Kevin Carter rates Sony’s first telephoto zoom to reach 400mm
Kevin Carter rates two optics
Sony gets top marks for its mirrorless cameras, but what about their lenses? Well, we know they make some under the Zeiss brand, and have inherited some Minolta designs as well as the rights to the G-Master series moniker, which was reserved for their top-tier models.
This lens’s build feels very good and there are some nice details too, such as a slightly higher than average 0.35x magnification thanks to better control of breathing than the equivalents from rivals. Also useful is a locking collar with variable friction to stop or limit zoom creep, though if it’s applied fully you can be prevented from zooming.
Sony has tried to keep it relatively compact as well, though of course the barrel extends when zooming. Inevitably lenses like this tend to be relatively heavy, but it’s 10 per cent lighter than the Canon and Nikon equivalents without any obvious compromises in the design or build. Admittedly, the balance isn’t a strong point with the small a9 body, but it shouldn’t be a problem with the optional grip.
Autofocus is very fast indeed, practically silent and the five-axis stabilisation is very effective, with a good number of keepers at 1/30sec at 400mm. Telephoto zooms like this usually don’t perform that well optically at the long end, but this lens bucks the trend. There’s the inevitable vignetting and a trace of fringing but it is sharp at 400mm wide open, even out to the edges.
Left below DEFINITION This shot at 100mm shows what level of detail to expect, but equally important, this lens is sharp at 400mm right across the frame
Left aboveFRINGING Aberrations throughout are low, and there’s practically no fringing at 400mm: one of the contributing factors to a loss of sharpness