Lens Review: Sony FE 20mm F1.8 G

Sony FE 20mm F1.8 G lens

Sony FE 20mm F1.8 G ($898 from B&H Photo | Amazon | Adorama) continues to round out their FE lens line-up with their widest prime to date. Borrowing from FE 24mm F1.4 G Master’s DNA, Sony FE 20mm F1.8 G offers premium performance at a moderate price ideal for landscape, astro and street photographers, vloggers and photojournalists shooting in low light.

SIZE:

Sony FE 20mm F1.8 G measures 2.9 x 3.33″ / 73.5 x 84.7mm (diameter x length) which is slightly smaller than the FE 24mm F1.4 GM.

WEIGHT:

Sony FE 20mm F1.8 G tips the scales at a relatively light 13.2 oz (373 g) which is 2.5 oz (72 g) lighter than the FE 24mm F1.4 GM.

FILTER SIZE:

Sony FE 20mm F1.8 G has a 67mm front filter thread

OPTICAL DESIGN:

Sony FE 20mm F1.8 G has 14 elements in 12 groups including two AA (Advanced Aspherical) lens elements and three ED (Extra-low Dispersion) glass elements to suppress chromatic aberrations and Nano AR Coating has been applied to reduce surface reflections, flare and ghosting for increased contrast and color rendering in strong lighting conditions.

Sony FE 20mm F1.8 Optical Design

PHYSICAL DESIGN

Sony FE 20mm F1.8 G is the first ‘G’ lens with an Aperture Ring – a feature that my good friend, legendary photojournalist P.F.Benley really wanted in the FE 35mm F1.8. While adding an aperture ring makes a lens slightly larger, heavier and more expensive – FE 20 F1.8 balances these factors quite nicely which is certainly good news for those who like a real aperture ring.

Sony FE 20mm F1.8 G aperture ring

In addition to the Aperture Ring, Sony FE 20mm F1.8 includes a Focus Hold Button, Auto/Manual Focus switch and Aperture Click On/Off Switch.

FE20G_lens_115.jpg

Sony FE 20mm F1.8 G aperture click on off

In the clicked setting, the aperture ring has clicks at 1/3 stop clicks or the lest can be de-clicked for smooth and silent video shooting. If you prefer auto aperture or the ability to control aperture from the camera, simply set the aperture ring to the Auto setting just past F22.

WEATHER SEALING:

Sony FE 20mm F1.8 G is dust- and moisture-sealed for working in inclement weather.

IMAGE STABILIZATION:

There is no optical stabilization on this lens. Many Sony camera bodies have built-in sensor-shift stabilization.

AUTO FOCUS:

Sony FE 20mm F1.8 features Dual XD Linear focus actuators just like those found in Sony FE 400mm F2.8 OSS & FE 600mm F4 GM OSS for extremely fast and precise focus tracking and responsive Eye AF.

Sony FE 20mm Dual XD Linear Focus Actuators

Linear response manual focus override is available by simply turning the focus ring. Linear gearing allows precise manual focus and makes smooth focus pulling for videographers. FE 20mm F1.8 G is an internal focus lens which doesn’t change length when focussed making it ideal for use with camera stabilizing rigs.

APERTURE:

Sony FE 20mm F1.8 G has 9 rounded aperture blades for smooth, rounded bokeh

FORMAT:

Sony FE 20mm F1.8 G covers Fullframe FX and smaller.

PRICE:

Sony FE 20mm F1.8 G has a street price of $898 USD

IN THE BOX:

Sony FE 20mm F1.8 G comes with front & rear lens caps, a padded lens pouch and lens hood. The hood is reversible for transport.

what's in the Sony FE 20mm F1.8 box

LENS CHARTS

Sony FE 20mm F1.8 lens chart

LENS TESTS

Sony FE 20mm F1.8 is extremely sharp in the center at all apertures Corner sharpness is very good wide open and excellent from F 2.8 to F22. The lens displays no chromatic aberrations in center or corners at any aperture.

CLOSE FOCUS

Sony FE 20mm F1.8 G focusses down to 7.5″ for up to 0.22x magnification. While not a macro, when coupled with its F1.8 aperture and 9-blade rounded aperture it allows for beautiful close-up photography.


