Sony 16 35: Sony FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM Wide-Angle Zoom Lens

A Traveler’s Review: Sony 16-35mm F2.8 GM Lens

As some of you may know, I am a huge advocate for the 24-70mm range when it comes to a general all-purpose travel lens. In fact, I have always recommended people to pick a 24-70mm lens (or 16-55mm for APS-C) if they are looking for the one lens to rule them all.

That was the case up until I took my new Sony 16-35mm F2.8 GM Lens for a spin the other day and I realized just how much I had that lens mounted on my camera while I was out and about.

In fact, with this lens, I rarely ever use my 24-70mm lens anymore for travel photography as I often prefer the wider look the 16mm gives for landscape and architecture, something I shoot quite often when I travel, compared to the 24mm.

Why is this lens my new favorite travel lens? Well, let’s find out! Without further ado, here is a traveler’s review of the Sony 16-35mm F2.8 GM lens and why this lens could be the new all-purpose travel lens you are looking for.

Looking for other travel lenses to buy for your Sony full-frame camera? Check out:The Best Travel Lenses For Sony A7III, A7C, A7RIV, And More

  • Quick Summary of Sony 16-35mm F2. 8 GM Lens
  • What to Look For In A Travel Landscape & Architecture Lens
  • What I Love Most About the Sony 16-35mm F2.8 GM Lens

    • Versatile Range
    • Extremely Sharp
    • Fast Aperture
  • The Drawbacks of the Sony 16-35mm F2.8 GM Lens

    • Expensive
  • Sample Photos From the Sony 16-35mm F2.8 GM Lens
  • The Verdict: Sony 16-35mm F2.8 GM Lens is the Most Versatile Travel Lens
  • Further Reading for Resources

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Quick Summary of Sony 16-35mm F2.8 GM Lens

If you are short on time, here is a quick summary of the pros and cons of using the Sony 16-35mm F2.8 GM Lens as your landscape & architecture lens and a link to check the recent price of the lens below:


  • Extremely Sharp
  • Versatile Range
  • Fast Aperture


  • Expensive

Check Price

What to Look For In A Travel Landscape & Architecture Lens

Wide Focal Lengths: One of the most important factors in picking up a travel lens for landscape and architecture is to see if the focal length of the lens is wide enough to capture all the details the landscape and architecture have to offer.

For full-frame cameras, having around 16mm (11mm for APS-C) at its widest focal length is a good sign that the lens is wide enough to capture most types of landscape and architecture in its greatest detail without creating weird distortion around the edges of the photos like fish-eye lenses.

Also, Since you are going to use this lens for travel, having a versatile zoom range instead of a fixed focal length is a huge plus as the zoom range will allow you to be more flexible in a spontaneous situation which happens quite often when you travel.

All in all, when picking up a landscape/architecture travel lens, make sure that the focal length is wide enough for the type of subject you want to shoot when you travel. I would say, the wider the focal length, the better.

Image Quality: Another important factor to consider is the lens sharpness, especially when we are talking about a wide-angle lens that is quite prone to distortion and softness.

When you are testing out a landscape/architecture lens, try shooting sample shots at its widest focal length and fastest aperture, and zoom in to see how sharp your images are, especially around the edges of your photos.

With a high-quality lens, images produced are often sharp from edge to edge throughout its focal lengths and aperture whereas cheaper lenses tend to fell apart at their most extreme range, so when you are picking a lens up, be sure that you are okay with the image quality the lens produces.

Fast Aperture: For landscape photography, having a fast aperture might not be that big of a deal but when it comes to architecture photography, especially indoors, having a fast aperture will allow you to maintain all the details and keep your images sharp even in the poorest lights.

I found that having a maximum aperture of F2.8 is good enough for most situations. With the F2.8 aperture, the lens should be able to let in enough light to keep the ISO level low and the shutter speed fast enough to produce tack sharp images without losing details to noises.

An F2.8 lens will also come in handy when you find yourself in a dimly lit European church and you want to capture all the beautiful murals you often find inside.

Combine that with a wide-angle focal length and a good low-light camera like the Sony a7III and Sony a7C and you have yourself one hell of a low-light photography machine for landscape and architecture.

Wondering what lenses I am currently using? Check out:What’s In My Camera Bag – A Travel Photography Camera Gear Guide

What I Love Most About the Sony 16-35mm F2.8 GM Lens

The Sony 16-35mm F2.8 GM Lens has an extremely versatile zoom range and probably one of the greatest benefits for getting this lens over other prime lenses like the Sony 14mm F1.8 GM and Sony 20mm F1.8 G lenses.

