Camera - - WHAT’S NEW -

IT’S THE mArk of a ma­tur­ing lens sys­tem when the prime su­pertele­pho­tos start ap­pear­ing, so the G Mas­ter series 400mm f2.8 is an im­por­tant new ar­rival for Sony’s rapidly ex­pand­ing FE mount line-up.

It’s the first large-aper­ture su­pertele­photo prime in the FE mount line-up and also, right now, the light­est model in its class. Sony last su­pertele­photo prime was a 500mm f4.0 in the A mount. Ob­vi­ously, Sony is con­tin­u­ing to tar­get sports and ac­tion pho­tog­ra­phers as con­verts to its full-35mm for­mat mirrorless cam­era sys­tem, with this lens be­ing an ob­vi­ous com­pan­ion for the high-speed A9 (a new firmware up­grade for this body en­sures full com­pat­i­bil­ity with the 400mm lens).

The new FE 400mm f2.8 GM OSS – to give it its full model name – em­ploys mag­ne­sium al­loy bar­rel tubes with fill seal­ing against the in­tru­sion of dust and mois­ture. Ad­di­tion­ally, the ex­posed sur­face of the front el­e­ment has a flu­o­rine coat­ing to help bet­ter re­pel dirt and wa­ter. The sup­plied lens hood is made from car­bon­fi­bre to help min­imise weight. The 400mm f2.9 weighs 2.895 kilo­grams – which is sig­nif­i­cantly lighter than its D-SLR ri­vals from Canon and Nikon – and is just un­der 40 cen­time­tres in length. A rear fil­ter slot ac­cepts 40.5 mm di­am­e­ter screwthread types, in­clud­ing a cir­cu­lar po­lariser (the VF-DCPL1) which will be avail­able later in the year. Ex­ter­nal con­trols in­clude four cus­tomis­able fo­cus-hold but­tons which can also be pro­grammed to ac­ti­vate other fea­tures such as Sony’s ‘Eye AF’ func­tion. There’s also a switch for en­gag­ing the ‘Full-Time DMF’ func­tion which pro­vides an in­stant man­ual fo­cus over­ride, and a pro­gram­mable func­tion ring.

On the in­side, the op­ti­cal con­struc­tion com­prises 23 el­e­ments in 17 groups, in­clud­ing three flu­o­rite types to min­imise both ax­ial and lat­eral chro­matic aber­ra­tions. Sony’s ‘Nano AR’ multi-coat­ing is used to min­imise in­ter­nal re­flec­tions and re­duce the oc­cur­rence of ghost­ing or flare. Im­por­tantly, the op­ti­cal con­struc­tion has been de­signed to move the lens’s cen­tre-of-grav­ity more to­wards the rear so it’s bet­ter bal­anced with the lighter-weight Sony mirrorless cam­era bod­ies, rather than be­ing front-heavy which is of­ten the case with su­pertele­pho­tos.

The FE 400mm f2.8 has op­ti­cal sta­bil­i­sa­tion with the choice of three op­er­at­ing modes which in­cludes a new Mode 3 set­ting with em­ploys an ad­vanced al­go­rithm to en­able eas­ier fram­ing when track­ing mov­ing sub­jects. Five-axis im­age sta­bil­i­sa­tion is avail­able when the lens is used on a Sony cam­era with in-body im­age sta­bil­i­sa­tion.

The lens’s di­aphragm em­ploys 11 blades to give a more uni­formly cir­cu­lar aper­ture and hence very smooth out-of-fo­cus ef­fects. Aut­o­fo­cus­ing is per­formed via a newly-de­vel­oped ‘XD’ (Ex­treme Dy­namic) drive which em­ploys high-ef­fi­ciency lin­ear mo­tors to give faster ad­just­ments and, ac­cord­ing to Sony, up to a five times im­prove­ment in the sub­ject track­ing per­for­mance. New mo­tion al­go­rithms are said to min­imise both lag and in­sta­bil­ity while also re­duc­ing AF noise. The new 400mm is com­pat­i­ble with both the 1.4x and 2.0x E mount tele-con­vert­ers which give a 560mm (f4.0) and 800mm (f5.6) fo­cal length re­spec­tively.

Sony’s FE 400mm f2.8 GM OSS su­per-tele­photo is priced at $17,999 and avail­able now.

For more in­for­ma­tion visit

 The first largeaper­ture su­pertele­photo prime in the FE mount line-up and also, right now, the light­est model in its class.

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