Sony has announced the latest Power Zoom (PZ) lens designed specifically for its APS-C mirrorless camera systems, the 10–20mm F4 PZ G. This lens is the smallest ultra-wide APS-C zoom across all camera companies and is designed specifically with hybrid shooters in mind.
The Sony E 10–20mm F4 PZ G offers a full-frame equivalent 15–30mm focal length range and features a dedicated T/W toggle on the side of the lens to power zoom in and out, with a constant F4 aperture across the entire focal length range. Let’s take a closer look to see what Sony’s latest zoom is all about.
The 10–20mm F4 PZ G is denoted as one of Sony’s ‘G’ lenses. While this isn’t the same as the company’s G Master lenses (which are meant to be the top-of-the-line lenses they have to offer), the plain ‘G’ initial denotes that Sony’s put more emphasis on optics and performance than its non-G optics. The lens is constructed of eleven elements in eight groups, including two extra-low dispersion (ED) element, three aspherical elements one ED Aspherical element. These specialized elements are designed to offer more consistent performance across the image circle and minimize chromatic aberrations.
As you’d expect for a modern wide-angle lens this small, geometric distortion is handled digitally. This allows the lens to be small and light, and means that the optical corrections don’t end up in tension with one another. Video and JPEGs are automatically corrected, but the results from Raw will depend on how well your Raw converter handles the lens’s correction profile.
The samples of the 10–20mm F4 PZ G we received from Sony have performed well across the entire zoom range and across nearly all apertures. As is to be expected, the corners are slightly soft wide-open at 10mm, but only slightly. As you get longer in the focal length range, the corners appear to get sharper. The minimum focusing distances of 13cm (5.1”) at the wide (10mm) end and 17mm (6.7”) at the tele (20mm) end are respectable and sharp in the center, regardless of focal length or aperture.
Bokeh isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing, but that’s probably to be expected considering the constant F4 aperture and ultra-wide angle focal length range. Sony is heavily emphasizing the vlogging capabilities of this lens and while you won’t get that shallow depth of field at arms length with this lens, regardless of focal length, the F4 aperture is nice for ensuring that it won’t just be your nose or eyelashes in focus when you have the camera facing back at you, which isn’t always the case when shooting with F1.4 and F2 lenses, even on APS-C cameras.
Lens flares captured with the lens provide a clean-looking circle when you catch the light just right and add a nice accent for those looking to channel their inner Michael Bay.
Buttons and switches
For a compact APS-C lens, Sony didn’t shy away from packing as many buttons as possible onto this lens. In addition to the focus and zoom rings, Sony has also included an AF/MF switch, a customizable button and a T/W lever that ever-so-conveniently situates itself near your thumb when you’re holding the camera and lens at arms-length, as you would when vlogging or taking a selfie.
The toggle makes it easier to zoom in and out with one hand and the customizable button can be used to trigger various functions, settings or shooting modes with a single tap. It’s placed just below the T/W toggle, so is similarly easy to access.
I’m not much of a vlogger, but I’ve test-shot a few vlogging-oriented cameras in the past and even compared to compact cameras with smaller frames, the 10–20mm F4 PZ G was one of the most ergonomic setups I’ve come across, although those with smaller hands might disagree (I’m 6’2” with average-sized hands).
Steady as she goes
Both the focus and zoom mechanisms of this lens are entirely internal. In addition to reducing the likelihood of damage from an extending barrel, this design decision also means this lens will work well on gimbals, since zooming in and out won’t change the center of gravity enough to change the balance of the gimbal.
Because the power zoom can be operated from the camera, this also means it can be operated remotely, meaning the lens lends itself to drone work, too. This, as well as its relatively low weight, make it well suited to aerial imagery, with Sony’s own AirPeak drone looking like a prime candidate for this sort of setup.
The 10–20mm F4 PZ G is an interesting lens. Its focal length range and power-zoom design emphasize its focus on video, with Sony particularly pointing out vlogging as a use case. But the lack of image stabilization seems like a strange omission for a video-oriented lens, especially considering Sony only has one APS-C camera body with in-body image in its active lineup (the a6500 also had IBIS, but it’s no longer being produced), and it isn’t exactly the most comfortable for vlogging. So, until Sony releases a new, stabilized compact APS-C camera, this lens is probably better off in something like a gimbal rig or situated on a slider, at which point it feels as though it could be forgiven a little additional size and weight in return for a faster F2.8 or even F2 aperture.
If you can get over the lack of image stabilization though, this lens offers a unique proposition for photographers, videographers or hybrid shooters wanting a versatile ultra-wide angle lens. It’s respectably sharp across the image circle at nearly all apertures and focal lengths and the power zoom functionality was admittedly fun at times, even for someone who almost exclusively shoots primes. When paired with something like the ZV-E10, it makes an extremely compact run-and-gun rig that weighs just over half a kilo (just over a pound).
Pricing and Availability
The Sony E 10-20mm F4 PZ G is expected to be available in early July 2022 for $749.99 / $949.99 CAD through Sony’s online shop and authorized Sony retailers.