Sony announces the development of a new 300mm F2.8 G Master telephoto prime lens


posted Tuesday, January 17, 2023 at 11:00 AM EDT


Alongside the new FE 20-70mm F4 lens, Sony has announced the development of a highly-anticipated lens, a 300mm F2.8. However, today's announcement is only a very basic technology development announcement, so details are limited.

By "limited," we mean very limited. We know that Sony is working on a 300mm F2.8 G Master telephoto prime lens and that the lens should be available early next year. That's it.

The relative lightness of details gives us plenty of room for speculation, so let's do that. Before making educated guesses at some features or characteristics of Sony's newest telephoto prime, let's take a quick look at its existing offerings. Sony currently has a pair of telephoto prime GM lenses in its lineup, the FE 400mm F2.8 GM OSS and the FE 600mm F4 GM OSS. They cost $12,000 and $13,000, respectively. Since they're GM lenses, they have some special features, including Sony's XD Linear Motor AF System. There's every reason to believe that the new 300mm F2.8 GM lens will incorporate Sony's XD Linear AF Motor technology, as we've seen it not only in Sony's other GM telephoto primes but also the company's extremely impressive FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM II and FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II professional zoom lenses.

Sony FE 400mm F2.8 GM OSS

Save for the 400mm F2.8 lens, the other GM lenses we've mentioned incorporate XA lens elements, which elevate optical performance while simultaneously allowing Sony to design lightweight lenses. We expect the 300mm F2.8 GM to also target a relatively lightweight design. Sony's engineering has improved considerably in the last few years, with lenses like the 70-200mm F2.8 GM II released in 2021 and the 24-70mm F2.8 GM II released last year shaving 29% and 22% off their weights, respectively, when compared against the original GM versions.

Obviously, we don't know what the new 300mm F2.8 lens will weigh, but we can see about the competition – well, sort of. Canon has an RF 400mm F2.8 lens in its EOS R system but no RF 300mm F2.8 yet. The story is similar for Nikon, leading some experts to wonder if the 300mm F2.8 lens is dead altogether. Today Sony says, "not so fast." But the lack of 300mm F2.8 lenses for mirrorless camera systems is nonetheless interesting.

If we look at DSLR systems, the 300mm F2.8 lens was a stalwart. Canon and Nikon released numerous 300mm F2.8 lenses over the years. However, if you try to buy a new Canon EF 300mm F2.8 lens, you'll struggle to find one. You can still buy a new Nikon AF-S Nikkor 300mm F2.8G ED VR II lens for $5,500. That lens weighs 2,900 grams (6.4 pounds) and is just under 270 millimeters (10.5 inches) long. Sony had a 300mm F2.8 lens for DSLR cameras, too, the Sony 300mm F2.8 APO G SSM. It was a bit lighter than Nikon's version, weighing 2,310g (5.1 lbs).

Sony's old 300mm F2.8 G lens for A-mount DSLR cameras

Again, this is speculation, but considering Sony's impressive work on its most recent G Master zoom lenses, it seems reasonable to think the company can undercut 2,000g (4.4 lbs) with its upcoming 300mm F2.8 GM lens for mirrorless cameras. So far, we expect the 300mm F2.8 GM lens to be light, deliver fast AF thanks to XD Linear Motor technology, and promise superb image quality using Sony's impressive XA lens elements.

What about handling? This has been an area of focus with the latest F2.8 zoom lens revisions. Each lens added dedicated aperture control rings (with a switch to smooth the aperture control ring) and Linear Response MF. The lenses have also added more programmable focus hold buttons while maintaining a weather-sealed design. It's safe to assume similar features will make their way to the 300mm F2.8 GM lens when it launches next year.

We expect the new 300mm F2.8 GM to follow Sony's design philosophy for its most recent GM II pro zoom lenses, including a dedicated aperture control ring. You can see the litany of switches on the existing 400mm F2.8 GM lens -- expect to see these on the 300mm F2.8 GM, too.

As for price, the jury is out. It will depend heavily upon how the global economic forces shift throughout 2023 and how many all-new features Sony aims to introduce with the 300mm F2.8 GM lens. We're going to wait to guess a price.

Will Canon and Nikon follow suit with 300mm F2.8 lenses for full-frame mirrorless cameras? It's tough to say. However, Sony is serious about the professional sports and photojournalism markets, and a lightweight, robust 300mm F2.8 lens would be right at home in the kits of many working pros. We can't wait to learn more about the lens.