Sony Goes *Long* - 500mm f/4.0 A-mount Sees Light of Day!

by Dave Etchells

posted Tuesday, February 7, 2012 at 11:43 PM EST

Sony's 500mm F4 G SSM lens prototype. Photo provided by Sony Electronics Inc.First previewed almost two years ago at PMA 2010, the 500mm f/4 G super-telephoto is finally seeing the light of day. The new A-mount lens sports bundles of goodness, including first and foremost its big f/4 aperture, and extending to a Nano Anti-Reflective (AR) coating, a new supersonic motor drive circuit for fast & accurate autofocus, and extensive dust and moisture sealing, making it a great match for Sony's high-end SLT-A77 body. It's also touted as being compatible with Sony's body-based SteadyShot INSIDE image stabilization system, presumably by transmitting its focal length information to the camera body.

Boasting 11 elements in 10 groups, with three ED (extra-low dispersion) glass elements, it also is the first Sony G lens to incorporate advanced nano-coating, drastically cutting internal reflections.

As you might expect, with all that glass, the 500mm f/4 G is no lightweight, massing no less than 7.6 pounds (3460 grams), with overall dimensions of 140mm diameter by 367.5mm length. (That's about 14.5 inches long, in English units.)

The UK press release we received coyly declined to mention the price, but one can only imagine it'll be substantial. (You really didn't need that new car, did you?) This calls to mind the old saw about the price of yachts: "If you have to ask the price, you can't afford it." A further indication of its exclusivity is that these lenses will apparently be built to order. Availability is stated as "from late March 2012."

Avoid the rush, submit your order promptly!

Sony's 500mm F4 G SSM lens prototype. Photo provided by Sony Electronics Inc.

Press Release

Closer encounters with new 500mm super-telephoto:
Rugged, pro-focused SAL500F40G lens from Sony for A-mount SLT and DSLR cameras

  • Longest-ever focal length G Lens from Sony
  • Bright F4.0 aperture for superior light gathering
  • Nano AR Coating on optical surfaces for flawless still images and HD video
  • Compatible with SteadyShot INSIDE featured in all α cameras
  • New SSM drive circuit for quick, accurate autofocus
  • Rugged dust- and moisture-resistant design: ideal partner for SLT-A77
  • Enhanced handling and operability

Serious photographers can pull distant subjects closer with a powerful new 500mm (equivalent to 750mm with APS-C camera) super-telephoto lens from Sony.

The SAL500F40G is ideal for sports, wildlife and demanding imaging applications that require extreme magnification with uncompromised optical performance.

The SAL500F40G is the longest fixed focal length G Lens from Sony to date. Whether you’re shooting detail-packed stills or Full HD video, you’ll enjoy frame-filling close-ups with flawless resolution. With a bright F4.0 maximum aperture, its excellent light gathering power allows the use of faster shutter speeds to broaden shooting opportunities.

The ruggedly-engineered SAL500F40G copes effortlessly with tough photo assignments. Focusing ring and front/rear joints are protected by interlocking seals that shrug off dust and moisture, even when you’re shooting outdoors in driving rain or arid desert conditions. This weather-resistant design makes the SAL500F40G a perfect partner for the SLT-A77 (α77) Translucent Mirror camera that offers serious photographers similarly ruggedized performance.

Like all other A-mount lenses, the SAL500F40G is compatible with the SteadyShot INSIDE image stabilisation system that’s featured in every α Translucent Mirror and DSLR camera from Sony. Depending on shooting conditions, camera model and settings, you’ll enjoy camera-shake blur compensation that’s equivalent to approximately 4.5 stops (max.) in shutter speed.

Inside, the advanced optical design of the SAL500F40G includes 11 elements in 10 groups, including three ED (Extra-low Dispersion) glass elements. It’s also the first G Lens from Sony to feature advanced new coating process that ensures crisper, clearer images. Exclusive to Sony, the ground-breaking Nano AR Coating process cuts internal reflections drastically. Resulting images are brilliantly crisp and clear, with dramatically reduced lens flare and ghosting. Flare is reduced still further by the carbon fibre lens hood that’s lined with black velvet fibres to absorb incident light.

Razor-sharp autofocus performance makes the SAL500F40G ideal for capturing an athlete’s explosive movements or the unpredictable flutter of wild birds. The high-torque SSM (Super Sonic wave Motor) features a new drive circuit, ensures rapid, responsive AF with significantly faster object tracking than conventional Sony lenses.

Serious enthusiasts will also welcome a strong emphasis on enhanced handling and ergonomics. Four focus hold buttons are spaced around the lens barrel for easy operation in any position. They’re complemented by a two-way DMF (Direct Manual Focus) mode button and focus range switch for positive, fumble-free operation when you’re shooting under pressure.

Built to order, the SAL500F40G super-telephoto lens from Sony is available from late March 2012.

  500mm F4 G SSM
Min. aperture F32
No. of aperture blades 9 (Circular aperture)
Max. magnification ratio 0.135
Min. focus 4.0m
Filter diameter 42mm (Exclusive)
(Diam. X L)
140 x 367.5 mm
Weight (approx.) 3460 g
Teleconverter compatibility Yes (1.4x: AF and MF mode, 2x:MF mode)
Dust and moisture resistance Yes