With the widest focal length of 16mm, the lens is wide enough for me to shoot all kinds of architecture and landscape I encounter when I travel.

I find it extremely useful for architecture photography especially when I am in a tight corner and moving backward is not an option. Having a wide-angle focal length allows me to capture the place in its entirety without having to move backward.

I also love being able to punch into 24mm or even 35mm focal lengths when I want to be closer to my subject, say for street photography, without having to switch lenses which is perfect for travel when everything often happens spontaneously and we often do not have the luxury of time to switch lenses.

Since the lens’ focal lengths overlap another general-purpose lens that I have, the Sony 24-70mm F2.8 GM Lens, I often found it much more convenient just to use the overlapped focal lengths and I ended up leaving my Sony 24-70mm in my bag most of the shoots.

The only time that I would switch to the Sony 24-70mm lens is when I want to shoot some videos and having a 24-70mm range does benefit more in this case. For those who aren’t into videos, you will find everything you need in the Sony 16-35mm F2.8 GM lens.

Extremely Sharp

The Sony 16-35mm F2.8 GM Lens is one of the sharpest zoom lenses in the market. In fact, it is one of the highest-rated wide-angle zoom lenses of all time on DxOMark scoring 34 points on sharpness and 42 overall scores leaving all its competitors in the dust.

The lens produces tack sharp images edge-to-edge in all focal lengths even at the widest aperture of F2.8 which is where other lenses often fell apart. Even with higher resolution camers like the Sony a7RIV that shoots 60+ megapixels photos, the Sony 16-35mm F2.8 GM lens still performs extremely well and is able to maintain sharpness in the highest of definition, unlike other cheaper alternatives.

If you are looking for a travel lens for landscapes and architectures that is completely future-proof and can handle whatever higher resolution cameras you might be upgrading to in the future, then there is no better lens than the Sony 16-35mm F2.8 GM lens.

Fast Aperture

The Sony 16-35mm F2.8 GM Lens has a maximum aperture of F2.8 which makes it one hell of a versatile lens to shoot in low-light situations. You can use this lens to shoot in all kinds of places with bad lightings like caves and dimly-lit churches without having to worry about losing quality and sharpness.

Having a faster aperture also allows you to blow out the background with beautiful bokeh if you are close enough to the subject or if you are shooting at its tightest focal length of 35mm making it great for subject separation while you do street photography.

The versatility this lens provides with its fast aperture is hard to beat and if you are looking for a landscape and architecture lens that will provide you with more opportunity to shoot when you travel, the Sony 16-35mm F2.8 GM Lens is the one to get.

The Drawbacks of the Sony 16-35mm F2.8 GM Lens

The Sony 16-35mm F2.8 GM Lens is by far, one of my favorite lenses I bought and I love it to death but one thing that might deter you is its hefty price tag.

The lens retails at almost 2,000 USD and even in the second-hand market where I got mine, the price still hovers around 1,600 USD which is quite an investment and, to be honest, was quite hard for me to stomach.

That said, the second-hand price tag also shows just how high the quality the lens actually is. Even in the used market, the price of the lens still retains more than 80% of its initial price tag which makes the lens a great investment.

The Sony 16-35mm F2.8 GM Lens is one hell of an expensive lens, there is no denying it, but if you plan to use it to make money as I do or if you are looking for the very best travel lens to help improve your travel photography by leaps and bounds, the 2,000 USD price tag is definitely a great investment and I guarantee, you will love the photos you get from it.

Sample Photos From the Sony 16-35mm F2.8 GM Lens

A photo is worth a thousand words so here are some of my favorite shots I took with the Sony 16-35mm F2.8 GM Lens attached to my Sony a7C:

A sample photo shot using the Sony 16-35mm F2.8 GM Lens of a person inside the Erawan Museum in Bangkok, Thailand shot at 16mm.

A sample photo shot using the Sony 16-35mm F2.8 GM Lens of a Buddha statue inside a cave in Ratchaburi, Thailand shot at 16mm.

A sample photo shot using the Sony 16-35mm F2.8 GM Lens of a dimly lit cave in Ratchaburi, Thailand shot at 16mm, F2.8.

A sample photo shot using the Sony 16-35mm F2.8 GM Lens of a Buddha image in a cave in Thailand shot at 16mm.

A sample photo shot using the Sony 16-35mm F2.8 GM Lens of a person standing at the Khao Ngu Rock Park in Ratchaburi, Thailand, shot at 16mm.

