Kevin Carter rates Sony’s first tele­photo zoom to reach 400mm

Digital Photograper - - Contents -

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

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