Sony a7R IV | FE 20mm F1.8 G | F1.8 | 1/250 | ISO 100

Sony a7R IV | FE 20mm F1.8 G | F1.8 | 1/100 | ISO 100

SUN STARS

As with all lenses, sun stars are most pronounced when the lens is stopped all the way down. As expected, Sony FE 20mm F1.8 G produces the strongest sun stars at F22 and they gradually become less pronounced as the lens is opened up.

Sony FE 20mm F1.8 G Sun Stars

Sony FE 20mm F2.8 G lens sunstar at F22
Sony a7R IV | FE 20mm F1.8 G | F22 | 1/25 | ISO 100

ASTROPHOTOGRAPHY

In addition to its wide 20mm focal length and fast aperture, Sony FE 20mm F1.8 is designed to control Sagittal Flare that can cause point light sources to flare in an unnatural pattern common with most large aperture lenses

Sagittal Flare correction

FIELD TEST


Sony a7R IV | FE 20mm F1.8 G | F11 | 1/250 | ISO 100

Sony FE 20mm F1.8 G Lloyd Wright House Los Feliz
Sony a7R IV | FE 20mm F1.8 G | F11 | 1/50 | ISO 100

Sony FE 20mm F1.8 G South Beach Lifeguard Stand
Sony a7R IV | FE 20mm F1.8 G | F11 | 1/125 | ISO 100

Sony FE 20mm F1.8 G Muscle Beach
Sony a7R IV | FE 20mm F1.8 G | F8 | 1/250 | ISO 100

Sony FE 20mm F1.8 G
Sony a7R IV | FE 20mm F1.8 G | F11 | 1/100 | ISO 100


Sony a7R IV | FE 20mm F1.8 G | F11 | 1/200 | ISO 100


\Sony a7R IV | FE 20mm F1.8 G | F16 | 1/180 | ISO 100


Sony a7R IV | FE 20mm F1.8 G | F8 | 1/80 | ISO 100

Sony FE 20mm F1.8 G Palm Trees
Sony a7R IV | FE 20mm F1.8 G | F1.8 | 1/25 | ISO 320

Sony FE 20mm F1.8 G Breakwater Hotel
Sony a7R IV | FE 20mm F1.8 G | F3.5 | 1/30 | ISO 320

Sony FE 20mm F1.8 G Clevelander Hotel Miami Beach
Sony a7R IV | FE 20mm F1.8 G | F1.8 | 1/80 | ISO 320

Sony FE 20mm F1.8 G Colony Hotel
Sony a7R IV | FE 20mm F1.8 G | F2.8 | 1/25 | ISO 320

CURRENT SONY FE LENS LINE-UP

Sony FE 20mm F1.8 G becomes the 17th and widest Sony FE prime and the 32nd Sony FE lens to date.

LENS COMPARISONS:


Sony FE 20mm F1.8 G -VS- Sony FE 24mm F1.4 GM

You can’t help but notice Sony FE 20mm F1.8 G ($898) bears a striking resemblance to the FE 24mm F1.4 GM ($1398) and that’s no accident. Much of the FE 24mm F1.4 G Master’s DNA is contained in this lens including de-clickable aperture ring, lightweight design, excellent corner-to-corner sharpness and XD Linear focus actuators for fast, precise & quiet AF tracking – yet FE 20mm G has dual XD Linear actuators while the FE 24mm F1.4 GM uses just a single XD Linear actuator. At F1.4, FE 24mm F1.4 GM is 2/3 stop faster, but FE 20mm F1.8 G is lighter, smaller and $500 cheaper. All this makes this lens an ideal choice if you don’t absolutely need One.Point.Four or G Master bokeh!

