Sony 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 SSM G (SAL-70300G) - Full Format Review / Test Report - Analysis
Lens Reviews - Sony Alpha (Full Format)
Article Index
Introduction
Analysis

Distortion

The Sony G lens produces slight (70mm) to moderate (200-300mm) pincushion distortion. The moderate amount may be just visible during e.g. architecture photography but generally this shouldn't be a problem in field-conditions.

Move the mouse cursor over the focal length text marks below to observe the respective distortions
70mm 200mm 300mm

The chart above has a real-world size of about 120x80cm.

Vignetting

The 70-300mm G produces an average amount of vignetting on full format DSLRs for a lens in this class. At 1.1-1.4EV (f-stops) the light falloff is often visible at max. aperture but closing the aperture by one stop solves most of the issue.

MTF (resolution)

The Sony 70-300mm G produced very high resolution figures in the MTF lab. The performance is, of course, best at 70mm with a very good to excellent quality across the image field. There's a slight drop in performance at 200mm but the center performance remains excellent and the borders and corners are generally on a very good level. Unsurprisingly the quality is "worst" at 300mm @ f/5.6. However, even so the center resolution is still excellent here whereas the borders/corners reach "only" good results. Stopping down improves the border/corner quality till reaching its very good maximum at f/11. The amount of field curvature is negligible.

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)

Lateral chromatic aberrations (color shadows at harsh contrast transitions) are generally very well controlled. The average CA pixel width remains well below 1px at the image borders which is generally a non-issue in field-conditions.

Verdict

The Sony 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 SSM G impressed during our APS-C format test and it is capable of delivering high quality results within the full format scope as well. The resolution figures are generally excellent at 70mm and still very high towards the long end although the border and corner performance drops somewhat more here. Lateral CAs and distortions are generally well controlled and not really field-relevant. The lens produces some light falloff at max. aperture but this is rather typical for full format lenses tested within their native scope. While not formally tested the quality of the bokeh is pleasing - an important aspect for a tele lens although the comparatively slow max. aperture is surely a limiting factor here at times.

The build quality of the lens is very good and a step above than the mainstream. Thanks to the new SSM ("Supersonic Motor") AF operations are very silent although it doesn't transform the lens into an AF speed demon. If anything the Sony 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 SSM G has one problem - its price tag. At around 800€/US$ it is not exactly a cheap item and it faces a rather stiff competition from the new Tamron AF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 VC. However, regarding its very high build quality and the optical performance it's actually a sound offer.

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