The Sony FE 400mm f/2.8 GM lens is here! We go hands-on at a professional soccer match
posted Wednesday, June 27, 2018 at 10:00 AM EDT
Click here to read my Sony 400mm f/2.8 GM Hands-On Preview
We knew it was coming, and now it's finally here: say hello to the Sony FE 400mm f/2.8 G Master lens. The next member of Sony's top-tier G Master full-frame mirrorless lens family, this professional-class supertelephoto is a critical optic for the Sony FE-mount lineup when it comes to attracting an important segment of professional photographers into the Sony mirrorless system, namely sports and wildlife shooters.
I recently had an opportunity to test this new lens out in the field in the most awesome way possible, photographing a professional soccer match. Not only did this provide a way to capture some stunning photographs, but it also let me test out the lens' handling and performance in a classic real-world scenario. For all the details, jump on over to my Sony 400mm f/2.8 GM Hands-on Preview to get more on the lens' handling characteristics, build quality and performance, as well as my initial impressions on image quality. As always, there's a sizable selection of Gallery Images to browse through, including RAW+JPEG images, as well as a few RAW-edited conversions as well.
A full-frame 400mm f/2.8 by itself is nothing new, a number of manufacturers including Canon and Nikon have had one for years, but Sony did things a little different with theirs. For one, it's designed from the ground up as a mirrorless lens (no surprise there). As such, the lens' focusing system and AF algorithms are specifically designed with speed and precision in mind. Instead of ring-type, rotational AF motors, the FE 400mm f/2.8 uses two of what Sony calls "XD (extreme dynamic) Linear Motors," which they claim offers 5x faster AF performance than traditional ring-drive/SSM drive lenses.
AF performance aside, the biggest story with the Sony FE 400mm f/2.8 GM lens is its design, construction and thoughtful optical layout. Weighing-in at only 6.3 lbs, the FE 400mm f/2.8 G world's lightest full-frame 400/2.8 lens, and this lens is hand-holdable! Yes, you can shoot this lens handheld, without a monopod or tripod. In addition to its lightweight magnesium alloy construction and carbon fiber lens hood, the optical layout is situated in such a way as to put most of the elements and therefore weight towards the rear of the lens, making it wonderfully balanced with Sony's FF mirrorless cameras. The lens is also super-robust, with a dust- and moisture-resistant construction as well as an easy-to-clean fluorine coating on the front element.
On the image quality side of things, being a G Master lens, the FE 400mm f/2.8 GM is designed to offer top-notch image quality as well as carefully designed bokeh. The lens features 23 total elements in 17 groups, including three fluorite elements that help reduce CA and color bleeding. The lens also uses Sony's Nano AR lens coatings to supress flare, ghosting and other reflections. The aperture diaphragm uses 11 circlular blades, which creates smooth, natural-looking out-of-focus areas, or "bokeh."
The Sony FE 400mm f/2.8 GM lens is set to go on sale in September with an estimated retail price of $12,000 (CAD $16,250).