Sony FE 20mm F1.8 G vs FE 24mm F1.4 GM lens comparison

Lens Sony FE 20mm F1.8 G FE 24mm F1.4 GM
Focal Length 20mm 24mm
Maximum Aperture f/1.8 f/1.4
Minimum Aperture f/22 f/16
Angle of View 94° 84°
Minimum Focus Distance 7.5″ / 19 cm 9.45″ / 24 cm
Maximum Magnification 0.22x 0.17x
Optical Design 14 Elements in 12 Groups 13 Elements in 10 Groups
Diaphragm Blades 9, Rounded 11, Rounded
Aperture Ring Yes Yes
Focus Type Dual XD Linear Motors XD Linear Motor
Image Stabilization No No
Filter Size 67 mm (Front) 67 mm (Front)
Dimensions (ø x L) 2.9 x 3.33″ / 73.5 x 84.7mm 2.97 x 3.64″ / 75.4 x 92.4mm
Weight 13.2 oz / 373 g 15.7 oz / 445 g
Price (USD) $898 $1,398


Sony FE 20mm F1.8 G -VS- Sigma 20mm f/1.4 HSM Art

Sony FE 20mm F1.8 G ($898) is essentially the same price as Sigma 20mm f/1.4 HSM Art lens ($899). Sigma offers a 2/3 stop faster max aperture – while Sony is MUCH lighter & smaller and has a working aperture ring and faster and more precise AF thanks to Dual XD Linear focus actuators.

Sony FE 20mm F1.8 G vs Sigma 20mm F1.4 Art

Lens Sony FE 20mm F1.8 G Sigma 20mm f/1.4 HSM Art lens
Focal Length 20mm 20mm
Maximum Aperture f/1.8 f/1.4
Minimum Aperture f/22 f/16
Angle of View 94° 94°
Minimum Focus Distance 7.5″ / 19 cm 10.9″ / 27.69 cm
Maximum Magnification 0.22x 0.14x
Optical Design 14 Elements in 12 Groups 15 Elements in 11 Groups
Diaphragm Blades 9, Rounded 9, Rounded
Aperture Ring Yes No
Focus Type Dual XD Linear Motors Rotational Stepping Motor
Image Stabilization No No
Filter Size 67 mm (Front) None
Dimensions (ø x L) 2.9 x 3.33″ / 73.5 x 84.7mm 3.57 x 5.11″ / 90.7 x 129.8mm
Weight 13.2 oz / 373 g 2.1 lb / 950 g
Price (USD) $898 $899


Sony FE 20mm F1.8 G -VS- Zeiss Batis 18mm f/2.8

Zeiss Batis 18mm f/2.8 ($1,499) is slightly lighter and 2mm wider but Sony FE 20mm F1.8 G ($898) is a stop and a third faster, $600 cheaper and has a working aperture ring.

Sony FE 20mm F1.8 G comparison to Zeiss Batis 18mm F2.8

Lens Sony FE 20mm F1.8 G Zeiss Batis 18mm f/2.8
Focal Length 20mm 18mm
Maximum Aperture f/1.8 f/2.8
Minimum Aperture f/22 f/22
Angle of View 94° 99°
Minimum Focus Distance 7.5″ / 19 cm 9.84″ / 25 cm
Maximum Magnification 0.22x 0.1x
Optical Design 14 Elements in 12 Groups 11 Elements in 10 Groups
Diaphragm Blades 9, Rounded 9, Rounded
Aperture Ring Yes No
Focus Type Dual XD Linear Motors Linear Motor
Image Stabilization No No
Filter Size 67 mm (Front) 77 mm (Front)
Dimensions (ø x L) 2.9 x 3.33″ / 73.5 x 84.7mm 3.94 x 3.15″ / 100 x 80 mm
Weight 13.2 oz / 373 g 11.64 oz / 330 g
Price (USD) $898 $1,499


Sony FE 20mm F1.8 G -VS- Nikkor Z 20mm f/1.8 S

Sony lenses get a bad rap as being pricier than the competition – but often those are comparisons are between new state-of-the-art mirrorless lens designs vs DSLR lenses designed over decade ago. Here’s a chance to compare apples to apples between Sony & Nikon mirrorless 20mm F1.8 lenses.

Sony FE 20mm F1 8 G ($898) features Dual XD Linear focus actuators for faster and more precise AF than the rotational stepping motor actuators used in the mirrorless Nikkor Z. Sony FE 20mm F1 8 G ($898) is has a working aperture ring and is lighter, smaller and cheaper than the Nikkor Z 20mm f/1.8 S ($1,047).