The Verdict: Sony 16-35mm F2.8 GM Lens is the Most Versatile Travel Lens

All in all, I found the Sony 16-35mm F2.8 GM Lens to be the best, most versatile lens for travel out of all my other 5 lenses I currently own. It has a versatile zoom range, a fast aperture, and can produce sharp images, basically, it checks all the boxes of things I look for in a travel landscape/architecture lens.

The lens stays on my camera 80% of the time when I travel and even though, it was quite expensive for me to buy, the versatility, the quality, and the opportunity I got from this lens made it well worth the investment for me.

If you are looking for a new travel lens to buy but are still reluctant because of the price tag of the Sony 16-35mm F2.8 GM lens, I’d say, go for it. I mean, if you come all the way this far and are currently reading this sentence, this lens is clearly for you.

Trust me, you won’t find any other better wide-angle lenses out there for your Sony cameras. For those who are looking to buy the lens, there are often discounts happening over on Amazon, and I recommend you check out the latest price with the link below before you buy one:

Check Price

And there you have it, a complete traveler’s review of the Sony 16-35mm F2.8 GM Lens based on my real-world experience traveling with it. What do you think of the lens? Are you planning to pick up one soon? If you have any questions regarding the Sony 16-35mm F2.8 GM Lens, do not hesitate to ask me in the comments below.

Further Reading for Resources

Looking for more articles to help you with your travel may it be camera gear or clothing? Here is a collection of articles you might like:

  • Are you fully vaccinated? Are you looking for a country you can travel to where you don’t have to quarantine? We’ve got that covered! Check out: 27 Countries That Are Open To Vaccinated Travelers.
  • Ever wonder what a full-time travel blogger like myself carries in my camera bag? Check out: What’s In My Camera Bag in 2023?
  • Looking for the very best travel full-frame camera to buy for your next trip? How about the Sony a7C, the smallest full-frame camera with EVF in the world! Check out my review: A Traveler’s Review: The Sony a7C Camera
  • For APS-C camera owners out there, check out: What’s In My Camera Bag? – A Gear Guide to the Sony APS-C Cameras
  • Looking to buy a new travel camera but not sure where to start? Check out our camera guide on 9 Best Travel Cameras To Buy.
  • Want to start a Youtube channel and looking to buy new cameras for travel vlogging? Check out: 8 Best Cameras For Travel Vlogging to Buy.
  • Finding a great camera bag you can travel with is not as easy as it sounds. If you are looking for one, here are the 10 Best Camera Bags for Travel, Backpacking, and Hiking You Should Buy.
  • Now, if you are looking for a camera sling/shoulder bag instead of a full-fledge camera backpack to travel with, here are the 10 Best Travel Camera Sling/Shoulder Bags to Buy in 2023.
  • If you are looking for gifts to buy for your photographer loved ones, check out: 12 Cool Gifts To Buy For Travel Photographers
  • Traveling light with camera gear is all about balancing between what you need and what you want. Here are the 8 Best Tips For Traveling Light With Camera Gear.
  • Are you looking for the best travel camera for your next trip? Why not the Sony a6500? Here’s why Sony a6500 is the best travel camera.
  • If you want to carry just one lens when you travel, here is why the Sony 16-55mm F2.8 is the best travel lens to get for your Sony a6600 or a6500.
  • This is the one lens I never knew I needed but now that I have it, I can’t travel without it! A Traveler’s Review: The Sony E 70-350mm F4.5-6.3 Lens.
  • An ultra-wide lens are perfect for travel and there is no better lens than the Sony 10-18mm F4 lens. Here is why: Traveler’s Review: Sony 10-18mm F4 lens.
  • Full-frame or APS-C Cameras? Here’s my take on which camera format to pick for travel: 5 Reasons Why I’m Sticking With a Sony APS-C Camera
  • Wondering which Sony Mirrorless camera is right for you? The Best Sony Travel Cameras to Buy in 2023.
  • Just bought a new Sony mirrorless camera? Check out: 15 Tips & Tricks For Your New Sony a7C, a7III, and More.
  • Looking for a compact and lightweight travel telephoto lens for wildlife and landscape? You are going to love this lens. Here is A Traveler’s Review of the Tamron 70-300mm F4.5-6.3 lens.
  • If you are looking for a review of the first Sony 24-70mm F2.8 GM lens and see if it is worth buying now, check out: A Traveler’s Review of the Sony 24-70mm F2.8 GM Lens.
  • Looking for a lightweight and affordable landscape/architecture travel lens that are also extremely capable? Here is A Traveler’s Review of the Sigma 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN Lens.
  • Looking for the best travel portrait lens to buy for next trip? You can’t beat the Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG DN lens. Here is A Traveler’s Review of the Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG DN Art Lens.
  • Wondering which lenses to buy for your Sony cameras? Check out The Best Travel Lenses For Sony a7III, a7C, a7RIV, and More.
  • Picking a camera body is one thing. Picking the lenses is a whole different game. Here is the ultimate guide to the best travel lenses for the Sony a6500.
  • Looking for the best street and travel photography lens? Here is why Sigma 56mm F1.4 is The Best Travel Photography Lens For Sony APS-C.
  • GoPro is good and all but did you know that there are many other GoPro alternatives that are better and cheaper? Here are the 8 Best GoPro Alternatives You Should Buy in 2023.
  • Looking for a great drone to travel with? Why the DJI Mavic Mini is the Best Drone For Travelers.
  • The best travel drone just got even better. Here is A Traveler’s Review of The DJI Mini 2 and why it is the best travel drone to buy.
  • Already have a Mavic Mini or looking to buy one? Here are 25 Tips and Tricks for New DJI Mavic Mini Owners.
  • For more travel drone options, be sure to check out the 8 Best Drones For Travel To Buy In 2023.
  • Looking for the best travel wireless earbuds or headphones? Here are the 7 Best Travel Wireless Earbuds & Headphones to Buy.
  • You can’t travel without a backpack and if you are looking for one, check out my guide on the best Herschel Supply backpacks for travelers.
  • If you like hiking and going on adventures for weeks on end, you are going to need a bigger backpack. Here is Why the Osprey Atmos AG is the Best Hiking Backpack To Buy.
  • If you are into making travel videos, here is my ultimate advanced filmmaking gear guide.
  • Planning to go on your first-ever hiking trip? Here is How to Pack for Hiking and Camping
  • Technical hiking gear doesn’t have to be ugly. Here is a guide to hiking gear that actually looks good on you.
  • If you are a light-weight traveler and are looking for a powerful gear to go with your setup, check out the extremely light-weight photography gear guide.
  • Looking for gift ideas for your traveler friends or family member? Here are 10 great gift ideas for backpackers.
  • Or if you are into gadgets, here is a quick guide on 10 tech gadgets you should buy this year.
  • Looking for an Airbnb alternative for a better and more authentic stay in a place you are visiting? Here are the 8 Best Airbnb Alternatives to Use.
  • Want to know the secrets on how to travel the world cheaply? Check out: 16 Best Tips on How to Travel the World Cheaply.
  • If you are a blogger as well and are looking for free travel images to spice up your content? Check out the 10 Best Websites to Find Free Travel Images.
  • Looking to plan your first backpacking trip around the world? Check out: How To Plan A Backpacking Trip.
  • For more resources like this, visit my Resources page.
  • Want to learn how I was able to take so many good pictures of myself while I travel solo? Check out: How To Take Great Pictures of Yourself.

Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM ( SEL1635GM ) – Review / Test Report

Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM ( SEL1635GM ) – Review / Test Report – Analysis
Lens Reviews –
Sony Alpha (Full Format)
Article Index
Sample Images & Verdict

Page 2 of 3


If you rely on Sony’s image auto-correction algorithms, there’s little to worry about in terms of distortions. A maximum of 0.6% barrel distortion at 16mm may be just noticeable but it’s far from disturbing.

  • 16mm
  • 20mm
  • 24mm
  • 35mm

The native characteristic of the lens is, of course, worse albeit not excessive for a lens in this class. At 16mm there is a heavy barrel distortion of ~4.2%. This is reduced to a moderate degree at 20mm and the Sony lens is pretty much free of distortions at 24mm. From there, the distortion characteristic switches to pincushion type reaching a moderate 1.3% at 35mm.

  • 16mm
  • 20mm
  • 24mm
  • 35mm


A similar story line applies to vignetting. With activated vignetting correction, there’s still a visible light falloff of 1-1.5EV (f-stops) at fully open aperture. Stopping down reduces the issue a bit but trace of vignetting remain albeit below disturbing levels.

When looking at the native characteristic again, the vignetting is very pronounced with a peak of ~3. 3EV (f-stops) at the wide-end at f/2.8. That being said the Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM remains in line with DSLR lenses in this class here. You can still spot a substantial light falloff at 16mm f/4 and 20mm f/2.8. As you might expect, it’s a lesser issue at longer focal lengths. The vignetting doesn’t disappear at 16mm even at f/8 but it’s not all that obvious anymore.

