Sony FE 70-200mm f/4 G OSS (SEL70200G) - Review / Test Report
Lens Reviews - Sony Alpha (Full Format)
Article Index
Introduction
Analysis

Review by Klaus Schroiff, published May 2014

Introduction

So far Sony didn't really bother to offer high quality tele lenses for the E-mount but with the introduction of the full format camera lineup, Sony seems to have changed direction towards the higher end of the market. Following the initial full-format Zeiss offerings, the new Sony FE 70-200mm f/4 G OSS is the first professional grade E-mount tele lens. Along with the new priorities, the pricing has also been lifted to new heights. At around 1500US$/EUR it is not a cheap lens for sure but, to be fair, this is in line with e.g. the Canon and Nikon (DSLR-based) counterparts. In this comparison is also apparent that there's no mirrorless bonus with respect to size and weight. Tele lenses require a certain length and diameter so the shorter lens-to-sensor distance doesn't make a difference anymore. The FE 70-200mm f/4 G OSS is a full-format lens and as such compatible to both the A7 series as well as the APS-C format mirrorless cameras (formerly NEX, now Alpha APS-C E-mount). In the scope of this review we'll focus on the performance on full-format only.

The build quality of the Sony lens is outstanding - there's no wobbling whatsoever and the control rings operate very smoothly. It does not extend during zooming and thanks to its inner focusing system the front element does not rotate so using a polarizer is no problem - unless you attach the deep (white colored-) hood, of course. Sony provides a detachable tripod mount as part of the standard package. Looking over to Nikon & Canon, this is rather unusual but surely a welcome addition for those preferring to shoot on tripods every once in a while. The lens is also dust and moisture-resistant.

On DSLRs you may use such a lens for sports but this is out-of-question at least when combined with the Sony A7R which is not exactly renowned for its AF speed, let alone AF tracking. This is not a lens issue but primarily a limitation of the camera though. On the positive side, AF operations are also essentially noiseless. Manual focusing works "by-wire". We don't really have an issue with this approach but more traditional photographers may feel a bit "detached" from the focus action here.

The lens incorporates a image stabilizer ("Optical Steady-Shot" or OSS). Whatever Sony claims it to be - it doesn't work overly well on the A7R due to the shutter vibration issue of this camera. The number of sub-standard outliers were shockingly high during our field trips and that's especially at rather conventional shutter speeds. A7R users should try to stay faster than 1/500sec when using this or any other tele lens in this range. That being said, the situation should be much better on the A7 or A7s. Their electronic shutter option should do the trick (which is why we would clearly recommend the A7 or A7s over the A7R).

Specifications
Optical construction21 elements in 14 groups inc. 3x aspherical, 1xSUD, 2xED elements
Number of aperture blades9 (circular)
min. focus distance1.0m (1:7.7)
Dimensions80x175mm
Weight840g
Filter size72mm
Hoodsupplied, petal-shaped, bayonet mount
Other featuresWeather Sealing, Optical Image Stabilizer, Focus hold button




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