Sony FE 20mm F1 8 G -vs- Nikkor 20mm F1.8 S

Lens Sony FE 20mm F1.8 G Nikkor Z 20mm f/1.8 S
Focal Length 20mm 20mm
Maximum Aperture f/1.8 f/1.8
Minimum Aperture f/22 f/16
Lens Mount Sony E Nikon Z
Format Full-Frame Full-Frame
Angle of View 94° 94°
Minimum Focus Distance 7.5″ / 19 cm 7.87″ / 20 cm
Maximum Magnification 0.22x 0.19x
Optical Design 14 Elements in 12 Groups 14 Elements in 11 Groups
Diaphragm Blades 9, Rounded 9, Rounded
Aperture Ring Yes No
Focus Type Dual XD Linear Motors Rotational Stepping Motor
Image Stabilization No No
Filter Size 67 mm (Front) 77 mm (Front)
Dimensions (ø x L) 2.9 x 3.33″ / 73.5 x 84.7mm 3.33 x 4.27″ / 84.5 x 108.5mm
Weight 13.2 oz / 373 g 17.8 oz / 505 g
Price (USD) $898 $1,047

IN CONCLUSION


While it lacks the F1.4 max aperture and 11-blade diapham of the FE 24mm 1.4 GM, my tests show that Sony FE 20mm F1.8 G offers outstanding sharpness and it borrows heavily from G Master DNA by including a working aperture ring and XD Linear focus actuators. It offers premium optical performance and exceptional AF speed at a moderate price of $898. Sony FE 20mm F1.8 G is ideal for landscape, astro and street photographers and photojournalists shooting in low light. It gets my recommendation for both quality & value.

• Bright f/1.8 maximum aperture ideal for difficult lighting and shallow depth of field.
• Two AA (Advanced Aspherical) elements help to greatly reduce distortion and spherical aberrations.
• Three extra-low dispersion elements reduce color fringing and chromatic aberrations.
• Dual XD Linear Motor system provides quick, quiet and precise autofocus and manual focus control.
• Customizable focus hold buttons are present on the lens barrel for rapid access to select settings.
• Physical aperture ring can be de-clicked for smooth, silent aperture for video shooting.
• Dust- and moisture-sealed design better permits working in inclement weather.
• Rounded nine-blade diaphragm contributes to a pleasing bokeh quality when employing selective focus.

Order Sony FE 20mm F1.8 G from B&H Photo | Amazon | Adorama

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29 thoughts on “Lens Review: Sony FE 20mm F1.8 G”

  1. Is your 20mm G vs 24mm GM comparison incorrect. It shows a max aperture of 1.8 for the Sony 24mm f/1.4 GM. Plus, it looks to me that the minimum aperture for the 20mm G lens is 16 and not 22 as is stated in all comparisons.

    Am I missing something? thanks

  2. Under Sony FE 24mm F 1.4 Maximum Aperture you have f/1.8 not f/1.4….
    Would like to see a Milky Way Galactic Center/Dark Horse Nebula from right and snake to the left and stars in the corners. What I like about the Sony lenses say compared to the Sigma 14mm f/1.8 is the extension built into the bottom of the Sigma is I believe uncalled for making in longer. As far a Astro Milky Way capture the 24mm f/1.4 and now the 20mm f/1.8 is the capture is is done in a panorama way to get a smaller MW. And when doing this the faster the lens the faster the shot on the A7S 7.34 sec for pinpoint stars or 14.88 sec normal AND NC is not used for faster pano work. And the dove stars are eliminated when combining the pano.
    At f/1.8 it is soft in the corner for that is for the bokeh effect anyway!!! But at night does not matter it is not like day time shots things are kinda reversed and physics of light passing through lenses serve differently that can only be seen in pin point stars far far away. Softness at night brings color noise in the corners, but easy to work.
    Also if doing a cityscape you will be doing it at f/8 to f/11 for clarity and light stars for there is light there not super darkness where you try to get shadow detail.
    A thing also the Sony sensors on Mark 2 and above gather more and more light like the A7M3 which is as good if not better than A7S that has larger pixels 12MP vs 24MP which says a lot for light gathering of the new sensors. All I am saying is that it is way nice to have a fast lens but think about the camera and its abilities you may have a lens already in your bag yes an f/4 BUT the sensor is like it is a f/2.8 or even faster. Just compare PhotoPills spot stars to compare different cameras to different f/#, the math is done for you!!! The lens brightness IS affected on the number of pixels on on a camera, true a 12MP and a 24MP will be brighter than a 43MP or larger – I have played with them. Not a Pro just play!

