Sony 24-240: yikes. Avoid at all costs.

After Sony announced the A7III and A7RIII, prices on the A7RII dropped pretty dramatically – dramatically enough that I decided to pick one up as a full frame mirrorless option.

There were several reasons for this impulse buy. I had several international trips on my calendar (Thailand, Cambodia, New Zealand, Portugal), and I didn’t want to carry my full D850 kit with me, particularly as some of my destinations involved a bit of hiking. But I’d been spoiled by the ridiculous image quality of the D850, and wanted something a little more than my lightweight M43 setup could give me. The A7RII seemed like the obvious answer: a relatively small and light body with image quality that rivaled the D850. But as I’d pointed out to many people, the problem is always the lenses. Small and light full frame lenses aren’t really a thing.

I dropped by my local electronics store, which happened to have an A7 mounted with Sony’s 24-240 super zoom. Having used super zooms on other platforms in the past, I can assure you that my expectations for this lens were well under control. I was not expecting Zeiss levels of IQ. But my oh my were those expectations not met.

To be clear: I almost certainly got a bad copy of this lens. I’ve been pretty lucky with most of my lenses in the past, but this one was a disaster. It wasn’t bad at all focal lengths, and I was able to end up with some decent shots, but note, for example, this shot from Porto:

full shot
1:1 at center of the frame

Or perhaps this shot from Lisbon:

Full Shot
1:1 at the edge of the frame, showing clear transition in quality

The bigger issue for me, I think, is that it calls into question Sony’s entire QC procedure. Sure, this is one of the cheaper lenses in the FE lineup, but at a retail price of $1000, it’s not exactly inexpensive. Coupled with Roger Cicala’s statement that Sony couldn’t find a good copy of a lens to send to reviewers if their future depended on it… I’m not sure I’ll be buying their lenses moving forward.

My current plan, at least until Nikon’s new Z series is widely available and the price comes down a bit, involves getting older manual focus lenses (primarily Minolta Rokkors) to use on the Sony. It’s been a fun, interesting experiment, and I may post some of my thoughts / samples at some point in the future. 

The practical takeaway? Don’t buy this lens. Definitely don’t buy it used – there’s a good chance it’s on the second hand market for a reason.

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