Sony 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 SSM G (SAL-70300G) - Full Format Review / Test Report
Lens Reviews -
Sony Alpha (Full Format)
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Review by Klaus Schroiff, published December 2010
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 800€/US$ which is quite a bit beyond the mainstream (but e.g. the new Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 USM L IS is far more expensive still). The full format lens can be regarded as the successor of the highly popular (but naturally 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 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 has no sealing 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.
The Sony G lens features a SSM AF - 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 (albeit 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.
|Optical construction||16 elements in 11 groups inc. 1x ED elements|
|Number of aperture blades||9 (rounded)|
|min. focus distance||1.2m (max. magnification ratio 1:4)|
|Weight||760g (without tripod mount)|
|Filter size||62mm (non-rotating)|
|Hood||petal-shaped, snap-on, supplied|
|Other features||DMF, focus stop button, focus limiter|