    1. Something to add it is nice to have screw on filters!!! For the city light yellow sky glow or the different city lights in a cityscape and not having to get and carry a filter holder and many different glass filters just for a new lens!!! And it is a filter size of most other lenses!!!! Also a very, very nice price making it a nice add to the bag!!!!
      Nice also The fixed clicking aperture ring keeps it set where sometime in the dark you may change it by touching the wrong dail.

    2. You are correct. The max aperture of the FE 24 GM is F1.4. Copy & paste error on my part. It’s correct now.

      However, the minimum aperture of the FE 20mm F1.8 is F22 as stated – as you can see in the image of the aperture ring in this post.

    3. I would also like to see the Milky Way – but it’s not visible in either Los Angeles or Miami where I tested this lens. 😉

  3. Thank you always for all your info, have your books from the start. If in Miami just go to the beach look to the southeast tomorrow morning and the rest of the week (moon will not be a problem this early in the year), the sky will be dark over the ocean. To the SE but point east to get the Milky Way galactic center and dark horse nebula to the right with the snake going across to the left, so easy!!! Even with bright lights behind it can be seen. These taken Sunday morning in Jacksonville Fl, with haze/fog over the ocean, a little dehaze works great. Across from the hotel show starts 0249 Wait till 03:30 to 4 am for it to be high above the horizon and of good color. With the cold front coming Thursday clear and chilly. Oh always go with others for a night shot. Not a Pro just play!

    https://www.edgenauxsphotography.org/Photography/2020/i-zTt4Jp3/A

    https://www.edgenauxsphotography.org/Photography/2020/i-LBGftKP/A

    Thanks for all the gear reviews!!

  4. I need to correct myself some for there are some applications I am unfamiliar. But I have been getting more familiar. This lens Sony FE 20mm F1.8 G is a great lens for day and awesome for Astro, I have seen other reviews!! Along with the FE 24mm F1.4 GM both will be gold standards for Astro. Very sharp, with little if none distortion or chromatic aberrations. The use will be for night Panoramas either small or large but early year Milky Way photography the capture of a rainbow or half circle from horizon to horizon and in a 3:2 ratio looking like a regular photo vers a long Pano looking. I have always liked the SEL1224G for that very wide shot but unable to do the rainbow. I dug into my old film bag and got out a Canon FD 20mm f/2.8 and FD 24mm f/2.8 to test the Panos of these two mm’s. It is so easy to do a two level pano with just the tripod when the MW is high but not going vertical.
    For the price and image quality this lens will be in every Astro persons bag.

  5. Brian, I just received my copy of the FE 20mm f/1.8 lens and am in the process of testing it out. However, when I took the lens out of the box I noticed a soft thump of the rear internal focus group elements when I tilted the lens forward and back. I can see the rear elements moving in the back of the lens. When I power the lens on the camera the soft thump goes away but comes back when the camera (a7r2) is powered off. Ken Rockwell mentioned this behavior in his review of the lens. While this behavior seems odd, the lens focusses beautifully both manual and automatic. Is something wrong?

    1. There is nothing wrong with your lens. The camera needs to be powered on even when shooting with manual focus does it not?

      1. Good point, Brian. I was concerned that the frequent movement and soft “thumping” while the lens is off the camera in my bag or on the camera but not powered on, could eventually wear or cause a malfunction internally. It’s just something I have not noticed before on Sony or Canon lenses but this is clearly a recent design. Did the lens you tested have this behavior?

        1. DSLR lenses use rotational stepping motors which rotate like a threaded jar lid. Sony FE 20mm uses the latest XD linear focus motors which simply move forward and back allowing them to adjust focus 5 times faster than that old tech. When not powered up, the focus group is not locked in place. I’d suggest resisting the urge to shake your lens like a rattle and you’ll be just fine.

  6. Trevor Pottelberg

    Hi Brian,

    I am very intrigued with this lens. I already have the 16-35 f2.8 and the 24 f1.4. In your opinion, would it make sense to sell one or both of these and pick up the 20 f1.8? I could use the extra money to put toward the 85 f1.8.

    I know that my 24 is much more sharp in the corners than my 16-35. I find myself reaching in the bag for it over the 16-35. If I knew the 20 was close to the 24, it would be the best all around option.

