The Sony FE 70-200mm F4 Macro G OSS II ($1,699.99) is an improve throughout the board to the unique model from practically a decade in the past, which was among the many earliest full-frame E-mount lenses. This new version makes use of all of Sony’s optical methods to ship sharp pictures throughout the body, focus straight away, and get 1:2 macros at each focal size. It is smaller and extra inexpensive than the also-fantastic FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS II ($2,799), as nicely. Occasion photogs and different professionals nonetheless have good cause to spend extra on the latter due to its brighter most aperture, however fans ought to be content material with the F4 model, which simply earns our Editors’ Alternative award.
Taking Inspiration From a Rival
Sony likes to tout market firsts and declare it has the smallest and lightest one thing or different, however it’ll need to take care of second place on this case. The FE 70-200mm F4 G OSS II is exceptionally compact at 5.9 by 3.2 inches (HD) and 1.7 kilos, however Canon’s RF 70-200mm F4 L IS USM is even smaller and lighter (4.7 by 3.3 inches, 1.5 kilos). In contrast to the unique, internally zooming FE 70-200mm F4 (6.9 by 3.2 inches, 1.9 kilos), the barrel of the Mark II model extends to about 8 inches whenever you zoom to 200mm.
The FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS II, additionally an inside zoom, is available in a little bit bigger at 7.9 by 3.5 inches and a couple of.3 kilos. It isn’t a problem to hold in any sense, although its value places it out of attain for many individuals. Funds-conscious photogs can take a look at the Tamron 70-180mm F2.8 (5.9 by 3.2 inches, 1.8 kilos) for round $1,200, although it omits stabilization to fulfill its value. The Sony FE 70-300mm F4.5-5.6 G can be out there for round $1,200; it is a good different for those who desire extra attain over a relentless most aperture.
Each the Mark II F4 and F2.8 70-200 zoom lenses work with Sony’s 1.4x and a couple of.0x teleconverters, one thing you do not get with third-party glass. I attempted the F4 with the two.0x converter on each the a7R IV and a6700 and was very pleased with the outcomes. With ample mild (the extender drops the aperture all the way down to f/8), the lens locks focus in a snap.
The FE 70-200mm F4 II is a G-series lens, a lineup Sony designates as appropriate for fans and professionals, however one which’s a step beneath the upper-echelon GM line. G lenses embrace full mud and splash safety, an anti-smudge fluorine coating on the glass, and premium construct supplies. Sony makes use of a steel barrel with an off-white end for the 70-200mm, which places it extra on the extent of GM telephoto lenses. Lighter-color supplies are frequent on lengthy lenses as a result of they hold the lens cooler.
The lens ships with a reversible petal-style hood that bayonets on or off with a little bit torque (however no locking mechanism), in addition to the requisite entrance and rear caps. The entrance aspect takes 72mm threaded filters.
Sony features a tripod collar with the lens too—it is simple to take away or set up and rotates so you may set the lens in portrait or panorama orientation. The foot has two quarter-20-inch threads for a quick-release plate however does not have a dovetail lower for direct mounting to Arca-Swiss tripods.
Premium Really feel and Controls
The FE 70-200mm contains all the on-barrel controls I anticipate from a professional lens. The distinguished zoom ring sits mid-barrel and turns fairly simply. It’s important to apply a bit extra torque to maneuver the telescoping barrel than with an inside zoom, however the motion is easy and fairly simple to handle given how little the optical block weighs.
A lock swap retains the zoom set at its shortest place, and I like to recommend participating it for storage and transport. I did not use it within the area, nonetheless, as creep is not an issue—even with the lens pointing straight down, the zoom stays set at 70mm. In fact, I am utilizing a brand-new lens, so tolerances may loosen a bit over time.
Three operate buttons ring the barrel in between the zoom and focus rings. Most photogs are prone to set them to drive or lock focus, however you may reconfigure them by way of the digicam menu. Simply do not forget that all three buttons work with only a single operate.
The handbook focus ring is on the far finish of the barrel. It turns easily with rather less dampening than I desire, however it’s nonetheless satisfactory for handbook focus. The main target motor does not lag in any respect, so I might have been fooled into considering I used to be utilizing a mechanical, not digital, handbook focus lens. The lens helps Sony’s Direct Handbook Focus (DMF) system, which suggests you should use the ring to override autofocus in any mode.
