With the new Alpha 77 DSLR camera body scheduled to be released during the first half of 2012 and a reported Alpha 99 for the second half, Sony is trying to maintain its position as #2 camera manufacturer and a worthy alternative to Canon (#1) and Nikon (#3). For example, rumors about the Alpha 99 state it will have the same 36.3-megapixel sensor as the new Nikon D800, which means Sony is targeting the same high-end professional market. To remain competitive, it must also offer equally dynamic pro-quality lenses and the 70–400mm f/4–5.6 telephoto zoom lens, from its G, or Gold, series, takes aim at the portrait, wildlife and sports pros.
As the best Sony has to offer, the 70–400mm is a lens for full-format DSLRs, but is also compatible with Sony Alpha AFS-C bodies, providing an equivalent field of view of 105–600mm.
With a minimum focusing distance of 5 feet (1.5m), this Sony lens, at the short end of its zoom range, becomes an excellent image-maker for portrait photographers.
The relatively wide aperture for a lens of this size gives sports photographers the versatility to select faster shutter speeds, which helps to capture super-sharp images, even when subjects are moving rapidly.
Wildlife and nature photographers will be equally attracted to this lens with advantages for their type of photography. The quick, easy and virtually silent operation of the Super Sonic wave Motor (SSM) will appeal to many photographers, but nature photographers especially need that silence, so they can shoot wildlife without spooking them.
Those photographers trekking into the backcountry with this Sony lens will also appreciate the tough construction of metal and high quality plastic pieces that have been carefully fitted for long life. The front element does not turn because of internal focusing, plus the Sony 70–400mm has a petal-shaped hood with plenty of length to reduce or eliminate most flares.
Sony has done everything it could to distinguish this lens from its Canon and Nikon competitors, including giving portions of the body a silver color. Its reflective quality will keep the internal temperature lower, especially for wildlife or outdoors sports photographers shooting under direct sunlight for hours, or all day.
The Sony 70–400mm f/4–5.6 G-Series telephoto zoom lens is comparable in size and weight to its Canon and Nikon counterparts, 100–400mm and 80–400mm, respectively. The Sony lens is 3 3/4” x 7 3/4” and weighs 3 lbs. 5 oz. (1,500g).
The Sony’s optical configuration is also competitive, with 18 glass elements in 12 groups, two of which are ED (Extra-low Dispersion).
This lens’ optics makes a significant contribution to the excellent control of distortions, vignetting and chromatic aberrations. Minimal barrel distortion at 70mm and equally minor pincushioning at the longer focal lengths are only discernable under closely scrutinized lab tests. You can forget these distortions entirely during regular use. Because the Sony 70–400mm is a full-frame lens, vignetting is also a non-existent issue in real-shooting situations. The ED glass elements do their job extremely well when it comes to chromatic aberrations (CA). Again, you can forget about them from the shorter to middle range of focal lengths. Even the evident CA at 400mm is so minor as to be no barrier to excellent looking images.
Resolution tests of this Sony lens also deliver very good scores. As expected in a lens of this type, 70mm is truly excellent with a gradual moderation of resolution as you shoot at longer focal lengths. Choosing narrower apertures, especially f/8, pumps more resolution into the borders of any image.
People who read this PhotographyTalk.com article also liked:
Your feedback is important to thousands of PhotographyTalk.com fans and us. If this article is helpful, then please click the Like and Re-Tweet buttons at the top left of this article.
Photo from http://sony.com ©2012 Sony Corporation of America