    Cheers,

    Trevor

    1. I like all three of those lenses a lot.

      Sony FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM is by far the sharpest wide angle zoom on the market. It absolutely smokes Canon & Nikon wide zooms!

      As for the primes, yes, the Sony FE 20mm F1.8 G is virtually even to FE 24mm f/1.4 GM in terms of sharpness and matches all physical switches and aperture ring. The major differences is the 2/3 stop difference and 9-blade diaphragm -vs- 11-blade diaphragm used on the GM. Both lenses are exceptional.

      1. Trevor Pottelberg

        Thanks so much for getting back to me so quickly! I think I’m going to give the new FE 20mm F1.8 a try. I’ll give you a report back in a while after I get to use it and let you know what I think.

        On a separate note. Do the Sony 600mm F.4 lenses ever come up used? I’m in no immediate hurry for one, but I eventually will be headed in that direction. I’m in Canada, so our market is less saturated than the states.

        1. Sony FE 600mm F4 GM is essentially built-to-order and on constant backorder. If a used lens ever pops up, your best bet is here.

  7. Hi I just bought this lens but I’m thinking of returning it since I dont shoot that much night photography and have the g master 16-35 f2.8. Do you think that would suffice for night photography? is there a significant advantage in night photography with this lens over the 16-25 g master f2.8? Thanks

    1. F2.8 is probably the slowest you’d want to go for Astro. F1.8 is better. But if you don’t shoot it that often it might not be worth having a dedicated lens for it. FWIW, I love both of those lenses!

    2. I have the 16-35 f/4 it is as bright as day your f/2.8 will be blinding. With a Mark 2 and above all being ISO Invariant meaning noise from ISO 800 to max is equal just the lower ISO’s allow for highlight blowout control. With NR on most will be like butter and sharp and using Topaz Denoise AI even smoother and sharp. 16mm will give a smaller MW Galactic Center than 20 or 24 but you have the range and the perfect f/ that had little if no coma, my f/4 has none. An f/1.4 or f/1.8 foregrounds will be less sharp if too close and you will be chimping to check for coma in the corners. A Sony f/2.8 is like gold for astro.

  8. Hi Brian, love your reviews. I just purchased the Sony 20mm f/1.8 for Milky Way photography. Have not had a good dark night, but did shoot the other night with light pollution. Loved the lens, but noticed two things: Sagittal flare and vinyetting. The vinyetting I’m ok with, but am concerned about the Sagittal flare. Have you noticed it? Would love your opinion as I am considering exchanging it for another copy. All of my shots were at 1.8.

    1. Given that I split my time between cities with bight lights where the stars are found in night clubs rather than the night sky, astro photography is not my thing. However my friends who shoot astro say the FE 20 F1.8 G is better corrected for sagittal flare than other lenses in the range. Does that mean there is ZERO flare? No. Just less than other lenses. If you are not already doing so, be certain to apply lens corrections in post as this may help.

  9. Brian, thank you for getting back to me so quickly. I am going out this week and will be comparing my Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 to my newly purchased Sony 20mm f/1.8. I will let you know what I discover. There is Sagittal flare on the 20mm but not a lot. To hear your confirmation that this lens does have some Saguttal helps me to rethink sending it back for another copy. I am going to do a side by side comparison of the lenses: each wide open, then at identical settings like 20mm at 2.8 to see how they stack up against each other.

  10. Having just read an article on lens distortions, I think my Sony 20mm 1.8 has coma as opposed to Sagittal flare. Coma sounds like a better description of what I am seeing but I do not actually know the difference in how the two sho up. Can you explain the difference?

    1. Coma is a form of Chromatic Aberration that is fairly common in modern wide angle lenses and very easily corrected by enabling lens profile corrections in your post processing software of choice.

  11. Any thoughts on how this lens compares to using the 28/2 with the ultra-wide converter? 20/1.8 vs 21/2.8, so about a little more than a stop of light loss but only 1mm difference in focal length.

  12. Thank you for your expertise. I have a Sony alpha 7 ii and I am undecided as to which lenses to buy for my travel films and shots. this one, the Samyang 14mm AF 2.8 or the Tamron 17-28 mm F/2.8 Di III RXD . what would you say? thank you in advance

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