You do not have to make use of DMF, although, and it is simple to toggle by way of the swap on the left-hand facet of the barrel. The anticipated AF/MF swap is correct above it, and the main target limiter sits beneath. The limiter units the lens to search for focus throughout its full vary, on topics 9.8 ft (3m) or additional, or for these nearer than 9.8 ft solely.
The panel additionally has switches for the stabilization—you may flip it on or off, or swap amongst Mode 1, 2, or 3. Use Mode 1 for static pictures, Mode 2 for panning, and Mode 3 for eventualities wherein you should transfer the digicam in all totally different instructions to maintain up—a tennis match is a basic instance. These modes had been very efficient in testing.
Autofocus is lethal quick, and the lens drives and locks from near distant topics in a snap. It makes use of some over-engineering to fulfill its efficiency. There are two optical focusing teams, not one, and 4 inside linear motors. That design comes with a few advantages past velocity—Sony tells me it is what makes macro focus doable and that it successfully suppresses focus respiration. Some newer Sony cameras embrace software-assisted respiration compensation, however this lens sidesteps the impact optically. The main target motors work silently, too, one other benefit for video.
As for macro capabilities, the 70-200mm F4 Macro G is a standout. It focuses shut sufficient to seize topics at half life-size (1:2) all through the vary, with 3.5- and seven.5-inch working distances at 70mm and 200mm, respectively. Stabilized optics are a lift for close-up work as a result of they assist hold your viewfinder regular when you’re framing a shot at excessive magnification, whereas the minimal respiration design helps with focus-stacking methods.
FE 70-200mm F4 Macro G OSS II: Within the Lab
I used the FE 70-200mm F4 Macro G with a few cameras out in the true world, together with the APS-C a6700 and the full-frame a7R IV. I caught with the latter for Imatest lab checks.
At its most aperture, the lens exhibits glorious distinction (round 4,400 strains) from middle to edge at 70mm and 135mm. Decision takes a slight hit at 200mm f/4 however nonetheless falls inside the superb vary for a 60MP photograph (4,000 strains). I measured a rise in decision at smaller apertures. From f/5.6-11, the lens manages glorious marks (round 4,800 strains) throughout the body, with solely a slight drop-off at 200mm (4,400 strains).
Decision drops off at f/16-f/22 attributable to optical diffraction, however you may nonetheless wish to use these settings to get sunstars in outside scenes. These multipoint bursts of sunshine can improve pictures, although their tines aren’t as clearly outlined as these you get with ultra-wide lenses like Sony’s unique FE 12-24mm F2.8 GM. Vast-angle lenses are the de facto commonplace for landscapes, however a 70-200mm might be very helpful for getting a special perspective.
For comparability, the FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS II is sharper, with glorious outcomes all through the vary wide-open and with excellent (5,000 strains) distinction stopped down on the identical a7R IV physique. It is one of many causes Sony marks it as a GM lens and drops the F4 version all the way down to G standing.
Bokeh is one other differentiator; the GM version exhibits easy, defocused highlights, whereas the G version has barely busier bokeh. I noticed some double edges and texture in specular highlights, however it’s noticeable actually solely whenever you zoom in or crop (see beneath). On the plus facet, highlights do not present the cat’s-eye impact at wide-open apertures, a plus for a telezoom that fits portraiture. I could not spot any form of chromatic aberration in pictures, both lateral (purple fringing) or longitudinal (false coloration within the bokeh).
Optics present some pincushion distortion all through the complete vary—it is worse at 200mm than at 70mm. When you’re utilizing your digicam in JPG mode, you need not fear as a result of corrections occur robotically. That stated, some Uncooked converters, together with Lightroom Traditional, require a customized profile for distortion correction. I anticipate Adobe to have one prepared quickly, however one was not out there on the time of testing. Regardless, it is simple sufficient to manually compensate for distortion utilizing the slider adjustment. I utilized some corrections to the picture of a practice automobile beneath; you may see the pincushion curve within the uncorrected model (left) and correctly straight strains within the corrected image (proper).
A Carry-Pleasant Zoom With Nice Macro Talents
Working photographers and video producers could make a case for spending massive on the FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS II, however fans and anybody who works outside can save fairly a bit by going with the still-excellent FE 70-200mm F4 Macro G OSS II. Its lighter construct and higher close-up functionality greater than make up for a slight loss in light-gathering functionality. As for options, the 70-200mm F4 can be a transparent step above the $1,200 Tamron 70-180mm F2.8, which omits picture stabilization. As such, the FE 70-200mm F4 Macro G OSS II simply earns our Editors’ Alternative award as a midrange choice for photograph hobbyists and creators.