Viltrox AF 24mm F1.8 STM Image Gallery
April 9th, 2021
The first Viltrox lens I tested was a wide angle lens for Sony FE (full frame mirrorless). I did that review only two years ago, but it is astounding how much has changed during that time. In a very short period Viltrox has really built a reputation. Almost no one had heard of Viltrox when I did that first review of the 20mm F1.8, but that’s certainly not the case two years later. How did they break into the market so quickly? At least part of the answer has to be courage. Many new Chinese lens makers have taken one of two paths: 1) they stick with developing manual focus lenses, which avoid the complications of both autofocus and electronics in lens design or 2) they take the Yongnuo route and build clones of existing lenses (an approach I have little respect for). But Viltrox courageously tackled autofocus by only their third lens (the AF 85mm F1.8 STM, which I reviewed here). There were some signs at the time that this was their first attempt at autofocus, but the lens showed courage, and it become particularly popular in a Fuji X-mount as there are few third party options currently on that platform and the Viltrox was radically cheaper than the XF 90mm F2. Tackling multiple platforms (they also made the lens in Sony FE mount) showed guts as well, but Viltrox had made a clever choice in lens design that enabled their autofocus development to be a work in progress. That choice was the inclusion of a USB port on the lens mount where lens firmware updates could be easily applied – no dock or lens station required.
One this most recent lens, the Viltrox AF 24mm F1.8 STM, that USB port has been upgraded to the USB-C standard from Micro-USB (a smart move), but even smarter has been the fact that this easily accessible way of updating firmware has allowed Viltrox autofocus to mature “on the fly” even with their existing lenses, which of course raises their profile among users. While the first lenses they produced were a mix of full frame and APS-C (depending on mount), they spent 2020 focused on a trio of competent, wide aperture APS-C primes – the AF 23mm F1.4, 33mm F1.4, and 56mm F1.4. These were released first for Fuji (for the reasons stated above), then on Sony E-mount, and eventually in Canon EF-M mount. I had a chance to look at multiple copies of each of these lenses in different mounts, and came away impressed by how they navigated the different needs of each focus system and produced competent lenses for each platform. I was delighted to see the announcement that they were returning to full frame development in 2021, however, with three F1.8 autofocusing primes at the 24mm, 35mm, and 50mm focal lengths. These compliment their existing 85mm F1.8 lens on Sony FE. In typical courageous fashion, though, Viltrox has chosen to tackle easily the most difficult of the three focal lengths first. 24mm is quite wide on full frame, and wide angle lenses are much more difficult to do well than the easier 35mm and 50mm focal lengths. The 24mm STM (as we’ll call it for brevity in the review) shows tremendous progress from the first Viltrox wide angle lens I reviewed two years ago, though there’s still room for improvement.
The first wide angle Viltrox lens I reviewed was manual focus only and was also quite large and heavy (775g). The 24mm STM has autofocus (and competent AF, at that) and weighs only 340g, so that’s serious progress! Viltrox has clearly seen the importance of finding the balance between reasonable size and performance that so many of us are looking for in lenses for our Sony full frame mirrorless cameras. The 20mm F1.8 had no electronics, but the new lens has full electronics and now has a dual auto/manual aperture ring. What has been retained is the feeling of a quality lens construction, and my only main criticism at this stage of development is that Viltrox still has not started to add weather sealing into their design. At their pace, though, I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see weather sealing on next year’s lenses from Viltrox.
24mm is a highly desirable focal length. It’s great for landscape work, interiors, environmental portraits, and street. There are some challenges to such a design, however, and Viltrox has not managed to avoid all of them here. We will explore the strengths and weaknesses together, and I’ll draw a few comparisons to an even more compact Sigma 24mm F3.5 DG DN that I happened to have on hand for review at the same time. The 24mm STM at $429 USD becomes second only to the little Samyang AF 24mm F2.8 for the price bargain win at this focal length on Sony, so that will certainly be a factor. Is the Viltrox AF 24mm F1.8 worthy of consideration for your Sony full frame mirrorless camera? You can check out my text or video reviews of the lens…or just check out photos below.
Photos of the Viltrox AF 24mm F1.8 STM
Photos Taken with the Viltrox AF 24mm F1.8 STM
Long Term Photos
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