

Sony 24-240mm 240mm f:8 (2) 100Sony 24-240mm (Left) and Nikkor 28-300mm (Right), 240mm, f/8, Center, 100%

Sony 24-240 vs Nikkor 28-300 240mm f:8 100

Update 3/18/15: More test images added below

Sony 24-240mm, 28mm, f/8, Center, 100%

Sony 24-240mm 28mm f:8 100Sony 24-240mm, 35mm, f/8, Center, 100%

Sony 24-240mm 35mm f:8 100Sony 24-240mm, 50mm, f/8, Center, 100%

Sony 24-240mm 50mm f:8 100Sony 24-240mm, 70mm, f/8, Center, 100%

Sony 24-240mm 100mm f:8 100Sony 24-240mm, 150mm, f/8, Center, 100%

Sony 24-240mm 150mm f:8 100Sony 24-240mm, 240mm, f/8, Center, 100%

Sony 24-240mm 240mm f:8 100

Sony 24-240mm (Left) and Nikkor 28-300mm (Right), 28mm, f/8, Top Right

Sony 24-240 vs Nikon 28-300 28mm f:8 100 Top Right Sony 24-240mm (Left) and Nikkor 28-300mm (Right), 28mm, f/8, Bottom Right

Sony 24-240 vs Nikon 28-300 28mm f:8 100 Bottom Right

Sony 24-240mm (Left) and Nikkor 28-300mm (Right), 28mm, f/8, Bottom Left

Sony 24-240 vs Nikon 28-300 28mm f:8 100 Bottom Left

Sony 24-240mm (Left) and Nikkor 28-300mm (Right), 28mm, f/8, Top Left

Sony 24-240 vs Nikon 28-300 28mm f:8 100 Top Left

Sony 24-240mm (Left) and Nikkor 28-300mm (Right), 28mm, f/8, Left Side

Sony 24-240 vs Nikon 28-300 28mm f:8 100 Left Side Sony 24-240mm (Left) and Nikkor 28-300mm (Right), 28mm, f/8, Right Side

Sony 24-240 vs Nikon 28-300 28mm f:8 100 Right Side

 

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  • Sergio

    Wow, really impressive!! Thanks for your great review!

  • Sergio

    Have you made any tests with this 24-240 attached to your Nex-7? I’d love to see how it behaves on the Nex-7/a6000 range compared to your A7R…

    • Not yet but I’m planning on it. I’m also going to use the NEX-7 to compare the Sony 35mm f/1.8 to the 24-240 to see how it does against a prime lens. And I’m planning on testing the A7R with the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 and 70-200mm f/2.8 IS II using a Metabones adapter to see how the 24-240mm compares. Hopefully should have those posted in the next week or so.

  • michael corcoran

    I have a lot of Canon gear and also tired of caring all that weight. I got a a6000 to begin and going to get a a7II but want to hear about the metabones and Canon lenses and the 24-240 lens on the a6000. Any pictures and reviews will be helpfull.

    • Working on it now and should have a new post up in the next few days

    • I have a lot of EF and EFS lenses and have had a lot of trouble with the metabones EF to Sony E mount Adaptor Mark4. Forget autofocus because it is atrociously slow but my Sony A7s has great focus peaking so that is not a problem; I just go to manual focus. The worst thing is that a lot of my lenses either don’t talk to the camera via the metabones or else lose contact after initially communicating. I just get the dreaded “F–” or else the camera won’t fire. Sometimes communication is restarted by dismounting the lens from the adaptor and remounting it, often up to 20 times. My EF 70-200mm F2.8 MkII works every time, as does my EF 100mm F2.8 Macro Mark I. However, my EFS 10-22mm and my EFS 17-55mm usually won’t switch the camera to crop mode and give a circular image. My Tamron 18-270 and 150-600 won’t communicate at all. I have basically given up on Metabones and have bought an FE Zeiss 16-35mm and thinking about the 24-240. I’m also waiting for the next Sony E mount camera. Then my trusty Canon 7D will be relegated to macro shots and shots that require the 150-600. I was hoping to be able to scale down the weight of my kit but now I have to take two cameras if I don’t want to miss that shot!;-).

