Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS Review

February 24, 2017 | Mark Goldstein | |

Introduction

The Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS is a telephoto zoom lens for the Sony full-frame E-mount compact system cameras. It features 23 elements in 18 groups including one newly developed XA (extreme aspherical) element with 0.01 micron surface precision to effectively control chromatic aberrations, offers built-in 5-axis Optical SteadyShot image stabilization, has a minimum focusing distance of 0.96m and 0.25x maximum magnification, and has a circular 11 blade diaphragm which creates an attractive blur to the out-of-focus areas of the image. The combination of a Super Sonic Wave Motor for the front group and Dual Linear Motor for the rear achieves quick and precise focus, the Super Nano AR coating limits glare and flaring, and it’s also dust and moisture resistant. The Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS lens is available for £2500 / $2500 in the UK and the US, respectively.

Ease of Use

Weighing in at 1480g, the aluminium alloy bodied Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS is very heavy for a compact system camera lens, but comparable to most equivalent full-frame 70-200mm lenses for DSLR cameras. In use, it does feel rather large for a small body like the Sony A7R II body that we tested it with, as shown in the photos below - fitting a vertical battery grip would definitely help with the overall balance.

Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSSThe Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS lens mounted on a Sony A7R II

Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSSThe Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS lens mounted on a Sony A7R II

Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSSThe Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS lens mounted on a Sony A7R II

Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSSThe Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS lens alongside a Sony A7R II

Build quality is excellent, something of a relief given the price-tag. The Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS has a sealed dust and moisture resistant design which makes it well-suited to life in both the field and the studio.

The Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS lens has a metal lens mount. It accepts 77mm filters via metal threads.

Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSSSide of the Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS lens

Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSSSide of the Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS lens

The Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS has three separate round Focus Hold Buttons which keeps the lens locked to the current focusing distance, useful if you're auto-focusing and don't want the lens to try and find focus again. The preview function can also be assigned to these buttons through the camera's custom settings.

Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSSFront of the Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS lens

Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSSRear of the Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS lens

Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSSSide of the Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS lens

Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSSSide of the Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS lens

The Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS has a generously wide and ridged focus ring. Manual focusing is possible by using the AF/MF switch.

The lens utilizes a Super Sonic Wave Motor for the front group and a Dual Linear Motor for the rear group to produce quiet and smooth focusing, making it well-suited to shooting video, with the overall lens length remaining constant during focusing.

The Focus Range Limiter switch prevents the lens from hunting through the entire focusing range. There are two options - Full, or Infinity to 3m.

Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSSThe Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS lens with the supplied tripod collar fitted

The Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS features optical image stabilisation, which together with the A7R II's own built-in stabilisation mean that we could successfully hand-hold the camera up to 5 stops slower than with a lens with no OIS.

The Mode switch toggles between Normal shooting (Mode 1) and Panning (Mode 2), which automatically adjusts the lens to account for horizontal movement whilst shooting.

Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSSThe Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS lens in-hand

The Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS lens is commendably supplied with a soft case, a very good quality petal-shaped metal lens hood and a removable tripod collar.

Focal Range

At the 70mm focal length the angle of view is 34 degrees.

 Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSSField of view at 70mm

At the 200mm focal length the angle of view is 12 degrees.

 Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSSField of view at 200mm

Focusing

The Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS lens has quite a wide focus ring. There are hard stops at either end of the range, making it easier to set focus at infinity. Polariser users should be pleased that the 77mm filter thread doesn't rotate on focus.

When it comes to auto-focusing, the Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS zoom is a quiet and very quick performer on the Sony A7R II that we tested it with, taking about 0.10 seconds to lock onto the subject.

We didn't experience too much "hunting", either in good or bad light, with the lens accurately focusing almost all of the time, and it's also a quiet performer making it ideal for movie shooting.

Chromatic Aberrations

Chromatic aberrations, typically seen as blue or purple fringes along contrasty edges, were not very apparent in our test shots, only appearing in very high contrast areas.

Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS

Light Fall-off and Distortion

With the lens set to its maximum aperture of f/2.8, there is some light fall-off in the corners, requiring you to stop down by at least 1 f-stop to prevent it.

There's some slight barrel distortion evident at 70mm in the RAW files - the Sony A7/A7R II automatically and successfully applies corrections to the JPG files.

Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSSVignetting/distortion at 70mm

Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSSVignetting/distortion at 200mm

Macro

The Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS offers a minimum focusing distance of 0.96m with a maximum magnification of 0.25x. The following example demonstrates how close you can get to your subject with the focal length set to 200mm.

Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSSClose-up performance

Bokeh

Bokeh is a word used for the out-of-focus areas of a photograph, and is usually described in qualitative terms, such as smooth / creamy / harsh etc. In the Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS lens, Sony employed an iris diaphragm with 11 rounded blades, which has resulted in very appealing bokeh. We do realise, however, that bokeh evaluation is subjective, so we've included several 100% crops for your perusal.

Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS
   
Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS

Sharpness

In order to show you how sharp this lens is, we are providing 100% crops on the following pages.