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Sony 16-35mm F2.8 GM II Header Foto Koch
Reading time: 8 minutes - August 29, 2023 - by Markus Igel

First test of the Sony 16-35mm f2.8 GM2 compared to the 16-35 GM1

The new Sony 16-35mm GM2 is here and sets new standards! It is lighter, sharper and even more compact than its predecessor! Therefore we'll show you the direct comparison of the two G-Master lenses and tell you whether an upgrade is worthwhile!

But Sony would not be Sony, if only a new lens would air, therefore we have a new article for the two new Sony Alpha 7Cs:

To the test of the Alpha 7c's

The exterior of the Sony 16-35mm GM2 f2.8 in comparison

When you look at the two models, you quickly realize that there is a visual difference between the GM1 and its successor, which can be attributed to the following reasons: Weight.

As with the other G-Master lenses, this one has also become a little smaller, to be exact, one centimeter less in length results in 20% weight loss, that's quite a statement! The whole thing is expressed in numbers in 133g weight savings.

Perfect gimbal features?

The videographers among us are likely to be particularly sensitive to this weight, because it has a particularly positive effect on working with a gimbal. This is because the weight loss has a positive effect on the zoom, since the center of gravity of the lens hardly shifts as a result of zooming.

The GM2 with manual aperture ring

Again, the heart of videographers beats a little faster, the new 16-35mm GM2 is equipped with a manual aperture ring. This can also be switched to declick, as usual with Sony, so the last vibrations are then also eradicated.

The inner values of the Sony 16-35mm f2.8 GM2

Now let's get down to the nitty gritty and look at the internals of the new Sony 16-35 GM2 and whether it really is better than its predecessor, the Sony 16-35 GM1.

The sharpness in comparison

After presenting the external features, we go straight to the much more important internal values. What has changed inside and how much has the image quality really improved? We could see a general sharpness improvement across the entire zoom range.

What did our test scenario look like? We were about 10m away from a wall, shooting at the same distance and aperture. We shot the images on the new A7c R, of course, but you'll see that immediately on any other Sony camera with these results.

Sharpness at 16mm and aperture 2.8 in the center is not particularly different from its predecessor the 16-35mm G-Master 1, but if you look at the edge of the lens the difference in sharpness is immediately noticeable. The edge of the second-generation G-Master is razor-sharp, and the sharpness is worlds apart!

Sony 16-35 GM 16mm F2.8 Reference
Sony 16-35 GM2 16mm F2.8 Reference
Sony 16-35 GM 16mm F8 Reference
Sony 16-35 GM2 16mm F8 Reference

It's always amazing when you see the direct comparison of the two models in front of you. You can also see the difference in the peripheral area at 35mm, although not as extreme as was evident with 16mm before. This difference remains due to the f-number, even at f/8 the difference is visible, which will certainly please one or the other landscape photographer.

Sony 16-35mm GM1 35mm f2.8 Reference
Sony 16-35mm GM2 35mm f2.8 Reference
Sony 16-35mm GM1 35mm f8 Reference
Sony 16-35mm GM2 35mm f8 Reference

The fast autofocus motors

Sony hasn't stinted here and directly built 4 XD Linear motors into the Sony 16-35mm GM2, playing it safe to ensure that especially sports photographers with their sports cameras and videographers will always keep the object of desire in focus at 120fps.

The closest focusing distance of the 16-35 GM2

While we're on the subject of focus, let's talk directly about the closest focusing distance. Here we gain a full 6 centimeters compared to its predecessor and now get within 22cm of our photo subject instead of the old 28cm, which now results in a 1:3 magnification ratio.

Optical corrections

With lenses, however, there are other quality characteristics that matter. A nice and smooth bokeh, as well as corrections for chromatic aberration simply have to be included for professional lenses, and here too we are not disappointed. The old 16-35GM was already very good here, but the devil is in the details.

Even with strong backlighting, the lens held up without any problems and delivered a high-contrast and true-color result.

Finally, we want to reassure filmmakers. As with the other GM2 versions, Sony has once again done a good job of correcting focus breathing and almost completely eliminated it, which is definitely very strong for a photo optic.

Sony Choice of Creator

Sony 16-35mm f2.8 16mm chromatic abberation
Sony 16-35mm f2.8 bokeh


Let's come to a conclusion and especially to the price.

The new RRP of the lens is ?2,700, and before you start typing: yes, that's a lot of money. But this lens, like the other GM lenses, is aimed at the professional user who really needs all the advantages and the best image results. For example, if you only shoot landscapes at f/11 or f/16, there are cheaper alternatives that we would prefer. But wedding photographers, for example, now have the option of using the complete trilogy of 16-35, 24-70 and 70-200, saving a whole 759g compared to the old versions. For comparison: that makes up for a 2nd body in terms of weight.

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