      • Update on the Metabones Mark IV: I downloaded the latest firmware (version 40, I think) and now the Tamron 150-600 and 18-270 work, as does my Sigma 50mm f1.4. But still the autofocus on my Sony A7s is so slow (keeps on hunting) that it is useless in AF mode with any canon mount lenses. Also, I often still have to mount and dismount the lens from the adapter several times to get the F– to be replaced with F5.6 etc and my Canon 10-22 won’t switch the camera to crop mode. I am hoping that the new A7rII will solve these problems and that I can finally use all my canon mount lenses. We’ll see! All this is giving me a serious case of G.A.S.:-)

      • I have since bought the Sony 24-240 and find it to be quite a nice lens.

    • My findings have been similar to John’s with Metabones and adapters in general. I was planning on including Metabones as part of my previous review but I found out the MarkII version that I have isn’t compatible with full frame Sony lenses on the A7 series. The interior is round and creates dark circular vignetting so the images are useless. Turns out the newer MarkIII and MarkIV Metabones have a larger square interior which fixes the problem and those versions can be used on the A7 series with Canon EF lenses just fine. It works on the NEX-7 without vignetting but like John said my experience is the focus either doesn’t work or works slowly depending on the lens. And when you get the “F–” you have no idea what f-stop you’re at which for me is useless. I also tried a couple other adapters which, unlike Metabones, don’t have the electrical connectors so they’re totally manual, have “F–” at all times, and for me are unusable. I’ve been considering picking up a MarkIII or IV Metabones but with all of the adapter frustration I’m wondering if it’s time to sell off the Canon and Nikon gear. I just picked up the Zeiss FE 35mm F2.8 which is pretty impressive so far. I’m also looking at the Zeiss FE 16-35. Adapters don’t really seem to fit my goal of better efficiency. They’re more for people who have a lot of time and patience. I may do another review post about the Metabones adapter on the NEX-7.

  • Bo Thongvilu

    How is it comparing to SEL55210 zoom range and performance?
    I got a SEL1670Z and SEL55210 on A6000. Do you think there will be much different between 310 vs 360mm?

    Would it be Value for $$$$ upgrading from SEL55210?
    What would be your opinion for SEL24240 wild life pictures?
    Thanks

    • Not sure how much help I can be on this one since I haven’t tested either lens you have. I’ll post a review of the 24-240 on the NEX-7 in the next few days and hopefully that will help you.

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  • @bothongvilu:disqus @disqus_gikyNKNr5L:disqus @minisergium:disqus I’ve posted two new reviews. Part II compares the 24-240 and 18-200 on the NEX-7. Part III compares the 24-240 and Sony 35mm f/1.8 prime on the NEX-7.

  • Hans van Driest

    One thing I noticed, is that in the one instance where you show a direct 1:1 comparison between a7r/24-240 and nex-7/18-200, the later seems to give the better result. How do you feel these two compare? The nex-7/18-200 combo is less expensive, more compact and weight less (and I have it)

    • I haven’t done a formal review but my initial impression is that the results in image quality are similar. The A7R obviously has the advantage with 36MP and I feel it’s a better all around combo. Don’t get me wrong. The NEX-7 is a great little camera and one of my favorites but the design is a little quirky. There have been plenty of times with the NEX-7 I’ve thought “I wish it had…” and the A7R has most of the changes I’ve wanted. Either one is excellent so it depends on your needs and expectations. If you don’t need the 36MP the NEX-7/18-200 is a great smaller, lighter, and way cheaper combo. If you want 36MP or are hoping for controls closer in design to a DSLR in a lighter and smaller package than a DSLR then the A7R/24-240 is exceptional. For overall image quality the differences seem minimal but maybe I’ll do a test at some point to compare them.