Sony 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 SSM G (SAL-70300G) - APS-C Review / Test Report
Lens Reviews - Sony Alpha/NEX (APS-C)
Thursday, 24 July 2008 10:00

Introduction

The Sony 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 SSM G is member of a rare species. Usually such slow speed 70-300mm zoom lenses are budget-oriented items whereas some kind of 80/100-400mm lens is filling the quality gap at the upper end of the food chain. However, the Sony lens belongs to the G ("Gold") lineup - Sony's designated professional-grade lenses. The price tag is accordingly high at around 700-800€/US$ which is quite a bit beyond the mainstream. The lens can be regarded as the successor of the highly popular (but discontinued) Minolta AF 100-300mm f/4.5-5.6 APO D although the two lenses differ quite a bit in terms of size and pricing. The 70-300mm G is a full format lens but naturally it works perfectly on Sony Alpha APS-C DSLRs with a field-of-view equivalent to 105-450mm.

The build quality of the lens is very good. The lens body is made of a combination of metal and plastic parts assembled with very tight tolerances. The focus and zoom control rings operate pretty smooth. It is a bit unusual that the zoom ring is located in front of the focus ring (at the front of the lens) but I had no problem to get used to this. Typical for all lenses in this class the lens extends when zooming towards the long end of the range. The front element does not rotate thanks to the internal focusing (IF) system. The lens does not feature any seals which is somewhat unfortunate regarding the (professional) target audience and relative to its comparatively high price tag. The lens is supplied with a deep, petal-shaped lens hood.

There were some early complaints in the Sony user community regarding the weight and size of the lens but the 70-300mm G doesn't really differ substantially from other current offers such as the Nikkor AF-S 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 ED VR G or Canon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 USM IS. It is only bigger than the old Minolta AF 100-300mm f/4.5-5.6 APO D but this lens is simply unusually small.

An interesting aspect of the lens is the SSM - the SuperSonic AF Motor which is similar to Canon's USM or Nikon's SWM. The variant used in the 70-300mm G is quite fast (reads: not blazingly fast), near silent and reasonably accurate. Sony did also incorporate a dedicated focus-stop button as well as a focus limiter. It makes sense to take advantage of the latter in order to avoid excessive hunting because the focus path of the lens is rather long.

Specifications
Equiv. focal length105-450 mm (full format equivalent)
Equiv. aperturef/6.8-f/8.4 (full format equivalent, in terms of depth-of-field)
Optical construction16 elements in 11 groups inc. 1x ED elements
Number of aperture blades9 (rounded)
min. focus distance1.2 m (max. magnification ratio 1:4)
Dimensions83 x 136 mm
Weight760 g (without tripod mount)
Filter size62 mm (non-rotating)
Hoodpetal-shaped, snap-on, supplied
Other featuresDMF, focus stop button, focus limiter




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