Sony FE 40mm F2.5 G E-mount lens review by QuietOC

reviewer#45728 date: Jun-22-2021
sharpness: 4.5
color: 4
build: 4
distortion: 4
flare control: 4
overall: 4.1
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP; 61MP61 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Rokinon 35 F1.2
Neewer 35 F1.2
Sony FE 35 F1.4 Distagon
Fotasy 35 F1.6 APS-C & Mini
Kaxinda 35 F1.7
Sony FE 35 F1.8
Rokinon 35 F1.8
Tamron SP 35 F1.8 USD
Minolta MD 35 F1.8
Sony E 35 F1.8 OSS
Sony DT 35 F1.8 SAM
Yongnuo EF 35 F2
7Artisans 35 F2
Minolta AF 35 F2
Tamron 35 F2.8 OSD
Rokinon AF 35 F2.8
Sony FE 35 F2.8 Sonnar
Minolta MC 35 F2.8
Vivitar 35 F2.8
Minolta 40 F1.7
Konica AR 40 F1.8
Canon EF 40 F2.8 STM
Pentax-M 40 F2.8
Pentax-DA 40 F2.8 XS
Pentax-FA 43 F1.8 Limited
Rokinon 45 F1.8 FE
Tamron SP 45 F1.8 USD (VC & non VC)
Minolta MD 45 F2
Sigma 45 F2.8 DG DN C
price paid:undisclosed (new)
positive:Size and weight
Low CA
Minor barrel distortion
"Dust and moisture resistant"
negative:Alloy veneer
A bit tight for a 40 mm
Focus control has axial play and some roughness
Additional left-hand UI
Somewhat busy out-of-focus and onion rings
Chromatic aberrations
Dark corners
Distortion compensation forced
comment:I made what I thought would be too low of an offer for this on Greentoe, but it was accepted. This lens has most of the tradeoffs typical of recent Sony budget lenses: very quiet, fast, reliable AF, decent sharpness/contrast, not the smoothest rendering, and questionable build quality. "Made in China"

It could be seen as a replacement for the old 35mm F2.8 ZA Sonnar that was recently reduced to the same $600 retail price. It is 50% larger and 44% heavier than that lens and adds several additional left-hand controls. This is also the same price as the mostly mechanical Pentax-FA 43 F1.9 Limited.

My previous favorite 40 mm lens is the inexpensive Canon EF STM pancake that has recently been discontinued (March 2021.) This lens has a noticeably less angle-of-view than the Canon, but it is slightly closer to the Canon than it is to the Pentax 43 (and Sigma 45). Maybe it is a 41 mm?

One of weaknesses of the ZA was close focusing. This lens focuses closer than the Canon with greater magnification, despite "MACRO" being written on the side of the Canon. The Sigma focuses even closer with even more magnification. The Sigma also has less focus breathing.

It has a similar amount of barrel distortion as the Pentax 43. The Canon 40 and Samyang 45 have less distortion. The Sigma has slightly more pincushion distortion. Sony forces the distortion correction making it impossible to compose shots using the optical barrel distortion. Sony, please enable this setting on your cameras for all lenses. It really makes no sense with this lens. It made me assume the lens was much worse.

The focus control sounds and feels worse than the ones on the 28-60 and 50 F1.8. The odd hood shape makes the focus control fall easily to the finger tips. The aperture control indents are better than those on the 20 G, but still don't match the precise feeling of those on the Sigma. The textured, thin rubber focus control on the Canon is nicer to use. The 1980's can have their MF switch back.

This lens has worse chromatic aberration control than the Sigma especially midfield, but it does have less CA than the FE 35 F1.8. It has well corrected spherical aberration. The background rendering is not quite as smooth as the FE 35 F1.8. Out-of-focus highlights also have a lot of structure from the three aspherical elements. But generally the rendering is decent. It lacks the under corrected spherical aberration magic of the Sigma.

The stock hood is ugly but very functional. It is mostly plastic with a thin aluminum veneer on the outside. It uses a similar mount as the older 49mm filter lenses, but their hoods will not attach due to the overlap of the focus control over the hood bayonet. The shape of the hood makes it easy to adjust the focus control, unlike the Sigma's hood that interferes with the focus control. I prefer the little metal screw-in ES-52 hood for the Canon 40 STM. At least Sony avoided useless magnetic lens caps.

I was initially rather disappointed in this lens. It is cheaply made compared to the less expensive Sigma. It slots into a range with many nice affordable lenses. Sony may intend these high margin primes to go with reduced control camera bodies like the A7C. It is a poor bargain for photographers, but it may be marketable.

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 3
  • sharpness: 4.67
  • color: 4.67
  • build: 4.33
  • distortion: 4.67
  • flare control: 4.67
  • overall: 4.60 - Home of the alpha system photographer
In memory of Cameron Hill - brettania