Sony 400mm lens is a ‘game changer’

Amateur Photographer - - 7days -

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

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