Sony G Master lenses prove mirrorless is about more than size

by | Feb 4, 2016 | News, Products

Along with the announcement of the a6300, Sony introduced three new lenses bearing a new designation: G Master. These lenses, as their name suggests, sit above the company’s previous highest-end G series, and are clearly aimed at pro and advanced amateur shooters. Sony photographers will be be happy to note that the three models introduced—a 24-70mm f/2.8, 85mm f/1.4, and a 70-200mm f/2.8—help fill in some of the gaps that existed in Sony’s lens lineup.

Different autofocus motors are at play in each lens in order to maximize performance. The 70-200mm f/2.8, for example, uses both a front and rear focusing element, which improves focus speed and makes possible a close-focus distance of less than one meter.

What the G Master line really shows, however, is Sony’s commitment to its camera systems and that the company is not afraid to go head-on against Canon and Nikon in the professional photography sphere. These are fast-aperture, full-frame lenses that break from the paradigm of mirrorless systems being small and lightweight. Sony no longer wants you to buy its cameras because they offer the best size to quality ratio; it wants you to buy them because they are the best, period.


Merging science and art

Whether or not these new G Master lenses actually are the best remains to be seen, but Sony is putting a lot of effort into explaining why and how they are so great, and it’s not just about resolution (although there is certainly that). There’s the new XA (extreme aspherical) element with superior surface precision, and there’s the tighter tolerances on focus elements, but then there’s an entire section of the G Master webpage dedicated to bokeh. Sony engineers are now designing for specific out-of-focus patterns before physically constructing the lens, using state-of-the art simulation technology. Additionally, 11-bladed aperture diaphragms ensure a circular aperture opening at any f-stop.

What gets me is that engineers are the type of people who like measurable results, but how do you quantify bokeh? There is no MTF chart to measure how good your out-of-focus areas look, and isn’t all subjective, anyway? But Sony says all this math and stuff makes for out-of-focus areas that are, simply, “beautiful.” I can’t imagine any other company putting this much effort into crafting the perfect piece of blur.

If you’re a Sony pro shooter, you have an obvious reason to be excited here—but I think even the DSLR diehards are going to have to take a serious look at Sony when it comes time to make their next camera purchase. Notably absent from the current G Master line is a wide angle lens, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s already in the pipeline.

We’ll have more information on pricing and preorders as soon it becomes available. At this point, we’re still not certain that this isn’t a weird, cross-promotional event between Sony’s imaging division and it’s music label for a new hip hop artist—and if it’s not, then I officially call dibs on “G Master” as my rapper name, just in case my career in photo retail blogging doesn’t pan out.

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