Sony 400mm lens is a ‘game changer’
Sony users who have been patiently waiting for a 400mm f/2.8 lens in E-mount seem to finally have what they’ve been waiting for. The recently announced Sony FE 400mm f/2.8 GM OSS is the company’s latest fixed focal length telephoto lens and comes with a whopping price tag (£10,500), making it one of the most expensive lenses for Sony’s A7-series.
Unlike most DSLR lenses that move the elements on a rotational corkscrew mechanism, the new Sony FE 400mm f/2.8 GM OSS features the debut of new powerful, high-speed XD Linear Motors that move the elements in a straight line. The company claims this delivers AF tracking 5x faster than any current competitor. As a result, the lens promises extremely fast, precise and quiet AF that supports the A9’s 20fps continuous shooting with AF/ AE tracking.
Top sports photographer Bob Martin, Director of Photography at Silverhub Media, who got to test the lens during its development, said: ‘ This lens is a game changer for sports photographers. The speed is unlike anything we have seen before.’ As well as being the fastest lens of its type, at 2,895g it is also the world’s smallest and lightest. When fitted to the Alpha 9, the total weight is over 1.8kg lighter than the Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II USM fitted to the EOS-1D X Mark II. Furthermore, Sony says the placement of the elements further back in the lens ensures that it is not as front heavy as its rivals, making it more comfortable to handhold for extended periods. The optical design comprises 23 elements arranged into 17 groups, with ED glass and three fluorite elements to help minimise axial chromatic aberration.
Yas Nagata, Sony’s head of Lens Development, highlighted the fact that almost every component of the lens was developed in house, with Sony- designed optics, chassis, mechanisms, motors and actuators. This has enabled the firm to think outside the box. ‘ We have been developing lenses with a clear vision of the needs of our future cameras,’ he explained, ‘and because we don’t have these legacy lenses we are able to start with a blank slate and bring a fresh approach to lens design. This new lens demonstrates the power of innovation.’
Other features in the new G Master include built-in optical image stabilisation with a third mode for following moving subjects, a customisable function ring, a preset focus mode that can be stored and recalled at any time, APS- C/Full Frame Select that switches between the two crop factors, and a Power Focus mode for video shooting.
The lens is fully compatible with Sony’s 1.4x and 2.0x teleconverters, turning it into a 560mm f/4 and 800mm f/5.6 optic, respectively.
Built to order, the new FE 400mm f/2.8 GM OSS will go on sale in September, priced at approximately £10,500. The optional Drop-in Circular Polarising Filter (model VFDCPL1) will ship in Europe in December 2018, priced at approximately £420.
A lineup of eight new Sony FE 400mm f/2.8 GM OSS lenses at a press event in New York
Yas Nagata of Sony holding the FE 400mm f/2.8 GM OSS
The Sony 400mm is the fastest and lightest of its type