MTF (resolution)

The Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM does a good job here but it’s not without issues. The lens has been optimized towards the wide end of the range. The center quality is generally superb throughout the range – even with a high megapixel camera ( we are testing at 42mp ). At 16mm and 20mm the “near center zone” remains great. At 16mm f/2.8 the outer image field is fairly soft but improves when stopping down. The peak quality is reached around f/5.6 with good to very good borders/corners at 16/20mm. There’s a drop in quality from 24mm onwards. The borders/corners are soft again at f/2.8 but recover to good levels from f/4. For the best quality stick to f/5.6 or f/8 here. Diffraction is limiting the quality at f/11.
The amount of field curvature is surprisingly low. The centering quality of the tested sample was good.
Please note that the MTF results are not directly comparable across the different systems!

Below is a simplified summary of the formal findings. The chart shows line widths per picture height (LW/PH) which can be taken as a measure for sharpness.
If you want to know more about the MTF50 figures you may check out the corresponding Imatest Explanations

Chromatic Aberrations (CAs)

The amount of lateral chromatic aberrations (color shadows at the image borders) is very low considering the high megapixel sensor. The CAs peak at 16mm with an average pixel width around 1.2px at the image borders (somewhat more in the corners). However, that’s more than acceptable already and it’s even less at longer focal lengths.


Rent Full Frame (Photo/Video) Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.

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  5. Sony FE 16-35mm f/2. 8 GM

Rental Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM

  • Type: Wide Angle Zoom Lens
  • Lens mount (bayonet): Sony FE
  • Focusing: automatic
  • Type: Wide Angle Zoom Lens
  • Lens mount (mount): Sony FE
  • Focusing: automatic
  • Viewing angle: 107º – 63º (diagonal for full-frame), 87° – 44° (diagonal for APS-C)
  • Minimum focusing distance 0.28 m.
  • Programmable focus lock button and hood release button.
  • Fluorine anti-reflective coating on the front lens, to protect against grease stains
  • Protection against dust, moisture.

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End of lease:

* more than 60 shifts are selected, discounts are discussed individually.

* 12/31/2021 is a day off. In 2022, we start work from January 3!

* The order of this product is available only for a period of 4 shifts!


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Lens Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM (SEL1635GM)

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Description Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM (SEL1635GM)

Sony FE 16-35mm f2.8 GM SEL1635GM

The G Master series adds a powerful full-frame wide-angle lens with f/2.8 aperture from 16-35mm, and is also compatible with APS-C models, providing an equivalent focal length range 24-52. 5 mm. At different focal length or zoom settings, the lens delivers excellent resolution across the frame and beautiful bokeh. The compact, lightweight design is suitable for shooting landscapes and architecture, as well as for shooting portraits and sports events from a short distance.

The optical design of the lens is engineered for exceptional image sharpness. Includes five aspherical elements, two of which are Sony’s original XA (extreme aspherical) lenses, contributing to astounding resolution and low distortion. Two ED (Extra low-Dispersion) glass elements help reduce chromatic aberration and color fringing. Nano AR coating brings contrast and clarity to the image. To pay tribute to the eleven-bladed aperture, thanks to this aperture, pictures are obtained with smooth and soft blurs of out-of-focus areas with an artistic touch.

Two direct drive SSM (DDSSM) autofocus groups achieve fast, quiet and precise focusing, ideal for both stills and movies. Dedicated focus hold buttons and an AF / MF switch allow the photographer to make the focusing process as close to their creative idea as possible.

Dust- and water-resistant design lets you work in harsh environments, while rubberized focus and zoom rings move even in cold temperatures. The front element is coated with fluorine to resist smudges and dust.

The lens is compact in its class and weighs 680 grams, so it is suitable for small cameras with E-mount mounts, facilitates the process of shooting and transporting equipment.

Specifications Sony FE 16-35mm f2.8 GM SEL1635GM:
Focal length: 16 – 35mm
Maximum aperture: f/2.8
Minimum aperture: f/22
Mount: Sony E (Full-Frame)
Compatibility: 35mm Film / Full-Frame Digital Sensor
Viewing angle: 107° – 63°
Minimum focusing distance: 0.28 m
Optical design (groups/elements): 13/16
Aperture blades: 11
Image stabilization: no
Autofocus: yes
Filter diameter: 82 mm
Dimensions (diameter/length): 88.5 / 121.6 mm
Weight: 680 gr

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