Sony FE 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G OSS Review

June 27, 2016 | Jack Baker | |

Introduction

The new Sony FE 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G OSS stands boasts the longest focal length of any E-mount lens to date. The high numbers continue with an optical design that incorporates four aspherical glass elements and two ED (Extra-low Dispersion) elements, along with Sony’s Nano Anti-reflective coating to reduce aberrations, distortion and flare.

As you’d expect for a high-end telephoto lens, the FE 70-300mm boasts Sony’s built-in Optical SteadyShot image stabilisation to help compensate for camera shake. But less predictably for this type of lens, you get a relatively short 0.9m minimum focus distance, making it fairly well suited to tele-macro photography.

A linear actuator autofocus system is employed for fast, smooth and quiet focusing, and the lens is also dust and moisture resistant. The Sony FE 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G OSS carries an RRP of £1,150/$1,199.99.

Ease of Use

At 854g, the Sony FE 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G OSS is no lightweight, but neither is it excessively heavy. The weight reflects the pro-grade metal construction and premium build quality. Dimensions of 84 x 143.5mm make it relatively compact for a telephoto zoom, especially when compared to a constant aperture lens like the new FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS.

Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar T E 16-70mm f/4 ZA OSS The Sony FE 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G OSS lens alongside a Sony A7S

Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar T E 16-70mm f/4 ZA OSS The Sony FE 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G OSS lens mounted on a Sony A7S

Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar T E 16-70mm f/4 ZA OSS The Sony FE 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G OSS lens mounted on a Sony A7S

Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar T E 16-70mm f/4 ZA OSS The Sony FE 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G OSS lens mounted on a Sony A7S

Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar T E 16-70mm f/4 ZA OSS The Sony FE 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G OSS lens mounted on a Sony A7S

Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar T E 16-70mm f/4 ZA OSS The Sony FE 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G OSS lens mounted on a Sony A7S

Dominating the lens barrel is a wide zoom ring that incorporates a lock to prevent zoom creep. While the lens barrel extends significantly as focal lengths increase, the front element doesn’t rotate.

Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar T E 16-70mm f/4 ZA OSS Side of the Sony FE 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G OSS lens

Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar T E 16-70mm f/4 ZA OSS Side of the Sony FE 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G OSS lens

Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar T E 16-70mm f/4 ZA OSS Front of the Sony FE 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G OSS lens

Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar T E 16-70mm f/4 ZA OSS Rear of the Sony FE 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G OSS lens

Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar T E 16-70mm f/4 ZA OSS Front of the Sony FE 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G OSS lens

Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar T E 16-70mm f/4 ZA OSS Rear of the Sony FE 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G OSS lens

Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar T E 16-70mm f/4 ZA OSS Side of the Sony FE 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G OSS lens

Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar T E 16-70mm f/4 ZA OSS Side of the Sony FE 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G OSS lens, extended to 300mm

Directly behind the zoom ring, on the left-hand side of the barrel, is a focus-hold button, and behind this is a narrower yet still ergonomic manual focus ring. The final controls are three switches: one that turns Optical SteadyShot on or off, another to limit the AF range between infinity and 3m, and the last switches between AF and MF. It is however worth noting that the in-camera focus setting can override this switch, so if the camera is set to MF and the lens AF, autofocus won’t be active.

Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar T E 16-70mm f/4 ZA OSS Side of the Sony FE 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G OSS lens

Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar T E 16-70mm f/4 ZA OSS Side of the Sony FE 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G OSS lens

Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar T E 16-70mm f/4 ZA OSS Side of the Sony FE 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G OSS lens, extended to 300mm

Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar T E 16-70mm f/4 ZA OSS The Sony FE 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G OSS lens in-hand

Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar T E 16-70mm f/4 ZA OSS The Sony FE 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G OSS lens with the supplied hood fitted

Focal Range

At 70mm you get an angle of view of 34 degrees on 35mm full frame sensor, or equivalent to 23 degrees on an APS-C body. Zoom to 300mm and angle of view restricts to 8 degrees full frame and 5 degrees APS-C.

Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar T E 16-70mm f/4 ZA OSS 70mm

Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar T E 16-70mm f/4 ZA OSS 300mm

Focusing

Sony’s linear actuator AF system provides smooth, fast and precise AF. In good lighting the Sony FE 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G OSS focuses almost instantly on our A7S test body, and only slowed fractionally in dimmer conditions. If you’re within a metre of the lens in a quiet environment, it is audible, but focussing is quiet enough to not be distracting.

As with other Sony lenses, manual focus doesn’t directly control the lens elements, rather it operates via the AF system, so you don’t get true manual control or any form of stops at each end of the focussing scale. Even so, manual focussing is precise and easy to use.

Chromatic Aberrations

Even without exploiting Sony’s in-camera aberration correction, the Sony FE 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G OSS is very resistant to fringing and you’ll have to shoot extremely high contrast scenes and scrutinise very closely to spot any.

Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar T E 16-70mm f/4 ZA OSS Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar T E 16-70mm f/4 ZA OSS

Light Fall-off

With lens correction options disabled on our A7S test body, the Sony FE 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G OSS produces moderate falloff at 70mm wide open at f/4.5. It’s almost eliminated at f/5.6 though, and by f/8 any remaining vignetting isn’t noticeable in most real world shots.

At 100mm falloff is negligible across all apertures, but by 300mm it’s become more apparent again at f/5.6, and you’ll need to stop down to f/11 to get even brightness across the image frame.

Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar T E 16-70mm f/4 ZA OSS Light fall-off at 70mm

Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar T E 16-70mm f/4 ZA OSS Light fall-off at 300mm

Distortion

Distortion is minimal at all focal lengths, though shooting geometric subjects does reveal very slight pincushion distortion at 70mm, which increases slightly by 300mm. It’s still nothing particularly noticeable though and is easily corrected.

Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar T E 16-70mm f/4 ZA OSS Distortion at 70mm

Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar T E 16-70mm f/4 ZA OSS Distortion at 300mm

Bokeh

The rounded 9-blade diaphragm in the Sony FE 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G OSS produces fairly smooth bokeh, though scenes with busier backgrounds don’t appear quiet as creamy smooth as you might like. With the combination of a full-frame sensor and long focal lengths, out of focus backgrounds are easily achievable at relatively narrow apertures. Bokeh is a fairly subjective part of a lens’ image quality though, so check out these 100% crops to see the FE 50mm’s bokeh quality for yourself.

Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar T E 16-70mm f/4 ZA OSS Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar T E 16-70mm f/4 ZA OSS
   
Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar T E 16-70mm f/4 ZA OSS Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar T E 16-70mm f/4 ZA OSS

Sharpness

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

Entry Tags

review, samples, photos, test, images, sample images, lens, jpeg, compact system camera, jpegs, sony, a7r ii, a7s, Sony FE 70-300mm, sony 70-300mm, Sony FE 70-300mm f4.5-5.6 G OSS, sony fe70-300mm review